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!