If you want to get married in Japan as a foreigner, the process is pretty straightforward. Before you fly into the country, you just have to make certain preparations that will ensure that everything goes smoothly on your special day.
Legal requirements to get married in Japan as a foreigner
Foreigners can get married in Japan. This means that you and your partner do not have to be Japanese citizens or residents to tie the knot in this country miles and miles away from your home.
In order to get married in Japan, you and your partner have to meet the following conditions:
- The male partner has to be at least 18 years old, and the female partner has to be at least 16 years old.
- If you are under 20 years of age, you have to secure a letter of approval from one of your parents. If your partner is under 20 years of age, they also have to get approval from one of their parents.
- If you are a woman who has just dissolved her previous marriage within the last six months, you cannot get married in Japan. The reason for this is to avoid any confusing or complicated situations, such as identifying the paternity of your child if you are pregnant.
- You and your partner should not be related by blood, by adoption, or through other marriages.
- You should prepare an Affidavit of Competency to Marry, which is a document that affirms that you and your partner are legally free for marriage. You can obtain it at your home country’s consulate or embassy office in Japan.
- If you are American, you have to obtain a sworn Affidavit of Competency to Marry at the U.S. Embassy. You must fill out both the English portion and the Japanese portion. If your partner is American, they need to do the same. Make sure to bring your valid U.S. passports, and prepare to pay a notarial fee of about 50 USD or its equivalent in Japanese yen.
Same sex marriage in Japan
Japan does not allow same-sex marriages yet. So, if you and your partner are a gay, lesbian, or transgender couple, you should scrap your plans of getting married in Japan, and go do it in countries like Canada, Australia, Mexico, and Brazil, where same-sex marriages for citizens and foreigners are permitted.
Important documents needed to get married in Japan as foreigner
There are a number of documents that you must have in hand to be able to register your marriage in Japan. When you go to a municipal office in Japan, you have to submit the following:
- Proof of identification – You and your partner can present your passport, valid driver’s license, or residence card (if you have one). Among the options, it is best that you have your passports as these are considered the best and most official identification for foreigners in Japan.
- Certificate of Marriage Notification – You can get this at the municipal office. If you want to complete the form on the day that you go there, you have to take two people with you to serve as the two witnesses needed to sign the witness section. You can ask literally anyone to be your witnesses — Japanese or non-Japanese, family members, friends, acquaintances, etc., as long as they are over 20 years of age.
- Certificate of No Impediment – This is a document that proves that you are single and are legally free to marry. It is also known as the Affidavit of Competency to Marry for U.S. citizens. You can get it from your home country’s consulate or embassy office in Japan. The process to obtain one varies per country. For example, if you are a British citizen, you have to schedule an in-person appointment at the British Embassy in Tokyo, and make a sworn oath.
- Original copy of birth certificate – This is not always required to be submitted, but to be safe, just take original copies of your and your partner’s birth certificates with you when you go to Japan.
- Japanese translation of all documents – You have to have Japanese translations of all the documents that you submit to the municipal office. This means that you have to translate your and your partner’s passports’ photograph pages, birth certificates, Certificate of Marriage Notification, and Certificate of No Impediment. The translation does not need to be professionally done. If you know some Japanese, you can do it on your own and translate the most important sections yourself. Fortunately, these days, the documents issued by the consulates or embassies already have Japanese translations, so you only have to work on the information that you provide.
The costs of getting married in Japan as a foreigner
The following are the estimated fees that your Japanese wedding may incur:
- About 5,500 JPY for the Certificate of No Impediment or Affidavit of Competency to Marry
- About 350 JPY to 1,500 JPY for the Certificate of Marriage Notification
- About 2,500 JPY per hour if you hire English-to-Japanese translation services
After the marriage ceremony
If you are able to submit all the necessary documents for marriage to the municipal office, everything should be all right. Once the registration process is done, you and your partner are now officially married. As proof of your marriage, you can request two documents from the municipal office:
- Kekkon-todoke juri shomeisho – This is essentially the marriage certificate. It is a single piece of paper where basic information about you and your partner, such as your names, dates of birth, nationalities, and date of marriage registration, are found. It costs 300 JPY, and takes about 20 to 30 minutes to procure.
- Kekkon-todoke kisai jiko shomeisho – This is the longer version of the kekkon-todoke juri shomeisho, as it includes copies of all the documents you submitted to register your marriage at the municipal office. It costs 800 JPY, and takes longer to procure.