Getting Married in Japan (as an Australian Foreigner!)

As you probably know by now, I'll be getting married in just over 3 months in the beautiful location of Kyoto, Japan. C and I chose Japan as we have family spread between Australia and the USA and we didn't want people to feel left out, so we opted for a very small ceremony with our immediate families in a place that we love. Instead of spending money on a big ceremony and reception, we thought it might be nice to have a holiday with our families!

Making the decision was the easy part. After booking our airfares and accommodation, I started looking at the legal requirements, thinking it would be fairly straightforward. Unfortunately most of my internet searches resulted in very negative attitudes towards the whole idea of foreigners marrying in Japan. I'm not sure why, but there's a lot of "it's too hard, why bother" and "you're wasting your time" to "why on earth do you want to get married in Japan anyway?! Just go to Vegas." I was close to giving up, when I found a post on a forum from Shandii. I got in touch with her and she has generously provided me (and anyone searching) with a step by step guide on getting married (legally) in Japan, written from her personal experience.

Marriage in Japan is not officially conducted at the ceremony like it is here in Australia. The official 'marriage' will occur in a Government office, devoid of any fancy dresses and romance. The ceremony itself is purely for show and is not required, or a part of, the legally binding 'marriage'.

I'll hand over to Shandii now, and she'll explain the nitty gritty of this elusive Japan wedding business.

AUSTRALIANS GETTING MARRIED IN JAPAN

As Australians to get officially married in Japan you will need to submit paperwork to an Australian Embassy in Japan and then submit paperwork at a City Office in Japan.

Please note the following:

  • This process is for Australians only.
  • You will either need to know how to read and write Japanese or hire a translator to speak and write for you.

Paperwork you will require before submitting paperwork:

  • Passports
  • Translated (to Japanese) copies of your passports (photo page).
  • Birth Certificates
  • Two completed Certificate of No Impediment marriageforms (1 for yourself and 1 for hubby/wife to be)
  • 2 witnesses to come with you to the City Office and their passport

FIRST STOP: Australian Embassy

You need to submit the applications of Certificate of No Impediment marriage at an Australian Embassy in Japan. Australian Embassies can be found in the following cities:

  • Tokyo
  • Fukuoka
  • Osaka
  • Sapporo

Addresses to the embassies can be found here:

https://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/japan/

Please note some Embassies have strict times and days when they will allow you to come in and submit the applications.

What the Australian Embassy requires:

  • Passports
  • Birth Certificates
  • Two completed Certificate of No Impediment Marriageforms

The No Impediment form will provide you with the No Impediment Certificate which the City Office needs to officially marry you. With the forms there is an English page and Japanese page and both are required to be completed.

As you may have guessed the Japanese page does need to be completed in Japanese. You won’t need to sign the Japanese page. You only need to sign the English page. When you submit the applications to Australian Embassy in Japan they will ask to see your passports and birth certificates and may take copies. It will cost around $89 each to process the applications and have the certificates made.

The Embassy will take up to 5 working days to process the application. They do ask for a Japanese address to have the certificates posted out but you can request if you can return to pick them up (We had ours sent to our hotel). You can post the applications to the Embassy but from what I remember there is a strict list of Japanese residents that need to certify the form (i.e. Japanese Policeman).

The Certificate of No Impediment will expire after 3 months and then you will need to submit new applications.

Once you've obtained your Certificate of No Impediment you can go to the City Office to get officially married!

SECOND STOP: Any City Office

You can choose to get married anywhere you like in Japan as long as there is a City Office.

I was officially married in the city of Okayama.

What the City Office requires:

  • Passports
  • No Impediment Certificates
  • Translated (to Japanese) copies of your passports (photo page).
  • 2 witnesses and their passport

The paperwork can take some time to complete and all needs to be done in Japanese. (It took us an hour and a half to complete with a translator and we also did this the day before our wedding ceremony)

Unlike Australia, in Japan you do not have to say vows.

The bride will be asked the following question:

"Do you understand that you will be marrying ‘Insert Husband’s name here’ in the City Of ‘Insert City name here’?"

Once the question is answered and the last of the paperwork is completed you’ll be officially married!

You’ll be asked to return in a couple of hours to get the completed marriage certificate. This will only cost you around $3 for the certificate. If you want another certificate to have as a spare it will be around $7 for two. This may vary from City Office to City Office.

On your return to Australia your marriage in Japan will be seen as an official marriage here in Australia however your Japanese marriage certificate won’t change your last name. You will need to complete a Deed Poll if you wish to change your last name to your husbands.

We used a company called Chris Poole Translation based in Melbourne, we did everything via email/mail and they also had translators based in Japan who we also hired to help us complete the paperwork at the City Office in Okayama.

Chris Poole Translation

For any enquiries, feel free to contact us on the number below 24 hours, any day of the year.

Address: 24 Greenwood Street | Abbotsford VIC 3067 Australia

Telephone: (61 3) 9391 0899

Facsimile: (61 3) 9391 0099

Email:

desk@pooletranslation.com.au

Website:

http://www.pooletranslation.com.au/

Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Shandii! You can say hi (or ask questions) to Shandii over at her blog, Shandii Crafts.

Kitty

xo