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Non-Chinese Getting Married in China

Non-Chinese Getting Married in China

Written by GavinUpdated Aug. 14, 2023

This page covers marriage of two foreigners in China, marriage of a foreigner to a Chinese person in China, and spouse visa/residence requirements in China. "China" refers to Chinese Mainland, not Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan, which have separate "special administrative" policies.

Is it possible for two foreigners to get married in China?

It was once possible for foreigners to get married in China if the couple were both on residence permits. However, Civil Affairs Department Notice 456, Appendix 2, Serial 2 of March 29, 2019 canceled that provision. Nothing more recent suggests that the government notice has been lifted/amended. For the latest information, you should contact your local registry office (Civil Affairs Office or 民政部).

I am not Chinese. Can I marry a Chinese person in China? How do I register my marriage? What are the formalities?

It is possible to marry in China if one person is of Chinese nationality.

Step 1: Submit the required documents.

The Sino-foreign couple must go together, in person to the appropriate marriage registration office and submit a completed marriage registration application form (available at the marriage registration office). The appropriate marriage registration office will be the one in the jurisdiction in which the Chinese partner is registered (the location of the hukou). Together with the application form, the couple must submit a number of other documents:

Chinese Partner
(1) A certificate of marriageability (2) A certificate of birth (3) Household registration book (hukou) (4) A health certificate (obtainable from a regional-level local hospital) (5) A signed statement that there are no shared direct family relations within three generations with the prospective spouse.
Foreign Partner
(1) A current passport (2) Alien residence permit (3) A health certificate from a local hospital designated by the marriage registration office (4) Three photos of the marrying couple, taken together (5) A registration fee (6) A certificate of marriageability.

Item 6 requires further explanation. Basically, the marriage registration office needs a certificate from the foreign partner's home government stating he/she is not already married in his/her home country. Every foreign government has its own version of this type of certificate with its own requirements for obtaining one. Couples will need to check the embassy website of the foreign partner's home country in China for details on how to obtain this kind of certification. (Officially-stamped Chinese translations must accompany foreign-language documents.)

Application requirements may vary from office to office. When visiting the appropriate marriage registration office to pick up an application form and find out which local hospital the foreign partner must receive a check-up at, also check to see if the office's requirements differ from those listed here.

Step 2: Wait for the good news.

It takes the marriage registration office about an hour or so to review the submitted documents and approve the application.

Step 3: Collect the certificate.

Once the marriage registration office approves the application and registers the marriage, it will issue a marriage certificate to be picked up by the couple.

Living in China After Marrying a Chinese Spouse

Usually when married to a Chinese you are entitled to a one-year L visa, obtainable by presenting your marriage certificate (or authorized translation and if not Chinese), wife's identity card, registration of residence certificate (you must register where you live at your local police station), passport and fee at your local Entry-Exit Office (出入境.

On an L visa you can't legally do paid work or study an officially recognized course in China, so if you want to do either of these you should apply for the appropriate visa. For more detailed and up-to-date visa information, contact Chinese embassy or consulate in your country.

Permanent Residence in China

Permanent Residence is difficult to obtain. Foreigners who want to apply for permanent residence in China should obey Chinese laws, be healthy and have no criminal records. In addition, they should also meet some other requirements to obtain Chinese permanent residence. More on Chinese permanent residence requirements>>>

The Q1 (Family Reunion) Visa

According to current information [2017], Q1 visa applicants must apply from outside Chinese Mainland.

  • Reason for going to China: family reunion, or foster care
  • Intended duration of stay: over 180 days (apply for a Q2 visa if less than 180 days)
  • Who can apply: spouses, parents, sons, daughters, spouses of sons or daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandsons, granddaughters and parents-in-law, i.e. family members of Chinese citizens or of foreigners with Chinese permanent residence
  • Where to apply: The Q1 visa is similar to a Z visa (apply for this instead if you intend to do paid work in China), in that it must be applied for outside Chinese Mainland. It is possible to apply for a Q1 (or Z) visa from Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan, with their non-Mainland "special administrative" status.

Residence Permit Requirements

A Q1 (or Z) visa is required to be exchanged for (supplemented by) a residence permit within the first 30 days in Chinese Mainland.

For Further Information and Confirmation

The information on this page is for reference only. For up-to-date and detailed information about China visas, please contact the Chinese embassy or consulate assigned to your country/region. You may also read

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