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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.

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 requirements:
-- 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 in Japanese.

-- 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 in Japanese.

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 prior marriage.

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.

Get Married

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 yen each.

Keep Records

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 government office.

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 is handy.

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.



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 An attorney in our office would be happy to assist you.

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