information for global expats

Family Members and Marriage for Expats in Japan

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: July 2014

Family Members

Ideally, when you immigrate to another country, you are able to bring your partner and children with you at the same time. If this is not financially or otherwise possible, you may need to spend some time working in Japan, and possibly sending money to your home country to help support your family. Once you have started to familiarise yourself with Japan, and found some suitable family accommodation, and perhaps looked into schools and such things, you may find it easier to move the rest of your family into the country.

The appropriate visa for family members will differ depending on their relationship with the person who is resident in Japan. If you are married to a Japanese citizen or permanent resident, you should apply to enter Japan on a Spouse of Japanese National or Spouse of Permanent Resident visa, respectively. Similarly, dependent children can obtain Child of Japanese National and Child of Permanent Resident visas.

If you are not in one of the above categories, you may be eligible to apply for a Long Term Resident visa in certain circumstances. For example, should you get a divorce your spousal visa will be revoked after six months, but you would be able to apply for a Long Term Resident visa. Descendents of Japanese nationals may also be eligible for this visa type. All the above visas are valid for either one or three years, and enable the holder to undertake any kind of paid work. Furthermore, holding this visa makes it easier to gain permanent residence and citizenship.

Otherwise, if your spouse holds any other type of visa, such as a Working or Student visa, you can apply for a Dependent visa. Your spouse and any dependent children (those under 18 and those over 18 and still financially dependent on you) can apply for a Dependent (Family) Stay Visa. Note, however, that you cannot work on this visa type.

As with any other type of long-term visa, you should apply for a Certificate of Eligibility before starting your visa application. For more details, see Visas and Passports.



Because either the bride or groom must be resident in the country, there is no possible way of having a quick wedding in Japan. The minimum age of marriage in Japan is 18 for men and 16 for women. Parental consent will be required if either party is under 20. A further restriction is that a woman cannot remarry within six months of the termination of a previous marriage.

In Japan, both civil and religious ceremonies are recognised, though only the former has legal effect. The first part of the marriage application procedure is to take a completed Marriage Registration Form (stamped by two witnesses) and the following documents to the nearest ward (ku) office:

  • marriage registration form
  • passports (with certified translations as necessary)
  • resident card(s)
  • marriageability certificate (this proves that you fulfil the requirements for marriage in your home country. The exact name varies.)

Birth certificates may additionally be requested. After a few days, you will receive a Certificate of Acceptance of Notification of Marriage, after which the civil ceremony can go ahead. Note that marriage for same-sex couples is not permitted in Japan.



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