Marriage Licence Cafe, Visa Superman, And Whoops We Are Married!

Its been a while since I posted anything. That is because on the 1st September we officially got married. I say officially because the government now agrees that we are married. So I was going to write a post about that experience, but was soo angry and frustrated, I needed a few days to cool down. I don’t consider myself cold enough yet, but ill still let you know how a foreigner and an Egyptian get married here in Cairo.

So we managed to get all the insane documents needed, stating I wasnt married, wasnt physically sick, actually that’s the only thing they didn’t check, my mental health… So they let mentally sick people get married!? Anyway we brought all the documents early in the morning to a place near downtown Cairo, called the Ministry of Justice… Lets just get one thing absolutely clear here: There is ZERO (none, nada, zilch) justice in this building.

We contacted the Egyptian Superman that had previously helped us and he was there waiting for us. He would fix this paper in 1 day for us, because he is superman! Normally the process is that you go in, hand in all your papers and come back 14 days later to pick up your marriage licence. Dont ask me why they need two weeks to fill out som papers, this is Egypt. So we handed him all the papers and he had a look at them, handed the papers to the secretary of the Minister of Justice…. And they noticed my visa had not been stamped!!!! DUN DUN DUN!!!

Now the week before I called the Norwegian embassy and they told me that the tourist visa I have is valid for one month and I can get married with it. Now I get to the ministry and they tell me its missing some stamps!? If the Norwegian embassy know NOTHING about this stamp, how on earth am I supposed to know about it? Okey where do I find this information, how do I know my VALID visa needs a stamp to be valid?! Where do I get this stamp? What does this stamp mean? I mean either my visa is valid or NOT? How can my visa be valid only if it has some ink splattered over it?

So there was a smartly dressed man sat there who said he can help us. He could take us to the places, YES PLACES (PLURAL!!!!) to get this freaking VALID visa stamped to make it VALID!??!?!? We got in the car and drove to Tahrir square, and we were back at this disgusting building called Mogamma! This is where all the visas are issued and residency stuff is fixed… I’m not going to go into details how disgusting this place is but imagine hundreds of sweaty, stinky, dirty men undressing you with their eyes, woman staring at you because you are clearly an alien that just landed on planet earth and by mistake walked into this building. Words cannot describe how disgusting this place is and I feel so sorry and disgusted that foreigners have to see this side of Egypt just to get a valid visa. If I was new here and I walked into this building wanting to get a visa to stay in Egypt… It would take me exactly 2.3 seconds for me to turn around leave the building, leave the square, leave the airport and never come back…

It turned out the smartly dressed man we picked up was a visa superman! He walked straight passed all the queues, got papers and stamps and paid some money and within 20 min we had an all clear… Next stop! WAIT what? ANOTHER PLACE? I thought we just got the visa stamped… We needed to go to another place… I tried asking why but there was no use… Even the people who do this stuff for a living don’t understand the process. After a few why’s, I thought I need my mental health to be on top for the marriage licence, so im not going to ask anything, im just going to follow and do as im told… We drove to another building, never been there before…. It was a shopping mall and a bus station, but ALSO A VISA STAMPING OFFICE! Surprise! Okey HOW the hell is ANYONE supposed to know that after leaving the visa building you have to drive to a bus station/shopping mall and get it validated. Again get a VALID visa to become MORE VALID with a freaking stamp… I swear its like people make up the rules as you go along… Then we had to buy a STAMP from a post office. Without this stamp you can’t get married?! Okey I thought we couldn’t get married without rings and stuff, but a STAMP from the post office…. that is some serious stuff… IMAGINE if we went to the office to get married and we didn’t have a stamp from the post office?!!?! Dear God, I can’t imagine what else they would tell us to get… Then we had to go to a supermarket and buy 1kg of whole grain flour, 2 packets of sugar and 3 eggs… We had to mix the stuff together and put our papers and passport in the dough and cook for 30 second in a MICROWAVE, not an oven. Then we could go back to the ministry of justice to get married… Okey the last part with the dough was sarcasm, but u believed it a little bit?! That is how insane the government in Egypt is…

When we got back to the Ministry of No FREAKING justice we were told to have a seat in the waiting room and they would call our names. Let me tell you about this area… It’s on the 4th floor… Has no air-conditioned and it was over 35 degrees with stuffy air. You walk into this large room where there are 5 men with suits sat behind a desk talking shit about everyone around them and laughing out hard and loud. These 5 men take your papers, look at you, look at the papers and then tell you to have a seat. The waiting room is filled with metal patio chairs. They are more than a hundred years old, with a small pillow that falls off when you sit down. They have carpets on the floor that have never been cleaned. The walls are covered with bacteria, dirt, sweat, tea, snot, foot prints… The whole rooms smells like urine, sewage and sweat, and its so dirty you can’t even imagine the last time they cleaned. The waiting room is filled with young (Like super young and ugly and GROSS) Egyptian men and old, saggy foreign ladies. Young poor Egyptian men suck the blood out of old wealthy foreign women and marry them for their passport! How romantic…

This is the only place foreigners can get married. The fact that they couldn’t throw some fresh paint on the gross walls made me so angry I had to just block everything else out. A waiter (IM NOT JOKING, A FREAKING WAITER!!!!! IN A WAITING ROOM) walked up to us and asked us what we wanted to drink…. My fiance said nothing thank you… The waiter replies: This is a cafe, if you want to sit here you need to order something!?!?…. Okey so we are in a waiting room, waiting to get our marriage licence and the ONLY seats to sit on are these, now you want to force me to drink something because im sitting down, on a chair you call a cafe?! This could take up to 5 hours, and you think we should stand for these 5 hours maybe? Against the bacteria infested wall maybe? My fiancée told the waiter we don’t want anything. The waiter says: then you can’t sit here, you need to order something… IM NOT HERE TO CHILL AT A CAFE…. I’m here to get married, Full stop… I don’t want a dirty tea.. I don’t feel like drinking anything in this stench… My fiancée got so pissed off he told him to get him a water… The waiter comes back with a bottle of water… They call our names to go inside the office. We leave with the water bottle… No we had not paid for it!?

Inside the office a dirty guy is sat in a dirty chair, smoking. He commands us to go over to his desk. What is your name? Kristine. Kristine WHAT? Augustsson. Where are you from? Norway. What is the name of your fiancée? Bahaa. BAHAA WHAT? SABRY. Do you want to marry Bahaa Sabry? Yes. Do you have any conditions? Ummm what, yes I use Loreal Conditioner for my hair, the one for red coloured hair… Would you like to know what soap I use also?….. His tone of voice was like a robot… The whole thing made me want to cry, this was the most disgusting experience of my life and here I am getting married… Shouldnt this be the best experience? I was so worried about not breathing through my nose, in case I might throw up from the smell that I didn’t think about the marriage licence.

We then left the office, went back to the cafe/waiting room and sat for 4 hours waiting. Honestly I don’t know if I would have prefered to come back 14 days later and pick up the licence than sit 4 hours in this gross building waiting… But we didn’t have 14 days and this Egyptian Superman was the best so he fixed everything for us… We just sat waiting…

They called our names: We have a problem… What is her name, they asked my fiancee? WAIT, WHAT ABOUT ASKING ME, WHAT MY OWN NAME IS… I have had this name for 26 years so I can remember it pretty well, so go on ask me… Is her name Kristine or KristinA? Okey lets take a break…. On my passport what does it say? KRISTINE… Okey but is your name Kristine or Kristina? WHAT DOES IT SAY ON THE PASSPORT?!?!?!!? Kristine… Okey but on the piece of paper from the embassy it says KristinA in arabic… WHAT does it say on the english side? Kristine!!!! Okey people, I don’t know what your IQ is and im not going to stand here until the sunset  discussing what you think my name SHOULD be and what my name is.. the embassy has made a small mistake on the arabic section, it is correct in the english section… ALL the other papers AND MY FREAKING passport say KRISTINE!!!!

They go back to fill out the marriage licence correctly… We go in and sign 14 different papers and put our fingerprint 17 different places… Then loads of people start saying mabroook, congratulations… Okey?!? Wait was that it… Are we now married! Yes… 30 min and we give you your contract… Okey that was sooo freaking unromantic…

Five minutes after the office should be closing we finally get the contract. The superman tells us to check all the info. We check and my fiancée moms name is wrong. Even though they had a piece of paper stating here surname correctly, they managed to change her surname from mohamed to ahmed…. Congrats guys for managing to prove yourself as stupid!

And because in Egypt one of your surnames is always your dads first name (weirdest thing ever!) my name was: Kristine Kavli Augustsson… But they happily changed it to: Kristine Kavli Parley Augustssson! Shit happens ey?!

My conclusion? Dont ever get married in Egypt… FULL STOP! Unless you might want a cup of tea while your waiting to process your marriage papers and enjoy the smell of urine. Then by all means, go for it!

I’m having to use my mobile network to post this, so I will add photos as soon as I get some good internet. Sorry!

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6 Comments

  1. Dear Kristine,

    I found your blog while doing some researches about tourist visa extension Egypt.

    I just got back from the Immigration office/Mogamma) in Tahir Square frustrated and confused. I am a Freelance consultant working on short-term assignment outside of Egypt. My partner is a British citizen and is holding a resident permit to Egypt. I arrived in Egypt on a 3-month tourist visa. When I went to apply for my visa to be renewed 3 weeks ago, I was told to come back two weeks later (= one week prior to the date of expire of my current visa). I came back today only to be told that my visa will not be renewed and I have 15 days to leave the country!!!

    We tried to apply for spousal/partner visa, but we were informed that this would not be possible unless we are married (we have been living together for over 10 years in various countries without problems). We are willing to get married here but we need to extend my tourist visa first while we apply for the civil marriage in Egypt.

    Reading your blogpost on visa and now the one on “getting married” really frightened me, and I could feel the anger (and disgusts) building up in my chest. Now the choice ahead of us are either (1) pack up – leave the country and forget all about Egypt or (2) throw ourselves in the fire, go through hell like you did to get married and obtain the right visa.

    Would you mind sharing with me the contact of your visa superman (or rather would it be possible – I am sorry if this is your personal contact, and not an agent )? We got some help from the office of my partner but they are not very useful. In situation like this, you cannot just follow the rules, you need a real superman to help clear your path.

    Oh and many many congratulations on your marriage (in spite of the unpleasant experience). I am really sorry to bother you, but I am in similar desperate situation and just do not know how to get out of it.

    I hope to hear from you soon.
    Kind regards,

    Huong

    1. Der Huong
      First I would like to sincerely apologize for the late reply. I was away on honeymoon and then had a week in norway, so ive not had too much internet access. Sorry! I totally feel your frustration, they change the rules to suit themselves, and there is no guessing what they will tell you next. It forces you to find loop holes in the law! The lawyer we know will help you with marriage, he doesnt really anyone in mogamma, but we met someone that did know many people in mogamma. The lawyer and the mogamma guy are not cheap, but they fix everything in a matter of hours, and any problems that do arise, they can handle. I do not have a problem sharing his contact details but unfortunately he doesnt speak english. Would you like me to contact him, explain your story and let you know what to do, or do yyou have someone who speaks arabic that can fill him in on your story? I completely feel your frustration, and I will do my best to give you any contact numbers you need. It breaks my heart when the government makes it so hard for people to live in such a beautiful country! Whatever you guys decide, just remember it will be a frustrating process! This is Egypt! Thank you so much for your comments, and if you need any help, let me know… If its easier you can add me on facebook: Kristine Kavli Augustsson, and i promise ill reply instantly! So sorry about the delay, and thank you again for reading my blog!
      Kristine

  2. Your post made my day because it indicated that time stood still in Egypt since I left 45 years ago! We got our exit documents at the Mugammaa through the help of a ministry of interior general ($$$) and were grateful to leave Egypt never to come back!

  3. Hi Kristine,

    Many thanks for your understand and kind offer to help

    Luckily we also found a hero (a local lawyer) who helped us with the process to obtain the “contract”. It was amazing how quick he did it – we ran into him (literally) at 3 pm, he took me to the Mugamma building to get my visa extended for a week and by 5 pm we were married, just a few days before I was due to leave the country. WE also did pay a handsome amount. So yes, we are now officially married in Egypt and we can go to the Gym together as man and wife (LMAO)

    I am currently in Mongolia doing some work, but I will be back by early November. I also live in New Cairo (Rehab). Maybe we could get together for lunch or coffee to unwind from the stressful experience of our marriage? or perhaps we could think about opening a law firm to help foreigners getting married in Egypt (haha). I could even get my health certificate without having to go to the hospital. So none of the document (health certificate or marriage contract) they asked for is of any real value. I guess they purposely made them an obligation, then make it such a hassle to obtain that you will have to pay them. Anyway, I am glad it was over.

    Enjoy your Eid break.
    All the best,

    Huong

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