While consular officers at the Embassy are not authorized to perform marriages, they can assist U.S. citizens with the paperwork necessary for a legal marriage in Korea. A common misunderstanding is that you will be married at the Embassy; in fact, you and your fiancé/fiancée will be married under the laws of Korea. Marriage in Korea is a civil procedure, so a religious ceremony, while often more meaningful, does not create a legal marriage.
Although marriage statutes in the U.S. differ from state to state, a marriage performed in Korea under the Korean law is recognized in all states. If you need to know whether additional documentation is needed to have your marriage recognized, contact the office of the Attorney General of your state of residence in the United States. More information on Marriage Abroad can be found on the Department of State’s website.
A note to military Members: USFK military personnel should consult with the battalion/squadron or equivalent level commander in your chain of command of your intent to marry, and comply with the procedures in the USFK regulation on International Marriages in Korea, to include the execution of USFK Form 165 (Affidavit of Eligibility for Marriage) with the Judge Advocate. Direct hire U.S. Government employees (including military members) must produce copy of PCS or TDY orders to Korea in addition to the documents listed below in order to qualify for no-fee notary service. Contractor employees do not qualify for no-fee services.
Documents Needed for U.S. Citizens Getting Married in Korea
The documents listed below are required by the Korean government, as you will be married under the laws of Korea.
- PROOF OF UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP: A valid United States passport is sufficient to prove you are a U.S. citizen for the purpose of marriage. If you have no valid U.S. passport at the time of marriage, you must submit the appropriate documents below to prove your U.S. citizenship:
- An original Certificate of Naturalization for Naturalized citizens, or
- A certified copy of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or an original Certificate of Citizenship for American citizens born abroad, or.
- A certified copy of a birth certificate from the Vital Records Office of your State of birth, with the raised seal or seal of the State on the copy, for native-born American citizens (please note that wallet-sized birth certificates are not acceptable).
PHOTOGRAPHIC PROOF OF IDENTITY such as the US passport, driver’s license, military I.D., etc
- A COMPLETED AFFIDAVIT OF ELIGIBILITY FOR MARRIAGE, affirming that you are free and eligible to marry. Forms are available at the U.S. Embassy at the time of your appointment.
- If the American Citizen is under the age of 19, written permission to marry from both parents is required.
Documents needed for Non-U.S. Citizens for Getting Married in Korea
- If your fiancé/fiancée is Korean, please check with the ward or city office nearest you for guidance.
- If your fiancé/fiancée is not a Korean or an American Citizen, s/he should contact his/her own Embassy for information on what is required to marry in Korea as the procedures followed by other embassies may differ. Please ensure you have fulfilled those requirements prior to going to the ward office.
Steps for Getting Married in Korea
- For each American citizen applying for marriage, bring all of the documents listed above for U.S. citizens to the Embassy. The Embassy will review all of your documents and notarize your Affidavit of Eligibility for Marriage. The fee for this notarization is USD $50. Only American citizens need to come to the Embassy for this step in the process.
- Translate the notarized affidavit. Be sure to include translator’s signature and date of translation (note: this translation is required only when you are getting married to a Korean national). It does not have to be an official translation.
- You and your fiancé/fiancée are required to bring the notarized copy of the Affidavit of Eligibility of Marriage, along with other documents required by the Korean government, to your local district office (called Gu Cheong in Korean) to report and register your marriage. Please note that you will need to provide the names, addresses and signatures of two individuals as “witnesses” on the Korean application for marriage form. In general, witnesses are not required to appear at the local district office. However, it may vary by local district office. Therefore, we suggest you contact the local district office directly where you wish to report and register your marriage for the latest information including the requirement for witnesses.
- The local district office will provide you with a “Certificate of Marriage Registration” (수리증명서, pronounced soo-ree jeung-myung-suh). When both of the marriage partners are U.S. citizens, they will receive this certificate form right away. However, if one spouse is a Korean citizen, this process can take up to 3-5 days, and will be reflected on the Korean marriage certificate (혼인관계증명서, pronounced hone-in-gwan-gae jeung-myung-suh).
The “Certificate of Marriage Registration” document will be in Korean. If you need to have the “Certificate of Marriage Registration” document translated into English and notarized, please note that the Embassy cannot provide this service. The Korean Government will apostille marriage documents at their Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
NOTE: If you need the apostille to use for an official purpose, please remember that it is up to the requesting authorities to make a determination on whether the apostilled document is acceptable.
Note on SAME-SEX Marriages:
The Republic of Korea (ROK) government does not recognize same-sex marriages. If you were married to a same-sex spouse in another country where such marriages are legally recognized, such as the United States, your marriage will not be recognized in Korea.