How to Get Hitched in Hong Kong
As of April 1st 2019, the Chinese Government decided to no longer allow expats to marry in Mainland China. Yes, you read that right and no it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke.
We were, in fact, settling into our Airbnb in Greece, organising our up-and-coming wedding when we found out the news. As per usual, there was no explanation as to why this new rule was enforced. If you’re reading this and know why, please enlighten me!
After having spent months of agonizing research into how to get married in China, visiting the Dutch Consulate in Shanghai back and forth, paying for all the necessary documents…it all came to a sudden halt. Darling, pass me my wine… bugger it, throw me the bottle.
So what now? Pay for expensive flights home? Take 1 month off work to follow the British law for marriage? No thank you, 不要谢谢你…
Thankfully, we live a hop, skip and a jump away from the beautiful city of Hong Kong. Where marriage is as easy as an impulse 50rmb Kate Spade bag purchase at the fake market.
SO, without further ado! Here are the steps…
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH...Check your dates
It’s a no-brainer really, but I advise you not to simply use this blog post as your guide (I’d be super amazed if you did). Click HERE to open up the Gov.HK website (it’ll open up as a new tab). Next to “Please Select” you’ll notice there are 2 options for giving notice:
Take your time to read through whichever applies to you fully. I’ll be writing my experience from outside of Hong Kong, although some of the helpful ladies I’ve spoken to have mentioned physically applying in Hong Kong is much easier. If you have the time, do it this way! Anyway, let’s continue.
After a Notice of Marriage is given, the marriage must take place within a period of three months. This is very important and the first mistake we made in this process. We were too late for our initial wedding date. The website is super helpful, you can check the earliest booking date for notice of intent by selecting your preferred marriage date. Click here!
2. request the notice of intended marriage form
You have two options, either write to request or e-mail. We followed the instant route and simply e-mailed email@example.com.
I received a response two days later with the form and an e-mail with all the details on procedures for giving notice of intended marriage from places outsides Hong Kong. If you don’t want to wait, or can’t wait, feel free to comment below or add me on WeChat. I’d be happy to e-mail it across. One lovely woman in the same situation as us e-mailed me the document in advance which was immensely helpful (thank you!).
Fill out the document and the pages that are applicable to you and your fiancé. Click the image below to see the first page!
3. Get hold of your bank draft
Now, this bit is a pain in the bum. Mostly because you need to physically go to the bank, bring a sandwich and a bottle of water. Oh, and block out at least 1 or 2 hours out of your day…you know…Chinese banks.
The bank draft is your form of payment for giving Notice of Intended Marriage. This important piece of paper will need to be sent off along with the above Form you filled out. You will have to apply for HK$305 payable to “The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”
Before I go further:
- IF you have a friend in Hong Kong that can easily write you a cheque from their HK bank, DO IT.
- If YOU have HK account and cheque book, write it out and include in the application package above.
A bank draft is a cheque issued by the bank with the different type of currency made payable to the client’s specified agent/company/office.
You may make for a bank draft at any of the Hong Kong Associated Bank. The cashier order or bank draft should be one from a bank which has a connected bank in Hong Kong.
The struggle we faced was finding which bank actually offers this. We used the Bank of China. Visit this link to see the list of other banks that can issue a bank draft. For those in Shanghai with a Bank of China account, visit the Bank of China (Xuhui Garden Branch) on Tianyaoqiao Road (open from 9am until 4pm).
BRING THE FOLLOWING:
Once you’ve received your Bank Draft, do a happy dance and get ready for step 4
4. Notarise notice of intended marriage form
You’re nearly there…
You only need to have the first page notarised, not the entire document.
For those living in Shanghai, go to the Shanghai Oriental Notary Public Office on Fengyang Road. Not gonna lie, you need at least half a day set aside for this….it’s a long wait.
Here’s the lowdown:
- Print out at least 2 or 3 copies of the first page, do not complete this until you are in front of the notary. You will be asked to complete the document in front of the notary who will sign it to confirm they witnessed the signing itself.
- Bring your passports (make copies!)
- Take a number and wait for your turn.
- They will ask you to complete the form, confirm your name, date of birth, etc and the purpose of your visit. All this will be done on camera as proof.
- You’ll receive a receipt/piece of paper which you must not lose. You will be required to hand this paper in along with your passport (as proof of identity) when you pick up your notarised document once it’s ready.
- Pay the cost of 160rmb for the service at the counter (Alipay, WeChat, Cash).
- Wait for at least 1 week to collect your document, they will give you a specific date.
5. Send off your application form
By this time, you should have the following:
- Bank Draft of HK$305 payable to “The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”
- Notarised first page of the Notice of Intended Marriage Form and the completed accompanying pages
- Photocopies of your travel documents (passports)
- Other supporting documents if necessary
Now it’s time to send your documents to Hong Kong! We used SF Express. It was super simple, took 2 days and only cost us 30rmb.
The Marriage Registration and Records Office
3/F, Low Block
Queensway Government Offices
6. Wait patiently...
Due to the huge influx of marriage applications Hong Kong is receiving from expats in Mainland China, the wait for an e-mail reply to confirm your marriage date will take longer than usual. We’re still waiting but after a call to the office, they confirmed the date we chose is safe. However, it’s best to be on the safe side and wait for the confirmation e-mail.
7. RECEIVE CONFIRMATION E-MAIL, BOOK FLIGHT & HOTEL
Once you’ve received your e-mail, book your flights and hotels. They recommend to be in HK 3 working days before your chosen marriage dates
8. VISIT THE DEPUTY REGISTRAR OF MARRIAGES & SIGN AFFIDAVIT
Here is an extract from the e-mail regarding the next steps:
As soon as you arrive in Hong Kong, both of you are required to appear before the Deputy Registrar of Marriages with your Hong Kong identity card/travel document and other documents to be examined.
At the same time, one of you will have to make an affidavit stating that there is no impediment of kindred or alliance, no other lawful hindrance to the marriage and that parent’s/parents’ or legal guardian’s consent is not required.
9. ON THE DAY...
On the day of the marriage itself you have to turn up 15 minutes before the ceremony. Bring along your bride/groom-to-be, 2 witnesses above the age of 18 (and their HK ID’s or travel document) and the payment.
- During normal office hours: HK$715
(from Monday to Friday and on Saturday morning, except a General Holiday)
- Outside normal office hours: HK$1,935
(Saturday afternoon* (not being a General Holiday) and Sunday)
* Saturday afternoon marriage solemnization services are only provided in the City Hall Marriage Registry.
Payment can be made by cash, EPS, crossed cheque or cashier’s order in Hong Kong dollars payable to “The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”. Post-dated cheques will not be accepted.
You’ll both be asked to sign the marriage certificate in duplicate, including the witnesses. Once complete, the Registrar will give one certificate to you and file the other in the registry.
9. CELEBRATE! YOU'RE OFFICIALLY MARRIED!!
Unless of course you’re doing something similar to what we’re doing? Signing the paper, walking out the door and flying back to Shanghai. Yeah it’s not the most romantic celebration, but we’ll be exchanging rings and vows in front of family and friends in Greece the following month. SO, we don’t want to make a ‘big deal’ out of it.
But if you are…YAY! You did it! Con-bloody-gratulations my loves. You must be exhausted and over the moon it’s finally over haha. No go pop open a bottle of bubbly, enjoy the signs of Hong Kong, climb a mountain, whatever floats your married boat.
Please let me know if this guide was any help in your process! I’d love to know 🙂 I just want to say a huge thank you to the all the wonderful ladies that have helped us through the process so far. Couldn’t have done it without you!