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Posted by on Sep 17, 2009 in Resources

Getting Married in the Philippines: A Primer for US Citizens

getting marriedIf you are fortunate enough to have come across the love of your life in Asia’s Pearl of the Orient, the Philippines, saying “I Do” is not a very complicated process. However, known as one of the biggest Christian countries in the world, Filipinos consider marriage as a very important sacrament and a major milestone in their lives.

Marriages between Filipino and American citizens are not very uncommon, as the ties between these two countries refer back to the days when the Philippines was still a colony of the United States. Healthy ties between the two countries still prevail to this day. If you are an American citizen intending to get married to a Filipino citizen, there are some requirements that you will have to meet in order to process the legal marriage registration in the Philippines.

What are the documents that I need to obtain so that I can legally register my marriage in the Philippines?

Philippine law requires all foreign citizens to obtain a Certificate of legal Capacity to Contract Marriage, issued by the diplomatic or consular offices of his or her country located in the Philippines. In this regard, US Citizens would need to request an Affidavit in Lieu of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage from the US Embassy in Manila or at the US Consulate in Cebu City. This certifies that you are a citizen of the United States of America and that you are free to marry with no legal impediment to your forthcoming marriage.

In order to obtain the Affidavit, you must be able to submit the following requirements:
A. Proof of Citizenship. This can be evidenced by the submission of either your US passport, your birth certificate, or a certificate of naturalization
B. Evidence of Termination of Previous Marriage (s). If you have had a prior marriafe the ended in divorce or through the death of your spouse, you will need to submit a certified true copy of the divorce decree or your former spouse’s death certificate, whichever is applicable.
C. Parent’s Consent or Advice. Under Philippine law, the legal age for marriage is 18. If you are both are between the ages of 18 and 21, you must present written consent to the marriage from their father, mother or legal guardian. Any parties party between the age of 21 and 25 must present written parental advice, i.e., a written indication that the parents are aware of the upcoming marriage.
In cases of US Citizens actively serving the United States Armed Forces, they must present a letter of approval of the marriage from the appropriate military authority prior to obtaining the Affidavit from the US Embassy. Military personnel NOT assigned in the Philippines are also required to obtain their authorization from their respective commanding officer, and must be able to plan in advance of the intended wedding date and be able to discuss the requirements with their own command personnel office.

What is the process of getting married in the Philippines?

Once you have obtained the Afffidavit from the US Embassy in Manila or the US Consulate in Cebu, you are ready to process the legal marriage registration. If both of you are US Citizens, then you need to secure individual Affidavits.

You may then apply for the marriage license at the Local Civil Registrar of the district where the Filipino bride or groom habitually resides. The documents necessary for securing the marriage license would be the following:
1) The Affidavit for the U.S. citizen bride or groom;
(2) The death certificate or divorce decree which shows the termination of any previous marriage(s) of the bride and/or the groom (if any);
(3) The birth, baptismal or residency certificate for the Filipino bride or groom; and
(4) The written parental consent or advice, if either party is under age.

There will be a ten-day waiting period from the filing of the Application to the issuance of the marriage license. The license will be rendered valid for 120 days and maybe used anywhere in the Philippines. You may present this license to any person authorized to perform marriage services. In the Philippines, officials who are considered authorized to do this would be a judge, justice of the peace, priest or minister of any religion.

Why would it be better to consult with a lawyer before getting married in the Philippines?

Processing your marriage registration may involve a considerable amount of time and effort put into the paperwork. Apart from this, you may have some related questions pertaining to the legal aspect of your marriage, such as the protection of your assets or applying for a US Visa for your soon-to-be spouse. You may want to consider drafting a Prenuptial Agreement and be informed of all the available options for you to be able to bring back your Filipino bride or groom back to the United States.

Therefore, it is recommended that you engage the services of a competent Filipino legal firm who may be able to assist you with all the legal concerns you may have apart from ensuring a hassle-free marriage registration in the Philippines.

At Manila Visa, our team of expert foreign and local lawyers are always ready to assist you with various legal matters as you enjoy your stay in the Philippines. Located right in the heart of the Philippine capital, contact us today for a free consultation.