Life in Japan

Getting Married in Japan: A Guide to Marrying a Japanese Citizen

The goal of this post is to outline the steps that I needed to take in order to marry my Japanese husband. Although the process may vary slightly depending on your nationality, etc, it is my hope that this guide will be of use to others who are planning to marry a Japanese citizen.

Step 1: Affidavit of Eligibility

If you are from the United States of America, you will be required to obtain a notarized Affidavit of Eligibility from the US Embassy (or Consulate, depending on your location).

In Japanese, this form is called 婚姻要件具備証明書 (Kon-in Yoken Gubi Shomeisho). It is basically just a form that proves that you are not lying about your marital status and eligibility to marry.

To do this, you must first make an appointment for notarial services from the embassy’s website.

On the day of your appointment, be sure to get there a bit early as you will have to go through security. Bring your passport and $50 or the equivalent amount in yen (there is a fee to get this form notarized).

I recommend printing out the form and filling it out before you go, but if you don’t you can get a copy there.

Note that there is both an English form and a Japanese form that you will need to fill out. If you can’t write Japanese, get your spouse to help you.

This step is only for the foreign spouse. Your Japanese spouse does not need to sign anything and does not need to come with you, although they may if they would like to.

Step 2: Print out a Marriage Registration Form

The Marriage Registration Form, called 婚姻届 (kon-in-todoke) can be downloaded online and printed out at home or at your nearest convenience store.

There is a wide variety of designs for this form, and there are no rules about using any specific one. However, it may be better to choose a design that doesn’t have any pictures overlapping text, as some city offices that use a machine to input the data will have trouble reading the form. I got mine from this site.

It’s kind of fun to choose a cute design like this and take pictures before turning the form in.

The left side of the form is for the husband and wife to fill out, and the top right side of the form is for two witnesses (Seiya’s parents in our case) to fill out.

Since his parents live in Aomori, which is quite far from us, we sent the form to them by mail (3 copies, just in case they made a mistake on one of them) and had them send it back to us. You don’t have to have relatives as witnesses (any legal adult will do) and signing the form does not hold the witnesses in any way responsible for anything that happens.

Step 3: Getting a Certificate of Family Register

This step is for the Japanese spouse. He/she must get a 戸籍謄本 (koseki tohon), a Certificate of Family Register. This document will be needed when you turn in your Marriage Registration form.

He/she can only get this document from the city office where their family is registered. In my husband’s case, this city office is in Aomori.

Seeing as it is too far to go there ourselves, he had his parents go get it for him and send it by mail.

If you don’t have this document when you file your Marriage Registration form, you will have to come back again with the document in order to complete the process.

You and your spouse will also have to decide where you would like your new Family Register to be kept. When you get married, a new Family Register is created. Most people either keep the same city office as their old one, or change it to the one that is closest to their current residence.

Step 4: Filing the Marriage Registration Form

You do not need an appointment to file for marriage. You just go to the city office, take a number and wait your turn.

Things to Bring
  1. Marriage Registration Form (filled out)
  2. Passport and Residence Card (Foreign Spouse)
  3. Copy of Birth Certificate (Foreign Spouse)
  4. Affidavit of Eligibility (Foreign Spouse)
  5. Driver’s license or other form of ID (Japanese Spouse)
  6. Certificate of Family Register (Japanese Spouse)
  7. “My Number” Cards
  8. Health Insurance Cards
  9. Inkan/Hanko (Japanese name stamp)

You will probably be asked to write a translation of your birth certificate and passport. It’s not difficult, and the staff are pretty helpful usually. Your spouse may also be able to help you if you are not good at writing in Japanese.

Before you leave, make sure you ask for a 婚姻届受理証明書 (certificate of marriage). You may need this if/when you try to change your last name. Apparently, you can get a fancy one for a bit more money which you could frame and keep in your house also! I recommend getting one fancy one (to keep) and one plain one (for the name change).

While you are at the city office, if you want to create an alias for yourself, it is a good time to do so. More on that in the next section.

Changing your Last Name

I have not actually completed this part of the process yet, but I have done some research on the subject. Basically, there are two options:

  1. Register an alias (tsusho 通称) through the city office
  2. Change your name legally through the Embassy/Consulate

Registering an alias is rather simple and does not require you to change your name on all of your ID’s and documents. Rather, it enables you to use two different names as you please. In my case, I registered an alias as 前田ローズ (Maeda Rose). This allows me to use this name in Japan in situations where I would prefer to be known this way, but does not restrict me from using my maiden name in situations where it is more convenient to do so.

In general, I don’t think there is any harm in making an alias, and it might even be a good first step since it might take more time to change your name legally through the embassy.

Something you should keep in mind, however, is that you can only register an alias once. If you decide you want to change it at some point in the future, you may not be able to do so. Therefore, you should think carefully about it before registering an alias.

US Embassy/Consulate

Disclaimer: This section is directed only towards other Americans. Non-Americans should research how to change their name in their home countries.

As an American, there are two things you will need to do to change your name legally. One is changing the name on your passport, and the other is changing the name on your social security card.

You can do both of these things at the US Embassy in Tokyo (or whichever is closest to you). However, you will need to make two separate appointments to complete these two separate processes.

To get to the US Embassy in Tokyo, you can take the Ginza Line or the Nanboku Line to Tameike-sanno Station.

Take Exit 14 and turn left. The embassy is about a 4 minute walk from there. You will see it on your right. Be prepared to be asked by nearby police what you are doing there. Tell them you want to go to the embassy and you have an appointment. Once they let you through, you will go through 3 layers of security.

There is also an option to send in your application with all necessary documents by mail. However, I would only do this if you are 100% sure that you have everything you need. I wasn’t even half sure, so I decided to go in. Whichever way you choose, you will be without your passport while they are processing your application (which can take several weeks), so you need to plan the timing of it carefully.

I have since found more information about mailing in your application. If you live far from the embassy, this may be the way you want to go.

Changing your name on your passport

To change your name on your passport, you will need to make an appointment with the embassy.

Things you need:

・Marriage certificate
・Translation of Marriage certificate (if you got married in Japan)
・Application for Renewal of Passport
・Appointment Sheet
・Envelope with Return Postage
・$110 (In my case, 12,100 yen – depends on rate)

I wasn’t able to find the documents online, so I just filled them out there which was fine. I filled out both the Application for Renewal of Passport and a form for translating my marriage certificate. If you can’t read Japanese, you should bring your spouse with you.

The envelope is for them to send you your new passport when it is ready. If you don’t have one, I believe you can buy one there. You also may be able to come in to pick up your new passport if that works better for you.

After getting your new passport, you have 2 weeks to report this change to the Immigration Office so that they can change your name on your residence card.

Changing your name on your social security card

I haven’t actually completed this process yet, but I have researched about it. The first step is to email the Federal Benefits Unit and make an appointment.

You will need to bring your passport and marriage certificate, which means that if you are without your passport because you are trying to change your name on your passport, you will have to wait until you get your new one before you can get started on this (that’s where I am right now).

Changing your Visa to the “Spouse Visa”

I have not done this step yet, but I should be getting it done sometime in the next month! Stay tuned.


I hope that this post was informative for someone! There is still a lot of information missing, and I will be updating this post again in the near future so feel free to keep checking back for any updates. And if you haven’t already, check out our wedding pictures here!

An American girl writing about living and working in Japan. 日本在住のアメリカ人の女の子のブログ。


  1. アバター eveychua より:

    Congratulations on your marriage!
    Thanks for the tips on marrying a Japanese citizen! Will take note of these tips when I get married! Thank you so much!!


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