Marriage in Taiwan

Getting married in Taiwan is relatively straightforward, unless you are British—applying for residency based on marriage to a local is also not difficult

It is easy for two foreign nationals or a foreign national and a Taiwanese national to get married in Taiwan. Just a few simple steps must be followed. Regardless of nationality, both parties have to prove that they are legally free to marry and have at least two witnesses over twenty years of age present when the marriage is performed in an open ceremony. There are a few additional requirements when a foreign national marries a Taiwanese national as opposed to another foreigner.

Because of the Certificate of No Impediment required to proceed (see next section), UK citizens may find it difficult to get married in Taiwan. This is down to the hassle of obtaining such confirmation from the UK Registry Office while overseas. Many British nationals resident in Taiwan therefore choose to marry in another jurisdiction such as Hong Kong or Guam to smooth the way.

Marriage between Two Foreign Nationals

Two foreign nationals who want to get married in Taiwan must obtain a certificate or written proof from their respective governments proving that they are single and free to marry. The Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs must then authenticate this document. (Since there is no federal marriage office in the US to verify status, Taiwan authorities will accept a sworn statement of single status from US citizens.) A couple can take these documents and their passports to the Bureau of Consular Affairs. They must then fill out a marriage application, pay applicable fees and choose a date and time to be married. The marriage will take place at a local district court. If the two foreigners are from the same country and that country has a central marriage registration system, they can get married at their country’s representative office. The US is not one of those countries.

Marriage between a Foreign National and a Taiwanese National

Marriage between a foreign national and a Taiwanese person is separated into two stages, which are often confused by those going through the process. The first stage, the official marriage itself, is relatively straightforward, and essentially follows the same requirements outlined above for marriage between two foreign nationals. The second stage is that of obtaining residency based on your new status as the spouse of a Taiwanese national, a process that is a little more involved.

Once you are officially married, you will need to provide a number of documents in order to obtain the Joining Family Resident Visa (JFRV), a document that entitles you to apply for an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) and undertake paid employment in the country. In order to apply for the JFRV, you will need the following:

  • A copy of the spouse’s Household Registration (an official document that records births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and adoptions within one household)
  • A copy of the marriage certificate
  • A health check certificate issued by an authorised hospital or clinic
  • A Certificate of Good Conduct (“criminal record check”) from the foreign spouse’s home country
  • Passport of the foreign spouse
  • ROC ID card of the local spouse
  • The local spouse’s chop (a stamp that is used as a signature in Taiwan)
  • A signed declaration affirming the foreign national’s chosen Chinese name

Any documents from overseas need to be authenticated by the local Taiwan representative office in the relevant country. Regulations concerning whether a Chinese translation of documents is needed are currently in flux, and it’s best to check with the National Immigration Authority as to their current rules. The Certificate of Good Conduct and the health check are only valid for three months from the date of issue, so the process requires the applicant to be quite organised to get everything certified and submitted on time. The criminal record check can be obtained from law enforcement authorities in your home country, so US citizens will need one from the FBI. Previously state police certificates would be accepted in Taiwan, but a recent change means that only FBI certificates are allowed. In Canada, the RCMP will provide this service, and in the UK you will need to apply for Subject Access with your local police force (who then check the national database).

The health check is best to get in Taiwan, as there are very particular regulations about which tests need to be carried out. Check for your nearest authorised hospital and be sure to tell hospital staff that you need the check for the marriage visa as different checks are in place for blue-collar workers and English teachers. Discovery of a serious contagious disease will result in denial of the JFRV, and in certain cases (usually involving HIV) the subject will be deported and not allowed to re-enter Taiwan.

Once the JFRV has been successfully obtained, the foreign spouse will need to apply for an Alien Resident Certificate at the local office of the National Immigration Agency within fifteen days. The following things are required for application:

  • A copy of the local spouse’s huji tengben (a certificate issued by the Household Registration office), listing the foreign spouse
  • A recent passport-sized photo
  • The foreign spouse’s passport
  • NT$1,000 (plus postage, if you want them to mail your ARC to you)
  • If you are claiming an ARC based on entry under a visitor visa (rather than a resident visa) the fee rises to NT$3,200

The process is quick and painless, and your ARC will be ready within a couple of weeks. It is valid for a year, and when the time comes to renew, you will need the same documents listed above. There is no need for a new health or criminal record check. When you renew your ARC, you can apply for up to three years validity, paying NT$1,000 per year of validity.

Photo by LifeBefar.