Getting Married to a Japanese National

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The legal requirements for a marriage are governed by the laws of each home country, and the notification of the marriage is governed by the laws of the country in which the couple is to be married. For example, for Japanese nationals men have to be over the age of 18, women over the age of 16 to get married; for Chinese nationals men have to be over 22 and women over 20.

★Getting Married in Japan
The procedure for a marriage in Japan is as follows:
Reporting office: The municipal office for the current or legal address of the Japanese spouse’s residence
Reporting person: Either spouse

Items Required:

  1. Marriage registration (kon-in-todoke 婚姻届) – available at the counter – with the signatures and personal seals / inkans of two adult witnesses.
  2. If the reporting office is not the office of the permanent address, an official copy of the Japanese national’s family register (戸籍謄本 koseki-tohon).
  3. The foreign national’s certificate of marriage qualification (kon-in-yoken-gubi-shomeisho 婚姻要件具備証明書) with a Japanese translation to which the translator’s name is attached. If the Embassy does not issue such a certificate, an equivalent document should be submitted.
  4. The foreign national’s Alien Registration Card
  5. Personal seal / inkan of the Japanese husband or wife (foreign spouse exempted)

★Getting Married Outside Japan
If a Japanese national wants to marry outside of Japan depending on that country’s marriage laws, the Japanese national may have to submit a certificate of marriage qualification (kon-in-yoken-gubi-shomeisho 婚姻要件具備証明書).
This is available from their regional branch of the Legal Affairs Bureau (地方法務局). Further information is available on the Legal Affairs Bureau website ( ).

  • Embassy Notification: The foreign spouse must notify the embassy of his or her country of the marriage, as the country of the foreign spouse requires notification.
  • Family registration: Unless a Japanese is the head of the family register, a new register will be issued. The name of the foreign spouse will be inscribed in the register.
  • Nationality: Although the nationality of the Japanese spouse is not changed due to marriage, the Japanese national may gain foreign nationality as a second nationality, depending on the law of the foreign spouse’s home country (for example France).

Getting a Spouse Visa – 日本人の配偶者ビザ
You may change your visa status if you want to. If you already have a working visa then you may not wish to change your visa status. However, there are no work-related restrictions imposed on a spouse visa if you are married to a Japanese national.

See the Immigration Bureau of Japan website for Application for Change of Status of Residence procedure, application form and other required documents.


★Name (surname)
Even if a notification of marriage between a Japanese national and a foreign national is submitted, the woman’s surname is not automatically changed. The Japanese national may adopt the surname of his or her spouse, without the permission of the family court, if a “shi-no-henko” (氏の変更) application form is submitted within six months of the marriage at the woman’s local municipal office. Any children will officially take the Japanese national’s surname.

If a foreign spouse wants the Japanese spouse’s surname to be officially recognized as his/her name, then he/she must:

  1. change their name in their home country (via an embassy or consulate). Procedures vary from country to country, but usually the Japanese marriage certificate is required to do this.
  2. change or get a new passport with the new name on it; if a new passport is issued he/she must have his/her visa information transferred from his/her old passport at his/her local immigration bureau.
  3. With the new / revised passport, apply for a change to his/her Alien Registration Card at their local city hall/ ward office.

Another option you to consider, which does not require a legal name change, is to register an alias (tsusho 通称) for yourself on your Alien Registration Card. It is possible to register a Japanese name as an alias. To register an alias you may be required to give proof that you are using that alias (for example addressed mail, pay slip, business card, bank book, etc.)

To learn more about the Nagoya International Center,
please watch our video.

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