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Egyptian Court Grants Children Born into Urfi Marriages Birth Certificates

The ruling upholds a previous one from 2015, which one mother claims was not being implemented by the country's civil registry.

Children born to customary (Urfi) marriages can now be officially registered and issued a birth certificate, an administrative court ruled on Sunday. State-owned Egynews reported that employees of the Civil Status Authority are now required to register children born into customary marriages. This guarantees the children’s legal rights, such as access to health and education services, as well as inheritance.

The ruling comes after one mother filed a lawsuit claiming that employees of the national registry were not implementing previous rulings allowing children born to customary marriages to obtain birth certificates.

Urfi, or customary marriages, are a form of marriage whereby the couple signs a document stating they are married in the presence of two witnesses. The difference between customary and legal marriages is that customary marriages are not registered with the state. Although customary marriages are considered compliant with Sharia law, they are still viewed as highly taboo in Egypt, and children born as a result of these marriages are often viewed as children born out wedlock.