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Marriage in Taiwan: Document Requirements - the laws

For most foreign residents, the process of getting married in Taiwan is a simple trip to the local household registration agency. If you have the right documents, you can be married in as little as fifteen minutes. As a foreign resident, the key document you probably don't have but need is a document that proves you are unmarried. This document must come from an foreign authority (most likely where your passport is from), but must be recognised in Taiwan. This post explores the laws that set out what can be accepted. Here's hoping you don't need to throw the book at someone!

This post is part of a series on Marriage in Taiwan:
  1. Marriage in Taiwan: Document Requirements - the laws
  2. Marriage in Taiwan: Acquiring a Single Status Certificate from Australia
  3. Marriage in Taiwan: Document Requirements - Registration

The Laws

The top-level legislation governing documents for marriage is the Household Registration Act, which is owned by the Ministry of the Interior. The Act simply sets up the concept of registrations, of which marriage is one. It can be applied for, both parties are the applicants, there are certificates.

This legislation is interpreted and applied through the Enforcement Rules of the Household Registration Act, also owned by the Ministry of the Interior. This is the bit of law that sets up the document requirements for marriage registration for foreign nationals. It has this to say:


Article 14
...
II.Documents submitted by applicants pursuant to the preceding paragraph and authorizing documents submitted by the applicants in accordance with Article 47 of this Act that are produced in foreign country shall be certified by ROC embassies, consulates, representative offices, or offices (hereinafter referred to as “diplomatic missions”). Documents produced in mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau shall be certified by the institution established or designated by the Executive Yuan or private organization authorized by the Executive Yuan. Documents produced by foreign embassies, consulates or authorized institutions in R.O.C. shall be verified by MOFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

The enforcement rules are further expanded and operationalised by the (my translation of the title - there is no English version) Operation Provisions of the Household Registration Office for Marriage Registration (戶政事務所辦理結婚登記作業規定). The owner is listed as "戶政", which I assume is an acronym for the Department of Household Registration Affairs (MoI):

五、結婚登記之申請,戶政事務所應查驗下列證件:
...
(二)結婚證明文件:
...
3、結婚當事人一方為外國籍者,另應查驗外籍配偶取用中文姓名聲明書,經駐外館處驗證之婚姻狀況證明文件及中文譯本。婚姻狀況證明文件有效期限,為原核發機關核發之日起六個月內有效。經外交部公告之特定國家人士,已取得本部入出國及移民署依法核發之永久居留證者,亦同。

Interpretations

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, immigration agent, government official or in any way qualified to provide advice on this matter. These are my views informed by my own practical completion of the process and other times I've legalised documents in Taiwan for business purposes.

These laws are not well understood, and interpretation differs between the household registration office regions. This is understandable, because they are rarely used, and the Operation Provisions remove crucial detail that is present in the Enforcement Rules and introduce additional ambiguity in the certification requirements.


In general, one of two processes will get you the certificate you need:
  1. Your country of citizenship's "foreign embassy, consulate or authorised institution in R.O.C." will produce a single status certificate, certificate of no impediment to marriage or an affidavit of single status that you can then take to the Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) for authentication
  2. You have to get a document from your country of citizenship's marriage registry, and then send it to Taiwan's mission in that country for authentication.

at which point your document is valid for use in Taiwan.

In theory, a document produced overseas can also be authenticated by your country of citizenship's mission in Taiwan, then further by BOCA and it will be just as valid as if directly authenticated by the Taiwanese mission in your passport country. In practice, this varies.

 

Below are tips for nationals from specific countries already living in Taiwan.

Australia

The Australian Office is Australia's "foreign embassy, consulate or authorised institution in R.O.C.". In theory, if it produced a document to prove single status, you could send it to BOCA for certification. However, it doesn't. Additionally, the Office cannot authenticate documents from Australia (only makes "certified copies", which cannot be used in this process).

Therefore, Australians must get a document from Australia and send it to Taiwan's outpost in Australia, TECO for legalisation. Here is a description of the convoluted process.


Japan

The Japan-Taiwan Exchange Organisation is Japan's "foreign embassy, consulate or authorised institution in R.O.C.". It produces a single status certificate, which can be authenticated by BOCA. There are detailed instructions available in Japanese.

 

USA

The American Institute in Taiwan is The USA's "foreign embassy, consulate or authorised institution in R.O.C.". They advise that an affidavit sworn at the embassy is valid for marriage, with forms available here. This is then certified at BOCA. Note that appointments at AIT for this process need to be booked well in advance.

 


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