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int'l Marriage Made Easier in Shenzhen

The city's marriage registration offices will remain open during the National Day holiday, according to the Shenzhen Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau.

The decision is to coincide with the adoption of China's new marriage registration regulation, which will take effect Oct. 1.

From that date, international marriage procedures will be greatly eased, according to the bureau's international marriage registration department, the organization responsible for marriages involving foreigners and Taiwan people.

With 9 yuan (US$1.08) and sufficient documents, a couple can get married in minutes.

In reporting the marital status, if one of the couple is a divorcee, originally he or she should provide the divorce permit or the court verdict and the certificate of his or her ex-spouse's nationality besides a valid marital status certificate. According to the new regulation, he or she has to provide only a notarized marital status certificate authorized by a Chinese consulate or embassy in this person's country with six months' validity or by the country's consulate or embassy in China with three months' validity.

Jiang Yongming, of the bureau's international marriage registration section, said more than 100 international couples had registered in his section in recent years.

"Most were Chinese girls marrying foreign men," Jiang said.

The new law does not require certificates by the two parties' work units and premarital medical examinations as obligatory.

The new law makes it a rule that the staff should ask the foreign party in English if he or she will marry his or her spouse (mentioning the other party's name). "But we take the signature as final," Jiang said.

By empowering civil affairs bureaus the jurisdiction to accept international divorce cases, the new law will also enable international divorce to be much easier.

In the past, international couples could only go to court to get divorced. For divorce by consenting parties, the new law no longer requires one month's mediation period.

"All the people who come here are adults, therefore they should be responsible for their own decisions. There is no need for us to arrange mediation time for them," said Jiang, who predicted marital requirements would become more liberal.

In another development, foreign couples will not be allowed to register marriages in China from Oct. 1. China formerly accepted foreign couples' marriage applications if they produced marriage certificates authorized by their countries.

(Shenzhen Daily September 26, 2003)

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