The Easy Way to Get Married in South Korea [2022]


Not sure how to get married in Korea?

Marriage between Koreans and non-Koreans is becoming more common.

There are a few things to know before tying the knot. Don’t worry though, it’s pretty easy.

This guide will show you how to make it happen!

How to Get Married in Korea

Can I get married in Korea?

Marriage in Korea is a civil procedure.

Koreans normally have a separate wedding ceremony at a wedding hall, hotel or church.

Before or after the ceremony, the couple visits city hall or a district office (구청) and registers their marriage (혼인신고). The ceremony is actually considered more important than registering in Korea!

It’s also possible to have a beautiful South Korean traditional wedding ceremony and register in your home country. It gives you an excuse to throw a quirky and fun party called hahm too.

Seoul City hall
Seoul City Hall is an exception. Check out Jongno-gu Office (종로구청) instead for marriage registration.

Do I need a visa to get married in Korea?

There’s no special visa required to have a wedding ceremony in Korea. Keep in mind that since it’s a civil ceremony, you need to file for a marriage license separately.

After marrying a Korean, you can obtain an F-6 visa that allows for long-term stay and employment.

Benefits of getting married in Korea

Getting married is a big decision that should be taken seriously. Doing so in South Korea does have its advantages.

After marrying a Korean, you can:

  • get an F-6 visa that allows for long-term stay
  • get a job anywhere in the country
  • start a business
  • apply for joint household healthcare and pay less than 120,000 KRW a month
  • get local currency you can spend at stores in your city

How many international marriages are there in Korea?

International marriages are increasing every year in Korea. In 2019, 23,643 international couples (a Korean citizen and non-Korean) got married.

The majority of transnational marriages are between Korean men and Vietnamese women, followed by Chinese and then Thai.

What is the average marriage age in Korea?

What is the average marriage age in Korea

As of 2019, the average age at first marriage is 33.37 for Korean men and 30.59 for Korean women according to KOSIS.

Almost half of my Korean friends are not married yet.

Also, my acquaintances in Seoul are getting married way later than those in my countryside hometown.

This is probably because housing prices in Seoul or 수도권 (metropolitan area) are ridiculously expensive.

As a trend, more and more Koreans are choosing a 비혼주의 (non-marriage) lifestyle.

What do I need to get married in Korea as a US citizen?

What do I need to get married in Korea as a US citizen

In summary, you need:

  1. Affidavit of Eligibility for Marriage (혼인요건 증명서)
  2. Korean translation of it (혼인요건 증명서 번역본)
  3. registration of marriage (혼인신고서)
  4. your passport
  5. Korean partner’s ID card

For American and Korean couples, US citizens should make an appointment, visit their embassy and obtain an Affidavit of Eligibility for Marriage, which costs 50 dollars and is valid for 3 months.

You’ll also need a Korean translation of the Affidavit of Eligibility for Marriage.

Many websites suggest to get it notarized, but any Korean can do it.

Just make sure to include your Korean partner’s (translator’s) name, phone number and signature at the bottom.

Check out some affordable Korean translators below.

The next document you need is a Registration of Marriage. Your Korean partner should be able to fill out the form.

It’s recommended to print it, fill it out, and get the info and signatures of 2 witnesses, which can be anyone including parents, before you go to the district office (구청).

Lingua Asia_registration of family relation_2021

Once it’s done, you’ll receive a Certificate of Marriage Registration (수리증명서) and be registered with a Korean marriage certificate (혼인관계증명서) after 3-5 days.

How much is a wedding in Korea?

Koreans spend 200,000,000 KRW (about 164,621 USD) on average for marriage.

The majority of this, about 180,000,000 KRW goes to housing. But, you need at least 400,000,000 or 600,000,000 KRW to get 전세 in Seoul.

The rest of the budget is for the wedding hall (13,000,000 KRW), 스드메 or studio photo, dress, makeup package (3,000,000 KRW), 예물 or wedding present given by the bride and groom to each other (13,000,000 KRW), 예단 or wedding present given by the bride to the groom’s family (15,000,000 KRW), 혼수 or articles essential to a marriage ceremony, usually furniture (11,000,000 KRW), 신혼여행 or honeymoon (5,000,000 KRW).

Now, younger generations tend to reduce unnecessary formalities and vanity to minimize costs, skipping 예물 and 예단.

Also, the trend of small weddings set by celebrities is helping reduce the price.

Who pays for a wedding in Korean culture?

In Korea, the groom normally pays for the house, which costs the most. Since housing prices are really high in Korea. The groom’s parents often have to pitch in.

The conflict with 시댁 (in-law family) begins here.

Now, Korean couples are trying to buy their houses together to minimize the interference of in-law families.

On the other hand, most brides pay for all the furniture (혼수). It’s common for Korean brides to fill up the house.

For everything other than house and furniture, there’s an unwritten rule for brides and grooms to pay equally. This includes the wedding ceremony and honeymoon.

Do Korean wives take their husband’s name?

No. Korean wives keep their maiden name.

However, when a couple has kids, their children will.

This became a bit problematic as the divorce rate went up in Korea. If the ex-husband doesn’t pay child support or visit for a long time, the mother can file a claim to change her kid’s last name to hers.

Although not every case gets permission from the judge to change last names.

After remarriage, children can take their stepfather’s last name, which is more common.

What to bring as a gift to a Korean Wedding?

What to bring as a gift to a Korean Wedding

Close friends of the bride and groom will give something for the home like a talking rice cooker or TV before the wedding.

Everyone else can bring cash in an envelope to the wedding(no one actually brings gifts). The amount can vary from 30,000 KRW for acquaintances to 100,000 KRW for old friends.

25 One-of-a-kind Korean Gifts

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FAQ

How do I change my Korean spouse’s surname when we get married?


In general, Koreans can’t change their names on a Korean passport.
Instead, you can add “spouse of _(spouse’s last name)” next to the last name when you make a new/renew Korean passport at a government office (구청/gucheong).
(When you apply for a green card or citizenship, you have a chance to change your spouse’s last name.)
In order to add your spouse’s last name on your passport, you need to bring your ID card, 1 passport photo, copy of your spouse’s passport, your existing passport, money to renew your passport (50,000 won).
You don’t need to bring a marriage certificate (혼인증명서) because a gucheong officer can check it on their system.
Once you’re at the gucheong, you need to fill out a basic form for applying/renewing your passport, and an application for name change.
Simply add “배우자의 영문 성 추가 희망” as a reason for name change.
Just make sure to call and double check which documents to bring to your gucheong before you go.

Did we miss anything?

Getting married in Korea isn’t a difficult process if you’re willing to jump through a few hoops.

There are cultural differences that you’ll want to be aware of, though the gap is narrowing as Korea becomes more westernized.

Feel free to ask a question in the comments or share your experiences.

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23 thoughts on “The Easy Way to Get Married in South Korea [2022]”

  1. Thank you for this. I have a question. In Western countries, we often change our name when we get married. That name change happens on the Marriage Certificate. However, I went today with my wife (who is Korean) and asked the government office (고정) about when/where I should put the new name. The office said they can’t put the new name on the Marriage Certificate until it is on the passport. But this seems wrong since the name on the passport cannot be changed until you show the marriage certificate. So at what stage do I need to change the name or is there another process I need to follow.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Robin, that’s a great question.
      In general, Koreans can’t change their names on Korean passport.
      Instead, you can add “spouse of _____(spouse’s last name)” next to the last name when you make a new/renew Korean passport at a government office (구청/gucheong).
      (When you apply for a green card or citizenship, you have a chance to change your last name.)
      In order to add your spouse’s last name on your passport, you need to bring your ID card, 1 passport photo, copy of your spouse’s passport, your existing passport, money to renew your passport (50,000 won).
      You don’t need to bring a marriage certificate (혼인증명서) because a gucheong officer can check it on their system.
      Once you’re at the gucheong, you need to fill out a basic form for applying/renewing your passport, and an application for changing your name.
      Simply add “배우자의 영문 성 추가 희망” as a reason for name change.
      I hope it answered your question. Just make sure to call and double check which documents to bring to your gucheong before you go.

      Reply
  2. Dear Minjung

    I am a Malaysian currently working and residing in China. My girlfriend is Russian will be going to Korea to study at a local university in Seoul. I intend to visit in Seoul end of this year on a business trip and stay on to get married with her while I am there. Please let me know what are the requirements and what documents we need to get married and also can we engage your organisation to handle all matters relating to our getting married.

    Right now I have the following documents but please advise what more I need and how I could get the documents translated and notarized :-
    1. Passport
    2. Valid Marital Status Certificate issued by the National Registration Department of Malaysia in English ( Single Certificate)
    3. Original Decree Nisi of Divorce (in Bahasa Malaysia)

    My girlfriend is single and has also a SIngle Certificate

    Thank you very much and hope hear from you soon

    Reply
    • Dear Charles,
      Congratulations! You should be able to get married with those documents. In general, notarization isn’t necessary, you just need the Single Certificates translated into Korean.
      I recommend going to Jongno-gu office (종로구청), since many international couples get married there and they have a dedicated window for foreigners.
      To be safe, you and your fiancé should contact your respective embassies in Korea for advice on the requirements.

      Best of luck!

      Reply
  3. Dear Minjung,

    I’m a US citizen living in the US and my fiancee is a Chinese citizen living in China. We’ve been engaged for about 5 years now and trying to get married during the pandemic is proving to be challenging. We heard it might be possible to get married in Korea while we were visiting as tourists this year. Can you confirm if this is possible? Many thanks!

    Reply
    • Dear Rob, that’s a good question.
      I understand how challenging it is for international couples during the pandemic, and I hope you can find a solution.
      As far as I know, one of you needs to have a visa (like a student or work visa) or ARC (Alien Registration Card, which has a Korean resident registration number that works like a social security number) to get married and documented in Korea.
      Having a wedding is totally possible though if you book a wedding hall in advance.
      To be safe, you and your fiancé should contact your respective embassies in Korea for advice on the requirements. Best of luck!

      Reply
      • Hello again Rob,
        I just received this answer from a lawyer in Korea.
        Non-Koreans with U.S. or Chinese nationality can get married in Korea, but must obtain K-ETA approval or C3 visa (short-term visitor visa) before entry.
        K-ETA or C3 visa would be appropriate for reasons such as getting married in Korea.
        Currently, Americans can enter Korea upon K-ETA approval, but Chinese citizens cannot enter Korea without a visa due to COVID-19, so your fiancée will need to obtain a Korean visa.
        However, the C3 visa for Chinese nationality may not be available at the moment, except for humanitarian reasons.
        So, I’d recommend you to contact the Korean embassy in China for a suitable visa.
        Entry requirements keep changing in South Korea as well, so hopefully those rules get lifted soon!

        Reply
  4. Hello Minjung,

    Thank you for such an insightful post.

    I am British and my partner is Korean. As a British citizen I am able to arrive in Korea without a visa, as long as I have a flight out again booked within 90 days of arrival.

    You mention that there is no special visa required for me to get married in Korea. Does this mean that I would be able to get married within those visa-free 90 days, with no visa at all? Provided that all other processes and documentation is taken care of.

    Thanks for your time!

    Reply
    • Hello Oli,
      Thank you for the nice comment and congratulations! ^^
      I just talked to Jongno-gu office (종로구청) on the phone, and an officer verified that you don’t need a visa.
      So, you should be able to get married within those visa-free 90 days as long as you have all the other documents.
      Best of luck!

      Reply
  5. Hello Minjung ,

    Just a quick question : What are the documents needed for a US Citizen and Philippine citizen (Both Foreigners) to get married in Korea? And how long before we can get the marriage certificate?
    Thanks. -GG

    Reply
    • Hello Geraldine,
      I’m pretty sure you need the same documents explained in this post: Affidavit of Eligibility for Marriage (혼인요건 증명서), Korean translation of it (혼인요건 증명서 번역본), registration of marriage (혼인신고서) and your passport.
      Make sure that you both have K-ETA before visiting Korea.
      It might be easier to go to Gucheong (구청 or gu office) with a Korean if you know someone.
      Also, it should take up to 7 days to get the marriage registered. You’ll get a text or Kakao message from the city/gu when it’s done.
      Best of luck!

      Reply
  6. Hello Minjung :),

    I’m planning on getting married next year with my Korean boyfriend, but I live in Spain. Will I be able to get married just as a tourist?
    And do I have to live in Korea if I want to apply for the F6 visa after the marriage? Or can I apply for it while being in Spain?

    Hopefully you can solve my doubts
    Thank you 🙂

    Reply
  7. Hello Minjung 🙂

    what is the procedure for registering a marriage between a Korean and a non-Korean celebrated abroad? We live in Korea but we have decided to get married in my home country. Thank you!

    Cami

    Reply
    • Hello Cami,
      Congratulations on your wedding! ^^
      Registering a marriage in Korea is very much like getting your driver’s license renewed.
      Even if you celebrated abroad as in having a wedding overseas, you still need to go to a district office (구청) and follow the same steps for registration, using the same documents.

      Reply
  8. I am a US servicemember who married another US servicemember and am in need of a duplicate marriage certificate. How do I do that from the US?

    Reply
  9. Hi Minjung, I am foreigner and want to ask also a foreigner with different nationality to marry me but each us are already married in our home country.

    Do you think we can tie our relation to a temple and ask priest or monk to marry us. It is just for us to be peaceful to maintain the relationship. We dont want legal one coz it is complicated but I want to formally propose my spouse and tie our relationship at the altar. Juat like that. Do you think it is possible for us to find such service? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Anonim,

      That’s an interesting situation. I’ve never heard of this being done, but perhaps you can ask at a temple of your choosing and see what they say? Best of luck!

      Reply
  10. Hi Minjung,

    Is it possible to complete the marriage registration if one person is abroad? Do both people need to be physically present in Korea and go to the 종로구청 together?
    I’m hoping to get married to my partner, but since I have a weak passport, my partner and I were hoping I’d be able to join him in Korea after the marriage certificate is processed.

    Reply
      • Hi Maddy,
        First of all, congrats on your engagement!
        As long as your Korean partner brings the proper documents, he should be able to register your marriage without your presence.
        You’ll need to prepare: Affidavit of Eligibility for Marriage (혼인요건 증명서) from your government or embassy, Korean translation of it (혼인요건 증명서 번역본), your passport (the most ideal way is sending your passport to your Korean partner via mail, but if you can’t, you can send a copy of your passport and have it notarized.), your stamp (도장) stating your name in Korean pronunciation (your Korean partner should be able to make this in Korea).
        In addition, your Korean partner needs to bring his ID card and stamp with registration of marriage (혼인신고서).
        To be sure, I’d recommend calling 종로구청 and verifying necessary documents.
        Best of luck! ^^

        Reply

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