American Citizen Services
Marriage in Japan
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.
Who Can Get Married in Japan?
Article 731 to 737 of the Japanese Civil Code stipulates the following requirements:
- The male partner must be 18 years of age or older and the female partner must be 16 years of age or older.
- A person who is under 20 years of age cannot get married in Japan without a parent's approval.
- A woman cannot get married within six months of the dissolution of her previous marriage. According to Japanese law, this is to avoid confusion as to the identification of a child's father if a birth occurs close in time to the end of the marriage.
- Most people related by blood, by adoption or through other marriages cannot get married in Japan.
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.
For the American Partner…
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.
- This is a notarial service. You will need to make an appointment.
- You can download the blank affidavit form here (PDF 158KB). You should use this form if you are planning to marry someone who is not a U.S. citizen. The form has two pages, one to be completed in English and the other to be used to translate the English page into Japanese. The consular officer will notarize only the English language document.
- If your partner is also an American, s/he must also complete a sworn Affidavit of Competency to Marry at the Embassy or consulate. Use this form (PDF 77KB) in cases of two Americans marrying one another. The form has two pages, one to be completed in English and the other to be used to translate the English page into Japanese. The consular officer will notarize only the English language document.
- These forms are required by Japanese law, and are not a requirement of the U.S. Government. No registration of your legal marriage abroad is required by the U.S. Government, and your foreign (i.e. Japanese) partner need not come to our offices.
- You will need to bring you U.S. passport and the $50 notarial fee.
- Once this is signed and sealed at the Embassy or one our Consulates, this Affidavit is valid for three months.
The members of the Armed Forces must obtain an Affidavit of Competency to Marry from U.S. Forces Japan channels.
You will need to fill out a Kon-in Todoke (request of registration of marriage) with 2 signatures from witnesses of any nationality and over 20 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 issues 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/Consulates does not maintain any records of your marriage in Japan and, under Japanese law, we cannot later retrieve marriage records from a municipal government office for you.
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 1400 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 record of your marriage.
Getting a “Marriage Certificate issued by the U.S. government”
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.
Translating Your Proof of Marriage
While proof of your marriage in Japan 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 usage in the U.S..
If you would like to have the translation notarized, you can use our fill-in-the-blanks translation templates.
- For the large fancy marriage document, use this form (PDF 13KB) to translate it.
- For the smaller A4-sized marriage document, use this form (PDF 16 kb) to translate it.
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.
Validity of Marriages Abroad
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.
Going to the U.S?
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.
That's it - Congratulations!