Foreign boy meets Chinese girl. Foreign boy falls for Chinese girl. They decide to get married. Is it really that easy? Thankfully for most people, getting legally married in China is not hard. “I’ve had to deal Chinese bureaucracy and procedures many times, and it’s usually a lot of mafan. But getting married was incredibly easy,” says Blake Stone-Banks, who married his Chinese wife a few years ago. This is what you need to do to make it legal.
Step 1: Know your country’s rules
Go to your country’s embassy or consulate website to learn about your specific country’s requirements, as most of these websites list guidelines for getting married in China. Most countries require you to provide proof that you’re single and eligible to marry, which usually comes in the form of a signed affidavit.
Step 2: Go to your embassy
Set up an appointment with your embassy or consulate to acquire your certificate or “affidavit of marriageability,” as the U.S. Embassy calls it. During your appointment, you must take the following documents with you: your passport or ID, notarized proof that any previous marriages were terminated (divorce papers or death certificate), your Chinese partner’s national ID card (身份证), and your partner’s hukou (户口). Once you’ve obtained this affidavit, make sure the document is in both English and Chinese, otherwise you’ll need to have the affidavit translated into Chinese and notarized.
Step 3: Take an official photo
Since you need three formal pictures as a couple to apply for your marriage license, we recommend checking out the China Photo Studio in Wangfujing. This old shop takes traditional, Chinese style pictures that come out looking authentic rather than cheesy. Their pictures are perfect to use for your formal photos and give you and your spouse some unique wedding photos to commemorate the occasion.
Step 4: Go to the marriage office
Head to the Marriage Registration Office and apply for your marriage license. It’s important to note that a Chinese national must get married wherever his or her hukou was issued, so you’ll need to find out where the appropriate marriage office is based on your partner’s hukou—you may end up having to leave town for this part.
Locally, there is a Marriage Registration Office at No. 15, Lane 123 Yanping Lu (延平路123弄15号, Tel: 6267-2863), but check out this full list of locations. Take your certificate of marriageability, three formal pictures of you and your loved one together, your IDs, and your Chinese partner’s hukou, and all that’s left is to answer a few questions and fill out a few forms at the marriage office. Marriage licenses are typically issued on the same day, so you should have your marriage license in hand when you leave the office.