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.
- Marriage Registration Form (filled out)
- Passport and Residence Card (Foreign Spouse)
- Copy of Birth Certificate (Foreign Spouse)
- Affidavit of Eligibility (Foreign Spouse)
- Driver’s license or other form of ID (Japanese Spouse)
- Certificate of Family Register (Japanese Spouse)
- “My Number” Cards
- Health Insurance Cards
- 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:
- Change your name legally through the Embassy/Consulate
- Register an alias (tsusho 通称) through the city office
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.
Once again, I have not actually completed this process, so I don’t know how accurate this is. But according to my research, you should be able to change your last name at the Embassy/Consulate. You will need your passport, your marriage certificate, your birth certificate and possibly (?) your social security card.
I will write more on the process once I have actually done it!
Changing your Visa to the “Spouse Visa”
I have not done this step yet either, so I will write more on this in the coming months! I will probably not actually get around to doing this step until the end of May or June, so please give me some time! lol
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!