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Getting married in China

Updated: 2014-01-21

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American citizens contemplating marriage to a Chinese citizen in China should review the following information, which is given for general background reference only and, while it is believed to be accurate, we suggest that you check locally for any changes that might have been made.

Marriages in China are registered according to the laws of China. American diplomatic and consular officers do not have the authority to perform marriages and are not required to witness the marriages of American citizens that take place overseas. Under the U.S. Constitution, the administration of civil affairs is one of the powers reserved for states. Thus, as federal government employees, American consular officers are prohibited from usurping this state role.

Marriages in China are administered by the marriage registration office of the local civil affairs bureau, (民政局min zheng ju) in each jurisdiction. Persons planning to marry should visit or call one of these offices for specific information. The appropriate civil affairs office will be the one in the jurisdiction in which the Chinese citizen is registered (the location of their 户口hukou).

While the minimum age for marriage is generally 20 for women and 22 for men, some civil affairs offices have a higher minimum age. Both parties must establish that they are single and free to marry. If you have been previously married, you will be asked to submit original or certified copies of your final divorce or annulment decrees, or of death certificates, if widowed.

Process for marriage in China involving at least one U.S. citizen

Americans will usually be asked to submit the following:

A valid passport with a valid Chinese visa

If both parties are foreigners at least one must present a Chinese residence permit.

An "affidavit of marriageability." You can get this document at the Embassy by swearing or affirming before a Consul that you are legally free to marry. You must make an appointment to get this affidavit and there is a $50 charge.

If either party was previously married, bring a clear photocopy of either the divorce or annulment decree or the death certificate which shows how the marriage ended. If you present an original certified copy with the copy for their review, the Chinese author