Note: The following only applies to Sino-foreign marriages. Local-level marriage registration offices are the governmental bodies responsible for legally uniting Chinese nationals under Chinese law.
Step 1: Submit the required documents
The Sino-foreign couple must go together, in person to the appropriate marriage registration office and submit a completed marriage registration application form (available at the marriage registration office). The appropriate marriage registration office will be the one in the jurisdiction in which the Chinese partner is registered (the location of the hukou).
Together with the application form, the couple must submit a number of other documents:
(1) A certificate of marriageability
(2) A certificate of birth
(3) Household registration book (hukou)
(4) A health certificate (obtainable from a regional-level local hospital)
(5) A letter from the parents of the Chinese partner giving permission for their child to marry a foreigner (this letter should include the index fingerprint of both parents below their signatures and date)
(6) A current passport
(7) Chinese residence permit
(8) A health certificate from a local hospital designated by the marriage registration office
(9) Three photos of the marrying couple, taken together
(10) A registration fee
(11) A certificate of marriageability.
Item 11 requires further explanation. Basically, the marriage registration office needs a form from the foreign partner's home government stating he/she is not already married in his/her home country. Every foreign government has its own version of this type of form with its own requirements for obtaining one. Couples will need to check the embassy website of the foreign partner's home country in China for details on how to obtain this kind of certification. (Chinese translations must accompany foreign-language documents.)
Note: Application requirements may vary from office to office. When an individual visits the appropriate marriage registration office to pick up an application form and find out which local hospital(s) the foreign partner must receive a check-up at, he/she should also check to see if the office's requirements differ from those listed here.
Step 2: Wait for the good news
After the establishment of the new marriage law, it takes the marriage registration office about an hour or so to review the submitted documents and approve the application.
Step 3: Congratulations
Once the marriage registration office approves the application and registers the marriage, it will issue a marriage certificate to be picked up by the couple.
(Beijing.gov.cn October 17, 2006)