How to Get Married as a Same-Sex Couple in Japan

March 12, 2023
6 min

In recent years, there has been an increasing global movement towards recognizing and accepting same-sex marriage. Many countries have taken significant steps to legalize and protect the rights of same-sex couples to marry and enjoy the same legal benefits as opposite-sex couples. This progress has been driven by a growing understanding of equality and human rights, as well as the tireless efforts of LGBTQ+ activists and organizations worldwide.

However, the issue of same-sex marriage remains highly controversial in certain countries, and Japan is one such example. While attitudes towards homosexuality have become more open and accepting in Japanese society, the legal recognition of same-sex marriage still faces significant opposition and challenges. The debate surrounding same-sex marriage in Japan reflects a clash between traditional cultural values and the evolving understanding of LGBTQ+ rights.

The Legal Status of Same-sex Marriages in Japan

Japan does not recognize same-sex unions or marriages. The Japanese Civil Code defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, effectively excluding same-sex couples from marriage rights and benefits. This lack of legal recognition means that same-sex couples do not have access to the same legal protections and benefits as opposite-sex couples.

While same-sex marriage is not legally recognized, some municipalities and prefectures in Japan have introduced symbolic same-sex partnership certificates. These certificates are issued at the local level and aim to provide limited recognition and benefits for same-sex couples. The specific benefits and protections offered may vary depending on the issuing authority. However, it's important to note that these certificates do not grant same-sex couples the same legal rights and status as marriage.

Getting married in Japan as a same-sex couple with Courtly

Even though the Japanese government does not presently recognize marriages between people of the same sex, Courtly offers a special option for couples who want to get married. This online platform handles all facets of getting married, including getting the marriage license and holding the ceremony, and caters to couples of any sexual orientation, country, or region. Even if they encounter legal obstacles in their home nation, Courtly gives same-sex couples the chance to receive a lawful US marriage certificate from the state of Utah.

One important benefit of using Courtly is that there are no residency or citizenship requirements for acquiring a marriage license. Couples who don't want to deal with complicated immigration laws can consider it because of its accessibility. As a result, Courtly is becoming increasingly popular among same-sex couples in Japan and other nations who want to wed locally rather than travel abroad.

Courtly is fundamentally committed to the principle that all people, regardless of sexual orientation, should be allowed to wed the person they love. Courtly advances marriage equality globally by providing same-sex couples with a practical and creative way to formally declare their commitment.

Benefits of a legal US marriage certificate

Courtly offers an avenue for couples to celebrate their love through the acquisition of a legal US marriage certificate. This certificate serves as a formal acknowledgment of their commitment, regardless of their geographical location or legal status.

Aside from its symbolic significance, the US marriage certificate holds practical value for couples who may be considering immigration to countries that do recognize same-sex unions, such as the United States. It serves as tangible proof of their legally recognized relationship, streamlining the visa and immigration processes.

Through Courtly, same-sex couples can express their love and dedication to one another through a legally binding ceremony, all within the confines of their own country. While the absence of legal recognition in Japan may be disheartening, it is essential to remember that marriage encompasses more than just a legal document - it stands as a profound symbol of love and commitment.

Process of getting married online with Courtly

Using Courtly, couples can conveniently complete the entire marriage process online from anywhere. Within a quick timeframe, usually less than 48 hours, they can obtain a valid US marriage certificate without the need for extensive documentation.

1. Create an account.

Signing up with Courtly and getting married online is a straightforward process. Just click the "Get Married" button located in the top right corner and follow the provided instructions. Once your account is created, you can begin filling out the application.

2. Customize your ceremony format, location, and officiant.

Take charge of your special day by selecting the ceremony format and venue that best suits your preferences. Depending on your chosen time and date, Courtly will assign you one of their legally qualified US officiants to conduct the ceremony.

3. Receive email confirmation after payment.

After making the payment for your chosen wedding package, you will receive a confirmation email from Courtly. This indicates that everything is in order and your wedding plans are officially set in motion. For complete information on our available wedding packages and add-ons, please check our Pricing Page.

4. Celebrate your marriage online with loved ones.

Gather your family and friends virtually to celebrate your marriage online. From the comfort of your own home or any location with a stable internet connection, you can complete the ceremony in approximately 15 minutes.

Same-sex couple getting married remotely with family and licensed officiant via Zoom

Following your online wedding, you will immediately receive a digital copy of your US marriage certificate. A printed copy will also be sent to you within a week or two. Additionally, you will have the option to download your digital marriage license shortly after the wedding.

Cost of getting married online

The Courtly team is aware that celebrating a couple's love shouldn't be expensive. The cost of our base package, which includes a digital and physical marriage license, an online ceremony, an officiant, and help with the legally required application process, is ¥67,850. You will also get a physical and digital marriage certificate to remember your wonderful day in 1 to 2 weeks.

Every couple should be given the chance to formally declare their love for one another without having to worry about money. So, if you're prepared to advance your relationship, contact Courtly right away to begin your path to a lasting union.


In the absence of legal recognition for same-sex marriages in Japan, Courtly provides a convenient and innovative solution for couples seeking to formalize their commitment. Through Courtly's online platform, couples can obtain a legal US marriage certificate, offering a tangible recognition of their relationship. This alternative allows couples to celebrate their love and commitment without the need to travel abroad or face legal obstacles in their home country. Courtly's services offer accessibility, simplicity, and speed, catering to the needs of couples regardless of their location, nationality, or legal status.

While Courtly provides a meaningful option for same-sex couples, it's essential to recognize that the ultimate goal is achieving legal recognition and equality within one's own country. Advocacy and continued efforts for legislative reforms are crucial in working towards marriage equality in Japan and other nations where same-sex marriages are not yet recognized.

Let us handle the paperwork.

Getting married is complicated. Courtly simplifies the process and provides everything necessary to get married online, including providing a licensed officiant who can perform a remote ceremony.

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