Sunday, March 1, 2015

Licensed to Wed: Marriage License Requirements in the Philippines


Peart Farm | Marriage License Requirements in the Philippines
Proposal site at Pearl Farm, Davao


She writes… 

Since I started considering marriage at 30, my dream was for the ceremony to take place at the Supreme Court where all decisions are made absolute.

I also wanted a very private ceremony without making a fuss of who to invite, what to wear, what to serve the guests, souvenirs to give away, flowers, reception and the rest of the details that need funding and attention.

I wanted none of the frills that make weddings a multi-million-peso industry. Most of all, I had no desire to complicate my life by inviting stress and anxiety.


So when Ray proposed while visiting me on my birthday, we decided to get married before he went back to the US. The duration of his stay was for 29 days, and so our wedding plans were on a very tight schedule.

What we did not know that was that marriage in the Philippines was as bureaucratic as it could get. We needed to process our license at the Quezon City Hall, and I was required to submit the following:

1.     Birth certificate issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO) - I ordered mine by calling the NSO Hotline (02) 737-1111 and paid P350 through Metro Bank.  A personal request at the Serbilis Center costs less at P140. But unless your birth certificate was only submitted to the NSO less than six months ago, it is really not necessary to go to a Serbilis Center.

2.     Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) - I put in the request for a Cenomar along with my birth certificate. It cost me P450. A walk in at the Serbilis Outlet would have cost P195. I lived near the East Avenue Serbilis Outlet in Quezon City, but I paid more for the convenience of not needing to fall in line and courier delivery.

If you have a credit card, request for NSO documents can also be made online through nsohelpline.com. Phone and online requests take two to three days to process. 



National Statistics Online help website | Marriage License Requirements in the Philippines
Screenshot from nsohelpline.com

3.     Community Tax Certificate/Cedula - The cedula or residence certificate is issued by the barangay of residence. Payment depends on your income.

4.     Photocopy of valid identification - I used my passport as a valid government-issued ID.

5.     Two 1x1 ID photos with white background.

6.     Certificate of Family Planning and Marriage Counseling and Responsible Parenthood - Both of us attended this half-day seminar.  We were in a group of couples that have been together for more than five years, and some of them already had children. So when the counselor asked us to introduce ourselves and we told her we have been together for less than a year, she commented that she liked a guy who was decisive and sure about what he wanted.

Our relationship is not a whirlwind in dog years but it was quick by human timeframe. We waited a while for each other so everything was easy to determine from there. 

He writes... 

When I proposed to Kira, I was excited about the process that lay ahead of us. I was especially excited about the fact that we both agreed to get married as quickly as possible, without the potential complications and headaches that result from the myriad of issues that often arise with wedding planning. It wasn’t as though we ignored the relevance of the ceremony and reception, but we believed that an amazing marriage was more important than a grand wedding.

Before we could apply for a marriage license, we had to meet several requirements, a few more of which unfortunately were on her end than mine.

1.  Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry - I needed to execute this affidavit before I could be allowed to marry in the Philippines. The US Embassy in Manila accepted appointments for this to be done, however we were lucky enough to discover that the US Consular Agency in Cebu accepted walk-ins to complete this requirement. With my US Passport and a payment of the equivalent of $50 (about P2,170 at the time), all I had to do was complete the affidavit and under oath, sign the form with a Consular officer, who then notarized it.

Some notables about the US Consular Agency in Cebu:

a.  It’s the only location in the Philippines other than the embassy in Manila where one could execute the Affidavit.
b.  It’s located on the ground floor of The Waterfront Hotel in Lahug, Cebu City.
c.  The walk-in services are only offered between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
d.  They don’t allow bags, cell phones, keys, or gadgets in the consular office area. Be prepared to leave your bag and personal effects at the check-in desk with a consular officer. I just entered with my cash and passport. The office provided all forms and pens. 

Finding the Cebu office for my Affidavit was a fortunate one because Kira already had a work trip there the weekend after I proposed to her that was already planned before my trip. Appointments at the US Embassy in Manila were backed up by more than a week, and even if I could execute it there, it would have pushed our plans well beyond what we wanted. Our timeline may have seemed rushed, but (to borrow a line from a popular romantic comedy) we wanted the rest of our lives to start as soon as possible.

Helpful tip: It’s best to start your day at the Civil Registrar’s office as early as possible. They usually open at 8:00 a.m.

2.  Photocopy of the immigration entry stamp from my passport - The QC civil registrar’s office needed a copy of the date I entered the Philippines for the marriage license application. The QC civil registry website doesn’t mention the photocopies that you need ahead of time.

3.  1x1 photos - Both Kira and I had to resort to a sidewalk vendor for photocopies and personal photos. I’m a full supporter of anyone who works hard to make an honest living, so I didn’t mind patronizing the men and women who offered these services. But knowing this requirement ahead of time would have sped things up with our license application.

4.  Fees - The QC civil registry website lists the basic fees for marriage license applications, amounting to P250 for the application form, filing fee, and marriage license fee. We paid more because I was a foreigner. We found out that fees for Filipinos with foreign fiances/fiancees were higher when we talked to another couple at the Family Planning seminar.

5.  The Family Planning and Marriage Counseling seminar was offered the same afternoon that we started our day at the Registrar’s office, so we attended it immediately. The class was informative, and the facilitator was enthusiastic, but all of the class content, especially on family planning, were all things I learned in high school sex ed! My familiarity with the Filipino language was extremely limited, so I had trouble following along. I still get teased to this day that the only Filipino word I remember from that class starts with a “P,” ends in “toy,” and has a lingual similarity to the vegetable used for french fries.

For me, this experience with the marriage application process was a good lesson about Philippine bureaucracy. Although there were several items not mentioned on the websites, there weren’t any huge surprises along the way that threw our plans off-kilter. By comparison, in the US, marriage licenses do also require verifications that no other marriage exists, but the licensing process can be as little as one hour in some cities. In Los Angeles, one can apply for a marriage license online. No requirement for attending a Family Planning seminar exists, and is as simple as buying books on Amazon.#

19 comments:

  1. Wow amazing, Nice content I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion.http://www.onlinetherapy.io/

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  2. Hi! Thanks for this blog. I really didnt know that civil weddings can be held at Supreme Court
    I thought its only done at cityhall.
    Itll be helpful for me if you could give me an idea how to hold the ceremony there. Thanks.

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  3. Hi! Thanks for this blog. I really didnt know that civil weddings can be held at Supreme Court
    I thought its only done at cityhall.
    Itll be helpful for me if you could give me an idea how to hold the ceremony there. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Liza. It wasn't difficult for us to schedule because we personally asked one of the SC justices if he could officiate our wedding.

      If you have a particular SC justice in mind, perhaps you could contact his or her office to ask for procedure or requirements. It helps if you know someone who works there too. You can also try inquiring here:

      Public Information Office
      3rd Floor, New Supreme Court Building Annex, Padre Faura St., Ermita, 1000 Manila.

      Telephone (02) 522-5090; 522-5094
      Telefax (02) 526-8129
      Email pio@sc.judiciary.gov.ph

      Best wishes to you!

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  4. Hello! Thank you so much for this. Really appreciate your kindness in posting a journal of your wedding. What a great help☺

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    Replies
    1. PS: May i also know if how much is the fee of officiating justice of the Supreme Court who conducted your marriage? We're also planning to have our wedding in the Supreme Court. Thanks again!☺

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    2. Thanks for dropping by and we're glad that we're able to help you. Re the fee, we knew the justice personally so our aunt gave him a token of appreciation instead. The justice's office would have to file the marriage certificate at the city registrar's office though so you might want to check how much that's going to cost along with transpo expenses. Hope this helps.

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  6. Hi guys, your blog is very informative specially for foreigners getting married in Philippines. I'm also foreign national and planning to get married in Philippines in July 2016. Can you please tell me how long it took you guys to get marriage licence? How much you paid for your wedding in the court (i.e, judge fees or lawyer fees or any any other admin charges? And how long it took to receive marriage certificate? Thanks in Advance

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  7. We're glad that this blog was helpful, Saral.

    In answer to your questions:

    - Cities and towns process marriage certificates in a day, 7 days or 2 weeks depending on where you apply and depending on the bulk of applications they receive. You might want to check on the website/call the registrar's office of the city where you are planning to apply for a license.

    When marrying a foreigner, the marriage license can be twice as expensive than those issued to couples who are both Filipino citizens. Also, please be aware that when you execute an affidavit of legal capacity to marry, some embassies stipulate a certain period of time before you can get married. (Make sure you schedule an appointment at your embassy for the execution of your affidavit)

    - The fees for the wedding depends on where you're going to get married but civil wedding fees should be cheaper than church wedding fees.

    - It usually takes 6 months to process the marriage certificate that is required to petition a spouse but this is how we fast tracked ours: http://www.loveonexcel.com/2015/03/speeding-up-nso-marriage-certificate.html

    Good luck!

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  8. "Issuance of Marriage License should be released after 10 days posting after the Marriage Application was filed:, does weekends included in the counting?

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    1. Weekends aren't usually included. The days of waiting usually mean only working days.

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  9. Hi! My partner and I are planning of getting married this July. I want it to be held at the Supreme Court as well. The problem is we don't know any of the Justices personally. Is there a chance for us of getting married there? Thanks a lot!

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    Replies
    1. We believe that you can still get married at the Supreme Court even if you don't know anyone there. You could make an inquiry at the PIO (see contact details below or visit the SC website):

      Public Information Office
      3rd Floor, New Supreme Court Building Annex, Padre Faura St., Ermita, 1000 Manila.

      Telephone (02) 522-5090; 522-5094
      Telefax (02) 526-8129
      Email pio@sc.judiciary.gov.ph

      Congratulations and best wishes.

      Delete
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  12. Hi I have a question.

    My granparents marriage of contract is non existence although my Lola confirmed they wed in an Aglipayan church. There was no registry number when my Mom ask the municipal office for a copy. One of the advises we heard from others is to refile it at the office of the registry. They said to look for the docs at Padre Faura in Manila. By the way, my Grandfather's a deceased and the marriage certificate is needed to claim for the SSS benefits and pension for his spouse. Any help please? Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. We are sorry to hear about your grandfather, Arvin.

      It is possible that the office of the civil registry never forwarded the marriage certificate to NSO that's why you could not find a copy. This is not uncommon especially with marriages that took place decades ago.

      If you tried asking for a copy from the municipal/city office of the civil registry where they got married and they do not have one, perhaps you can refile the copy that you have so that the registry can endorse your copy to the NSO. If you do not have a personal copy, you can try asking the church/minister who officiated the wedding.

      In case you do not have any document proving that the marriage took place, I suggest that you get in touch with NSO or talk to the municipal registrar because they are in a better position to help you. Good luck.

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