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Can you get Japanese citizenship by marrying?


Japan is a beautiful country with a rich culture and history, and many people dream of living there permanently. One way to achieve this is by obtaining Japanese citizenship, which comes with various rights and benefits. For some, marrying a Japanese citizen may seem like a shortcut to acquiring citizenship. But is it really possible? In this article, we will explore the requirements and conditions for obtaining Japanese citizenship through marriage.

Eligibility for Marriage-Based Citizenship

Firstly, it’s important to understand that getting married to a Japanese citizen does not automatically grant you citizenship. However, it can make you eligible for naturalization after meeting certain conditions. To be eligible, you must have been married to a Japanese national for at least three years, have lived in Japan for at least one year, and be of good character.

Japanese Snack Box

The Naturalization Process

The naturalization process is the formal procedure for becoming a Japanese citizen. It involves submitting an application form to the Ministry of Justice with relevant documents such as your passport, residence card, marriage certificate, birth certificate, tax certificates, etc. You will also need to take a written and oral exam on the Japanese language, history, and culture. If approved, you will be granted Japanese citizenship.

Advantages of Citizenship

Becoming a Japanese citizen has numerous benefits, such as the right to vote in national and local elections, access to healthcare and social security benefits, eligibility for government scholarships and grants, and the ability to travel visa-free to many countries around the world.

Challenges of Citizenship

However, obtaining citizenship can also present challenges such as language barriers, cultural differences, financial obligations such as taxes and pension payments, and the loss of your original citizenship if Japan doesn’t allow dual citizenship.

Alternative Options

If obtaining citizenship through marriage seems too complicated or time-consuming for you, there are other options such as applying for a spouse visa or a work visa. These visas can allow you to live and work in Japan without being a citizen.

Requirements for Spouse Visa

A spouse visa allows you to stay in Japan for up to one year initially, then extendable up to five years. To obtain a spouse visa, you must be legally married to a Japanese national or a foreigner with a valid residency status in Japan. You must also provide proof of financial stability and accommodation in Japan.

Requirements for Work Visa

A work visa allows foreigners who want to work in Japan to do so legally. To obtain a work visa, you must have a job offer from a company in Japan that is willing to sponsor your visa. You must also meet certain education and experience requirements for the job.

Benefits of Spouse and Work Visas

While not as comprehensive as citizenship benefits-wise, spouse and work visas do offer some advantages such as the right to work in Japan legally, access to healthcare benefits under certain conditions or employer-provided insurance plans, and the ability to bring your family members with you under certain visas.

Challenges of Spouse and Work Visas

However, these visas also present challenges such as having limited job opportunities or difficulty finding employment due to language barriers or lack of relevant skills. Additionally, they require regular renewal processes that can be time-consuming and stressful.


In conclusion, marrying a Japanese citizen can make you eligible for naturalization after meeting certain conditions. However, obtaining citizenship is not automatic or guaranteed. There are other options such as spouse and work visas that offer some benefits but also come with their own set of challenges. Ultimately, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of each option and decide which one is best suited for your needs and goals.

Can you live in Japan if you marry a Japanese citizen?

To reside in Japan with a Japanese spouse, you must obtain a Spouse or Child of a Japanese National visa. Your marriage must be legally recognized in Japan, requiring you to register your marriage at a municipal office where you reside for acceptance.

Can a foreigner marry a Japanese citizen?

If a foreigner wants to get married in Japan, they must first obtain a sworn Affidavit of Competency to Marry from their country’s embassy or consulate in Japan, as required by Japanese law. This is a notarial service, and an appointment must be made to obtain it. The Affidavit confirms that the foreigner is legally able to get married.

Can US citizens get married in Japan?

For Americans looking to get married in Japan, the process is simple and can typically be completed in less than a day with proper planning. Service members may have additional requirements and should consult with their unit personnel officer or chain of command.

Can a US citizen have dual citizenship with Japan?

There are no rules in U.S. law forcing Americans with dual nationality to pick only one citizenship when they come of age. Deciding to become a Japanese national does not impact American citizenship.

Can an American become a Japanese citizen?

Foreigners can become Japanese citizens either through marriage or naturalization, but it’s important to note that Japan only recognizes a single citizenship. The Japanese Nationality Act outlines the guidelines for obtaining and losing Japanese citizenship.

Can Japanese marry non-Japanese?

When it comes to marrying a non-Japanese citizen in Japan, it is necessary to obtain homeland certification to ensure their eligibility for marriage. Additionally, depending on the foreign law, Japan may need to provide certification as well.

It’s important to note that the Japanese government has strict requirements for naturalization, including a thorough background check and proof of financial stability. Applicants must also renounce their previous citizenship if Japan does not allow dual citizenship, which can be a difficult decision for some.

Another challenge of obtaining Japanese citizenship through marriage is the language requirement. The written and oral exams on the Japanese language, history, and culture can be difficult for those who do not have a strong grasp of the language. However, there are resources available such as language classes and study materials to help applicants prepare for the exams.

For those who opt for a spouse or work visa, it’s important to consider the financial implications. Japan has a high cost of living, and expenses such as housing, healthcare, and education can be significant. It’s important to have a solid financial plan in place before moving to Japan to avoid financial stress and hardship.

Overall, whether you choose to pursue citizenship through marriage or obtain a visa, living in Japan can be a rewarding experience. Japan offers a unique culture, delicious cuisine, and stunning natural landscapes. It’s important to thoroughly research your options and make an informed decision based on your individual circumstances and goals.

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