Getting Married in China
How to get married in China? This is a subject I consider myself an expert on having done it. So, if your intention is to marry a local Chinese person then please read on. I will explain the process – which could change at any time, as this is China. So please double check before jumping in with both feet!
A wedding is and should be a joyful occasion. However, for most foreigners living in China it is often stressful and very confusing. Unless you get the help of someone that knows what they are doing (probably your intended, if they are Chinese).
I will tell you which documents you need and which steps you have to take. I will discuss the legal impact and concerns you may face. With a little preparation, patience and time, nothing will stand in the way of the happiest day(s) of your life.
How to get married in China?
In China you kind of get married twice! You have to collect your “marriage book” which legally means you are married, a rather underwhelming experience of going to a local government office, handing over some forms, having a picture taken and 10 minutes later, you are married. Then of course there is the wedding party, an event you can hold before or after getting your “marriage book”. We had a rather grand affair with 750 guests, it was quite a party!
Unlike myself not everyone comes to China to seek out a new career. For some they move to the country to be with their partner, others want to settle down, retire and fall in love with a Chinese local. Whatever the reason, sooner or later, you might decide to get married to the person you fell in love with.
I will do my best to list the steps you have to take and the paperwork you need to submit in order to get married in China.
How I Got Married in China
Because we got married in the small city of Baoding, we had to travel to the provincial capital to do all the paperwork. The Civil Affairs Bureau of your city or your district (if you are living in a bigger city like Shanghai) is responsible for processing the paperwork regarding your upcoming marriage. It is essential that at least one of you is a registered permanent resident or a Chinese citizen, and that both partners are getting married voluntarily and aren’t married already. The legal minimum age for getting married in China is 22 for men and 20 for women. The fee for a marriage certificate is usually about 10 yuan.
The partner who is a Chinese resident has to submit the following paperwork:
- Residence booklet (the original and a certified copy of the first page, stamped by the responsible authority)
- Resident ID
The foreign person has to provide the following:
- A certificate of marriageability issued by the responsible authorities or an embassy of their home country (valid for 6 months from the date it was issued)
- An authorized translation of the document mentioned above
- A valid passport
Some cities or districts might require you to get a health check-up at a designated hospital in China and submit a health certificate to prove you are healthy and aren’t carrying any yucky diseases!
Always make sure to inquire at your local Civil Affairs Bureau about which documents are required, as this is subject to change and can vary between different districts.
Pop into the Local Government Office to Get Married
Once you have collected all the documents you need, you can complete the Statement of Marriage Registration Application which is provided by the registration authority. The marriage registrar will make sure that your paperwork is complete and valid, administer the oath and sign it. If they find that you are eligible to get married, you will be registered right away and your certificates will be issued to you. Yah, you are now married.
Can I Stay in China if I marry a Local?
If your new spouse is Chinese, the marriage entitles you to an L-visa. All you have to do is present your marriage certificate, registration certificate, passport, and fee at a local visa office. The visa is valid for one year and, while it allows you to reside legally in China, it does not allow you to study or take up gainful employment during that time.
It is not usual for the female spouse to legally change her name after getting married in China. However, while their name remains the same in legal terms, they are often referred to by their husband’s name.
I married Aviva and the rest is history!
Check out this link for facts about China: