Getting Married in Hong Kong: Where to Stay

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Documents sent.

Schedule of the Ceremony finalized.

Flight tickets booked.

The next question is, where to stay in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong isn’t a cheap place to go.  The fact that it is one of the most densely populated places in the world, the competition for space isn’t something that needs further elaboration.

Since I have written the first blog post dedicated to getting married in Hong Kong some time ago, the blog’s contact form and my Facebook got flooded with questions on itinerary, documents, Apostille, budget, and so on… The list can get longer.

I noticed, however, that most young couples like us  are more eager to find a more affordable accommodation in the concrete jungle, so I felt quite obliged to write about it. At least, I don’t have to answer the same question individually.

So, are there enough choices for a cheaper stay?

There are numerous hotels, guesthouses and bed and breakfast in Hong Kong, specifically in Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) are. We opted to stay in this area as its location is perfect for our trip’s purpose. It is also in proximity to other Hong Kong attractions and public transportation like buses and MTR.

As you search for “cheap accommodations in Hong Kong” online, you will find out that there are way too much choices for a cheap stay and mostly they are in the Mirador  or Chungking Mansion. After reading a lot of reviews like bedbugs, no hot shower, difficult to find, cockroaches, smelly beddings, crowded elevator to line up for, etc, I was able to convince mein Mann that we  pay a little more for a better place.

And so we booked room at Golden Crown Guesthouse at Tsim Sha Tsui.

Booking is easy.  To get the best deal, you have to reserve a room directly through their website.  You have 24 hours to confirm your reservation.  We paid the HKD500 as reservation fee via PayPal and received our booking reservation thereafter. You can also access your account  on their website to check the status of your booking at anytime.

Don’t forget to print your confirmed reservation as you need to show this during your immigration check. (You know, it can get really crappy in the border control counters) In our case, since I arrived a day early, the reservation was named for both of us.

Due to the very good reviews in TripAdvisor and Booking.com, Golden Crown Guesthouse runs out of rooms specially on peak season!

Room and Inclusions

We chose a Renovated Couple Room and asked for the one with a window. 🙂

It has a comfortable double bed, an air conditioner and a fan, a television, a telephone, a small desk, cups, free hot and cold drinking water (yep,it is actually expensive in Hong Kong) and free wi-fi.

Our room was great! It fact, it was spotless. The sheets, the tiled floors and the bathroom were all clean. The ensuite bathroom is surprisingly spacious with a glass enclosure that separates the hot and cold shower area from the toilet bowl and sink area (unlike those of other cheaper guesthouses in the area). Towels were changed everyday, toiletries, hangers, a mirror and a hairdryer, and extension wires with round plug adapters  were also provided.

Thanks to Ate who took extra care of us!

Location

5th Floor, Golden Crown Court, 66-70 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

It is in the middle of three Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station exits which makes it really convenient to go to and from Central or Admiralty where you will be doing all the paperwork for your wedding.

You can also save time for sightseeing as it takes only around 10-15 minutes to reach the Avenue of Stars (currently closed as it is under renovation),

It takes around 10-15 minutes to the TST Ferry Terminal where you can take the ferry ride to Central and Admiralty at a much cheaper fare, and of course, shops are everywhere!

Accessibility

The most convenient (and cheapest)  way is to reach Golden Crown from Hong Kong International Airport is to ride the A21 bus with the use your Octopus card (Fare: 33 HKD). Just go to the Bus Terminus and look for the signage of A21 buses going to TST. Hong Kong is very generous when it comes to signages so it is impossible to get lost! (Believe me, it was my first time in Hong Kong and I rode the bus alone without any problems).

It would take around an hour to reach the guesthouse. Nathan Road stretches through a lot of streets, but don’t forget to get off the bus at Cameron Road (the 13th stop). And oh, stops are flashed on the screen, so you shouldn’t miss it. Be sure to push the STOP button as soon as the bus leaves the 12th stop or the driver will not halt at the next bus stop.

You will receive this map together with your confirmation receipt.

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Yep, we get it, too. Of course it would really be great to be able to splurge on luxurious hotels but it’s too impractical. I mean, we are just starting our lives together and we don’t like to begin it with a credit. Do I need to mention that even the most basic of hotels in Hong Kong are also expensive? I bet if you already did some hotel hunting, you get the feel of how it can really be strangely costly.

Getting an Apostille for your Marriage Certificate in Hong Kong

apostille.jpgWe now have the marriage certificate duly signed by us, the witnesses and the registrar of marriages, and has reported the same to the Philippine Consulate.

Are we now legally married?

In Hong Kong, yes.

In the Philippines, in three months.

In Germany, not until your husband has reported the marriage to his home city using your marriage certificate with an Apostille stamp.

 

You are done with the wedding vows and has reported your marriage to the Philippine Consulate General in Queensway, so it is just right to now bring your marriage certificate to the High Court located just beside the Queensway Government Offices where you signed the papers and received your formal appointment  for the ceremony.

Here’s what you have to do as soon as you find your way to the High Court.

  1. Proceed to the Apostille Service Office, High Court Registry at Room LG115.
  2. In case you don’t want to wait for 2 more days to get the apostille and wishes to have it mailed to you instead, inform the “lady” at the Apostille Window. You will have to pay and additional amount. (For breakdown of expenses in Hong Kong, read our other post. Click click)
  3. Wait for the payment slip from the staff by the Apostille window. (Mein Mann call this old, grumpy woman, THE WITCH. Find out for yourself. 😀 )18597157_10208887495010764_543189674_o
  4. Bring the slip to the High Court Accounts Office at LG211 and get your official receipt.
  5. Go back to LG115 and present your receipt.
  6. Submit your document for Apostille and take note of the tracking number for your document and the email address of the office for follow-up (if you opt to have this sent to you by mail).
  7. And, oh… don’t be worried about not getting a piece of paper as a proof you left an important document for the Apostille stamp. Hong Kong delivers the service as expected. 😉 Mein Mann received our original marriage certificate with the Apostille exactly one week after we submitted it at the High Court Registry.

If you have specific inquiries about getting an Apostille for your document, you can send them an email at:

apostilleserviceenquiry@judiciary.gov.hk

or

enquiry@judiciary.gov.hk

 

If you are considering getting married in Hong Kong, you can check previous entries on the blog dedicated to answer queries on documents required to marry, the possible itinerary, and the budget you need to have it done.

 

Happy planning!

 

 

Reporting Your Marriage to the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong

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We’re married. That’s it. Why must we report our marriage to the Philippine Consulate?

If this has ever crossed your mind at once, please try to think of this: UNREPORTED MARRIAGES OUTSIDE THE PHILIPPINES WILL NOT BE RECOGNIZED. Unless you both just want to do it like they do in Las Vegas, that “just for fun and you can change your mind tomorrow” thing, then you might as well do so as you pleased.

According to the Office of the Solicitor General of the Philippines:

“A marriage where one or both of the contracting parties is a Filipino citizen must be reported to the Consulate in order for the said marriage to be properly registered and recorded with the Office of the Civil Registrar General in Manila.”

Why report your marriage? It is as simple as:

NO ROM = NO MARRIED STATUS + NO PSA COPY OF ROM & CEMAR + NO VISA APPLICATION

And so you are done with the paperwork at the Hong Kong City Hall Marriage Registry or the Cotton Tree Drive Marriage Registry. What’s the next step? After you have treated your two witnesses to a meal, you might as well proceed to the Philippine Consulate General’s Office located at the 14th floor of the United Centre in Queensway.

For a smooth transaction, prepare the ORIGINAL AND THREE PHOTOCOPIES of the following beforehand: (Don’t worry, they will return the original documents to you right away. It is only for verification.)

  1. Duly accomplished Report of Marriage Forms in 4 original copies (signatures must be original). This can be downloaded from the Philippine Consulate’s website. Be sure the information you reflected here is the same with what appears on your marriage certificate from Hong Kong.  (You can also ask for the ROM form at the Philippine Consulate’s Civil Registry Office. You can fill out just one form and have three copies but your signatures must be original.)
  2. The couple’s passports.
  3. Original NSO/PSA copy of the wife’s Birth Certificate in security paper (SECPA) and three copies of this. Note that the authenticated PSA/NSO certificates mentioned here are those issued by the PSA/NSO in security paper.
    • In case the Filipino spouse is a widow or widower: PSA/NSO Death Certificate of Previous spouse, and PSA/NSO Authenticated Marriage Contract
    • If previous marriage was annulled: PSA/NSO authenticated Marriage Contract with annotation on annulment and Court decree on Annulment duly authenticated by the DFA. 
    • If with divorce initiated by foreign spouse: PSA/NSO Authenticated Marriage Contract with annotation on Divorce of previous marriage, and Court Order issued Philippine Court recognizing the Divorce obtained abroad
  4. Marriage Certificate from Hong Kong Marriage Registry.
  5. CENOMAR (Certificate of No Marriage) of the Filipina wife.

Also be aware of the working days observed by the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong:

SUNDAY TO THURSDAY – 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

18516754_10208860286810576_824933056_oThe processing fee of the Report is HK$200.00, and processing period is two working days.  The express processing fee is one working day (next working day) but you have to pay an express fee of HK$80.00.  No appointment is needed, you can walk in.
What we did to save the time was report the marriage on a Thursday after the wedding and a meal with our witnesses. For our itinerary, check out the previous post. 
Once you report your marriage to the Consulate, they will forward the same to the Philippines on the first week of the next month.  So, since we got married on the third week of April, our record was forwarded to the Philippines on the first week of May. We can then obtain the authenticated copy of the Report of Marriage from the Philippine Statistics Authority/National Statistics Office in 2 to 3 months.
In case you were not be able to report your marriage in person before the Consulate, you may still submit your application for Report of Marriage with the Office of Consular Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs at ASEANA Business Park (near MOA) for transmittal to Hong Kong SAR. The waiting period, however, to get an authenticated copy of the Report will be longer– 4 to 6 months.  For sure, as much as possible, you wanted to avoid further delays, right? So,it is wise to report it to the Consulate immediately.
Of course, the reason you considered getting married in Hong Kong is the fact that it is one of the quickest way to get the papers done and apply for the Family Reunion Visa.
It is worth to consider that the German Embassy NO LONGER ACCEPT REPORT OF MARRIAGE FOR FAMILY REUNION VISA APPLICATION. We have to wait for the ROM copy to be available from PSA.
If you are interested in Getting Married in Hong Kong, check out the list of documents you needed on the previous post.  You can also start saving for the wedding in Hong Kong with the sample budget in the previous post. 
Don’t know where to begin with the process?  Click here to see how. 

How Much Does a Hong Kong Wedding Cost?

 

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“Til debt do we part”

Hong Kong wedding vows can be something that sound that way. This is not a far cry from how much couples would usually spend for the celebration as grand as they can afford, or maybe show. A Hong Kong wedding can cost more than HK$300,000 or around 1.2 million pesos on average.

But, that is not what we are aiming for! For us who are more practical, Hong Kong makes our “go small on the big day” possible.

Yep, you read it right! You can marry in Hong Kong without “really” breaking the bank. Well, kind of… but it can compensate avoiding all the troubles of an intricate paperwork and processes that would almost cost the same if you do it in the Philippines.

How much do you need for a wedding  in Hong Kong?

The following reflects the expenses that you will incur when you decide to tie the knot in the former British territory. Please bear in mind that we listed only the minimum amount for the wedding and all activities related to it based on our experience. (There are some other personal activities we did that cost us extra and it is not reflected here.)  

 

 – TRANSPORTATION, HOTEL & FOOD – TOTAL (PHP)
Roundtrip Airfare (PH to HK)            17,935.71
           checked-in luggage              1,200.00
Guesthouse (10 days)            20,355.45
Food (minimum spending, mostly if you would go to fastfood or buy at the local supermarket)            25,000.00
Airport to Tsim Sha Tsui (fare depends which area you will stay)
A21 Bus HK$ 33.00 (4) – 855.00                855.00
* Alternative transportation available: *HKS240 for taxi (one way) HK$ 240.00 (4x) – 6,216.00
*HK$ 90 for Airport Exp HK$ 90.00 (4x)
Tsim Sha Tsui to Admiralty ( Queensway) HK$ 9.40 (4x)                246.00
Tsim Sha Tsui to Admiralty (to City Hall ) HK$ 9.40 (4x)                246.00
City Hall to Phil Consulate
    via tram HK$ 2.30 (2)                  30.00
Admiralty to Tsim Sha Tsui HK$ 9.40 (2)                123.00
– PAPERS –
Application to HK HK$ 305.00             1,906.00
Wedding Ceremony HK$ 715.00             4,647.50
Wedding Certificate  (1 certified copy) HK$ 280/copy             3,640.00
Apostille stamp HK$ 125.00/seal                815.00
Registered mail for Apostille HK$ 15.50                105.00
Report of Marriage Processing (Phil. Emb) HK$ 200.00             1,300.00
Expedite fee HK$ 80.00                520.00
– EXTRAS –
Witness (food and some amount)             4,000.00
PROJECTED EXPENSES          80,163.66

*** The airfares are based on where you are coming from in the Philippines. It can be cheaper if you happen to book a flight way ahead, which is not also possible as you have to wait for the wedding schedule confirmation first. Lucky you, if there is a promo fare available on the schedule of your departure to Hong Kong.

*** Your other half’s airfare from Europe is also not included on the list.

*** Hotel accommodation prices also depends on the season you will be in Hong Kong. The best way to save some pennies is to book a room on the hotel or guesthouse website directly.

*** To save on fares for the public transportation, buy an octopus card from Costumer Service Counters of Hong Kong International Airport. You can reload this in any 7-11 stores around Hong Kong.

We hope it can help you decide if getting married in Hong Kong is an alternative for you.

Check the previous post for the documents you need to get married in Hong Kong here.

You can also check the sample itinerary for your wedding week here. 

 

Sample Itinerary for a Hong Kong Wedding

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While most people would go crazy for a garden or beach wedding, we went for the one in Asia’s concrete jungle. 

Friends have been asking us why we opted to get married in Hong Kong. We have a lot of points to consider as an international couple. Time and recognition of the marriage in Europe were just a fraction of these considerations. 

If you come to think of it… then.. Yeah, who would prefer to marry in a foreign country without family or friends? 

It all boils down to the practicality a wedding in Hong Kong can bring to us, and perhaps to the many other couples who opted to go the same way. When I say practicality, I don’t mean CHEAP as Hong Kong isn’t the cheapest place to begin with. But, with the right information and proper planning, you can absolutely save some money, time, and spare yourself from the trouble of the never-ending paper trail that haunts those who wanted to marry a foreigner in the Philippines. 

***** TIPS! *****

GET THAT PLANNER READY, SERIOUSLY. 

Plan your schedules way ahead. This includes noting the public holidays of Hong Kong and the Philippines.

You have to maximize the “working days” you will be in Hong Kong. If there is a holiday on a weekday, count that as one day more for you to stay. (Mind the expenses too). The Philippine Consulate observes both the legal holidays of the Philippines and Hong Kong, and you will not want to stay there a day extra for nothing, right? 

Ask for your preferred wedding schedule. Although there is no guarantee that your preferred schedule will be available, never hesitate to indicate your desired date and venue. Though the Marriage Registration Office will email you the time of the wedding, you can always ask for another schedule. 

Never hesitate to request for some changes, and ask questions to the Marriage Registration Office. Really, they are efficient in addressing concerns and this is one of the things we love about Hong Kong! Absolutely no frills. 

(For the list of documents needed to marry in Hong Kong, check out the previous post. )

***** Here is our recommended itinerary for your Hong Kong Wedding: *****

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Of course, if you wish to stay longer for your honeymoon and go around a bit like we did, you can always stay as long as you wish. 🙂 But, if you are on a tight budget or schedule, a week is just enough to finish all the necessary paperwork. So, make use of all the available working days to get your documents done. 

It should be noted that the Philippine Consulate is open from Sunday to Thursday. This is to cater the needs of the majority of the Filipino workers whose only chance to transact business at the Consulate is on Sundays. 

*** Mein Mann would joke that I am a “master of plans”, but we were really happy at how efficient the tasks were done. 🙂 

Getting married in the Philippines involves intricate paperwork, a waiting game, and the trouble with having to make countless trips to the government offices and courier service. We hope this can help you decide on whether a wedding in Hong Kong is an alternative to the lengthy process.  

Did you also marry abroad? How did the process go? 

Getting a Bank Draft for your Wedding in Hong Kong

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Getting a bank draft is one of the important things to do to kick off your process of having your wedding in Hong Kong. You need this for the filing of application for your Notice of Intended Marriage or simply referred to in Hong Kong as “The Notice”. We applied in February and got married in Hong Kong in April 2017. I have posted a list of documents to submit to complete the process here. 

I got asked a number of times about where and how to get a bank draft for the wedding in Hong Kong,  so I think it is better to answer these queries  at once. Please be mindful, however, that I am talking about my experience which could vary from yours, e.g your location in the Philippines 🙂

When we started preparing for our wedding in Hong Kong, we read countless blogs, noted the necessary information and highlighted the details which we might have forgotten otherwise.  (That’s why mein Mann would joke about me and my OC approach to all our papers) I have read that most couples (Filipino – Foreign)  who married in Hong Kong had their bank draft from BPI or Wells Fargo. Philippine banks can issue drafts but, be sure to get yours from banks accredited by Hong Kong. You can ask this from the Marriage Registration Office through email.

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There are lots of BPI branches here, however, they no longer issue bank drafts in HK dollars. And since I no longer maintain an account there, I was looking for some other options. There was also no Wells Fargo branch where I am living, so you can only imagine how worried I became when I found out that I can’t get one from BPI anymore, unless, of course, I will open an account there with a specific balance to avail of the service.

After searching for possible alternative, I discovered that Maybank issues drafts accepted in Hong Kong. Other than that, it is also an affiliate of Wells Fargo, so, basically, it’s a great alternative. The only concern was, Maybank does not issue drafts in Hong Kong dollars, so you have to get one in US dollars. With this, you have to add HKD100  on the top of HKD305 as a handling fee. I was advised by the IMMD in Hong Kong that we had to pay a total of USD53 for the application fee. Maybank also charge USD7 as the processing fee. So, expect  to spend USD60 for the application. 

To get a bank draft from Maybank, you must have an account in the branch where you intend to get your draft. (Which goes with all banks, I supposed). I am just lucky a close friend of mine knows someone who works in one of the branches, so he agreed to use his personal account to get my transaction through. (Speaking about the importance of networking 😀 )

I guess, one thing that might worry you when getting the bank draft is the fact that the payee’s name might be too long to fit the paper. Remember to have your bank draft payable to The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. What the bank did was abbreviate the name to “The Gov’t of the Hong Kong Special Admin. Region“. Don’t worry, abbreviating the name, if done correctly, won’t cause you problems. 🙂

It took me about 45 minutes to have this entire process completed. 🙂

Documents for Getting Married in Hong Kong for Pinays and Foreigners

documents for Pinay and foreigners.jpgAre you getting married in Hong Kong with your foreign boyfriend (or maybe girlfriend)? If you are contemplating on getting married in Hong Kong with the love of your life, then it is expected, as with anything, anywhere, that you will have to get on the paper work. Good thing, it is much easier to process your papers to get married in Hong Kong than in the Philippines (only speaking from my paperwork experience).

So, to be able to get married in Hong Kong, the first step is to write an inquiry (through an email) at enquiry@immd.gov.hk. This is how you will secure your first document for submission, The Notice.  (see what I have written to the IMMD, here)

  1. The Notice of Intended Marriage or “the notice” sent by the IMMD in Hong Kong will have several pages with English and Chinese texts. If you are both single (never been married), then accomplish the FIRST THREE PAGES ONLY. Do not forget to have the PAGE 1 notarized. (See how the notice looks like, here) It should be noted that if you are a Filipina, you must have your middle name (your mom’s maiden name) written in the box provided for Surname and Name on Page 1. (I made a mistake of not including my middle name the first time I sent the notice, so IMMD sent me a message requiring me (or whoever is the party giving the notice) to have the first page amended to include my middle name (as it appears in my passport), have it notarized, and send it back (yep, it costs some money, too). It is only then that your application to get married in Hong Kong will be considered and the process for doing so resumes.
  2. The international birth certificates (yours and that of your fiancé/fiancee) should also be sent to the IMMD office in Hong Kong. It is better to send a colored photocopy of each of your birth certificates. International birth certificates means, the document should be in ENGLISH.
  3. A photocopy of your passports must also be sent together with requirements 1 and 2. Send only the photocopy of the information page, not the whole passport.
  4. A photocopy of the Pinay’s CENOMAR (Certificate of No Marriage) from PSA should also accompany the first three documents. This costs around P 170.00 pesos if requested directly from your local NSA office. If you will request for this in the mall, expect a P20.00 service fee for each copy and a week of turn-around time.
  5. Bank Draft payable in Hong Kong Dollars or US dollars. Please be mindful that when the bank draft isn’t payable in Hong Kong dollars, you will have to shoulder the HK100-dollar handling fee. In our case, since we cannot find a bank that issues bank drafts in HK dollars, we opted for US dollars.Kindly inquire about the exact amount you will have to pay for this from IMMD. You can ask a bank draft from Maybank with a US 7.00-dollar service fee.

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After you have completed all the documents, send your express mail (takes 7 days maximum from the Philippines to Hong Kong and cost between P917.00 to P1,130.00) to

The Marriage Registration and Records Office
3/F, Low Block Queensway Government Offices
66 Queensway, Hong Kong

It is cheaper to send it through your local post office (though it will be quite uncomfortable given the clutter and the number of people who go there) than to send it in satellite postal offices in your local malls (my preference as it is comfortable and accepts mails up to 6 PM). Despite your mail being properly addressed, be ready to write the SENDER and RECEIVER information twice for your express mail – one on the slip with your tracking number and the other on the plastic packet. Yes, better practice writing in BLOCK letters. 🙂

After you have sent the mail to  Hong Kong, wait for some days to receive a reply regarding your schedule to get married in Hong Kong City Hall or the Cotton Tree Drive.

While waiting, make sure to plan your itinerary so you won’t waste time, set your budget as it is expensive in Hong Kong, book your accommodation, prepare documents needed for reporting you marriage to the Philippine Consulate and for the Apostille at the Hong Kong High Court, research about your routes to and from the hotel and the offices you must go to.

Anyone else who has gotten married in Hong Kong or is planning to do so?