An Expatriate in Taiwan

Getting married in Taiwan

Been a while. I’ve been busy. However, I did find time to turn Miss Expatriate into Mrs. Expatriate and thought I would write about the process of doing so here. Like most things involving government in Taiwan, getting married is a very simple process that is muddled in bureaucracy. The process of getting married I’m about to describe is for:

Americans in Taiwan who wish to marry a Taiwanese person.

That’s it. If you are from somewhere else, then the process will most likely be different. I will not be talking about changing your Visa or other such information (I’ll write about that later next year when I do it myself).

So, if you are an American in Taiwan who wishes to marry a Taiwanese person, here is what you must do:

Step 1: Visit AIT
Required materials: ARC (Alien Resident Certificate), passport, money
Required time: 10-30 minutes

It doesn’t matter if it’s in Kaohsiung, Taichung, Taipei or wherever. Just go. You can make appointments online, but when I went to the Kaohsiung office, I still had to take a number and wait, so I don’t see the point of making an appointment. Once at the AIT window, tell the officer working there that you need to fill out a Single Affidavit form. Preferably, they should give you one that is in Chinese and English. If you get only Chinese, you’ll probably be confused. If it’s only in English, you may encounter troubles at stop #3: The Department of Household Registration.

So, get the Single Affidavit form and fill it out. Should be relatively straightforward. Give your information, check the box that says you aren’t married, and give it back to the clerk. They’ll stamp it and make it official. Pay the fee (NT$990) and now it’s on to step 2!

Step 2: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Required Materials: Single Affidavit form, ARC, passport, copies of ARC and Passport, money
Required time: 20 minutes to 1 hour

Again, it doesn’t really matter where the office is, just go there. You’ll need the Single Affidavit form, your ARC and passport, and copies of each. In Kaohsiung, you’ll want to go straight to Counter 11: Authentication. In other offices, just ask. Give them the Affidavit and whatever other information they’ll need. They’ll tell you it’ll take 4-5 days and cost NT$400. This is normal, so plan ahead. For an extra NT$200, they’ll have it done in 24 hours. I paid the extra fee and, indeed, they had it ready the next morning at 10:00 when I walked in. With your authenticated Singles Affidavit, you are ready for the last step!

Step 3: Department of Household Registration
Required Materials: Authenticated Singles Affidavit, ARC, passport, Marriage Agreement, money, possibly witnesses
Spouse will need: Household Registration form, Taiwanese ID Card, passport photos, witnesses IDs
Time required: 20 minutes to 1 hour

You can NOT go to just any Household Registration office. You must go to the Household Registration office in the district where your spouse has their permanent address. Miss Expatriate is from Kaohsiung and her permanent address is in the Lingya district, so we had to go to the Lingya Household Registration Office.

Before you go, you’ll need to fill out a marriage agreement. You and your spouse will need to fill it out, sign it, and stamp it with your chop (see the comments for picture). You’ll also need two witnesses to fill it out, sign it, and stamp it with their chops.

Once there, it’s fairly straightforward. Give them all the materials and do what they say. You probably already have a Chinese name, but they’ll give you a form to choose your official Chinese name. I chose to keep the one I’ve been using. There are a few other forms to fill out, in both English and Chinese.

Hopefully, the office you go to will know the procedure. I think I was the first foreigner ever registering a marriage at the Lingya district, so the whole thing took about an hour and the clerks were a bit confused. The supervisor had to come over a few times, some calls were, but in the end everything was sorted out. You’ll have the option of getting English or Chinese marriage certificates. I recommend at least 1 of each. Personally, I got 2 of each. If necessary, you can always go back and get more printed out. Certificates are NT$100 each. Your spouse will also need to change his/her ID (your name will be put on it), so he’ll/she’ll need a passport photo. That will be an extra NT$50.

Overall, it’s a rather drab process. It takes some time and none of the offices are quite exactly sure what the other offices are supposed to do. I called AIT and asked: Do I choose my Chinese name at MOFA or HHR? I was told HHR. I called the next day and was told MOFA. This is pretty standard in Taiwan. There is nothing that can simply be done entirely in one building or one office. Everything is spread out and no office knows what the next step is or what gets done where. They only know their job from doing the same exact thing every day.

Anyway, hope that helps you. Your mileage may vary with things such as the witnesses and their IDs, stamps, and time, but overall that is the process. 3 stops, 2 papers (Singles Affidavit and marriage agreement), and some cash. Good luck registering your marriage!

Helpful links:
AIT webpage concerning marriage in Taiwan
Marriage Agreement (PDF)
Forumosa Marriage subforum

40 thoughts on “Getting married in Taiwan

    1. The Expatriate Post author

      1. Alien Resident Certificate – every foreigner has one. It’s like an ID card for foreigners.

      2. Right now my visa is based on employment. I can stay as long as I have a job. Since I’m married, however, I can change my visa so it’s based on my marriage. If I lose my job, I can still stay.

      3. A chop is a small stamp. Everyone has one (or several). They generally have your Chinese name on them in a very ceremonial/ancient Chinese script. They are used at the bank and government offices for identification. Not sure why, as they are easily forgeable.

      It looks like this:
      Chinese chop

        1. Random Foreigner

          I found a local shop on the street that sold the chops. When I went inside, they just asked me to write the name I wanted engraved on the chop and it was made for me in a few minutes. Mine was carved out of a really nice metal. There are also wood, marble, and other stone chops you can purchase. Most of which will either have a rubber piece with the carved characters glued on to the end of the chop or the characters carved directly into the chop. My name was carved directly into the metal. It’s relatively cheap (depending on the material used for the chop) and these shops are pretty easy to find.

          Good luck in getting your chop! :)

  1. Naomi

    well, I am thinking to get marry with my bf in taiwan, who is a French and I am Taiwanese. But non of us live in Taiwan, which means that he will not have the ARC, by chance will you know how to do? and Do you only have to chose the chinese name the last minute? We wish to get married in Kaohsiung, too….same thing I call HHR for info….non of they know what they are talking about….hell!

    1. The Expatriate Post author

      I won’t be much help, but I can answer a few of your questions:
      1) Your boyfriend can choose a Chinese name at anytime. If he has a job in Taiwan, this will most likely be required by his employer. However, when you get married, he’ll have to choose a “permanent” one and probably won’t be able to change it after that, so care should be taken in choosing a Chinese name.
      2) You can get married in Kaohsiung, as long as that is where your household registration is. Since you are Taiwanese, you don’t have a choice. Wherever your household registration/parents’ address is, that’s where you must get married.

      Other than that, I’m not sure what to tell you. I would suggest your boyfriend call the French Embassy in Taiwan or other French Aid Organizations on the island and dig around for more info. Somewhere, someone knows something and will help you get it all sorted out.

  2. venus ledesma

    i am a filipino working here in taiwan as a caretaker and my boyfriend who is a british national wish to go here and marry me. Is this possible? If so,can you help me please on how the processing goes. Thank you and more power..

    1. The Expatriate Post author

      Unfortunately, I won’t be able to help you much. I have some British friends here, one of which has a Filipino girlfriend, but no plans to get married. I would suggest that your boyfriend visit the British Embassy and ask them about the proper procedures. Either that, or surely someone at the Forumosa forums would have a better idea. Good luck.

    2. Haidee

      hello miss venus, still in taiwan? im married to a british national, and we are living in taichung. where are you in taiwan by the way? best wishes :-)

  3. Random Foreigner

    First of all, I wanted to thank you for the information. I am curious though, if one enters Taiwan on a visitor visa, has no ARC card, and wants to get married, does the process change at all?

    Once married, is it possible to find employment or is a college degree still required? I’m still kind of young and haven’t finished my college education, but I spent about 3 years in Taiwan where I found a nice girl. We’ve been dating for a while and I’m thinking of popping the question. Not having finished my schooling yet, I worry about finding a job. Any thoughts?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. The Expatriate Post author

      Unfortunately, I’m not sure. I had a work visa at the time and in 2 weeks will have switched over to a marriage visa (blog post about the process for that coming up soon).

      I would think that your school would be able to help you secure an ARC as a student visa. If not, then I would call AIT or visit the local AIT office and find out how to go about getting married in your case.

      Sorry, but that’s the best advice I can give you.

  4. Greg

    Hi!

    Thanks for the very clear and great article, I’m mulling through this process right now. I had a question though: I’ve seen some sites saying that you also may need a proof of a clean criminal record, I was wondering if you still had to go through that or not. And, of course, how the US treats the marriage certificate from Taiwan!

    Thanks ahead of time, sorry to bother you!

    1. The Expatriate Post author

      I don’t know about others, but as for Americans, in my personal experience, you do NOT need a criminal record check to get married. You will need it when you want to apply for your marriage visa (I should really write an article on that), but not for the marriage itself.

      Once you get married in Taiwan, you can get both Chinese and English copies of your marriage declaration (the Household Registration Office will print them out). As far as America is concerned – that’s it. You don’t need to send them copies, you don’t need to tell them; as long as you are married in Taiwan, it will be recognized in America, or so I was told.

      I did attempt to call the county courthouse back in America, and they said I didn’t need to do anything. I assume that if I ever moved back to America, we would be a legally wed couple; at any rate, we would have the documentation to back it up.

      1. Greg

        Oh, okay! I got it then. So I would need that record in order to get the visa/marriage ARC. Oh nuts, hoping to avoid that so I wouldn’t have to get it out of New Jersey :P

        Again, very helpful and clear answers, thank you very much!

        1. Greg

          All set and married! :) Thanks for your help, by following the steps you set up here I was able to get it done with no problems at all! I really quite appreciatedit, so thank you again!

  5. Venus

    Hi,

    My husband and I both live in the U.S. I am originally from Taiwan, and he is from the U.S.
    We have already been married for about 2 years. We got married in the U.S.
    He has an unofficial Chinese name. We are thinking about getting a marriage certificate from Taiwan.
    We don’t currently plan to live in Taiwan, but we go to Taiwan to visit our friends and relatives frequently.
    We would like to know how do we go about getting legally married in Taiwan and have his name added to my Taiwanese Household Registration.

    Also, how soon can he get his ARC or citizenship is we don’t plan to live in Taiwan.

    Thanks!
    Venus

    1. The Expatriate Post author

      I think if you have marriage certificates from the U.S., it would probably be easiest just to go to the Household Registration Office (the one in the district where YOUR parents live), show them the certificate, and fill out the forms. That should make it “official.”

      Since you don’t live in Taiwan, however, there’s probably really no reason or need to do so, since you won’t be needing to jointly file taxes or anything like that.

      As for his ARC, he could get one by going to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and filling out the forms. They’ll fill you in on what the requirements are. I don’t think he’ll be eligible for citizenship, however, since you don’t live in Taiwan.

  6. Richard

    Random Foreigner Asked:
    If one enters Taiwan on a visitor visa, has no ARC card, and wants to get married, does the process change at all?

    My experience as a vistor to Taiwan with no ARC was preccisely as described. However, we did not stay in Taiwan. We live in the U.S. with plans to re-locate to taiwan in several years.

    Greg Asked: How the US treats the marriage certificate from Taiwan.

    My wife (who is Taiwanese) and I were married in Taiwan in late 2009 but we wanted to continue to live in the U.S. for the next few years. To make a long story short, we were married in the U.S. in early 2010. My opinion, it is best to get married in both countries since bureaucrats are an unpredictable species. Its a bit of a hassle but well worth the peace of mind it provide.

    Best Wishes to All.

  7. Maz

    Hello!

    Thank you so much for these info! I hope it will be easy in my case.. am getting married in Sep :).
    People told me I need to have a Clean Criminal Record Document from my country authenticated by the ROC mission abroad, however, there is no ROC mission in my country which is going to be really difficult. others told me i need to register this marriage first in my country and get a marriage certificate there and bring it here to Taiwan, which is also seems like mission impossible. another required Doc. is Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (Single Certificate) also from my country!! but you had a different case.. you just signed a paper stating that you were single.. ..

    but i see you did it smoothly and without the need to any Doc form your country (am i right?).. I am still a bit confused as those aforementioned Doc’s which were required from others who went through the same process.. some advised me to prepare those Doc’s a head, like 1-2 months before the marriage!
    what do you think? advice me please.

    what is AIT ?
    BTW. I have been here for ~ 4 years as a student, and intending to stay for maybe 7-8 years more,

    Thank you in advance

    1. The Expatriate Post author

      AIT is the American Institute in Taiwan – not for citizens of other countries.

      My process did indeed go smoothly – I got the documents from AIT, brought them to the MOFA, and then the Household Registration Office. It was all very simple.

      I did NOT need a Clean Criminal record sheet to get married. However, I needed one when I changed my visa from a work visa to a marriage visa. It wasn’t from my country, however – it was only from my county/state.

      Most of the materials have a 6-month to 1-year lifespan, so everything must be finished by then or you have to start over.

    1. The Expatriate Post author

      I’m sure it is. Unfortunately, I’d have no idea how to go about that. Check with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) where you live – they should be able to point you in the right direction.

  8. angel

    I’m a Taiwanese my boyfriend is from USA,we want to get married here in Taiwan,his waiting for his FBI result then it needs to be notarized in the Taiwan Embassy in the States,but he ask about the ARC and they said that he can apply here in Taiwan,but my friend his married to a Taiwanese too,he told me to apply in the website but my boyfriend have problem on the line,that’s why he ask to the Embassy and they said that he can apply here.Is it true?Need your help.Thank you for your time.

  9. Johnny

    Hi- Hope you are still answering questions about this because it still comes up in a Google search! :)

    I know this isn’t how you went about it, but do you know how much of this process can be cut out by getting married in the US, like in Vegas? Say we get married in Vegas, bring back all the necessary documents, etc, I’m wondering how easy it will be to return to Taiwan and change our status to “married.” Thanks for any advice!

    1. The Expatriate Post author

      I’m not really sure; the Taiwanese are big fans of bureacracy. At the very least, you’d still have to go to the Household Registration Office and do the paperwork there and then go to the MOFA to change your visa. The workers at the MOFA should be able to give you the details – they are experts in this (or are supposed to be), so ask them what the exact steps are.

  10. 阿鎂21

    Hi.. I have question “It is possible to get married here in Taiwan but no need go back to my country I am a filipino working in manufacturing but my boyfriend is Taiwanese I want to get married to him while I’m still here in Taiwan working …but I don’t know how..where ?,,, can you please help me on how the processing?,

    Thank you

  11. Judy

    Thank u for the wonderful Information. I have a question, if my bf and I got married in Taiwan, could we bring the marriage certificate from Taiwan to the states to get married?

    1. The Expatriate Post author

      Yes. If you are married in Taiwan, it is legally binding in America. When you are married in Taiwan, get the marriage license/certificate printed in both Chinese and English. When you go back to America, you can bring the English license to the courthouse/wherever in order to show that you are legally married.

  12. joyce

    I am ofw here in taiwan and i have a taiwanese boyfriend, and we plan to get marry. It is possible to get marry first here in taiwan before marry to my country ?

    1. The Expatriate Post author

      I’m sure it is, but I’m not experienced in this area. The best would be for your boyfriend to ask at the office of household registration and figure things out first.

  13. mark

    Good day. I am A filipino. I have a girlfriend taiwanese here in taiwan. We plan to get married here in taiwan. Is there a possibilty that we can get married here in taiwan before getting married in the philippines? What would be the requirements and procedures? Thank you!

    1. The Expatriate Post author

      I’m sure it is possible, but I’m not experienced in this area. The best would be for your girlfriend to ask at the office of household registration and figure things out first. Then you can follow the procedures that they tell you to do.

  14. SAAD

    Hello Sir , I am a Pakistani and want to get a Taiwan nationality , so i have Taiwanese girlfriend , I want to ask you some questions.
    1. I am studying in china, can i get marry ?
    2. I don’t have any house and job in Taiwan , So can i apply for nationality ?
    3. If i will apply for nationality, Should i stay in Taiwan or can i stay outside the country ?
    4. What is the process for get nationality ?

    1. The Expatriate Post author

      1. I’m sure you can. Why would studying in China stop you from getting married?
      2. No, but if you get work, you can apply for a visa. You must stay around 5 years or more to apply for nationality, and then you’ll have to give up your Pakistani nationality (Taiwan doesn’t allow dual citizenship in most cases).
      3. If you have Taiwan nationality, you can do anything Taiwanese can do, including staying outside of the country.
      4. I have no idea. I’m not interested in giving up my American nationality to get Taiwanese nationality. There would be very few benefits for me, so I have no researched this area.

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