If you wish to marry in Japan, you must do so according to Japanese law. Marriage in Japan consists of registering marriage at a Japanese municipal government office.
Only this registration constitutes a legal marriage in Japan. Ceremonies performed by religious or fraternal bodies in Japan, are not legal marriages. Consular officers cannot perform marriages.
Article 731 to 737 of the Japanese Civil Code stipulates the following requirements:
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.
For detailed information, please contact a Japanese municipal government office.
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.
Member of the Armed Forces should contact their on-base legal office and/or chain of command for proper procedures.
You will need to fill out a Kon-in Todoke (request of registration of marriage) with 2 signatures from witnesses of any nationality who are over 18 years old. Our staff cannot help you to prepare the documents or be witnesses.
The Japanese Government and/or the local municipal office may also have other requirements for your partner. Please check with the appropriate municipal office.
If your partner is neither Japanese nor American, s/he should also contact his/her Embassy for the marriage procedures needed in their own country.
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 submit your Kon-in Todoke. 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, you may ask the municipal government office to issue a Japanese-language “Certificate of Acceptance of Notification of Marriage” (Kon-in Todoke Juri Shomeisho). This is your only proof of marriage. The U.S. Embassy/Consulate does not maintain any record of your marriage in Japan, and under Japanese law we cannot later retrieve marriage records for you from a municipal government office.
There are two versions of the “Certificate of Acceptance of Notification of Marriage.” Both versions are legal proof of your marriage. The large fancy version costs around 1,400 yen. The regular A4 size version costs around 350 yen.
You should 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 a record of your marriage.
The U.S. Government does not issue marriage certificates for marriages performed overseas. Your Japanese marriage document will be the only proof of your marriage. If anyone (i.e. Japanese Immigration) asks for your “marriage certificate issued by your own government,” there will be none.
While proof of your marriage is shown by the Japanese-language marriage document you get at the ward or city office, sometimes a notarized translation of the Japanese marriage document can be handy for use in the U.S.
If you would like to have the translation notarized, you can use our fill-in-the-blanks translation templates:
This is a notary service. Please see our notary page for more information.
Please note that we will be attaching the translation to the original marriage document at the time of notary. Also, whoever translated the document needs to come in for the notary.
Remember, this is not a marriage certificate issued by the U.S. government.
In general, marriages which are legally performed and valid abroad are also legally valid in the United States. You do not have to report your marriage to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate. For more information please read the Department of State website.
If you wish to visit or live in the U.S. with your spouse please see our website for U.S. visas.
Please also see our Frequently Asked Questions page