The easiest way to get married to an American is to have your American spouse come to Japan and register your marriage at a Japanese town hall. In this case, it is not necessary to register the marriage in the U.S., and a copy of the Japanese family register or Certificate of Acceptance of Marriage will suffice as a marriage certificate to be submitted to the immigration authorities.
On the other hand, if your Japanese spouse is going to the U.S. to get married in the U.S., you will need to obtain a fiancee visa and report to the Japanese consulate or government office after the marriage, which can be time-consuming.
As mentioned above, the recommended method is to perform the marriage procedure in Japan, but each individual’s circumstances may vary, so please choose the method that best suits your situation.
Flow of procedure for marriage in Japan
Obtain an Affidavit of Competency to Marry from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Tokyo and have it notarized (you will need a U.S. passport and a $50 notarization fee).
Military personnel must obtain an Affidavit of Competency to Marry from the U.S. military legal officer. Minor US citizens must also have a separate notarised consent form from their parents or guardian.
File a marriage license at your local government office.
- Affidavit of Marriage Requirement and its Japanese translation
- A copy of the family register of a Japanese national (not required if submitted to the same office as the place of birth)
- Japanese seal
- American Birth Certificate (available from the State Department in Washington, D.C.; not required by some offices) and a passport. Some offices do not require it) and your passport.
- Residence card if you have been issued a residence card
Obtain a Certificate of Acceptance of Marriage or a copy of your family register from the office where you registered your marriage.
If a marriage certificate is required in the U.S., have the above document translated into English and notarized at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. The notarized marriage certificate is a valid substitute for a US marriage license and certificate copy.
What happens when you get married in the US?
The US does not have a family register like Japan. In the USA, the process of getting married is as follows: first you have to obtain a marriage license, then the wedding ceremony, and then the report.
You will need to apply for a Marriage Licence at the local authority in your area of residence.
It is important to check with your state in advance as some states require a passport, a copy of the family register, a blood test and a waiting period.
Conduct a wedding ceremony and take the marriage vows.
You will be married by a church priest, a Justice of the Peace or a qualified officiant. You will also have a marriage licence signed by the officiant.
You must submit your signed marriage licence to the licensing authority within the time limit to register your marriage. You will then be issued with a certificate copy of your marriage licence. The certificate copy will be used to prove your marriage.
Each state has its own system and documentation requirements, so check with the state you are submitting the certificate to before you do so.
File the marriage certificate with the Japanese consulate in the US or a Japanese government office.
It must be done within three months of the date of marriage, as indicated on your marriage license.
- A satified copy of the marriage licence (original and Japanese translation)
- Proof of American spouse’s nationality (e.g., passport, etc.) A Japanese translation is required.
- U.S. spouse’s birth certificate (Japanese translation required)
- A copy of the family register of a Japanese national (not required if submitted to the local government office of the country of origin)
If you wish to live together in Japan after completing any of the above procedures, you will need to apply for a visa (status of residence) at the Immigration Bureau separately.