Are you considering having a civil wedding in Japan? You must be wondering what documents you need and what you should expect when you arrive at the city hall. Can foreigners marry or is it just for Japanese people? Here are some tips you need to know if you are planning to have a civil wedding in Japan!
What It’s Like Getting Married at the City Hall in Japan
Contact your embassy on protocols for marrying
It is necessary to ask your embassy first regarding the protocol for marrying in Japan or any other foreign country. Some embassies require certain documents, but which are called different names to be presented. A background check is sometimes needed to be undergone to see if you are eligible to marry as well as a specific document. A document that is universally required is an Affidavit of Competency to Marry from the embassy of the Japanese Government. Anyone is free to marry at the city hall, including tourists who would like a destination wedding as long as all the paperwork is presented.
If you are marrying a Japanese citizen and would like to change your visa to a Spousal Visa then you need to submit your spouse’s Koseki (Family Registration) where your future children will be included.
Prepare all the required documents
- The basic requirements for the couple to get married in Japan are the following:
- Residence Cards
- Birth Certificates
- Affidavit of Competency to Marry
- Residence Certificates (if you are both residents)
- Koseki Tohon or Family Registry (if the other half is Japanese
- Marriage Registration Form (Konin Todoke)
The Marriage Registration Form is an important document in your application and is downloadable online from the municipality website you intend to have your marriage registered.
Depending on your country of origin, your embassy may need additional documentation to prove you can marry or get the affidavit. *If you are a US citizen, simply make an appointment to go to the embassy with your passport and request the Affidavit for Marriage. You will be asked to swear that all the information you provided is true, have you sign and that’s it! They will also notarize your document as well upon completion of the procedure. Also, all documents need to be translated into Japanese so may hire a licensed translator or a reliable Japanese person to translate all of your documents with their stamp seal on all of your files.
Go to the City Hall and get married
Generally, getting married in Japan is as easy as walking into your nearest city hall and letting the staff know about your intent to get married. Many wards ask for a reservation in advance but it is not uncommon to come in without one provided that your documents are complete. If you are marrying in your spouse’s ward, make sure you have your Residence Certificate from your ward to make things go more smoothly in the process.
Getting married in Japan is not as romantic as a traditional wedding or even a courthouse wedding. It is almost like running an errand like getting your address registered without all of the fireworks and confetti. There is no vow/ring exchange conducted by the Justice of Peace and you can pretty much go there in your jeans and shirt. A staff just asks you to sign certain documents for less than an hour and you are done! Congratulations!
Another plus in getting married here is that it is free! Most wards do not charge you for getting married but only for the documents you plan to get copies of such as your Marriage Certificates.
Request for copies of the Marriage Certificate
After getting married, it takes a few days for you to be able to get copies of your marriage certificate, so you can inform the staff right after your marriage that you would like to get copies of them. You may request for them to be sent to you via mail after paying a small fee for shipping or picking them up yourself a few days or weeks later.
Get Special Coupons and a Congratulatory Card
Some wards would give the newly married couple special coupons to certain shops, restaurants, and events that the new couple can enjoy. They also give you a Congratulatory Card with both your names and the dates of your marriage that you can show off in your new apartment as a souvenir. Take a selfie outside your city hall as your first photo as a married couple. You can have a special wedding celebration or reception as well depending on your budget or a private wedding party with a few friends. Some companies in Japan provide you with a 3-day Congratulatory Marriage Leave and Monetary Gift but don’t forget to ask your company first if they can offer the same privileges to you!
Update Your Personal Information
Make sure to update your personal information with necessary entities such as your company, embassy, city hall as well as immigration, especially if you are planning to change your family name to that of your spouse. Some identification cards that need to be changed by your new status, name, and address are:
– Residence Card
– MyNumber Card
– Health Insurance
– Residence Certificate (Juuminyou)
– Apartment Agency (If you are the head of the household)
– Utility Company records (If they are in your name)
– Employment Company records and ID
Getting married in Japan is not as hard as some may expect as long as you have done your research and have prepared all the essential paperwork. Some Japanese couples marry at the city hall and move in together before having a bigger more traditional wedding with their families a few years later. This is quite common among Japanese couples and many of them have a “wedding fund” they put a portion of their income every month to save up for the big event. I hope you learned something from this and if you are planning to get married, best wishes and congratulations!