A Quick Guide to Getting Married Overseas

Getting married in the United States of America

Foreigners who live in the U.S. on a visitor or work visa may marry a US citizen or someone who holds a green cardholder. The citizen, or the holder of the green card, can sponsor their spouse through adjustment of status.

However, the USCIS does have a “90-day rule” that stops foreigners who have lived in the U.S. for 90 days or less from applying. It is even more difficult if the person has had less than 90 days of residency.

If either both or one spouse lives overseas the foreigner must apply for a K1 visa (fiancé visa) and then file an application for permanent residency following the marriage. The 90-day rule is relevant in this case too.

When the couple is married overseas they may contact the U.S. Consulate for “consular processing”. Using consular processing, the marriage will be legally recognized by the US and the spouse who is non-U.S. is granted a green card.

Getting married in France

Getting married in France you may select either a traditional style marriage or what’s called a “pacte civil de solidarité” (PACS), which is like a civil partnership. Whatever way you choose your starting point is the local “Mairie” (Town Hall). Each town will have its own rules and document requirements. Usually, the couple or one of their parents should have resided in that particular town for no less than 40 days before the date of the marriage ceremony.

The particular authorities could request a “certificate de célibat” which is the evidence to prove you are eligible to get married. You also will need to get a certificate of custom which is an attestation from a foreign lawyer regarding the content, existence, and foreign law interpretation. This certificate runs out after 6 months following its receipt. When the documentation is passed to the court or local town hall you may book your marriage ceremony there.

Getting married in Japan

It is possible to get married in Japan but if you are an Australian you will have to pay a visit to the Australian embassy in Tokyo where you confirm that you are legally permitted to be married through the swearing of an affirmation using an affidavit. If your marriage partner isn’t Japanese s/he will need to follow exactly the same process. The affidavit costs about $100 Aus each.

Other documents and their translations that may be required include:

  • passports,
  • birth certificates,
  • residence cards,
  • evidence of address,
  • naturalization documents(if applicable).
  • any documents that show a previous marriage(s) has been formally terminated.

As soon as your documents are available and their translations you may take them along to the municipal office where you may complete the request for registering the marriage (Kon-in Todoke).


Whichever country you choose to get married in making sure all the documents requested are accurately translated and if required certified. This will save you a lot of time in the long run and make your marriage a far more enjoyable experience. If your relatives overseas are unable to attend don’t forget to organize a live video recording through Zoom before the marriage ceremony begins.

What Sort of Translation do you need for a Marriage Certificate?

Certified and notarized translations are the most common types of translations for marriage certificates.

When a certified translation is completed the translator will certify it to say it is correct. The certification indicates that they are both capable of undertaking the translation of the document and that the translation is correct. The document is signed and dated by the translator too so if any fault is found in the translation the translator is held accountable for the mistake.

A marriage certificate can be notarized which means the document is stamped which verifies that the translation is official and can be used for official purposes. Notarization is undertaken by notaries who are classified as witnesses.

The translation of the marriage certificate

The most common reason for translating a marriage certificate translation is when you were married in one country and you move to another where the language is different. Certain authorities may require seeing your marriage certificate, especially if a name change has taken place.

What translator should you use?

If you are moving to Australia from a country whose native language is not English there are many translation services in Australia that have translators who are experienced at marriage certificate translation. If you need your marriage certificate translated for official purposes such as for immigration or employment in Australia you will need a NAATI translator to do the translation.

NAATI is the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters and is the body in Australia that has approved translators that are qualified to complete marriage certificate translations and other document translation services for official purposes, such as for immigration, employment, and taxation. If you try to use a cheaper translation service or one that is not NAATI accredited you can’t expect official bodies in Australia to accept this translation.

Will Your Marriage Certificate ever be This Famous?

Your marriage certificate may never be quite such a sensational document as that of Napoleon Bonaparte’s but it is still important enough for the Australian government to make sure that it is translated into English by a certified translation service before it can be presented as one of the documents for migration to this country.

Continue reading “Will Your Marriage Certificate ever be This Famous?”