According to a survey conducted by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, there were over 660,000 marriages in the year 2013, and over 22,000 couples of those were ‘international marriages’ ( either husband or wife is a Japanese national ) which is 5 times more when compared to 50 years ago. With more people from abroad working and studying in Japan these days this is to be expected.
Weddings can be one of the biggest events in your life and its preparation an exhausting task, you have to think of who to invite to, what kind of wedding dress to wear, your honeymoon etc. But before you dive into the wedding preparations, you need to learn about the marriage system, not only how it works in Japan but also in your own countries. It might be a good idea to double check the requirements necessary to be able to get married.
1 .Certificate of legal capacity to contract marriage
You fall in love with someone and you want to get married to him / her. But the question is “ Are you able to get married legally ?”.
In Japanese Law, Japanese women can get married at 16 years old and Japanese men can get married at 18 years old but they still need permission from at least one of their parents. When they are 20 years old, they can get married without their parents’ permission. And Japanese women can only get married after 6 months have passed from a previous marriage.
Now, you have to check with your home embassy / consulate office in Japan what the requirements are to be able to get married legally as well as how the marriage performed abroad should be recognized legally in your own country. The Criteria and processes vary depending on your nationality and some of them can be quite complicated.
You also need to check if your home embassy / consulate office issues a Certificate of legal capacity to contract marriage (Konin youken gubi shoumei sho) or not. This is to prove that you meet the requirements of your own country’s laws and you are able to marry legally. Some countries don’t issue this certificate. If that is the case, you need to check what alternative document your home embassy / consulate office can provide you with.
Please contact your home embassy / consulate office in Japan to get this information in advance.
2. How to register your marriage
2-1. Register your marriage with Japanese officials
Let’s look at the marriage registration between a non-Japanese man and a Japanese woman.
When you are sure that both of you can get married legally, then you need to submit the following to a city / ward office which deals with the area in which you live in order to register the marriage.
* Please check with an official in charge of family registration at a city / ward office what the required documents are by informing them of your nationality. You might need to submit additional documents depending on where you come from.
- A registration of Marriage Form (Konin Todoke)
* This needs to be signed ( stamped with ” hanko “) by two witnesses who are over 20 years old.
- A certificate of legal capacity to contract marriage ( konin youken gubi shoumei sho ) for non-Japanese man
* Please attach the translated certificate and state who translated it. It is OK if you do it by yourself.
- A passport and residence card ( zairyu card ) for non-Japanese man
- A certificate of Family Registry ( Koseki tohon ) for Japanese woman
- A notification of changes of name
* Unlike the marriage between Japanese nationals, a Japanese woman’s surname remains the same as before when she gets married to a non-Japanese man. If she wants to change her surname to her husband’s surname, this needs to be submitted as well.
Once this is accepted by a city / ward office, please get a certificate of declaration of marriage ( Konin Todoke Juri Shomei-sho ). This is the proof that your marriage registration process was done officially at a city / ward office in Japan.
2-2. Register your marriage at your home embassy / consulate
It depends on your nationality, whether / how to register your marriage at your home embassy / consulate office in Japan. In some countries, if marriages are legally performed and valid abroad, it is also valid in these countries, therefore they don’t register your marriage at your home embassy / consulate.
If you have to register your marriage at your home embassy / consulate office ( or directly to the registration office in your country ), please follow the instructions given by the embassy / consulate office.
3. Spouse of Japanese national visa
Since you are legally married to a Japanese national, you can change your residential status to a “Spouse of Japanese national”.
In order to do so, you have to submit an application form for “ Change of Status of Residence “ to the immigration office, or a nationally licensed immigration lawyer ( gyoseishoshi ) can do it for you.
The necessary documents are listed below:
- An application form Change of Status of Residence
- A Passport and residence card ( Zairyu card ) * You have to show them at the immigration office
- A portrait photo ( 4 cm x 3 cm )
- A certificate of Family Registry ( Koseki tohon ) from your Japanese spouse which states your marriage
- A marriage certificate issued by your home embassy / consulate office
* As mentioned above, some embassy / consulate office in Japan don’t issue a marriage certificate.
Please check with your home embassy / consulate office if they can provide you with an alternative in order for you to be able to apply for a spouse visa. ( Some embassies do issue a marriage letter. )
- The most recent tax payment certificate ( Nouzei shoumei sho / Kazei shoumei sho ) of your Japanese spouse
* This is to show how much money you earned in total as well as whether you’d paid tax or not.
* If you cover the living cost for your Japanese wife / husband, you get these documents instead. What we have to prove here is that you are financially covered either by yourself or by your Japanese spouse.
- A letter of guarantee ( Mimoto hoshou sho ) * Japanese spouse is the guarantor
- A residence record of the entire family ( Jumin hyou ) from your Japanese spouse
- A personal details form ( Shitsumon sho ) * You have to explain how you and your Japanese spouse met, how you two communicate with each other etc.
- A couple of photos of you and your Japanese spouse together
* Fee : 4000 yen for changing the status of residence and payment must be made with revenue stamps
* The documents you submit will not be returned to you.
* Please use documents / certificates which have been issued within the 3 months prior to your application.
* If any of the documents are written in another language, please attach the Japanese translation.
Once you prepare these, go to the immigration office which deals with the area in which you live and apply for it. As long as you have been engaged in the activities under your previous visa category, then there shouldn’t be any problems.
With the above information, you should have a good idea of what to do when you get married to a Japanese national. Although you probably still need to find out more by yourself by contacting your home embassy / consulate office about the marriage itself, you should be confident enough to handle applying for a spouse visa ( Change of Status of Residence ).
- You don’t have time to go to the immigration office
- You are still not confident enough to do this on your own
- You want to do it on your own, but you want the prepared documents to be checked
- You also need some help about getting married process
- You simply don’t like to go into the immigration office ( I never liked it myself when I was living abroad )
In these cases, Visa Navi Japan can offer you the exact support you want.
We can check the documents that you prepared, help you get the necessary information from the embassy, and can also both prepare the documents and take the application form to the immigration office for you as Visa Navi Japan is a nationally licensed immigration lawyer ( gyoseishoshi ).
If you want to make an inquiry about getting married in Japan and changing a current visa to a spouse visa, or would like to consult about any issues related to your life in Japan, please fill out the form on the Contact us page and send it to us.
Visa Navi Japan
Address : Ootemachi ko-ta-su 802 Ootemachi 5-14-10, Naka-ku, Hiroshima, Japan 730-0051
Open Hours : 9:00 – 19:00 Closed : Monday
TEL & FAX : 082-258-4554
To find out about our standard fees, please have a look at our Fee page.