Just by looking at your friend’s share-worthy wedding pictures on Instagram, you already get the idea that getting hitched can be a memorable experience for anyone.
But preparing for your wedding day is not all beers and skittles. You also need to know the legal documents and preparations required to ensure a hassle-free wedding celebration.
If you’re clueless about the things you need to know to get married here in the Philippines, no need to fret. We at FilipiKnow have scoured the Internet for the best information that every soon-to-be couples ought to know.
Whether you’re tying the knot with a Filipino, American, or any other foreigner, this guide is for you!
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Table of Contents
- Part I. Getting Married in the Philippines – Basic Steps and Requirements
- Part II. How to Get a Marriage License in the Philippines
- Part III. Church Wedding in the Philippines – Procedures & Requirements
- Part IV. Civil Wedding in the Philippines – Procedures & Requirements
- Part V. How to Get a Marriage Certificate in the Philippines
- Part VI. How to Get Married in the Philippines as a U.S. Citizen
- Part VII. How to Get Married in the Philippines with a Foreigner
Part I. Getting Married in the Philippines – Basic Steps and Requirements
If you’re planning to get married in the Philippines, there are few legal requirements you need to know first, especially if you or your would-be spouse is 25 years old or below. Here are some of them:
- Marrying parties should be a male and a female, at least 18 years old.
- If you or your partner is 25 years old or below, a parental consent or advice is needed (See Part II).
- You and your partner must not be related by blood (up to 4th degree) and should be free of legal impediments, such as being in a previous marriage (unless annulled, widowed, or divorced).
There are specific requirements that you need to provide once you decide to have a church wedding (See Part III) or civil wedding (See Part IV) in the Philippines.
But regardless of the type of wedding ceremony, all couples undergo almost the same process in getting married.
Step 1: Marriage license application (See Part II).
Step 2: Attendance of required pre-wedding seminars and counseling (Depending on your area, this may come before or after applying for a marriage license).
Step 3: Release of marriage license.
Step 4: Marriage ceremony solemnized by an officer registered with the local civil registrar and in the presence of 2 witnesses of legal age.
Step 5: Getting your official NSO marriage certificate (See Part V).
Part II. How to Get a Marriage License in the Philippines
Marriage license is the most important legal document you need to secure when preparing for your wedding. After all, you won’t be allowed to have a church or civil wedding without this.
To apply for the license, both parties must go to the the local civil registrar of the city, town or municipality where either the groom or the bride habitually resides. Marriage license is usually released 2 weeks (10 days) after you apply for it.
Once issued, the marriage license can be used wherever you want to get married in the Philippines. However, it is only valid within 120 days of issuance and “shall be deemed automatically cancelled at the expiration of said period if the contracting parties have not made use of it.”
What You Need:
- Certified true copy of you and your partner’s NSO birth certificates (1 original and 2 photocopies). You can get this from the NSO office or apply online through e-Census. For more information, you can contact NSO Helpline Plus with telephone no. (632) 737.1111 or email them at [email protected]
- Affidavit of parental consent or advice. The legal age for marriage in the Philippines is 18. If either of you are between the ages 18 and 21, a consent from the father, mother, surviving parent or guardian should be obtained. On the other hand, if either of you are between the age of 22 and 25, a written parental advice indicating that your parents are aware of your intent to marry will be required. You can come with your parents during application or just bring a notarized letter of consent/advice.
- Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) or Certificate of Singleness (1 original and 1 photocopy). This document is a proof that you haven’t been married before and is issued by the NSO.
- Certificate of Attendance in a pre-marriage counseling, family planning, and responsible parenthood seminar. The pre-marriage counseling is usually conducted by the Church or the DSWD for civil marriages. The family planning and responsible parenthood seminar, on the other hand, is held at the health department (specifically the Division of Maternal and Child Health) of your municipal/city hall. Be sure to check the schedules as some are conducted daily while others have a specific schedule within the week. If you failed to secure the certificates before applying for a marriage license, you will be asked to attend the required seminars before your wedding date.
- Community Tax Certificate or Cedula (1 original and 2 photocopies).
- Barangay Clearance (1 original and 1 photocopy).
- At least 2 valid IDs.
- Recent 1 x 1 photo (colored or black and white).
- Marriage license application form (issues by the LCR office).
Other requirements (in addition to above):
- If annulled, Certificate of Finality of Annulment from the Court (1 original and 2 photocopies) and Certificate of Registration from the Local Civil Registrar (1 original and 2 photocopies).
- If widowed, Death Certificate of deceased spouse.
- Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage. This document, issued by the consular office/embassy of the foreigner’s country, serves as a proof of his/her civil status and eligibility for marriage in the Philippines. For more information, see Part VI and Part VII.
- A photocopy of passport.
What To Do:
Now that you know the basic requirements to bring, here are the steps you need to follow in order to get the marriage license:
Step 1: Get an application form (Form 90) from the local registry office.
Step 2: Fill out the form. The left portion of the sheet should be filled out by the groom while the other half is for the bride.
Step 3: Attach the necessary documents (see list of requirements above) and submit the accomplished form to either you or your partner’s municipal office. To avoid hassles and long queues, go to the municipal office either in the morning or right after lunch.
Step 4: Get the claim slip. If you haven’t attended the required seminars yet, the slip that will be given to you is the one that asks you to attend the pre-marriage counseling, family planning, and responsible parenthood seminar (see list of requirements above). You will then present the certificate of attendance to claim your marriage license.
Step 5: Wait for 10 days before the marriage license is released. Once issued, the license will only be valid within 120 days or four months.
Part III. Church Wedding in the Philippines – Procedures & Requirements
Every Filipina bride has a dream of tying the knot in the church and wearing that long, elegant wedding dress. And because majority of Filipinos are Catholics, it’s no wonder why most prefer to get married in popular churches like Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, and the likes.
If you’re one of those lucky few who have a budget big enough for a church wedding, there are specific requirements aside from the marriage license that you need to fulfill a month before your actual wedding. This guide will get you started:
What You Need and What To Do:
- Marriage license. The document must be within 4 months of validity period (see Part II). If you previously married in a civil wedding, you must submit registered marriage contract.
- Baptismal and confirmation certificates (6 months validity) . Because marriage is one of the church sacraments, you and your partner must submit a proof that you have previously received the sacrament of baptism. The copies that you’ll submit must be new, acquired 3 months before the wedding, and with an annotation “For marriage purposes only.” Some parishes can’t issue these documents instantly as they don’t have digital records of these files yet. Make sure to process these papers as early as possible.
- Copy of NSO birth certificate and Certificate of No Record of Marriage (CENOMAR). You can secure these documents either online or by going to the NSO office. Most churches accept birth certificates as long as they are still within 6 months from the date of issuance. As of this writing, a birth certificate costs approximately 315 pesos per copy and 415 pesos for every copy of CENOMAR.
- Pre-Cana/Marriage preparation seminar. Because marriage is a lifelong commitment, this seminar is provided to help couples learn more about each other, resolve any issues prior to getting married, and gain insights about their future life together. Topics may include parenting, sexuality, family planning, among others. Although most parish churches conduct the seminar every month, you should still ask the church coordinator about the schedules to make sure you won’t miss it. Some churches also recognize other independent organizations like Catholic Engaged Encounter (CEE), Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM), and Discovery Weekend Philippines (DW) which provide seminars or retreats for couples. If you attend seminars from any of these, you need to submit certificates of attendance as a proof.
- Canonical interview. This is when you and your partner will meet the parish priest (or his assistant) of your chosen church. Request to the church coordinator to have the interview scheduled 1 to 2 months before your wedding. The parish may also send you a list of questions before the interview to give you more time to prepare. During the interview, the priest will explore your decision to get married by asking questions about your family background, how long you have known each other, and so forth.
- Marriage Banns. These are written wedding announcements that will be posted on the bulletin boards of the couple’s respective parishes. To obtain the marriage banns, both the bride and groom must know the specific name of their respective parish priest and the address of their parochial church. After receiving these information, the wedding church will then prepare a letter requesting for the marriage banns. The banns are posted in the couple’s parishes for three consecutive weeks, which explains why you need to complete the wedding requirements a month before the event. After that, you can now retrieve the letter from the parish office with a reply indicating that no impediments exist and that the wedding can push through.
- List of principal sponsors and entourage members. The copy of the wedding invitation along with the official list of entourage members should be submitted to the parish church where you’ll get married a week before your wedding date. Make sure to ask the church for any restrictions or additional requirements before finalizing the list. Note that the names of the principal sponsors are important as they will be included in the marriage license.
- Confession. Some churches require couples to attend a confession days before the wedding. Through this event, they will be forgiven of their sins and receive the most out of the sacrament.
- ID pictures. Size, color, and number will depend on your church’s requirements.
- List of songs, if applicable.
- Permits for photographers and videographers, if applicable.
Note: If you have other questions, please contact your city hall or church directly. Know the exact date and time when all the requirements will be released so you can plan your wedding, hassle-free.
Part IV. Civil Wedding in the Philippines – Procedures & Requirements
For most Filipinos, a civil wedding is a cheaper, faster, and more convenient alternative to church wedding. It is usually conducted by a judge of the RTC court, but it can also be performed by the Mayor of a city. If you’re short on cash or still saving for your dream church wedding, this option is for you.
Here are the requirements and procedures you need to remember if you’re planning to have a civil wedding in the Philippines:
What You Need:
- Marriage license (see Part II).
- Certified True Copy of Baptismal Certificate or Birth Certificate of both parties.
- Community tax certificates (CEDULA) of both applicants.
- 1 ID photo (colored background or black and white) of each applicant.
- Certificate of Attendance to a wedding seminar. Couples are required to attend pre-marriage counseling and family planning seminar. These are usually given in the city hall and are required before you can claim your marriage license. Check your municipality for the complete list of schedules.
- Letter of Intent to Marry. As the name suggests, this letter should express your intent to marry and also includes your name and your fiancee’s name, your signatures, and your suggested wedding dates.
- If widowed, Certified True Copy of Death Certificate of deceased spouse.
- If divorced or annulled, a copy of Final Decree of Absolute Divorce or Court Decision and Absolute Decree of Finality from the court.
- Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry (or Certificate of No Impediment for British applicants) issued by the consular office/embassy of the foreigner’s country. For more information, see Part VI and Part VII.
- Photocopy of passport (showing the Date of Arrival and Data).
What To Do:
Step 1: Go to your civil registrar’s office to apply and pay the required fees for a marriage license. Beware of swindlers. Make sure you only deal with the staff of the Civil Registrar’s office.
Step 2: Proceed to the Mayor’s office and submit the Letter of Intent to Marry together with the marriage license to the secretary.
Step 3: Wait for the confirmation that your suggested wedding dates are available. Civil weddings are usually officiated by a judge or the Mayor in a city hall court. If you have a preferred venue, seek the approval of your chosen officiate first.
Step 4: Find at least two people within the legal age who will serve as your witnesses. If either you or your partner is below 18 years old, a parent or a guardian is required.
Step 5: During your wedding day, you need to pay a filing fee which usually costs 100 pesos. This is to enable them to forward their own facsimile of the marriage contract to the local civil registrar. You will then get the facsimile of the marriage certificate from NSO after 1 to 2 months.
Step 6: Proceed to the official civil wedding ceremony.
Part V. How to Get a Marriage Certificate in the Philippines
A marriage certificate is an important document containing details of your marriage, signed by the couple and witnesses or all in attendance. You can obtain this document usually 1 to 2 months after the wedding ceremony (See Part IV).
To process and issue a marriage certificate, the NSO needs the following data from you:
- Complete name of the husband
- Complete name of the wife
- Date of marriage
- Place of marriage
- Complete name and address of the requesting party
- Number of copies needed
- Purpose of the certification
For more information about how to get a marriage certificate in the Philippines, please visit the nearest NSO office.
Part VI. How to Get Married in the Philippines as a U.S. Citizen
Any person–local or foreigner–who has decided to get married in the Philippines is required to submit specific requirements. In the case of U.S. citizens, a marriage license will not be issued unless you already secured a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry.
However, the U.S. Consular Officers cannot make any official certification about your eligibility to marry a person in the Philippines. What they can only provide is an Affidavit In Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry.
Some local registrars–specifically in Makati City, Quezon City, and Davao City–refuse to accept this document as an alternative to Philippine document. Therefore, it is your responsibility, not the U.S. Embassy’s, to verify with the local registrar the specific documents they require.
You can get the Affidavit In Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry either from the U.S. Embassy in Manila or U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu. The latter is open from Monday through Friday at 9 AM to 11 AM. Take note that this is by appointment ONLY. You must do this in person and you don’t need to bring your fiance/fiancee with you.
To book an appointment for a Legal Capacity to Marry, here are the following steps:
Step 1:Book an appointment through this website. Select “Request notarial and other services not listed above.” Print the confirmation of your appointment.
Step 2: During your appointment, don’t forget to bring your confirmation printout together with your U.S. passport. Other requirements include death certificates and divorce decrees that show you are free to marry. Also bring $50 (or the Philippine peso equivalent) or credit card. No need for your fiance/fiancee to appear.
Note: U.S. military personnel should directly contact their personnel office for a list of additional requirements.
Once you have obtained the Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry, you can now apply for a marriage license (see Part II) at the local civil registrar of a city or municipality where either of you habitually resides.
After that, you and your partner can already marry in a church wedding (see Part III for complete list of requirements) or civil wedding (see Part IV for complete list of requirements).
Part VII. How to Get Married in the Philippines with a Foreigner
If you’re a Filipino who is planning to marry a foreigner (US. citizen or any other nationality), take note that there are basic documentary requirements that you need to obtain. This section will teach you everything you need to know to marry a foreigner in the Philippines.
What You Need:
In order to apply for a marriage license, your foreign spouse should first obtain a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry from the Embassy/Consulate of his/her country here in the Philippines. Although it may vary depending on your foreign spouse’s originating country, here are the following requirements for the Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry:
- Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) to Marry – obtainable from the Registrar’s Office in the prospective foreign spouse’s place of residence.
- Original copy or certified true copy of birth certificate.
- Original copy or certified true copy of divorce decree absolute or death certificate of deceased spouse, if applicable.
- A Moral Character Reference, which takes the form of a letter or certificate from a person of authority, a social worker, health or education officer, or a church minister who has direct personal knowledge of the prospective foreign spouse’s character as well as background.
For country-specific requirements and procedures, please refer to the following documents/links: