Complete guide of How to get married in Japan! This is what we went through.(A Costa Rican living in the USA and a Japanese living in Europe)

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What do we have to do to get married legally in Japan?

Do you wonder how you can get married in Japan?

This article is a complete guide for you to make sure that all of your procedures will be smooth when you work on it.

Because we just went through all the procedures as we got married last year(2019).

As I was a person who was living in an European country when we went through the procedure, and my husband was a Costa Rican who had been living in the USA, we had to complete the procedures while we stayed together in Japan, which was only for 2 weeks!

If you follow the instructions in this article,  your marriage procedures will be very smooth and easy.

How is it like to get married in Japan?

Photo by Ta-Ching Chen on Unsplash

In Japan, what is required to get married is just documents.There is no ceremony required.

However, if you would like to hold a ceremony, of course it’s possible. Either case, the official date when you legally get married will be the day that you submit the documents to the local government.

If you are looking for some agency which can hold Japanese style weddings, check out this company. 

>>> Hanayume

This company is one of the major agencies in Japan to organize any kind of wedding ceremony. They have various options.

Legal requirements to get married in Japan

Photo by Kristina Litvjak on Unsplash

These are the requirements to get married in Japan.

  • Both you and your partner have the will to get married

  • Age has to be older than 18 years old (Male) / 16 years old (Female)

    The legal age of adulthood in Japan is currently 20 years old (It is expected that the age of adulthood will be lowered to 18 in 2022.), and if you are under it, you need the agreement of your guardians.  

  • Not bigamy

  • Not consanguineous marriage

  • A woman can get married only after 100 days of her divorce in case she was previously married.

The time line to get married in Japan

The time table to Get married in Japan
  • A few months before going to Japan

    Foreign spouse has to obtain the documents from his/her country.

    a. Civil status certificate that certifies single status
    b. Birth certificate
    c. Obtaining the translation of a and b.
    d. Get apostille for the a, b and c.

  • At least two weeks before going to Japan
    Contact to the local government in Japan

    You can choose any local governmental office in Japan to submit the documents. Contact their Koseki(Family registration) section.

    You may send all the scanned data of the documents obtained from your foreign partner’s country. They will look through all the documents to see if there is any item missing (It takes from 4 days to 2 weeks).

  • Submit the documents
    Go to the local government office of Japan

    Submit the documents.

    You will obtain the marriage certificate few days after you submit the documents.

  • Issuance of the marriage certificate
    Picking up the marriage certificate

    Translate the document and obtain

    -The validation from notary office
    -Apostille from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • Contacting the Embassy
    Contact the Embassy / Consulate of the foreign spouse’s country

    Check what kind of documents the Embassy or Consulate will require to register the marriage.

  • Filing the marriage in another country
    Go to the Embassy /Consulate of the foreign spouse’s country

Let’s take a look at each step.

The documents that should be prepared 


The list of the documents
  • Marriage certificate application form(婚姻届-konin todoke)

    -You can obtain this application form from any local government in Japan. 

    – If you are interested in fancy application forms, you may check out this website. These are cute and legally bind! 

    >>> Annyversaire

  • Foreign partner
    -Civil status certificate that certifies single status
    -Birth certificate

    For both documents, translation is needed by a translator /They need to be verified and given apostille from the country’s government.

    -Passport copy
    Translation is required however no validation required.

  • Japanese
    -Passport copy
    -戸籍謄本(Koseki tohon)

Once you decide to get married, you’d better contact the local government of the foreign spouse’s country to ask how long it takes to issue the “Civil status certificate that certifies single status” and “Birth certificate”.

If you are in a remote area, it may take long to obtain the documents. In our case, he had to fly to Costa Rica, and took almost 2 weeks to obtain them.

Make sure that your legal name is right on your official document!

There are some countries that legal names may be printed in different ways on passports and birth certificates. And this may make the documents invalid. Make sure that all the names on the documents are the same.

Be careful with the expiration date of the document

You have to be careful with the expiration dates of each document. In Japan, Japanese documents expire in 3 months after being issued. Foreign documents expire in 6 months.

Make sure everything is all set before flying to Japan

Contact the local government of Japan which you will submit the document to. You can choose any local government office in Japan. It does not need to be the local office of where your Japanese spouse lives. 

You can send the data to them beforehand, so that they can look through all the documents before you go there. 

They will let you know if any documents have any problem.

Submit the documents at the local government

Finally, you can submit the documents.

What fee will be involved to file the marriage?

To issue the marriage certificate:

A4 certificate type ¥ 350 (Official /legal)
Decorative type ¥1,500  (Also a legal document but optional)

Issuance of the certificate

On the day you submit the documents, you can obtain a marriage application receipt which may work as a marriage certificate for some occasions. However, it is not official.

The official marriage certificate should be issued between 2 to 3 days after you submit the documents.

It is highly recommended to request at least 4 original different marriage certificates at the local government office.

This may be accomplished by the office by generating documents with different ID numbers.

For example, in our case we prepared 4 copies.

-I needed to submit one of them to my work
-My husband needed one the copies with translation to his country’s Embassy
-He needed another one for his work

We kept one of them for in case.

Reporting to the country of foreign spouse

Finally, you cannot forget about reporting the marriage to the country of your foreign spouse.

Contact to the Embassy to ask what document is needed

You can check what kind of documents are required from the country to file a marriage, but to make sure, you’d better contact the Embassy/consulate before going.

Most Embassies or consulates require an appointment to register marriage. Make sure to make an appointment after the date that you can receive the translation your marriage certificate.

The documents that we prepared

The list of the documents that we prepared
  • Marriage certificate (Japanese original)

    -Translation of the marriage certificate to the designated language
    -The validation for the marriage certificate from Notary office
    -The apostille for the marriage certificate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • Passport copy of each

  • Single certificate of the country

  • Birth certificate of the country

  • Japanese spouse’s Kosekitohon(Family registry)

These are the documents that we prepared, however, please contact your Embassy/consulate to make sure what documents are required.

In Japan, you have the option of translating the marriage certificate by yourself and bring it to the notary office to be validated, and the ministry of the foreign affairs for apostille.

In our case, as we had to save time, we ordered a professional translation company to do them all at once.

>>> Actual translation service

The fee was ¥40,000. You may feel it’s a little expensive, but It took only 4 days for them to prepare all the documents including validation and the apostille.

The translation will be issued for the marriage certificate of certain ID number only.

Ask at the Embassy which original you are supposed to submit if you want to keep the original that matches the number of the translation.

Submitting the documents at an Embassy/Consulate

Now you can go to the Embassy/ Consulate to submit the document. It may take a few weeks to some months to be transacted in the other country. It took 4 months in our case.

I recommend you to ask them approximately when the registration will be completed. If you do not receive any notification after the date, you’d better contact them to make it sure that the process is still ongoing.

There was no fee involved to file the marriage when we went to the Costa Rican Embassy.


Some may consider that the procedures of international marriage are a hassle, but if you prepare well beforehand, it does not take long and can be smooth. There can be some events that you may be able to enjoy as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

When we tried to get married, as I was living in Europe and my husband was in the United States, we had hard time to gather the information like how many days may take for each transaction to register the marriage.

I hope you find this post helpful, and somehow makes you avoid most, if not all, of the problems going through all the procedures!

by Leto