Nationality of Iranian Woman Marrying Non-Iranian Man


Professor Gabriel Sawma


Article 987 of the Iranian Civil Code states the following:

An Iranian woman marrying a foreign national will retain her Iranian nationality unless according to the law of the country of the husband the latter’s nationality is imposed by marriage upon the wife. But in any case, after the death of the husband or after divorce or separation, she will be re-acquire he original nationality together with all rights and privileges appertaining to it by the mere submission of an application to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to which should be annexed a certificate of the death of her husband or the document establishing the separation.

According to this article, an Iranian woman marrying a foreign national retains her Iranian nationality unless the nationality of the husband is imposed upon her under his personal status law. However, after the death of the husband or after a divorce or separation, she can re-acquire her Iranian nationality and all rights and privileges afforded there under by submitting an application to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with the death certificate of her husband or the concerned documents on divorce or separation.

However, according to part one of article 987, if the law of nationality of the husband’s country permits the Iranian woman to either preserve her former nationality or to acquire the nationality of her husband, then the Iranian wife who chooses to acquire the nationality of her husband for proper reasons can apply in writing to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting her desire to renounce her Iranian nationality. The Ministry may agree to her request. It should be noted here that an Iranian woman who acquires foreign nationality by marriage has no right to possess immovable property in Iran if such possession amount to foreign economic domination. The same rules apply to divorce cases involving Iranian women marrying non-Iranian citizens.

According to Article 7 of the Iranian Civil Code (ICC), the law of a non-Iranian national marrying Iranian woman may be applied in matrimonial disputes. Article 7 reads:

Foreign nationals resident territory shall within the limits laid down by treaties, be bound by the laws and decrees of the Government to which they are subject in questions relating to their personal status and capacity, and similarly in question relating to rights of inheritance.

While Article 7 govern certain aspects of the personal status of both parties, the rule of procedure and formalities are governed by the law of the place where the document is registered as stated in articles 993 and 969 of the ICC:

The method of drawing up document follows the laws of the place where the document is drawn up (969);

The following events must be notified to the Census Office during the proper period and in the way stipulated by special laws and regulations

  1. All births and all abortions which may occur after the 6th month from the date of conception.
  2. Marriages, whether permanent or temporary.
  3. Divorces, whether permanent or revocable or divorce by way of waiving the remainder of the period of temporary marriage.
  4. The death of any individual.

Thus, the marriage of Iranian nationals living outside Iran is governed by the law of the place of the marriage contract for both procedural and formality issues (articles 969 and 970). The marriage of foreign citizens living in Iran is governed by Iranian law (articles 969 and 970).

As far as nullification of a marriage is concerned, substantive issues are governed by the law of the concerned country of nationality, whereas the procedure and formality for the nullification is governed by the law of the place where marriage was concluded.

Article 963 of ICC states that “If a husband and wife are not nationals of the same country, their personal and financial relations with one another will be subject to the laws of the country of the husband” unless that law runs contrary to the law of Iran, in which case Iranian law will apply.

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DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.


Gabriel Sawma is a lawyer with Middle East background, and a recognized authority on Islamic law of marriage, divorce and custody of children, Hindu marital disputes in U.S. courts, and Iran divorce in USA.

Professor of Middle East Constitutional Law and Islamic law; Expert Consultant on Islamic divorce in US Courts and Canada. Expert Consultant on Hindu divorce in U.S. courts and Iranian divorce in USA.

Admitted to the Lebanese Bar Association; former Associate Member of the New York State Bar Association and the American Bar Association.

Prof. Sawma lectured at the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) in New York State and wrote many affidavits to immigration authorities, Federal Courts, and family State Courts in connection with recognition of Islamic foreign divorces in the U.S., Hindu divorces, and Iranian marital conflicts.

Travelled numerous times to Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Gulf States, Jordan, Syria, Palestine, and wrote extensively on Islamic and u divorces, custody of children in USA and abroad.

Speaks, reads and writes several languages including Arabic, English, French and others

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