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Administrative Procedures in Japan

1. Getting married in Japan
2. Obtain an alien registration card
3. Open a bank account
4. Overseas Remittance

Getting Married in Japan

What are the procedures to marry a Japanese national in Japan?

First of all, every country has a different legilsation regarding marriage, so the procedure might vary according to your nationality. In order to get married in Japan, men must be at least 18 years old and women 16 years old. However, if the law in your country requires you to be older than that, you must also comply with your national laws for the marriage to be recognized in your home country. In addition, people under 20 years of age cannot get married in Japan without parental approval (meaning that at least one parent must sign too).

Japanese law requires all foreigners to bring an Affidavit of Competency to Marry (i.e. a document certifying that you aren't already married and haven't been married in the past 6 months). Most Westerners will also need a birth certificate. You'll need to have these sent from your home country and translated in Japanese at your embassy in Japan.

After that, go to your local town hall ("Kuyakusho" or "Shiyakusho") and bring all the documents with your passport (and a few ID pictures just in case). You will need to fill a "kon-in todoke" (marriage registration form). You should bring two witnesses (minimum 20 years old) who will have yo sign the marriage registration form with you and your spouse. If they are Japanese, they will need their "hanko" (official stamp, used instead of signature). If the witnesses cannot come with you to the town hall, you can take the "kon-in todoke" with you, have them sign later, then bring it back to the town hall.

Once you are married, you need to go to the Immigration office ("Nyūkoku Kanrikyoku"). In Tokyo it is located in 5-5-30 Konan, Minato-ku (see map). Bring the documents showing that you are married, a few pictures of you two together and with your respective families if possible. Make sure you have copies, as these pictures won't be returned to you. Don't forget your passport and some ID pictures. You will have to fill some applications. Once you have submitted everything, your passport will be stamped with your application number. It can take from just a few days to three months for the spouse visa to be issued. During this time, you must stay in Japan until your visa is issued (or declined). You will be informed by mail once your visa is ready.

Once you go back to the immigration office and obtain your visa, you should also ask for a "multiple re-entry visa". It is necessary to travel outside Japan. If you don't have one when you exit Japan (even for a single day), you will lose your visa and will have to re-apply, pay for a new visa and wait again.

Obtaining an alien registration card (外国人登録証明書 "Gaikokujin tōrokushōmeisho")

This card is compulsory for any foreigner staying more than three months in Japan. The registration is made at your local town hall ("Kuyakusho" or "Shiyakusho"). Take your passport and two recent ID pictures (taken within the last six months). You will have to pay different stamps, then wait a few weeks until you can go back there and get the card. If you are planning to change and extend your visa, do it before you get your alien registration card, or you will have to return and update the card after that. You should also update your card whenever you change address in Japan.

Opening a bank account in Japan

Opening a bank account should be a fairly straightforward thing if you have a proper visa (one year or more) and your alien registration card (no need to take your passport in that case). Most big banks have bilingual application forms in Japanese and English. Ask for the right counter and forms, fill the application and submit it when your waiting number is called. It should just take a few minutes. Some banks might ask you for your "hanko" (personal stamp with your name on it). As foreigners are not supposed to have one (you can if you want, but it is not obligatory), you can just sign instead.

Sending money abroad

Overseas remittance is the easiest way to send money from Japan to another country's bank account. Unfortunately, it might not be as easy to find a bank that offer these services in Japan. Shinsei Bank offers foreign remittance service for a ¥2000 fee only. Sumitomo-Mitsui Trust Bank took over the activities of Citibank Japan in November 2015 under the name of Prestia Bank and also offers overseas remittance for ¥2000 per transfer. Alternatively, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is otherwise probably the most foreigner-friendly bank, and they have branches everywhere in Japan, which makes it far more convenient than Shinsei Bank or Prestia.

What do I need before going to the bank?

To send money to a foreign bank account, you need:

  • your passport or alien registration card
  • the money you want to send in cash
  • the IBAN (International Bank Account Number) and BIC (Bank Identifier Codes) numbers.
  • the name and address of the bank branch of the account to which you want to send your money.

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