MARRIAGE IN JAPAN
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.
If you wish to marry in Japan, you will do so according to Japanese
law. Marriage in Japan consists of a civil marriage registration by
the couple at a Japanese municipal government office.
Only this civil registration constitutes a legal marriage in Japan.
Ceremonies performed by religious or fraternal bodies in Japan, while
perhaps more meaningful for you, are not legal marriages. Consular officers
unfortunately cannot perform marriages.
There are just a few things you'll need to do to get married.
Who Can Get Married in Japan?
Article 731 to 737 of the Japanese Civil Code stipulates the following
-- The male partner must be 18 years ofage or older and the female partner
must be 16 years of age or older.
In addition, for Americans, you must be able to legally marry in your
home state; if the legal age of marriage at home is 18, you cannot marry
earlier than that in Japan.
-- A woman cannot get married within six months of the dissolution
of her previous marriage. According to Japanese law, this is to avoid
confusion as to the identification of a child's father if a birth occurs
close in time to the end of the marriage.
-- Most people related by blood, by adoption or through other marriages
cannot get married in Japan.
-- A person who is under 20 years of age cannot get married in Japan
without a parent's approval.
For the American Partner
Japanese law requires all foreigners who marry in Japan to first prepare
a sworn Affidavit of Competency to Marry, affirming they are legally
free to marry, from their own country's embassy or consulate in Japan.
-- This form is for use with one American partner and one non-American,
such as when an American man marries a Japanese woman. The form has
two parts, one to be completed in English and the other to be completed
-- If your partner is also an American she or he must also complete
a sworn Affidavit of Competency to Marry at the US Embassy. Use this
form in cases of two American people marrying one another. The form
has two parts, one to be completed in English and the other to be completed
These forms are required by Japanese law, and are not a requirement
of the US Government. No registration of your legal marriage abroad
is required by the US Government, and your Japanese partner need not
come to our offices.
After completing the affidavit form, please visit the US Embassy or
Consulate to have the document notarized. You will need to bring your
valid US passport and the $30 notarial fee (the embassy accepts cash,
US dollar or Japanese Yen). Checks are not accepted.
Once signed and sealed at the US Embassy or Consulate, this affidavit
is valid for three months.
Other Things to Note
Members of the Armed Forces must obtain an Affidavit of Competency
to Marry from US Forces Japan channels. US citizen minors (please check
marriage laws of your US state of domicile for relevant age) require
a notarized letter of consent from their parents or legal guardian.
Under some circumstances Japanese authorities may require women who
wish to marry in Japan to wait six months after the termination of any
For the Japanese Partner
The Affidavit of Competency to Marry you completed needs to be translated
into Japanese (notarization not required), along with your parents'
consent, if you are underage. Your Japanese partner must also complete
a Japanese municipal government form called the Kon-in Todoke needed
to register a marriage.
Two witnesses of any nationality over 20 years old must sign the Kon-in
Todoke. The Embassy staff cannot translate or prepare these documents.
Generally non-Japanese witnesses will sign in longhand, while Japanese,
Korean and Chinese national witnesses may be asked for their seal (Inkan)
The Japanese Government and/or the local municipal office may also
have other requirements for your partner; please check with the appropriate
municipal office. Typically, Japanese citizens will require a certified
copy of their family register (Koseki Tohon) or its extract (Koseki
Shohon) issued within a month of the marriage.
Korean, Chinese or other nationals who are long-term permanent residents
in Japan, or those who lack diplomatic or consular representation here,
may be able to marry after obtaining a registration document (Gaijin
Toroku Zumi Shomeisho) from a ward or city office. Contact the appropriate
Japanese authorities for details.
If your partner is neither Japanese nor American, she or he should
also contact his or her Embassy for the marriage procedures needed in
their own country. Some countries require back-home records checks and
waiting periods; call in advance of your planned wedding day.
This is the part of this whole procedure that actually makes you and
your partner "married."
Once all the paperwork above is completed, proceed to the appropriate
Japanese municipal government office. To avoid any disappointment, be
sure to confirm local marriage procedures and rules directly with municipal
government officials. (For example, depending on the jurisdiction, you
may be required to submit a certified copy of your birth certificate
and its Japanese translation.)
Once the marriage procedures are completed, the municipal government
office issues a Japanese language "Certificate of Acceptance of
Notification of Marriage" (Kon-in Todoke Juri Shomeisho) for 350
The Japanese language "Certificate of Acceptance of Notification
of Marriage" (Kon-in Todoke Juri Shomeisho) is your only proof
of marriage. We maintain no record of marriages in Japan and, under
Japanese law, cannot later retrieve marriage records from a municipal
Write down the name and address of the municipal government office
that registered your marriage, as you'll need to contact them directly
in the future to obtain proof of your marriage.
You will be given a choice of two versions of the "Certificate
of Acceptance of Notification of Marriage". Both versions are legal
proof of your marriage. The large version, which many people find more
attractive, should cost about Y1500. The smaller version, about A4 size,
should cost about Y350.
Translating Your Marriage Certificate
While proof of your marriage in Japan is shown by the Japanese-language
marriage certificate you get at the ward or city office, many times
(such as when applying for an immigrant visa, or a social security card
for your spouse in his/her married name) an English language document
What most couples choose to do is to translate their Japanese-language
marriage certificate using our fill-in-the-blanks forms. You or your
spouse may do the translation; there is no need to hire a professional.
Once translated, the translator should bring the finished document
to our offices), along with his or her passport and the fee of US$30.
We will certify the translation and return it to you in just a few minutes.
Am I Really Married?
Yes. Marriages legally performed and valid in a foreign country are
also legally valid in the United States. Marriage certificate properly
issued in a foreign country where the marriage involving a US citizen
is considered proof of that marriage.
AFTER THE MARRIAGE, THE US CITIZEN MAY PETITION THE JAPANESE
SPOUSE FOR A K3 MARRIAGE VISA.
ALTERNATIVE TO MARRIAGE ABROAD:
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 fiance
of American citizen.
To consult a K3 marriage visa attorney, please call us at (626)
279-5341 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. An attorney in our office
would be happy to assist you.