Getting Married in Japan (An American's Perspective)

Thursday, December 26, 2019


Getting Married in Japan (An American's Perspective)
In this article, I'll discuss the procedure you must go through, as an American, to marry a Japanese person.

A Fairy Tale

A Fairy Tale
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Getting married is every girl's fantasy. Finally finding a nice, sweet man to spend your life with. It is a fantasy, truly. It's already HARD work. Especially when you're in a different country. Luckily, I was living in Kanto, near Tokyo so it wasn't as inconvenient as it could have been.
After my husband and I decided to get married, we had to look up the paperwork. It was actually mostly me because my husband was in the Philippines. My husband needed his signature stamp, and we needed to fill out the paperwork.

Going to The American Embassy/ "The Affidavit of Competency to Marry" Form

Going to The American Embassy
I looked on the American embassy website. I needed to fill out a document called "Affidavit of Competency to Marry". I also had to make an appointment in order to turn in this document because it's a notarial service. I had to pay a fee of 50 dollars. I only had yen, but that was okay. I also had to bring my passport to the appointment. Don't forget that you must also be eighteen, and able to legally marry. This was actually the easy part. Al though, I will say that I needed help from my parents to answer the questions. The United States embassy notarized the English form, they also have the form in Japanese on the website. You will need to fill out the Japanese form (with the same information from the English, notarized form) in order to take it to the City Ward. My husband did the translation.
My husband had come the night before we planned to go to get married. He came quite late, so we didn't have time to fill out the paperwork. We did it the next day. He had to fill out the document from the City Ward, for us to get legally married. He had to fill out the document from the American embassy (translated form) saying that I could get married. It was tough for him, I'm sorry that I couldn't help. We were able to get married in about an hour! We were so happy!

Getting My Name Changed on My Passport/ Getting a New Passport

Getting My Name Changed on My Passport
Okay, this is where the leg work really kicked in. After our marriage I had a lot more tasks to do. I had to change my name on my passport and residence card. In order to change the name on my passport, I again had to go to the American embassy. I didn't have a birth certificate, so I had to order one from online, it was around 60 dollars. Yes, it was extremely expensive, but I felt I didn't have a choice. I had looked up the information beforehand and saw that I needed a translated version of our marriage certificate. Before I forget, I should say that I may have needed my birth certificate to get married. I’m a little foggy, but perhaps my husband had to translate my birth certificate and give it to the City Ward.  Anyway, my husband also did the translation for the marriage certificate while he was still in Japan.

On the American embassy website, there is also a translated Koseki form for you to print out. I had my husband fill this out. Please remember to bring the original Koseki and marriage certificate. You need both the original and the translated version. I went to the convenience store to get a big mailable envelope. It cost about 500 yen. This envelope was so they could send my passport back to me. It took a lot of planning in order to do these things, please don't forget.
I filled out a passport form from the website. You must also have a picture for the new passport. Luckily, I already had one. There is a fee of 145 dollars.
When I went to my appointment at the embassy, I bought with me:

  • The form to get a new passport
  • Marriage certificate
  • Koseki
  • Translated forms
  • Picture
  • Envelope
  • Fee

I waited and I had my new passport with my new name!

Changing My Name on My Residence Card

Changing My Name on My Residence Card
After receiving my passport, I could then change my name on the residence card. I again had to print out a form. Get a picture. And I only needed to bring my passport. I thought I had to bring my marriage certificate, but I was wrong. I had a rude clerk shove that paper back in my face. I then waited. This was ACTUALLY the easiest part of the process. I didn't need to make an appointment or anything. Then I was finished.

Good luck on your new marriage, and if you're a woman, good luck on your name  change!