Getting Married in China

Matt | Getting Married in China | Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

On Dec 30th, 2009 I got married in China to the most beautiful girl in the world.

Looking back I’m still a bit shocked that we were able to do it.  We had only a two week vacation in order to get married. And we had already planned a  nine day trip to Bali in the middle of our vacation so our two weeks ended up being about 5 days.  In talking with my friends and in looking online it seemed that to marry in China would take anywhere from 7 days to a month or longer.  We weren’t sure this was possible.  To add to the challenge, my wife’s hukou (residence permit) was not in Beijing but in Inner Mongolia.  This meant we’d have to fly there to get married.  On top of this I wasn’t even sure all the documentation that was needed to marry in China.  Reading websites it looked like I needed a Singles Certificate translated into Chinese and possibly other documents.  Companies in Canada were offering to do this for me for $1,000 to $2,000.  This seemed insane for only a few pieces of paper.  Still all these things added a lot of stress to my life and lowered my hopes of being able to marry.

Then I learned one invaluable lesson:

Things are usually a LOT easier than expected when I ask my wife for help.

So what is the process to for a Canadian to get married in China?  How did this Canadian marry the most beautiful girl in the world in less than 5 days?  Here is the process we had to follow to get married in Inner Mongolia, China and I’d guess if it worked in the outreaches of China then this process would also work for bigger cities such as Beijing or Shanghai.

1. Get a Singles Certificate – this is a document that proves you’ve never been married or that there is no impediment for you to marry again (such as still being married).  You can get this document as well at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing (search “Marriage in China” and it’ll tell you the times and what you need).  When my girlfriend called and asked the process they said it would take 15 minutes and all you needed was your passport and some money.  And it actually did take me exactly 15 minutes and that included me incorrectly filling in the form three times.  The Embassy office for this document was only open specific days (Tues & Thurs) and for us we went on a Tuesday after 2pm.  It cost $50 CAD or about 310 RMB.

Another key lesson learned is that things change quickly in China so it’s a good idea to have your future wife/husband to call the Embassy beforehand to see what the current process is.

2. Get your Singles Certificate Translated – The Embassy in Beijing does not translate for you so you’ll have to get this done elsewhere.  Fortunately there are many places that provide this service with fast turnaround times.  The one we used was in Jian Wai SOHO called Beijing RDT Translation Co.  They translated our Singles Certificate in two hours with the official chop (stamp) for 150 RMB or about $25.

3. Bring your passport to the Marriage Registration Office – Since my wife’s hukou is in Inner Mongolia we had to fly there to get registered.  But the process there seemed fairly straight forward.  I didn’t do much as my wife handled all the forms, documentation and tipping where necessary.  I was simply present, nervously moving from room to room wondering if we’d actually be able to do this.

Finally, they brought us into the picture room where we had our photo taken and got our marriage books (looks like a cross between a passport and a bank book) and I love it.

4. Get a Notarized Certificate – This is probably a good idea to have as it’s a notarized document translated in English and Chinese stating the details of our wedding particulars.

So that was the process for us.  Again, I highly recommend you call the Marriage Registration Office and or Consulate/Embassy beforehand to get the up-to-date information on what is required before you go.  And remember to ask your wife for help and it probably isn’t as difficult as you think it’d be.

Best wishes.

A Happily Married Canadian.

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