When you get married internationally, you are required to go through the procedures in both your country and your partner’s country in order for the marriage to be legally valid. Marriage rules vary from country to country. Depending on your status (place of residence, nationality, religion, etc.), the process of consummating the marriage may vary, so it is advisable to let the procedure be carried out in a way that suits your own wishes. In this section, we will explain the procedures and flow of marriage.
Confirmation of Conditions for Recognition of International Marriage
An international marriage is a marriage between people of different nationalities.
Each country has its own requirements for marriage. For example, in Japan, the Civil Code stipulates that marriage must be based on the following rules: age (both men and women must be at least 18 years old), singleness, and (in the case of women) that the couple must not be in a period of prohibited remarriage. These rules vary from country to country, so you must meet these “requirements” in both countries in order to get married internationally. (Substantial Establishment Requirement(実質的成立要件)).
In addition, an international marriage must conform to the laws and systems of the two different countries in order to be legally recognized in both countries .Different countries have different ways of legally validating marriages. For example, in Japan, the marriage is consummated when the marriage certificate is submitted to and accepted by the local government office. In some countries, marriages are consummated through religious ceremonies. In order for an international marriage to be legally recognized, there are rules in terms of “procedure”. (Formal requirements(形式的要件))
Procedures for International Marriage
The procedures for international marriages are carried out in each of your country and your partner’s country. The general idea is that after the marriage is consummated in one of the countries, it is notified to the other country.
Marriage is “consummated” in one country and then “notified” in the other country.
Basically, the procedures for international marriages are carried out in the countries of both parties. After the marriage is “consummated” in one country, it is “registered” in the other country. For example, in the case of Japan, a marriage is consummated when the marriage certificate is submitted to and accepted by the local municipal office. （This process is called “founding notification(創設的届出)”）In the case of Japanese nationals, once the marriage is consummated in Japan, it is entered in the family register. At this time, the foreign national’s family register is not created, but the partner’s name is entered in the “spouse” column. The marriage is then registered in the other country by submitting a Authentication of official seals(公印認証) and other documents and notifying the other country of the marriage. （This is called a “reportable notification.(報告的届出)”)
Which country should the marriage be registered in first?
The amount of effort and difficulty will depend on your place of residence at the time of marriage, your nationality, and your religion (method of marriage).In many cases, if both of you are living in Japan, it seems that you register the marriage in your home country after the marriage is consummated according to the Japanese method, but we suggest that you take the most appropriate procedure depending on your own situation and status.
Please refer to the next section, which introduces the five ways to get married in Japan.
How to get married in Japan
There are two ways to get married in Japan.
(1) First, you must register your marriage at a Japanese municipal office.
In Japan, a marriage is consummated when a marriage registration is submitted to and accepted by the local government office.
Upon marriage, the fact of marriage is entered in the family register. You will be issued a Certificate of Acceptance of Marriage(婚姻受理証明書), which you will use to register your marriage with the embassy or other appropriate authorities of the other party’s country.
If you wish to change your family name to your partner’s name, you must submit a “Notification of Change of Family Name (Surname)(氏（姓）の変更届)” to the municipal office within 6 months.
(2) In the case of notifying the other party’s country first
If you wish to get married in the other country’s way while in Japan, you must first go through the marriage procedures at the official institution of the other country. After that, you will be issued a marriage certificate(婚姻証明書), which will be translated into Japanese.
The marriage certificate and other documents must be submitted to the Japanese government office within three months, and once the marriage registration in Japan is accepted, the marriage in Japan will be consummated.
How to get married in a foreign country
There are three patterns of marriages in foreign countries.
(1) When getting married in the other country’s way
If you want to get married in the other country’s way while you are in the other country, you must first go through the marriage procedures at a public institution. After that, you will be issued a marriage certificate, which will be translated into Japanese.
The marriage certificate and other documents are submitted to the Japanese embassy in the other country. The Japanese embassy will contact the domicile of origin in Japan, and if accepted, the marriage will be entered in the family register.
If you are getting married by way of the place of marriage (third country)
If you are getting married in a country other than your partner’s country or Japan, you must follow the local (place of stay) marriage rules and procedures to get married.The marriage certificate issued will be translated into Japanese and mailed to the place of domicile in Japan. After the certificate is registered in the family register, it is delivered to the other party’s country.
(3) In case of marriage in the Japanese way
You may also submit the marriage certificate by mail. If you are married to a foreigner and wish to consummate the marriage according to Japanese law while in a foreign country, you may mail the necessary documents to the place of domicile.
Documents Required to Report an International Marriage
Compared to Japanese marriages, more documents are required for international marriage procedures. One reason for this is that the substantive requirements for marriage vary from country to country, and the party entering into the marriage must explain whether they have been met.
For an international marriage, you will need approximately the following documents, depending on which country you are going to perform the marriage. (*The following is just an example, as it varies from country to country.)
|Necessary documents for international marriage (example)|
|・Certificate of nationality(国籍証明書)(passport, birth certificate(出生証明書)) with nationality, etc.)|
・Affidavit of Competency to Marry(婚姻要件具備証明書)
・A copy of the family register(戸籍謄本) of the Japanese national
・Certificate of residence(住民票)
What is “Affidavit of Competency to Marry”?
We have explained that in order for an international marriage to be legally valid, both parties must meet the requirements for marriage under the laws of their home country.
The country conducting the procedure knows the laws of its own country, but it is up to the two people getting married to prove that they meet the laws of the other country. The document that certifies this is called a “Affidavit of Competency to Marry”. When a Japanese national wishes to get married in a foreign country, he/she must submit the “Affidavit of Competency to Marry” to the other country.
This document is called “Affidavit of Competency to Marry” in Japan, and some countries do not have this document. In such cases, another official document should be submitted instead. In either case, you will submit a document that shows that you meet the requirements for marriage in that country.
The “Affidavit of Competency to Marry” can be obtained from the Legal Affairs Bureau that handles the family register, the municipal office where the applicant’s domicile is located, or the Japanese embassy or consulate in a foreign country.
What are “Authentication of official seals(公印認証)” and “Apostille(アポスティーユ認証)”?
“Authentication of official seals” and “Apostille” are certifications by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for official documents issued by Japanese public institutions (government offices, municipalities, etc.).The Ministry of Foreign Affairs certifies Japanese official documents so that they will be accepted as Japanese official documents in the foreign country to which they are submitted.
Basically, this procedure is performed when requested by the submitting country. In the case of international marriages, “Apostille” is performed if the destination country is a signatory to the Hague Convention, and “Authentication of official seals” is performed if the destination country is not a signatory.
※In some cases, the Authentication of official seals of a country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention may also be required.
These are the procedures for international marriages.
When you get married internationally, you will have to go through the procedures in both your country and your partner’s country, and the rules of marriage differ from country to country. Depending on your status (place of residence, nationality, religion, etc.), the process and effort required to consummate the marriage will vary, so please proceed with the procedures in a way that is easy for you and meets your needs.