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Marry In The Philippines

Non-Filipino citizens must meet certain additional requirements to marry in the Philippines.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this section relating to the legal requirements of the Philippines is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific Philippine laws should be addressed to an attorney. American diplomatic and consular officers do not have legal authority to perform marriages.

1. Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage

Any foreigner who wishes to marry in the Philippines is required by the Philippine Government to obtain from his/her Embassy a “Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” before filing an application for a marriage license. This certification affirms that there are no legal impediments to the foreigner marrying a Filipino (i.e, that the foreigner is already married to someone else).

Unlike the Philippines, the U.S. Government does not keep a central statistical registry for births, marriages and deaths and cannot verify this information. Instead, the Philippine Government accepts an “Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage.”

Americans may execute this affidavit at the American Embassy in Manila or the U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu. Personal appearances of the American citizen applicant cannot be waived, but the fiance(e) need not be present. Philippine authorities will not accept any substitute document initiated in the United States.Applicants may apply for the “Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” at the Embassy’s American Citizen Services Branch by appointment only.

There is a fee of $50.00 or its peso equivalent for the affidavit, payable in cash only.

The Affidavit is notarized by a U.S. consular officer. The consular officer can refuse to perform this service if the document will be used for a purpose patently unlawful, improper, or inimical to the best interest of the United States. Entering into a marriage contract with an alien strictly for the purpose of enabling entry to the United States for that individual is considered an unlawful act. Section 4221 of Title 22 United States Code provides penalties for individuals who commit perjury in an affidavit taken by a consular officer.

Additional Requirements for U.S. Military Personnel

U.S. military personnel should contact their personnel office regarding Department of Defense joint service regulations.

Booking an Appointment for a Legal Capacity to Marry:

Book an appointment by clicking here. Select “Request notarial and other services not listed above.” Print the confirmation of your appointment.

Bring your confirmation printout, all divorce decrees or death certificates that show the U.S. citizen is free to marry, and valid U.S. passport to your appointment.  Bring $50 in cash (or Philippine Peso equivalent) or credit card.  Due to space limitations, people not needed to witness or sign documents during the notarial service will not be able accompany the applicant to the ACS section and should not come to the Embassy.  Fiancées of Americans seeking legal capacities to marry do not need to appear.

2. Applying For A Marriage License

Once an American citizen has obtained from the Embassy an Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry, he/she can file an application for a marriage license at the office of the Philippine Civil Registrar in the town or city where one of the parties is a resident. The license is a requirement for either a civil or church wedding in the Philippines. The U.S. citizen applicant will need to present:

  • The Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry;
  • Divorce decree(s) or death certificate(s) required to verify civil status and capacity to marry;
  • U.S. passport;
  • Documentation regarding paternal consent or advice, if applicable.

A judge, a minister or any other person authorized by the Government of the Philippines can perform the marriage.  Marriage applicants aged 18 to 21 must have written parental consent. Applicants aged 22 to 24 must have received parental advice. Philippine law prohibits the marriage of individuals under the age of 18.

Philippine law prescribes a ten-day waiting period from the filing of the application to the issuance of the marriage license. The license is valid for 120 days and may be used anywhere in the Philippines.

Marriage to a U.S. citizen confers neither citizenship nor an automatic eligibility for entry to the United States. If the U.S. citizen does not reside in the Philippines, the Petition for Immigrant Visa (I-130) must be filed through the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in the United States. Only U.S. citizens resident in the Philippines may file an I-130 petition with DHS the U.S. Embassy.

3A. Church Wedding Requirements

Note: A Catholic religious ceremony may be performed even without a civil ceremony and the marriage will still be considered legal in the Philippines. Other non-Catholic churches may require documents and/or seminars not specified below. To be sure, inquire with the church in which you plan to be married. The process below describes the general procedures for arranging a Catholic wedding in the Philippines. However, the policies and procedures of individual churches may vary.

Baptismal and Confirmation Certificates – Required for both the bride and the groom. These documents must be new, be annotated: “FOR MARRIAGE PURPOSES ONLY”, and have been obtained not more than three months before the date of marriage; For mixed marriage (different religions) – a dispensation must be secured from the Parish Office which will be released after the canonical interview with the parish priest or his assistant. These have to be presented one week before the wedding.

  • Marriage License – for those who are first married in a civil ceremony, a certified true photocopy of the Marriage Contract with the registry number of the city or town where the marriage was performed must be submitted one week before the wedding date.
  • Canonical Interview – The parish priest or his assistant will conduct an interview with the bride and the groom one month before the wedding date. The interview will be scheduled upon the signing of the application form.
  • Pre-Marriage Seminar – The seminar will be scheduled during the canonical interview or you may inquire at the parish office. Some churches will allow you to attend other pre-wedding seminars such as the Discovery Weekend or Catholic Engaged Encounter.
  • Permission – The bride must receive permission to marry from her parish, if the venue is in another parish.
  • Wedding Banns – The couple must post the schedule of their wedding in their respective parishes. These will be provided during the canonical interview and have to be immediately brought to the respective parishes of the bride and the groom for posting. These have to be returned to the office after three Sundays. (The respective parishes may ask some requirements for the posting of the banns i.e. a picture each from the bride and the couple.)
  • List of names and addresses of principal sponsors (Ninongs and Ninangs) – The list has to be submitted to the parish office one week before the wedding date. Church policy requires at least a pair of sponsors and, ideally, a maximum of six sponsors.
  • For widow or widower – A copy of the death certificate of the former spouse must be presented to the parish office.
  • For renewal of vows – Remember to bring a copy of the Catholic Marriage Contract.

3B. Civil Wedding

A couple who chooses to be married in a civil ceremony will need to apply for a marriage license. Once the license is obtained, they need to go to a judge or a mayor to administer the solemnization of the marriage. There is a ten-day waiting period from the date of the civil wedding before the issuance of the marriage contract.

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