Marriage Registration For Foreigners in China

Marriage Registration For Foreigners in China

In this article, we will explain how to register a marriage in China where at least one of the people involved is a foreign national. We will address two situations, as listed below:

  • Both parties are foreigners
  • One person is a foreigner and the other is Chinese

Before we start covering both scenarios, we will first highlight the marriage registration requirements:

  1. The minimum age for getting married is 22 years old for the male and 20 years old for the female
  2. Marriage shall be based on the complete willingness of both parties and neither shall be already married
  3. Both parties should not be related by blood up to the third degree of kinship
  4. Both parties shall not be suffering from any disease that can render either of them unfit  for marriage
  5. At least one person shall be residing or working in the city where the marriage will be registered
  6. Both people shall be present, in person, to register at the Registration Center of Marriage and to obtain the marriage certificate

Now with that set, we can move to discuss the different cases:

Both parties are foreign nationals

As of April 1, 2019, two foreign nationals can no longer register their marriage in China. The Civil Affairs Bureau 民政局 has explicitly banned the practice in an official announcement detailed here: (in Chinese only).

If both parties met in China and are foreign nationals and wish to get married, there are three possible options:

  1. Check with your local embassy or consulate to see if they allow you to register a marriage. Remember that if you are a different country’s national from your spouse this possibly gives two chances. Not all embassies or consulates allow this practice, but generally if it can be done at an embassy, it can also be done at the consulate.
  2. Travel to Hong Kong and apply to get married there. However, it does take some time to handle the application paperwork. After the paperwork is submitted, applicants need to wait 15 days for an appointment and go in person to register. This practice is becoming a problem due to the “one country two systems laws.” Therefore, one’s chances of being approved and the marriage documents being internationally recognized are decreasing.
  3. Go back home and apply for the marriage there. Then, you can have the marriage certificate notarized and authenticated by the Chinese embassy, if needed. Please check our prior article regarding notarizing and authenticating documents overseas for details:

There is no way for two foreigners to get the Chinese issued marriage booklet anymore, even if you go through one of the three above options; however, the previously obtained ones are still acceptable.

When one party is a foreign national, and the other party is Chinese

Note that the marriage registration will need to take part in the city or province of the Chinese party’s hukou.

The documents required by the foreign party are the following:

  • Valid passport or international travel document
  • Valid proof of legal residence or work in the city to be provided at least by one of the parties
  • Birth Certificate
  • Documents proving that neither parties currently have a spouse, that would be one of the followings:
    • Single Status Certificate (if either party was married before)
    • Finalized divorce papers (if either party is divorced)
    • Death certificate of the ex-spouse (if either party is widowed)
      You will need to notarize one of the documents above and your birth certificate at the competent authority in the country of nationality and then do the authentication by the Chinese embassy or consulate in the country of citizenship. Please see our article regarding notarization and authentication of documents overseas for specific details:
      Some cities may accept the document issued by an embassy or consulate of the country of nationality in China. There is no guarantee that the local authorities will accept this. It would be best if you double-check with the local Registration Center of Marriage and Adoption, to see if you need to obtain the overseas notarization and authentication.
  • A Chinese translation of the documents mentioned above
    If you do the translation in China, then you will also need to provide a photo copy of the translation agency’s business license along with its official seal. If you do the translation in the country of nationality, then the translation will also need to be authenticated by the Chinese embassy in the country of citizenship.

The documents required by the Chinese party are the following:

  • Chinese ID card
  • Birth Certificate
  • Household registration book or hukou (户口)

Once both parties complete all the paperwork, they can head to the Registration Center of Marriage and Adoption in the city that hosts the hukou of the Chinese partner.