Getting Married in the Philippines? Here’s What Couples Must Do

Published: November 8, 2019 | Updated: September 23, 2021 | Posted by: Venus Zoleta | Government Services


Getting Married in Philippines - Marriage Contract, License, Cenomar, etc | Moneymax

Marriage isn’t something people do on a whim. Just as you don’t marry someone you met only yesterday, you don’t get married without being legally ready.

Getting married in the Philippines won’t be an easy ride, what with the many requirements (such as marriage contract and license) soon-to-weds have to take care of. It’s far from the typical Las Vegas weddings where couples get hitched on the spur of the moment.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get married. Of course, you want your union to become legal and official.

The point is, before you tie the knot, you have to be ready for all the paperwork it entails. Your dream wedding won’t become a reality if you lack even just one requirement.

Here’s everything Filipino or foreign couples need to know before getting married, whether in civil or church rites, in the Philippines.

Who Can Get Married in the Philippines?

Getting Married in Philippines - Marriage Contract, License, Cenomar, etc | Who Can Get Married?

The Family Code of the Philippines (1) allows the marriage of people who meet the following requirements:

  • A male and a female
  • At least 18 years old
  • Notarized parental consent for 18 to 20 years old
  • Notarized parental advice for 21 to 25 years old
  • Not blood relatives up to the fourth civil degree (i.e., cousins, siblings, etc.)
  • Free of legal impediments such as being previously married to someone else (unless annulled, divorced, or widowed)

These legal requirements mean that people under the age of 18 can’t get married even with their parents’ consent. Also, same-sex marriage is not yet legalized in the Philippines.

Read more: I Love You, Goodbye: The Cost of Annulment in the Philippines

How to Get Married in the Philippines in 8 Steps

After making sure you’re permitted by law to marry in the Philippines, the next crucial thing to do is to comply with the legal requirements for marriage, specifically a marriage license and a marriage certificate (sometimes called the marriage contract).

Here are the steps involved in making sure you’ll be legally married in the Philippines.

Step 1: Get Your NSO Birth Certificates

Getting Married in Philippines - Marriage Contract, License, Cenomar, etc | Get Your NSO Birth Certificate

Photo from PSAHelpline.ph Facebook page

The first thing that should be on your checklist, even before you start with the wedding planning, is to secure your birth certificate.

Doing it in advance will give you ample time to verify your name, as well as that of your partner and parents, and have it corrected if necessary. This prevents any issues later on due to incorrect entries on your birth certificate or inconsistency between the details you provide in your marriage license application and those on your birth certificate.

Ideally, your birth certificate is certified and issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority or PSA (formerly National Statistics Office or NSO). You can apply for this document at any PSA Serbilis Center (2) in the Philippines.

Or, for your convenience, get your PSA-certified birth certificate online via the PSA Serbilis website or PSAHelpline.ph. Check this guide on how to get a birth certificate from the PSA.

Alternatively, you may get a certified true copy of your birth certificate from the local civil registrar’s office in the city hall or municipal hall that has jurisdiction over your birthplace. The certified true copy is accepted for the marriage license application.

Read more: NBI Clearance Online Application: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide

Step 2: Request a CENOMAR

Getting Married in Philippines - Marriage Contract, License, Cenomar, etc | Request a CENOMAR

Photo from PSAHelpline.ph Facebook page

What is CENOMAR?

CENOMAR stands for Certificate of No Marriage Record. As the name implies, this legal document certifies that a person has never been married.

Individually, you and your partner must secure a CENOMAR from the PSA. But if one or both of you are widowed, you need to get a death certificate of the deceased spouse (also from the PSA) instead of a CENOMAR.

What are the CENOMAR Requirements?

No documents are required to apply for a CENOMAR. Simply get it via the PSA Serbilis website or PSAHelpline.ph as you would when getting a birth certificate.

When requesting a CENOMAR online, you’ll be asked to provide the following information:

  • Your full name, birth date, birthplace, and address
  • Father’s full name
  • Mother’s full maiden name
  • Number of copies requested
  • Purpose of the certification i.e., marriage

How Much is the CENOMAR Fee?

The amount you’ll have to pay depends on where you’ll get a CENOMAR from. Getting this document online is more expensive because you’ll be paying for convenience.

  • PSA Serbilis Center – PHP 210
  • PSA Serbilis website – PHP 430
  • PSAHelpline.ph – PHP 465

What’s the CENOMAR Validity?

A CENOMAR is valid for six months from the date of issue. Thus, secure this document within six months or less before your wedding date.

Step 3: Get a Cedula

Go to the barangay hall, city hall, or municipal hall in the place where you or your fiancé lives to get a cedula.

A cedula, also called residence certificate or community tax certificate, is one of the marriage license requirements to get married in the Philippines. It proves that the bride, groom, or both are resident/s of the city or town. Getting a cedula is just quick and easy with a minimal fee.

Step 4: Apply for a Marriage License

What is a Marriage License?

A marriage license is a legal document verifying that a couple is eligible to marry. It’s an important requirement for either a civil or church wedding in the Philippines.

What are the Marriage License Requirements?

Prepare original and photocopies of the following documents from each of the couple:

  • Original or certified true copy of birth certificate/baptismal certificate
  • CENOMAR
  • Cedula
  • Recent 1 x 1 ID photo

For special cases, the couple must submit an additional requirement:

  • Bride and/or groom aged 18 to 20: Affidavit of parental consent
  • Bride and/or groom aged 21 to 25: Affidavit of parental advice
  • Widowed: Death certificate of the deceased spouse (instead of the birth/baptismal certificate)
  • Annulled previous marriage: Court decision and decree of absolute finality (instead of the birth/baptismal certificate)
  • Divorced: Final decree of absolute divorce (instead of the birth/baptismal certificate)
  • Foreigners: Valid passport and Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage or any equivalent document issued by a foreign embassy in the Philippines (instead of the birth/baptismal certificate and CENOMAR)

How to Apply for a Marriage License in the Philippines

When you’ve secured all the requirements, you and your partner should personally apply for the marriage license together.

  1. Visit the local civil registrar (LCR) office in the city or municipality where you or your partner reside.
  2. Submit the marriage license requirements. The designated officer will check and evaluate the documents.
  3. Pay the marriage license fee to the treasury or treasurer’s office. Present the official receipt to the LCR officer.
  4. Fill out four copies of the marriage license application form provided by the LCR office. Make sure to accomplish the bride’s and groom’s information sections correctly and completely.
  5. Attend the required pre-marriage counseling and family planning seminars. This can be held on the same day as your marriage license application within the city or municipal hall complex.
  6. Get your Certificate of Attendance and submit it to the LCR office.
  7. After 10 days, return to the LCR office and claim your marriage license. Two copies will be issued—one for your personal copy and another one that you’ll give to your solemnizing officer.

How Much is the Marriage License Fee?

The cost of a marriage license varies per city or municipal hall, but it ranges from PHP 280 to PHP 352.

What’s the Marriage License Validity?

A marriage license is valid anywhere in the Philippines for 120 days from the date of issue. If you don’t use it within that period, the expired marriage license is considered canceled.

Marriage License Tips to Remember

  • Don’t apply for a marriage license too early or too late so that it’s still valid on your wedding day.
  • Take a leave of absence from work and arrive early. Government offices are open only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and the entire process of getting this document (including the required seminars) might take a whole day.
  • Refer to your birth certificate to find your mother’s correct maiden name.
  • Assign an authorized representative to claim the marriage license on your behalf if you can’t pick it up due to a busy schedule. Your representative should present your authorization letter and valid ID to the LCR office.

Step 5: Book an Officiant

Getting Married in Philippines - Marriage Contract, License, Cenomar, etc | Book an Officiant

Once you secure a marriage license, find a solemnizing officer who will officiate your wedding ceremony. Any of the following people are authorized to solemnize weddings in the Philippines:

  • Priests, rabbis, or ministers of any registered church or religion in the Philippines
  • Municipal judges, judges of the Courts of First Instance, Presiding Justice and the Justices of the Court of Appeals, or Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court
  • City or municipal mayors

Book an appointment with your chosen wedding officiant. Before your wedding rites, you’ll have to meet with your officiant and provide him a copy of your marriage license.

Step 6: Invite Your Witnesses

At least two witnesses of legal age (18 years old and above) are required of anyone who will marry in the Philippines. Be sure that all your invited witnesses are available on your wedding date and are informed of the wedding details.

Tip: Have back-up witnesses just in case the ones you initially invited suddenly become unavailable on your wedding day.

Step 7: Get Married

Getting Married in Philippines - Marriage Contract, License, Cenomar, etc | Get Married

Once you’ve completed all the legal requirements for marriage, you can already get married!

On your wedding day, show up, say your “I do,” and sign the marriage contract. Your officiant and witnesses will also have to sign your marriage certificate.

Related: How Much Does a Wedding Cost in the Philippines?

Step 8: Get Your Marriage Certificate

Getting Married in Philippines - Marriage Contract, License, Cenomar, etc | Get Your Marriage Certificate

Now that you’ve been declared husband and wife, the only thing left to do is to obtain your marriage certificate.

Within 15 days after you get married, your solemnizing officer submits the four copies of your marriage contract to the LCR office in the city or municipality where your wedding took place.

You may get two kinds of copies of your marriage certificate: a certified true copy from the city or municipal hall and an authenticated copy from the PSA.

How to Get Your Marriage Contract from the Local Civil Registry

Around five to 10 working days after the officiant registered your marriage, you can get your marriage certificate at the LCR office. Below are the steps:

  • Present your valid ID
  • Fill out a marriage contract application form
  • Pay a fee (the cost varies per LCR office).

Your certified true copy of marriage certificate may be issued within the day, or a week after if you prefer it in security paper (SECPA).

If you can’t personally claim your marriage certificate, you can assign a representative to pick it up for you. The representative must present your authorization letter, your valid ID, and his/her valid ID.

How to Get Your Marriage Contract from the PSA

A PSA-certified marriage certificate takes longer to process than a certified true copy from the LCR. The actual processing time depends on how fast the LCR transmits your marriage contract to the PSA. Wait for at least two to three months for your marriage certificate to become available at the PSA.

You can get your PSA-certified marriage certificate online via the PSA Serbilis website or PSAHelpline.ph. When requesting for this document, you’ll be asked to provide the following details:

  • Husband’s full name
  • Wife’s full name
  • Date of marriage
  • Place of marriage
  • Requestor’s address
  • Number of copies requested
  • Purpose of getting a marriage certificate

FAQs on Getting Married in the Philippines

1. What is the difference between a marriage license, a marriage contract, and a marriage certificate?

Getting Married in Philippines - Marriage Contract, License, Cenomar, etc

A marriage license is what you get before getting married. Having this document doesn’t mean you’re officially husband and wife. It only authorizes you and your soon-to-be-spouse to marry anywhere in the Philippines, so it’s like the approval of your application for marriage.

On the other hand, a marriage certificate is what you get after getting married. This document is proof that your partner is your legal spouse and that your marriage took place legally. It also contains the important details of your wedding such as the date and place.

A marriage contract is just another term used when referring to the marriage certificate.

2. Can we get married in a different place from where we got our marriage license?

Some couples wrongly assume that a marriage license is valid only in the city or municipality where it was issued. However, Article 20 of the Family Code of the Philippines clearly states that the document is “valid in any part of the Philippines.” This means if you got a marriage license in Cebu, you can marry in Manila or anywhere in the country, as long as it’s used within the 120-day validity period.

3. Can two foreigners get married in the Philippines?

Yes. Another common myth about getting married in the Philippines is that one of the soon-to-weds must be a Filipino citizen. The Family Code doesn’t prohibit two foreign citizens from holding their wedding in the Philippines, as long as they meet the legal requirements for marriage in the country.

4. How can a foreigner get married in the Philippines?

Getting Married in Philippines - Marriage Contract, License, Cenomar, etc | Foreigner Marriage Philippines

The general procedure of getting married in the Philippines is quite the same for Filipinos and foreigners.

The biggest difference is that foreign citizens are required to submit a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage (instead of a birth certificate and CENOMAR) when they apply for a marriage license. This document confirms that there are no legal impediments to the foreigner who will get married.

Foreigners who wish to marry in the Philippines should get this certification from their home country’s embassy or consular office.

The application process and requirements for the Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry vary per country, so it’s best to contact the local embassy to know the specifics. To find the contact information of your home country’s embassy in the Philippines, check the Department of Foreign Affairs website (3).

For example, instead of the certification, the U.S. and Chinese embassies in the Philippines issue an Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage. Meanwhile, the Australian embassy issues a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI).

After getting married in the Philippines, foreigners are also required to get their marriage registered in their home country within a prescribed period. To do so, contact the embassy to inquire about how to report your marriage.

5. Can you get married without a marriage license in the Philippines?

Certain kinds of marriages or unions are exempted from providing a marriage license. Case in point: couples who have lived together as common-law husband and wife for at least five years and without any legal impediment for marriage.

Muslims and members of ethnic communities in the Philippines are also not required to submit a marriage license, as long as they get married according to their customs.

For the full list of marriage license exemptions, refer to Chapter 2 (Articles 27 to 34) of the Family Code of the Philippines.

6. Can I get copies of the marriage certificate for both my civil and church weddings?

Getting Married in Philippines - Marriage Contract, License, Cenomar, etc

According to the PSA (4), the first registered marriage is the one considered valid. For example, if you had a civil wedding first before you married in a church, then the PSA will issue the marriage contract that was registered first at the local civil registrar.

On the other hand, if you had a church wedding without a civil wedding beforehand, the marriage is still recognized as legal in the Philippines. The marriage certificate you’ll get from the PSA is the one you signed during your church rites.

Final Thoughts

This guide is not a form of expert legal advice. It’s only meant to provide general guidelines on how to get married in the Philippines so that you know what to expect. You and your partner are primarily responsible for ensuring your compliance with the legal requirements for marriage in the country.

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