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Law Office of Bobby C. Chung


Disclaimer: The following information relating to marriage requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only and may not be accurate in a particular case. Questions involving interpretations of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign attorneys or foreign government officials.

American citizens contemplating to marry a Chinese citizen in China should review the following general information on Chinese Government procedures. Marriages in China are registered according to the laws of China. Contrary to popular notion, American diplomatic and consular officers do not have the authority to perform marriages and are not required to witness the marriages of American citizens. One reason for this is that under the US Constitution, the administration of civil affairs is one of the powers reserved to the various states. Thus, as Federal Government employees, American consular officers are prohibited from usurping this state role.

The current Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China was passed in September 1980 and went into force on January 1, 1981. Under this law, marriage registration procedures are administered by the marriage registration office of the local civil affairs bureau, Minzhengju, in each jurisdiction. Persons planning to marry should visit one of these offices for specific information. There may be a fee for this visit. The appropriate civil affairs office will be the one in the jurisdiction in which the Chinese citizen is registered ( the location of hukou ). In Beijing, inquires should be directed to the following:

Marriage Registration Office
Bureau of Civil Affairs of Beijing Municipality
1st FL., No. 8 Huayanli
Chaoyang District Beijing 100029
Telephone: 6202-8454
Working hours: 09:00-11:30; 13:30-17:00 Monday- Friday

As of October 1, 2003, the Chinese marriage registration authorities stopped registering the marriages that both parties are temporary foreign visitors. The new regulation states that at least one party should be a long-term resident in China.

Certain categories of Chinese citizens, such as diplomats, security officials, and others whose work is considered to be crucial to the state, are not legally free to marry foreigners. Chinese students generally are permitted to marry if all the requirements are met, but they can expect to be expelled from school as soon as they do. American citizens wishing to marry Chinese students should bear this in mind. It also should be noted that at least one school in Beijing has required Chinese students to reimburse the school for hitherto uncharged tuition and other expenses upon withdrawal from school to marry foreigners. Schools in different areas have their own reimbursement standards. A school will not release documents the student needs to register the marriage until the fees are paid. Some work units have also demanded compensation for "lost services."

Upon receipt of an application to register a marriage, the civil affairs office will ascertain that both parties are of minimum marriageability age (generally 22 for men and 20 for women, although a higher minimum may be established by the local civil affairs office) and that both parties are single and otherwise free to marry. Persons who have been married previously will be asked to submit original or certified copies of final divorce or annulment decrees, or of death certificates if widowed. The American partner to a marriage in China will generally be asked to submit the following:

• a current passport

• if both parties are foreigners, one side should present a Chinese residence permit

• a "certification of marriageability" which can be prepared at the Embassy on the basis of an affidavit in which the American citizen swears or affirms before a Consul that he or she is currently legally eligible to marry (persons who have previously been married need to show a certified divorce decree, annulment decree, or death certificate both to the Embassy when preparing this certificate and to local authorities. Since proof of termination of all previous marriages will again be required when you file an immigrant visa petition on your spouse's behalf, we recommend that you do not surrender the certified copies of death certificates or divorce or annulment decrees to the civil affairs office. You should take a good photocopy with you when you go to register the marriage. Generally, if you present the certified copy with the copy for their review, the Chinese authorities will accept the copy. This is also true for your spouse if he or she has previously been married.) Please be aware that both the American citizen and his/her Chinese financee are required to appear in person at the Embassy for the above said marriageability certificate.

• three photos of the marrying couple, taken together

• a registration fee

The Chinese partner to the marriage will be asked to submit the following:

• a certificate of marriageability (obtainable from the office which has physical control of his or her file)

• household registration book

• health certificate (obtainable from a regional level local hospital)

• Chinese ID (Shen fen zheng)

All English-language documents must be translated into Chinese. Translation of documents usually takes about a month, but can be completed within 10 days at double the original cost. Translations should be obtained from and certified by one of the Municipal PubliC Notary offices.

In Beijing, translations and notarizations can be obtained at the following places:

• Beijing Notary Public Office
206 Jixiangli Chaowaidajie
Chaoyang District, Beijing
Telephone: 6553-8989; 6553-8988
Working hours: 08:30-11:30; 13:30-16:30

• China Translation and Publication Corp.
6th Floor Wuhua Complex
A4 Chegongzhuang Dajie, Beijing
Telephone: 68002558

Normally, marriage certificate can be issued by the Marriage Registration Office of the Bureau of Civil Affairs of Beijing Municipality on the same day.



Instead of the above procedures, it is possible to file a K1 visa petition for an alien to enter the United States as the fiancee of an American citizen. Thus, enabling the parties to marry in the United States. Note that this is only possible if you have previously physically met your fiancee. K1 Visa for fiancee of American citizen.

To consult a K3 marriage visa attorney, please call us at (626) 279-5341 or e-mail us at An attorney in our office would be happy to assist you.

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