Foreigner marrying a local Bruneian. A step by step guide.

Time to put this blog to good use again. Seeing that there's hardly any resources online for what one should do when they have decided to marry a local Bruneian, here's what I can tell you in a quick summary. 

Brace yourself. 

Especially when dealing with the immigration department officials and the paperwork requirement. Despite being married for two years now, whenever I have to make a trip to the immigration to renew Calla's visa, my mood instantly turns sour and I just rage mentally. The repetitive paperwork submissions and the waiting time is absolutely ridiculous and if you're unlucky, you'll be greeted with a "Nombor sudah habis" (Out of queuing numbers) just as you arrive at the immigration which pretty much means, screw you - try your luck again tomorrow! And I shit you not, in order to secure a queue number in the morning, one have to start queuing in line by 6 am at the very least while those working at the immigration department is probably still sound asleep at home before their shift starts at 7.30 am.

For mine and Calla's case, before our official wedding in Michigan, we decided on doing a registry of civil marriages (aka court signing) earlier just to ensure a smoother process when applying for her permanent residency here. In order for her to be eligible to apply for permanent residency (Red I/C as commonly known here), we will need to be married for at least two years before we can apply for that. But before we get into the court signing part, first requirement by authorities in Brunei is to 'seek their permission'. Yes, for some reason you will need to have a letter from the Immigration Department saying something along the lines of 'We have no issue to let this foreigner marry this Bruneian.' And to get that crucial letter, it requires a one month waiting period after you have submitted the required documentations. So...I would highly recommend you to plan way ahead of time. We started our process as early as June when we decided on doing the court signing for December. But it ended up being in January to do non-availability of dates.

Anyway, here's a practical guide for all you foreigners out there who wants to know what are the main paperwork requirements should you decide to marry a local Bruneian.

Checklist of documentations required by the Immigration Department.

For those unfamiliar with Malay, here's a simplified English checklist of documents required for a local Brunei citizen & permanent resident that wish to marry a foreigner. 

A. For Wife To Be
- A letter of application from wife to be - 2 copies (sample provided below)
- An authorisation letter to marry (from parents or guardian of wife to be) - 2 copies. *note - it does not matter if your spouse to be is 20 years old or 40 years old, as per their required documentations, you will still need a letter by someone from her side of the family to say 'Yes, I allow this person to be married'. Major wtf, i know!
- Identification card and/or passport - 2 copies
- Passport sized photo - 2 copies
- A letter from your village head to confirm your spouse is single (another wtf) or a statutory of declaration by court - 2 copies. 

B. For Husband To Be.
- Same as the above.

Note: If both the applicants have already been legally married (elsewhere or previously); you will also need to provide the following

- Marriage certificate - 2 copies
- Divorce certificate - 2 copies
- Death certificate (assuming if your previous spouse died) - 2 copies
- Death certificates of parents - 2 copies
- Authorisation of letter from wife & identification card - 2 copies (this I assume for Muslims since they're allowed to marry up to three wives)
- Conversion of faith letter (for those who embraced Islam) - 2 copies. 

Disclaimer: The process of this application will take a month or more. You are reminded NOT to set any wedding dates prior to receiving any official notification from the Immigration Department. This is to avoid any inconveniences.

Sample letter provided by the Immigration on how to write your letter of application to marry the person. I just copy word for word and changed the names and country respectively.

Sample letter of authorisation from parents/guardian provided by the immigration. If either of your spouse is from a western country, then you can just do a simple authorisation letter in English as long as the required details (name, passport & ic number and country of citizenship) is stated. 

Now, for locals and permanent residents, the wtf part of the above mandatory requirement is a letter from your 'ketua kampong' i.e village head. This part I have no idea why it's required but fortunately for my case, my mom knew where our village head lived and the process to get it is pretty simple. Just give him a copy of your I/C and he'll issue you a letter like this. 

Still no idea why there's a need for a random village head to verify that I'm single. I mean really, that's all the letter says. He can vouch that I'm single. I don't even know that guy!

Once you have submitted all of those, you will be given a date to come in for an interview with an immigration official. If I'm not mistaken, you are also required to bring one witness which for my case I brought my mom along as a 'guarantor'. The interview is really just for the officer to formally go through all the documentations in front of you and to explain on certain immigration rules of the country. Technically, it's also for them to verify and judge if your relationship is legit or not. Once the officer is satisfied, you are instructed to come back in about a month time to collect your letter that states the Brunei Immigration have no issues with you marrying your spouse. My advise is -  mark down the date of your interview somewhere and set a reminder to when you need to go collect your letter. Do not rely on them calling you to collect cause that will not happen. For my case, they messed up our letter with typo on my name but thankfully I did not have to wait another month for them to re-do. And it is while waiting for them to re-issue the letter, I saw why it takes a month. The person handling these letters can't type to save their life. From what I could see, everything is already laid out in a template but I guess the struggle is real for the officers to type up different names. 

Once you have receive an official letter of authorisation to marry your spouse from the Immigration Department, laminate that shit immediately. The last thing you want to happen is to have it smeared and/or torn only to have to go through the ENTIRE process again. And trust me, you will need to provide endless copy of this letter for any other immigration related applications in the future. But congratulations on reaching this far! We have only just begun. For the next step, court signing! Here's the checklist from their brochure which you can retrieve from the Registry of Civil Marriages section at the AGC Building. 

Front page
Back page

Dealing with the court is much less complicated since most of them can speak English and the checklist & instructions are pretty straight forward. The only hiccup I had was with providing an official Certified of No Impediment to Marry issued by the Marriage Registry of the applicant's Country of Origin or an Affidavit or Statutory Declaration sworn by the applicant's parents. I initially thought it would make sense to have Calla provide an 'Affidavit of Statutory Declaration' herself done at the U.S Embassy but apparently the court does not recognises that. So we had to get her mom to do it officially in Michigan and Fedex the affidavit back here urgently to secure the date we wanted to do our Registration of Marriage. Once you have provided all of these to the court, then you can officially choose a date to legally be husband and wife in Brunei! 

Us after exchanging our 'legal' vows in 2014. 

Hope the above information is of great use to any of you out there. The next step after this is applying for your spouse to legally stay here which is another shitty lengthy process but I shall not go there because that requires a lot of mental strength and patience. Just thinking about doing a post on that entire process is making me annoyed. My suggestion if you prefer to skip the entire above process? Don't marry a Bruneian. If you really have to, then don't get married in Brunei. It's only necessary if you are planning on settling in Brunei for a bit or permanently. If both you and your spouse have no plans, then do it at whichever country you're living (if it's any easier than the Bruneian process). I wish you the very best of luck and may the odds be ever in your favour. 


Unknown said…
I've read through your post about the process of marriage.
Im going to marry a Foreigner but we decided to get married at his country ,
I came to immigration last time and maybe i asked wrongly cos what my partner asked me to do
Is just to have some documents from the government i bet which is those documents are the Requirements from my partner's country
And they asked for that documents so i can marrying him later when i get there . I wanted to go to court but i just wanted to ask since you experience the marriage process like marrying a foreigner. Im going to get married there so those requirements in the Immigration is only for people that getting married in brunei right ? I just want explanation. I wish you can help .

Thank you for your time!
ronckk said…
Hi Lucia. Yes my post is only applicable for Bruneians marrying a foreign citizen in Brunei. Congratulations and all the best for your application.
Unknown said…
Thank you for this informative post. I plan to get married to my moroccon partner and was wondering about the process which comes after regarding with allowing him to stay in brunei. Can you please provide me some insights for this?
ronckk said…
Hi Amirah. For that process, you will need to apply for a dependant pass (pas jaminan) and a multiple entry visa for him to enter and exit Brunei freely. The process is somewhat tedious. You will need all valid documentations such as your marriage certificate, letter of authorisation to marry your spouse issued by the immigration department and a few more which I cannot remember off the top of my head. Then you will need to fill in the visa application form and a Borang 8 and submit all documentations to go along with it.

I would strongly suggest you make a trip to the Immigration Dept, 1st floor (Visa Lawatan & Diplomatik) section and check with them. They should be able to provide you with a checklist of what is required to grant your partner permission to reside in Brunei under your sponsorship. Hope this helps!
Anonymous said…
First and foremost Congratulations for your beautiful marriage, CONGRATULATIONS! (sounds of trumpets, cars honking, mexican band with sombreroes playing their guitars, claps with the beat followed with hooray hooray cheering....lacucaracha...)

Endless thanks providing detailed infos (Honestly it really helps) regarding this marriage hassle-yes-procedures and I giggled throughout reading it. Am about to marry a foreigner (man) soon and its almost the same hassle procedures I discovered from his country. Am still in the stage of obtaining infos on how everything will work and plan to do the registry in Brunei instead. I hope lots of people will discover your blog as a very useful guide regarding this marriage matter.

Thank You Very Much.

Unknown said…
hai just want to say if my marrying foreigner in brunei want documents need and bring she from kl to brunei. she philippines
Unknown said…
Thank you for sharing your experience here...i only have few question.

What are the certain problems if a foreigner man will be marrying a bruneian girl?because me (foreigner) and my girl friend (bruneian girl) is planning to get marry.

Is the foreigner man will be allow by immigration to get a job after marraige?
Will the immigration will deport u once they found out that if you are married to a bruneian girl?

I hope you can help me.
Anonymous said…
I am indian, i want to marry a brunei girl. I dont know more about brunei country. Can anyone help me to find brunei lifepartner?
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Jefri Rahman said…
Dear Sir,
Thank you for your Guide which was seriously helpful. I tired searching for information and forms on official sites but had no luck.
Yours was by far the most helpful. Did I already say Thank You?

I'll go through my experience and will post any update to the information if any. I found this form from the Brunei MFA Tokyo site which may be useful to note as well.

Once again, thank you and much appreciated on your sharing here.

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