Saudi Gazette has learned that the higher authorities have approved amendments to the regulation for travel documents and Civil Status Regulation that allow a woman to apply for and obtain a passport without requiring the approval of her guardian. The amendments included granting the same rights to males and females above 21 years of age, and travel permit for custody, minors and those whose guardian has died only. The new regulation in a sense grants the right to adult Saudi women to travel without the permission of their guardians.
The amendments introduced in the regulation for travel documents include amendment of Article Two, which states: “Every applicant holding Saudi Arabian nationality will be granted a passport in line with the executive bylaw.” As to Paragraph Two, it states: “If necessary, the Minister of Interior can issue a passport or a laissez passer (temporary travel document) to any person who does not hold a Saudi Arabian nationality in order to use it for traveling outside the Kingdom and returning to the Kingdom.”
The executive bylaw specifies the cases for issuing and withdrawing the passport or temporary travel document. Before the amendment, Article Two used to state: “A passport can be issued to a Saudi applicant, and the Minister of Interior has the discretion to issue a passport or a laissez passer (temporary travel document), if necessity dictates, to any person who does not hold a Saudi Arabian nationality in order to use it for traveling outside the Kingdom and return to it. The executive bylaw specifies the cases for issuance or withdrawal, adding the wife and children to any of the two.”
The amendments included abrogation of Article Three, which used to state: “It is permissible for the passport to include the passport holder’s Saudi wife, his unmarried daughters and minor sons in line with the conditions mentioned in the executive bylaw.”
The amendments state: “The granting of a passport or a laissez passer to those under guardianship and the minors whose guardian has died will be according to what is specified by the executive bylaw.” Earlier, before amendment, Article Four of the regulation used to include all those under guardianship, before the recent amendment.
As to the amendment of the Civil Status Regulation, the new amendments have struck down the text “the wife’s place of stay is her husband’s place of stay, if both are still married,” from Article 30, so that it now reads as follows: “The place where the minor is residing is the place where his father or guardian is residing”.
The amendments permit the woman to report the birth of a newborn child, the way a man does. The amendments include those on several paragraphs of Article 33 of the Civil Status Regulation, so as to include a woman among those who can report the birth of a child. The amendment states: “Any of the child’s parents can report the birth of a child”.
However, before amendment it was the child’s father who could report the birth of a newborn baby and the closest male relatives, at least 18 years of age.
But the amendment allows the male and female relatives, over 18 years of age, to report the birth of a child.
The same amendments include adding the woman among the persons authorized to report a death. This was after the amendment of Article 53, and deleting “the male relatives”, so that Paragraph B of the article reads as follows; “among those authorized to report a death are the closest relatives and then going outwards to the less closer” or “the wife of the dead man or any of his relatives, at least 18 years of age”.
The new amendments include the wife among those authorized to report a marriage, divorce or a woman divorcing her husband (Khul’). It is permissible for the father of the husband or the father of the wife or one of their relatives to report the incident.
The amendments have granted a woman the right to apply for and obtain a family register from the Civil Status Administration, after amending Article 50, which states: “Any of the parents can apply for and obtain a family register from the Civil Status Administration. The responsibility lies on the husband, if he does not submit an application for the family register within 60 days from the date of signing the marriage contract (Aqd Al-Nikah), in line with the provisions of the executive bylaw.”
The amendment of Article 91 of the regulation reads as follows: “Within the sphere of implementation of this regulation, the head of the family is the father or mother vis-à-vis the minor children.”