Getting married in Japan 2013 – for Brits

I recently got married. It took 10 years of dating, 4 breakups (with the same person), 62 serious arguments and countless slaps and threats (again, from the same person). No I’m kidding, if you reading this babe then you know I love you.

I thought it time to update the world wide web on how to get married in Japan (to a Japanese national)  2013, for brits.

So, you found somebody willing to share their life with you. This actually is 97% of the hard work over. This rest is just time consuming.

Basically to tie the knot you need to get down to the local Ward Office (区役所) with your partner with a few documents, spend around an hour as they process and you’re done. Getting those documents is a little tricky so read on.

The Brit

For the Brit you’ll need a Certificate of No Impediment (yoken gubi shomeisho) that is valid and issued within the last 3 months. This needs to be handed in at the city hall with the marriage registration form (kon-in-todoke) on the day you officially tie the knot. *Note it’s only foreigners that need this.

To get this golden form you need to book an interview at  the British Embassy in Japan. The interview basically consists of a short interview, signing of a couple of documents and swearing on the bible. You’ll also need  to show  your passport, your partner’s “Family register” (koseki tohon) and ¥10800 to pay for the processing fees. You’ll also need to either pay for or provide credit card details for a second ¥10800 payment to be made for the printing of the certificate, and to have the certificate mailed back you, you’ll need to cough up another few hundred yen too.

After handing in the documents the embassy will post a notice of marriage in the office publically for 21 days. During this time, others who feel the need (or to prank around) can object to your intent to marry which is likely to hold up proceedings, so best not to let on to any childish friends during the 21 days that an official objection can be made.

When the 21 days is up, they process the certificate of No Impediment and forward it on to you.

The Japanese National

Although quite as tricky for the Japanese National, he or she still needs to get hold of their Family register (koseki tohon) which is a pain if they are not living at their registered home (as is the case for most people). They may well need to go back to the family home or ask a family member to get this from the the city hall for them.

They will also more than likely need to find or ask for 2 people to be the Guarantors. Again, very close friends or family will help out others consider this a responsibility too much.

Finally she’ll need her official “Inkan” to stamp the relevant forms and some other some other official ID.

At the Ward Office

On the day when all is done and handed in, in return you should get a “Certificate of Acceptance of Notification of Marriage” (kon-in-todoke jyuri shomeisho) which essentially completes the marriage.

Here is a list in summary of what you need:

  • Marriage registration form (kon-in-todoke) which must be signed by two witnesses, who are over 20
  • Family register (koseki tohon) or its extract (koseki shohon) and the seal (inkan) for Japanese people
  • Certificate of No Impediment (yoken gubi shomeisho) for foreigners (issued within the last three months). If it is not in Japanese it must be translated. This can be obtained from the Embassy or Consulate
  • Identification: if a passport is not Japanese it should be translated into Japanese
  • Alien registration card
  • A personal seal (inkan), otherwise a signature is sufficient
  • Those under 20 years old need their parents’ signed permission (douisho)
  • Sometimes a birth certificate and its translation is necessary but this depends on the local Ward office

All for now. Happy Marriage-ing!


  1. Jon says

    Hi Rob,

    I just saw your article posted on Linkedin and I thought I’d take a look round your website. It’s quite worrying if you counted the number of arguments…I hope you made that number up!

    I’ve had a similar story getting the administration sorted for getting married in Spain… it seems a bit harsh having to get even your passport translated in Japan though. Maybe I should write an article on it!

    Good luck for the future!
    Jon (James’s friend from Trentham)

    • says

      Hi Jon! Great to hear from you. Hahaha…well I would say I made the figure up but it’s probably somewhere around that ;) There’s a lot to get over and around when trying to make a relationship work, especially when you are from opposite sides of the world.
      Everything is great now though.

      I’ve heard a little about you being in Spain, how is that all going? You are there permanently, right? I guess we might have some similar experiences. Keep in touch and if you do write something let me know – would be interested in reading.

      Take care

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