Published: November 8, 2019 | Updated: December 17, 2020 | Posted by: Venus Zoleta | Government Services
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.
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The Family Code of the Philippines (1) allows the marriage of people who meet the following requirements:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Prepare original and photocopies of the following documents from each of the couple:
For special cases, the couple must submit an additional requirement:
When you’ve secured all the requirements, you and your partner should personally apply for the marriage license together.
The cost of a marriage license varies per city or municipal hall, but it ranges from PHP 280 to PHP 352.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Venus is the Head of Content at Moneymax, with over 15 years of combined experience in digital marketing, corporate communications, PR, and journalism. She invests in stocks, mutual funds, VUL, and Pag-IBIG MP2. Outside of work, she’s crazy about cats and Korean dramas. Follow Venus on LinkedIn.