The procedure for marriage registration with the local rabbinate is relatively simple. At times, as in any government institution, you may encounter lapses of a bureaucratic system, reflecting inefficiency or problems of computerization. Try to be patient and understanding in case there is a delay.
When and Where?
A file (tik nissuin) can be opened between 90 and 21 days before the wedding. If a marriage file was opened for either of you with another partner, you must cancel the earlier file at the marriage office at which it was opened before you proceed to register and open a new file.
You have a choice of three offices where you can open your file (in special cases, you may register at another place):
The marriage office for the permanent residence of the groom;
The marriage office for the permanent residence of the bride;
The marriage office for the place where the wedding will be held.
If the parents of one of you were married through one of these offices, give preference to it in order to make the registration process easier.
How to Dress
Since the people you will meet at the rabbinate office are generally religious people and rabbinic figures, try to show respect and dress appropriately. Since you are dealing with a public body, you are entitled to receive service no matter how you dress but you will be treated with greater respect if you show respect.
What to Bring
To open a marriage file, you must provide a set of documents that clarify your personal status. Even if you do not bring all the required documents at the time of registration, a file may be opened and you will be asked to fill in the gaps during the weeks remaining before your wedding. The following list is standardized and there may be deviations from one locale to another.
Identification Documents and Fees
Identity cards of the groom and bride;
3 passport photos of the groom and bride;
Marriage certificate or ketubah of both sets of parents
A registration fee of 600 NIS
You must present two witnesses that testify to your unmarried status. These witnesses may come with you at the opening of the wedding file or at a later time convenient for them. The goal of the testimony is to ascertain that you are indeed unmarried and Jewish. To this end the rabbinate officials will ask the witnesses various questions about you and your families. Witnesses should be men over 18 years old who have known you well and know identifying details about you such as the names and occupations of your parents and siblings, addresses of past residences, your occupation and the like. The witnesses may not be your relatives or related to each other. One witness may serve for both the bride and groom. The witnesses should arrive with their identity cards and the number of your marriage file.
Certificate of Singleness
Unmarried people who are not residents of the region in which they are registering (or have been residents of this region for less than six months) must provide a certificate of unmarried status. This certificate is received at the marriage office of your registered residence. To obtain it, you must appear personally at the office and bring the following: identity card with updated addendum, two passport photos, marriage certificate or ketubah of your parents (except if the parents were registered for marriage at the same office), a fee of 135 NIS (as of June 2002), and two witnesses. If you have special status (immigrant, tourist, divorcee, widow(er), convert), bring the relevant documents.
For those about to enter a second marriage, you must bring documents related to your previous marriage:
A divorcee has to provide documentation from the Bet Din. If the divorce took place outside Israel, confirmation by an Israeli divorce court is also required. If the designated bride is divorced, converted, released from a levirate marriage or has a non-Jewish father, the groom is required to bring confirmation that he is not a Cohen. Such a confirmation can be obtained from a rabbi who knows you or your family according to the instructions of the marriage office.
A widow(er) has to bring an original death certificate of the previous spouse. If the certificate is from outside Israel, it has to be certified by the rabbinical court. Verify that your marital status is updated in the addendum to your identity card.
Special Personal Status
Convert – You are required to bring the original conversion certificate from an authorized court, the document of the court's verdict of conversion and confirmation of conversion from the Ministry of Religion. If the conversion took place outside Israel, confirmation by an authorized Israeli court is also required. Generally, rabbinical courts only recognize Orthodox conversions that were performed overseas.
New Immigrant – You are required to bring confirmation of Jewishness and unmarried status and the certificate of immigrant status. Documentation from outside Israel requires confirmation by an Israeli court. If you have migrated from Ethiopia or the Commonwealth of Independent States and you need confirmation of Jewishness, apply to the special court established for this purpose. To demonstrate your status, you may be required to provide a certificate of immigrant status and even a birth certificate of a parent.
Tourist – You are required to bring your passport, a copy of your parents' ketubah, and confirmation of Jewishness and singleness from a rabbinical court. All these documents must be authenticated by the local rabbinate.
Registrants under Age 18 – You have to bring with you one of your parents to sign his agreement to the marriage in the marriage file.
Who Cannot Register?
The following couples are not eligible for registration:
Jews marrying non-Jews.
Cohanim marrying divorcees, children of a non-Jewish father, the offspring of a non-recognized marriage, a widow who performed chalitza or converts.
Mamzer with a non-Mamzer:
same sex couples
If you are in this category, the rabbinate may try to help with a solution. For more information, contact the ITIM hotline at 1-700-500-507.
What is Done at Registration
The marriage bureau integrates three functions:
Administrative function, as representative of the Ministry of Interior and population registry in whose framework the officials execute orderly registration of those getting married and verify the reliability of your status.
Inspection function, as representative of the authorities of law enforcement and also of the rabbinate and the Ministry of Religion. Within the jurisdiction of the officials is verification that no marriage is being carried out contrary to the law or tradition. This function is linked to the traditional character of marriage in the State of Israel.
Guidance function, in whose framework information is delivered and guidance is offered about shared living according to the Jewish tradition. In this framework the rabbi and the rabbinate provide instructions to the bride and groom at the marriage bureau.
The Stages of Meeting with the Rabbinate
1. Presentation of documents to reception clerk
2. Collection of fee, opening of marriage file and assignment of file number
3. Verification of personal details
4. Setting of date with rabbanit .
5. Summary of details regarding officiating rabbi
6. Testimony of witnesses regarding unmarried status
8. Delivery of details regarding the officiating rabbi
9. Presentation of Kashrut certificate
10. Guidance of rabbi and rabbanit
11. Receipt of Ketubah
12. Return of the Ketubah
13. Receipt of marriage certificate