Random – Marriage in Japan

In my Proposal Post I said I would write in more detail about marriage in japan (being 2 foreigners) but I realized it would be too long and confusing [side note: we were hunting documents and everything for over 8 months]    To sum it up: no matter how much you prepare yourself, it depends on the mood of several office-people, as nothing is 100% legally regulated and everything is more like a “well, you are cute. You get a stamp”-style. And it costs a lot!

GERMAN + KOREAN = wedding in JAPAN
(where korean = japanese visa holder (not permanent) and german = on short term “tourist”)

Bascially German Offices want you being present, as a person, in Germany, no matter how far you are away from this country and how ridiculous the purpose might be.  Annoying but possible way-around is  german embassy in japan, they  stamp and sign everything you need and then you can send it to germany and so forth

[Jump to To-Do-List]

Most important and annoying is the Ehefähigkeitszeugnis, which looks like a birth certificate though it mentions not only you but also your husband, and states that you both are single and able to legally marry each other. [sidenote: your korean partner needs 4 documents from korea, translated and each with -apostille-  prepare about 3 months and a lot of money for that to get ready]

After that, you are ready to apply for the documents you need for the wedding.
You also need to find 2 japanese residents who are willing to stamp your wedding document as “witnesses” and have  everything apostille-ized, copied, signed by embassy etc.
After handing in your document at the local office you are practically married  (we were told to come back in 3 days and check if they accepted the marriage or not) And in the end we got 4 copies (which are charged extra of course)  and the “original” ? if it exists, will forever be at that local office I guess
Visa and registering your marriage in Germany is another hell of documents marathon. Especially immigration, you should prepare a good day for that procedure in case you HAVE all documents required. If not, there are information offices that help you with that, more closer to the town center in Tokyo.

Long story short:  from “single” tourist to a “married” visa-holder you should prepare about 12 -16  months, and about 1000 € [good thing  you can stay in japan as long as your visa status application is under “inspection” – bad thing is you have to leave right away, if it is given a “no”]


Step 1 (about 3-4 months and 600 € regarding fees for  translation,  copies etc.)

  • Prepare documents from Korea (6 in total + apostille + german translation)
  • Prepare documents from Germany (birth certificate, passport, multilingual)
  • Got to german embassy, get stamps on copies and certificates
  • Send everything to Germany and hopefully get Ehefähgikeitszeugnis back
  • Get wedding documents (4 pages) let 2 friends stamp it (make sure to write the names of parents  exactly as in your birth certificate !!)
  • Get some more copies of your passport etc.
  • Prepare all korean documents in japanese translation
  • Go to embassy again and let your Ehefäghikeitszeugnis be stamped and legalized
  • Ask about 3-4 times at the local office if this is what they need (they change opinions a lot!)
  • Choose a day, take a number, hand in the signed documents – DONE  you are married

Step 2 (about 1 month and 300 € ) – register marriage in Germany

  • Get 4 copies of the marriage certificate from your local office
  • Send one to the Tokyo office for Apostille (or go in person, but they don`t do it in 1 day, so you have to go twice)
  • Send that document to a translators office stated on the homepage of the embassy
  • HURRY UP — as your birth certificate is valid 6 months only and expires soon!!
  • Get all korean documents AGAIN (so stupid but no way around)
  • Get your german birth certificate ready
  • Go to german embassy and hand in the documents, get validation stamps
  • Send everything to Germany – after some weeks you might be married there too!

Step 3 (about 3-7 month and 100 € ) – apply for “change of residence” = Visa

Immigration is located quite far near Odaiba, the only way to get there is by bus or walking from Shinbashi. Prepare all documents you need for application (if not, you will be sent home immediately)

  • Get your husbands documents ready (regarding his job, income, visa, passport etc.)
  • Get your documents ready (wedding certificate, passport, visa in case you have one)
  • Prepare –change of residence– application
  • Prepare –letter to the ambassador– in perfect japanese why you have to be in japan
  • Bring all documents to the office Counter C, after accepted go to D
  • At D you have to ask for application form for working in japan (if not your visa is a “family visa” and you are not allowed to work – you need a “spouse” visa to be able to work 23h/week. Married to a foreigner, you will never be able to work fulltime by only marriage in Japan (you need a working visa issued by a japanese company)
  • D might send you to C again, and gives you a waiting Number — and then wait
  • After 50-80 people in front of you hand in the documents and you will be given a stamp in your passport (which grants your stay until decision is made) AND a postcard that will be sent to you in 3-6 (or more) months that tells you time and day to come again to get your result (you wont know the result until you go again)

So basically that`s it. About the missing  words of love, romance and use of hearts I admit and sarcastically cite some phrase I read online about it:
⇒ ‘Marrying in Japan is less romantic than registering your car
But on the other hand the bureaucratic chaos is the best proof – you gonna give up and leave your partner, or you stay together and feel so relieved about finally being actually married.


P.s. As we don`t have much money, our wedding party in Korea and Germany will be postponed until next summer.

Here`s a follow up post about NAME CHANGE AFTER MARRIAGE (hint: it`s not getting any better especially when you are German)


6 thoughts on “Random – Marriage in Japan

    1. Hi Pam, if your registered address is still in Germany its just a matter of weeks (sending documents to and from germany to your local office) but if your address is japanese all applications end up in Berlin (non-residents) which delays the process (at least 1-2 month)


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