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Civil Weddings in the Philippines: A Guide for Local and Foreign Weddings

Civil Weddings in the Philippines: A Guide for Local and Foreign Weddings

Weddings in the Philippines are traditionally festive, grand, and held in the church of the couple’s religious sect. Although most Filipinos would love to be married in a traditional church wedding, they tend to be more costly and longer to organize. 

Couples need to comply with their religion’s requirements (i.e., Roman Catholics require couples to undergo counseling and an interview with their kura paroko, Iglesia ni Cristo require both parties to be sworn into their church, etc.), for example. Often, they also need to book their chosen church months in advance. 

In comparison, the civil marriage requirements in the Philippines are fewer than church wedding requirements because there’s no need to comply with church requirements. For these reasons, civil weddings in the Philippines have grown more popular, especially among the millennials. 

Civil Weddings in the Philippines

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Any wedding held outside a church is a civil wedding. It is legally binding and recognized by the law: hearsays that civil weddings are less binding than a church wedding or that civil weddings are easier to annul are false. 

Civil weddings are a sound alternative for couples with a limited wedding budget, couples who want to marry soon, and people without religious affiliations. With civil weddings, atheists and agnostics can avoid the pressure of following tradition or professing a religious belief when they have none.

According to the law, couples must meet the following requisites to have a civil wedding ceremony:

  • Consent to marry by both parties
  • Capacity to marry, which means there are no legal hindrances to the marriage, i.e., either of the couple is already married
  • An authorized solemnizing officer or the person performing the wedding rites
  • At least two witnesses present at the wedding ceremony
  • A valid marriage license, to be signed at the end of the ceremony and submitted by the solemnizing officer at the Local Civil Registrar
  • A marriage ceremony which must take place within the marriage license’s validity period (120 days).

These requisites are the basis for the documents that the Local Civil Registrar requires from couples who want to have a civil wedding. 

Requirements for Philippine Civil Weddings

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If you and your fiance are planning to have a civil wedding soon, you’ll need to meet all the requirements.

Below is the break-down of each of the requisites for civil weddings, along with other requirements and tips on how and where to get them.

General Requirements for Identification:

1. At least 2 valid IDs – Present IDs with your complete name, birth date, and signature. Examples of valid IDs are UMID/SSS ID, Passport, Voter’s ID, BIR/TIN ID, Solo Parent ID, Senior Citizen ID, Postal ID, Company ID, and School ID with current registration card.

2. Certificate of Attendance in Pre- Marriage Counseling and Responsible Parenthood Seminar – All marrying couples in the Philippines are required to attend a seminar, which will tackle the Philippine Family Law and Family Planning, among other things.

  • How to apply for a Pre- Marriage Counseling Certificate: 

This certificate is issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development or DSWD (churches conduct the pre- marriage counseling for church weddings). Visit the office and ask for the next schedule for pre- marriage counseling. Book your schedule in advance to avoid delays.

  • How to apply for a Responsible Parenthood Certificate:

Ask for the schedule of the next seminar session at the Local Civil Registrar and pay the required fee. This seminar is best booked weeks in advance.

3. Birth certificates – Get certified true copies of birth certificates issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA, formerly the National Statistics Office or NSO). 

  • How to apply for a PSA Birth Certificate: 

You can get a notarized PSA birth certificate in four ways: 

  1. Via SM Business Centers in SM Malls all over the country. It costs P180 per copy and will be released in four to six working days.
  2. Via Census Serbilis Centers, which are hosted by the PSA in select locations nationwide. It costs P230 per copy and will be released within one to two hours.
  3. Via online application at the PSA “Serbilis” website. It costs P330 per copy and will be delivered to your home address in the Philippines in three to nine working days.
  4. Via telephone call through the PSA Helpine’s 24/7 hotline number, (02) 8-737-1111. It costs P365 per copy and will be delivered to your home address in the Philippines in two to seven working days. UPDATE: The PSA Helpline has been temporarily stopped as of January 2020. Stay tuned for the service’s return, or use the other three options for getting your PSA birth certificate. 

4. Barangay Certificate (certificate of residency) – You can apply for and claim your barangay certificate in one day. 

  • How to apply for a Barangay Certificate:

Go to your respective Barangay Halls, present a valid ID, and state the reason for your application. The fees vary depending on the barangay.

5. Community Tax Certificate (CEDULA) – You can also claim your CEDULA on the same day you apply for it. 

  • How to get a CEDULA:

Go to your Barangay Hall to request a CEDULA. Present a valid ID and provide information, like your TIN Number and gross monthly salary. The fee will be based on these information, but it should be very cheap (P1 for every P1,000 salary + basic community tax).

6. 1×1 ID picture – Some civil registry offices no longer require ID pictures, but in case yours do, prepare a couple to avoid delays.

Bring all original copies of these requirements plus photocopies of each. This way, you won’t have to go back and forth if your local registry asks for duplicates of your documents.

Requirements Specific to Civil Weddings

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1. Proof of Consent

The law immediately assumes that both man and woman consent to the wedding if both are over 25 years old. If one of you is 25 years old or younger, that person must secure parental consent; and if both of you are, you both need to get parental consent.

  • Requirements for 18-21 year olds:
    • Notarized Parental Consent
    • Parents’ Personal Appearance 

  • Requirements for 22-25 year olds:
    • Notarized Parental Advice 
    • Parents’ Personal Appearance or Written Advice

The parental consent or parental advice must be written by the father, mother, surviving parent, or legal guardian (by this order of importance). It should mention that your parent or guardian acknowledges and consents to your upcoming marriage. They can also include any advice they want to say in this document.

Finally, it must be noted that in the Philippines, the minimum age requirement for marriage is 18. The Local Civil Registrar or Civil Registry Department will not issue a marriage license to couples where one or both are under 18 years old. 

2. Proof of Capacity to Marry 

The purpose for this requirement is to ensure that couples are legally free to marry. The primary document that proves a person’s capacity to marry is the Certificate of No Marriage or CENOMAR. People who’ve been previously single or married must apply for it. 

Additional documents are required depending on your status:

  • If widowed: Provide the death certificate of their deceased husband or wife
  • If annulled from the previous marriage: Provide the Certificate of Registration for Annulment or the Certificate of Finality of Annulment

How to apply for a CENOMAR and/or Death Certificate:

Like with the birth certificates, the PSA issues CENOMAR and death certificates. The application process is similar as well.

How to apply for a Certificate of Registration for Annulment or Certificate of Finality of Annulment:

Visit the nearest office of the Civil Registrar (where the original Certificate of Marriage was registered) to request the Certificate of Registration for Annulment. To request a final annulment certificate, check if the registrar’s office had already forwarded the necessary documents to the PSA. If yes, apply at the PSA following the same process as applying for birth certificates.

Special Requirements for Foreigners

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If your husband- or wife-to-be is a foreign national, he or she must provide these extra requirements:

  • Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage – This is required of all foreign nationals who’re marrying Filipinos. The United States doesn’t issue such a certificate, however, so U.S. nationals must request an Affidavit In Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage. The U.K. also issues a similar affidavit for British nationals.
  • Divorce Certificate – If divorced, foreign nationals must provide proof before they can civilly marry a Filipino national.
  • Death Certificate – A requirement for widowed foreign nationals.
  • Naturalization Paper (when applicable)

Applying for a Civil Wedding License

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After you’ve compiled all the requirements listed above, you can finally apply for a wedding license. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Visit the local registry’s office with your future spouse. Personal attendance is a must when applying for a civil wedding license.
  2. Submit all the requirements, together with the marriage license application form.
  3. Pay the fees and wait for verification.
  4. Once your application has been verified, you may now claim your marriage license.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: The civil wedding license is valid for only 120 days. You need to be careful with the timing of your application: your civil wedding date should fall within this period.

Whatever your reasons for wanting a civil wedding, we hope you’ll be able to prepare for it with as little stress as possible. Bookmark this comprehensive list of requirements for civil weddings so that you’ll know what to do and where to go when your time comes.

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