Everything you need to know about marriage in Taiwan

26 Feb 2023·16 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Taiwan 01

Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, is an Asian country with a lot of unique marriage traditions. Over 100,000 marriages are held annually in the country. Couples getting married in Taiwan can either have a civil marriage and a religious or traditional marriage, or even both. However, a civil marriage is the only type of marriage that is legally binding, and couples who want to hold other types of ceremonies must make sure they get their marriage registered at the registrar’s office. 
Most people in Taiwan are either practicing Buddhism or Taoism, which are the two religions that are most widely practiced. Other forms of religion that are popular in various parts of the world, like Christianity and Islam, are less common in Taiwan. 

The laws guiding relationships and marriage in Taiwan are quite simple and straightforward. An official marriage must be registered at the Household Registration Bureau Office (HHR) by the couples. Once a marriage is registered, its effectiveness begins on the same day. The evidence of marriage is printed by the office, and the Household Registration Bureau Office also has the power to issue a marriage certificate to couples. This can be provided in both English and Chinese. Couples are to submit some required documents during the registration process of their marriage.

Civil Marriage Registration

Both Taiwanese and foreigners must complete a civil registration for their marriage. A civil marriage is the only type of marriage that is recognized and protected under law in Taiwan, and couples can decide based on their preferences whether to have a religious or traditional ceremony before or after the completion of the civil registration. The couple must submit an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC), if applicable, and a valid means of identification, such as a passport, along with a written marriage agreement between the two parties. The marriage agreement must be duly signed by two adult witnesses. 

A single status certificate must be provided by foreign couples who want to get married in Taiwan. This paperwork must show that they are single and able to get married. The partner must not be in any current marriage or partnership with anyone. Once this document is provided, it must be authenticated by the Taiwan Bureau of Consular Affairs. Taiwan authorities may demand a sworn affidavit for the single-status certificate from couples from the IS getting married in Taiwan. For nationals getting married in Taiwan, the documents listed below are required. 
Passport or Alien Resident Certificate 
A marriage contract 
A valid means of identification of the partner's 
Chinese name declaration
Single-status certificate. This certificate must be submitted and approved within six months of the wedding day.

Same-sex marriage

Marriage between two people of the same sex is legal in Taiwan. Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize marriage between two men or two women. Same-sex couples are now permitted under law to register their relationship as a partnership. These types of relationships do not hold the same rights as opposite-sex marriages, as there are various limits applied. The documents required during the registration vary between different local governments, and couples must find out the paperwork required of them months before the ceremony.

Taiwan betrothal customs

There are some unique betrothal customs and engagement rites that are performed by Taiwanese couples. Most of these rites are pre-wedding ceremonial rites that are held by the couple as well as their family and friends. These traditions are stated below:

The groom’s proposal and the presentation of betrothal gifts

The process of making a proposal in Taiwan is referred to as "nazai." Here, the matchmaker or groom makes an official proposal to the bride and her family at their own residence. The two families will hold discussions and exchange pleasantries with each other. The groom often goes with gift items such as clothes and jewelry and presents them to the parents of the bride. If the parents are fully satisfied and pleased with the groom and his family, the man and woman are officially regarded as a couple by the family, and they can then proceed to make different wedding arrangements and fix a date.

Exchange of Rings

This is a marriage ritual that is performed by couples in most countries around the world. The bride is required to sit on a high chair facing outwards if she will be taking the name of her husband. Her feet must not rest on the floor but on a small stool in the house hall. The groom then approaches the bride to declare how much she means to him, and she also does the same in this regard. 
Upon the arrangements, the couple then goes ahead to exchange rings. The groom's ring is worn on the left hand, while the bride's ring is worn on the right hand. The mother of the groom proceeds to put gold jewelry on the bride, which symbolizes that she has been accepted into the family. Once this is done, the bride may officially refer to her as her mother-in-law.

Offerings to the bride’s ancestors

The families in Taiwan engage in a ceremonial rite to make offerings to the ancestors of the bride. This is done when the bride’s uncle lights incense on behalf of the couple and the rest of the family. After this is concluded, the families proceed to the next part. This is called the Hui Sheng, where the bride’s family returns all the gifts, they received from the groom’s family back to them in red wooden boxes.

Banquets and cake

It is customary for family and friends to receive banquets and cakes as gifts from the bride’s family. This is used to celebrate the end of the betrothal customs. It is a tradition for the bride to go with her husband without giving a departure speech or saying goodbye to her family and friends. She must also not eat her own portion of the wedding cake. This is used to represent that the relationship she has with her family and friends will not end upon marriage.

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Marriage Traditions in Taiwan

Marriages in Taiwan have some traditions that have been passed down from ancient times and are still in vogue with couples. Some of the traditions of western culture are also infused into modern Taiwanese marriages. The popular marriage traditions in Taiwan are stated below.

Tea Ceremony 

This is a pre-wedding tradition where elders in the groom’s family are served tea while they are exchanging pleasantries and getting to know each other better. A red envelope is usually placed under the tea cups as a way of congratulating the bride and groom on their new lives as married couples.

Flinging a fan

This is usually done after the wedding reception. Here, the bride throws a bridal fan for her younger brother or sister from a bridal car when she is leaving. This is used to represent her throwing her temper and bad deeds away. The bride is expected not to look back during this process.

Splashing water 

This tradition is usually held behind the bridal car, where the bride's mother splashes water from a bowl or basin on the car. This symbolizes that no one has regrets about the marriage between the couple and their family at large.

Kneeling down to the bride’s parents

This is a Taiwanese marriage tradition where the bride and groom kneel in front of their marriage officiants. They are required to pray for them, bless their union, and wish them happiness and the best in their new lives together. The newly married couple then says goodbye to their respective families and expresses their gratitude to them for raising them and taking care of them.

Firecrackers 

This is a pre-wedding tradition that some couples still practice to this day. Here, the groom and his matchmaker get out of their car first. Members of the family and other friends then light firecrackers on the pathway of the groom as he progresses to meet his bride and her family. This tradition is done as a way of warding off evil. This lets the bride's family know the groom is on his way to pick up his bride, which builds up excitement and enthusiasm with the families and other friends. Even in modern Taiwan, this is still a tradition that some couples follow. It is more common with conservative families or couples in rural communiti

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws and Rights

The marriage laws in Taiwan are quite straightforward. During the civil registration, the couple must present two witnesses. A marriage must only last if both parties involved consent. Marriages that are forced or held under coercion are nullified by law. The minimum legal age to get married in Taiwan is 18 years. However, people who are 16 or 17 years old may be permitted to get married, provided they have parental consent. 

A person is not allowed to enter a marriage if he or she is still in another marriage or partnership. This applies to both nationals and foreigners. If such a marriage is entered into, it becomes invalid according to the laws of Taiwan. It is illegal to get married to a family member related by blood or a close relative. This is a punishable crime that can attract a jail term. The husband and wife are expected to cohabitate and live together, unless there is a justified reason why they cannot. Both spouses have the right to work and earn an income. 

Same-sex marriage is legal in the country, and both foreigners and Taiwan nationals may hold a civil ceremony and other forms of marriage as they deem fit. The spouses have a right to own property and receive government benefits. A woman has the right to free movement without asking for permission from anyone under the law 

Costs 

The average cost of a wedding ceremony in Taiwan is NT$500,000. This cost applies to couples who are having a religious or traditional marriage. Getting a civil marriage certificate and other costs involved in the submission and approval of documents are not expensive. They generally cost less than NT$1000. Couples who prefer to have a quiet ceremony may organize only a civil marriage and have a small gathering with family and friends. 
Most popular religions in Taiwan include Buddhism and Taoism, and couples who share these beliefs usually hold a religious or traditional ceremony with a wedding reception. The expenses incurred may be up to NT$500,000 or even more than that due to the venue, decorations, music, and other things involved with the ceremonial parties.

Duties 

Most of the duties spouses have toward each other are quite general. Men and women owe equal responsibilities to each other, which include the love, care, and protection of each other as well as their children. Traditionally, Taiwanese have a strong family culture where the man is the head of the house and provides the family with the necessary necessities, while the wife is regarded as the homemaker. 

The wife has the obligation of making sure her husband and the family at large are taken care of with the proper and effective maintenance of the home. However, modern laws and cultures make both men and women equal partners, and marital responsibilities are to be shared between them. The husband and wife can decide if they will both provide financial support for the family and who will take care of certain bill payments.

Conclusion 

Both opposite-sex and same-sex marriages are legal in Taiwan, and the country’s cultures are also quite diverse. The only legal type of marriage is a civil marriage registration. There are some documents required by the couples that must be submitted before they get a marriage certificate. Most couples in Taiwan hold religious or traditional marriages after the civil registration process is complete. 
The registration of marriages can be done with the local government where the marriage will be held. The marriage ceremony is held to unite both the couples and their families. We hope this article has helped you understand everything you need to know about marriage in Taiwan.

 

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