Getting married in China
Considering a Wedding in China?
New Zealand citizens contemplating marriage in China, either to a Chinese citizen or to another foreigner, should review the following general information on Chinese Government procedures.
Registering your marriage
The Marriage Registration process may take anywhere 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").
Marriages in China are conducted according to the laws of China, regardless of the nationality of those being married.
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 do wish to have a New Zealand consular witness at a wedding you will liable for costs incurred, ie airfares, accommodation, per diems etc, 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.
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. 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).
What to do
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. In Beijing, inquiries should be directed to:
Marriage Registration Office
Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau
Ground floor, the main office building
No.20 Gongren Tiyuchang Donglu, Chaoyang District
Telephone: (86-10) 6586 6660; (86-10) 6539 5015; (86-10) 6539 5016
Working hours: Monday to Friday 09.00-11.30 and 13.30-17.00 hrs.
It is recommended that the couple dress up (coat and tie for the male). This will generally facilitate the process.
Certain categories of Chinese citizens, 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.
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 the following:
- a current passport
- a valid Chinese Visa
- a Certificate of No Impediment (CONI) issued by the New Zealand Births, Deaths and Marriages office (external link) . The CONI must be verified by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (external link), 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 (external link) in Wellington or the Chinese Consulate General in Auckland.
- three photos of the marrying couple, taken together
- a registration fee
The Chinese partner to the marriage will be asked to submit the following:
- a certificate of marriageability (obtainable from the office which has the physical control of his or her file)
- a certificate of birth
- household registration book
- health certificate(obtainable from a regional level local hospital)
- a letter from the parents of the local partner giving permission for their child to marry a foreigner (this letter should include the index fingerprint of both parents below their signature and date).
Translation of documents
All English-language documents must be translated into Chinese. Translation of documents usually takes about a month, but can be completed within 10 days at twice the original cost. Translations should be obtained from and certified by one of the Municipal Public Notary offices.
In Beijing the address is:
China Translation and Publication Corp
No 4, Tai Ping Qiao Da Jie (South of Bai Ta Si)
West District, Beijing
Applying for a visa for your spouse to visit New Zealand
All enquiries regarding visitors visas and applications for permanent residency should be directed to the the New Zealand Immigration Service (external link).
Their contact details are:
Immigration New Zealand
Ta Yuan Diplomatic Office Building 2-5-1
14 Liangmahe Nanlu
Telephone: 0086-10-6532 6688
Facsimile: 0086-10-6532 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
Telephone: 0086-21-6279 7368
Facsimile: 0086-21-6279 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
This office is responsible for applicants residing in Guangdong and Hainan Island