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Getting married in China
New Zealand citizens considering marriage in China, either to a Chinese citizen or to another foreigner, should review the following information on Chinese government procedures.
New Zealand diplomatic and consular officers do not have the authority to perform marriages.
There is no legal obligation to register your overseas marriage in New Zealand. However, you may do this if your marriage ceremony is witnessed by an authorised official from a New Zealand post.
The only advantage of registering your marriage in New Zealand is that a marriage certificate can be issued to you from New Zealand. This certificate does not replace the marriage certificate supplied in China.
If you wish to have a New Zealand consular witness at a wedding, you will liable for costs incurred, such as airfares, accommodation, and per diems, as well an hourly charge-out rate for a consular officer. Non-attendance by a consular officer does not affect the legality of the marriage.
For further information, contact the embassy or consulate-general.
Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department > Marriage registration(external link) for New Zealand citizens wishing to get married in Hong Kong
Registering your marriage
Marriages in China are conducted according to the laws of China, regardless of the nationality of those being married.
The current law relating to marriage in China is the Marriage Law of the People’s Republic of China 1980, as amended in April 2001. Under this law, marriage registration procedures are administered by the local civil affairs office, minzhengju, in each jurisdiction.
Persons planning to marry should visit one of these offices for specific information. There will be a fee for this visit.
It is recommended that the couple dress up (coat and tie for the male). This will generally facilitate the process.
If one of the partners is a Chinese citizen, the appropriate civil affairs office will be the one in the jurisdiction in which the Chinese citizen is registered (the location of the hukou).
Certain categories of Chinese citizen, such as diplomats, security officials, and others whose work is considered to be crucial to the state, are not legally free to marry foreigners.
Chinese students generally are permitted to marry if all the requirements are met, but they can expect to be expelled from school as soon as they do. New Zealand citizens wishing to marry Chinese students should bear this in mind. It also should be noted that at least one school in Beijing has required Chinese students to reimburse the school for hitherto uncharged tuition and other expenses upon withdrawal from school to marry foreigners.
If both parties to the marriage are foreigners, the civil affairs office in the city in which they live will have jurisdiction. Generally, at least one of the partners must reside in China. Two foreigners visiting China temporarily on tourist visas are unlikely to be able to register a marriage in China.
Upon receipt of an application to register a marriage, the civil affairs office will ascertain that both parties are of minimum marriageability age (generally 22 for men and 20 for women, although a higher minimum may be established by the local civil affairs office) and that both parties are single and otherwise free to marry. Persons who have been married previously will be asked to submit original or certified copies of final divorce or annulment decrees, or of death certificates if widowed.
The New Zealand partner to a marriage in China will generally be asked to submit:
- current passport
- valid Chinese visa
- certificate of no impediment to marriage
- three photos of the marrying couple, taken together
- registration fee
New Zealand Births, Deaths and Marriages > Certificate of no impediment(external link) must be verified by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the New Zealand embassy in Beijing or consulate-general in Shanghai, and, if one of the parties to the marriage is a Chinese citizen, by the Chinese embassy in Wellington or consulate-general in Auckland.
The Chinese partner to the marriage will be asked to submit:
- certificate of marriageability
- certificate of birth
- household registration book
- health certificate
- letter from his or her parents giving permission for their child to marry a foreigner.
The certificate of marriageability is obtainable from the office that has physical control of the Chinese partner's file.
The health certificate is obtainable from a regional level local hospital.
The letter from the parents of the local partner should include the index fingerprints of both parents below their signatures and the date.
The marriage registration process may take from several days to several months to complete, depending upon how quickly the required documents are obtained. For example, some Chinese citizens have difficulty getting a release from their danwei to obtain the certificate of birth or the certificate of marriageability.
Marriage Registration Office
Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau
Ground floor, Main Building
20 Gongren Tiyuchang Donglu, Chaoyang District
Tel +86 10 6586 6660, +86 10 6539 5015, +86 10 6539 5016
Open Monday to Friday, 9 to 11.30am and 1.30 to 5pm
Marriage Registration Center
Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau
3rd Floor, Wing E, Everbright Exhibition Center
82 Caobao Road
Tel +86 21 6432 5087, +86 21 6432 5089, press 2 for English
Open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 4pm, except Tuesday afternoon
Translation of documents
All English-language documents must be translated into Chinese.
Translations should be obtained from and certified by one of the municipal public notary offices.
Translation of documents usually takes about a month, but can be completed within 10 days at twice the standard cost.
China Translation and Publication Corp
No 4, Tai Ping Qiao Da Jie (South of Bai Ta Si)
Tel +86 10 6616 8353
Applying for a visa for your spouse to visit New Zealand
Immigration New Zealand(external link) for all enquiries regarding New Zealand visitor visas and applications for permanent residency
Immigration New Zealand
Ta Yuan Diplomatic Office Building 2-5-1
14 Liangmahe Nanlu
Tel +86 10 6532 6688
Fax +86 10 6532 5681
This office is responsible for all applications for applicants residing outside Guangdong, Hainan Island, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces.
Immigration New Zealand
Suite 507, Shanghai Centre
1376 Nanjing Road West
Tel +86 21 6279 7368
Fax +86 21 6279 7369
This office is responsible for applicants residing in Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces.
Immigration New Zealand
Suite 6508, Central Plaza
18 Harbour Road
Tel +85 2 2877 4488
Fax +85 2 2877 0586
This office is responsible for applicants residing in Guangdong and Hainan Island.