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  • How to Get a Marriage License in the Philippines: Requirements, Documents, and Laws [2023]

How to Get a Marriage License in the Philippines: Requirements, Documents, and Laws [2023]

Looking to get married in the Philippines? Getting a marriage license in the Philippines is the first step, but the process for foreigners is a bit confusing. This guide helps expats with the licensing process, including requirements, documents, costs, and laws. minutes

  Mins Reading Time

Published On: January 26, 2023

Latest Update: April 5, 2024

About the author

Hi, I'm Marco Sison. I worked in finance for Fortune 50 companies before retiring early at 41 years old. I have been an expat for over 10 years, living in over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries outside the USA. I am a trusted resource on personal finance and overseas retirement for US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Association of MBAs, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller- Abroad: Expats That Thrive.

QUICK SUMMARY- Getting A Marriage License In The Philippines

  • Getting a marriage license in the Philippines is a simple and inexpensive process IF you plan ahead.
  • Marriage in the Philippines can give you an easy path to permanent residency through the Philippines spousal visa.
  • There are certain age restrictions on the marriage license, so ensure you understand the rules and the proper paperwork.
  • Although minor, keep in mind that some parts of the process, like visiting a barangay hall, can take more time than expected. Arrive early to avoid delays.

You've found the love of your life, and you're excited for a happy marriage. But there's just one problem: the Philippines marriage license application process is a bit confusing. Especially if you are a foreigner unfamiliar with the country's inconsistent process or the obscure laws, things can get downright overwhelming.

But don't worry! This guide will teach you everything you need to know about applying for a marriage license in the Philippines, including requirements, documents, and rules you need to be aware of.

Let's get started with the basics, then go through the step-by-step process.

This post may contain affiliate links. I may get a commission if you purchase something using my link. Please note, there is NO ADDITIONAL COST to you. For more information, please see my disclosure.

QUICK TIPS- PHILIPPINES

Show a mandatory departure ticket. You cannot enter the Philippines on a one-way ticket if you only have a tourist visa or visa on arrival. You will need a flight ticket with a date leaving the country before your visa expires. Save money by showing immigration you have  a cheap onward travel ticket for just $14

Get help with your visa. The Philippines visa process can get complicated. The rules and regulations change frequently. Avoid the hassle of dealing with the immigration bureaucracy by speaking with a Philippines Visa Specialist. 

Learn some basic Tagalog phrases. While nearly everyone speaks some English, learning some basic Tagalog is always appreciated by Filipinos. Get a FREE Language Lesson using the same learning technique used by the US State Department, FBI, and overseas military.

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Get Free Expat Health Insurance Quotes. Your home insurance will not cover you while abroad. However, you can find affordable international health insurance for less than what you would pay in the United States. 

There are so many beautiful places for a Philippines destination wedding

2024 Philippines Online Annual Reporting Requirement Guide for Expats
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Foreigner’s Guide To Prenuptial Agreements in the Philippines- Protecting Your Money
A Comprehensive Guide To Philippines Health Insurance For Expats
24 Facts About Healthcare In The Philippines Every Expat Must Know
How Do I Send Money to the Philippines? My Remittance Rundown
Best Places To Live In Manila- An Expat Guide To Metro Neighborhoods
An Expat Guide On Where To Eat In Manila [Best Restaurants and Groceries]
Can Foreigners Buy Property In The Philippines? [Options, Tips, Laws]

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What is a marriage license?

A license contains important details of marriage, such as the wedding date and place, and is a formal requirement to marry anywhere in the Philippines. It is proof that your marriage took place and that your partner is your legal spouse. 

What is the difference between a marriage license, contract, and certificate?

A marriage license is a document authorizing you to marry, while a marriage certificate is a legal contract that formalizes a relationship and proves the marriage took place. A marriage contract is just another term for a marriage certificate.

Where do you apply for a marriage license in the Philippines?

Get a marriage license from the local civil registrar in the city or town where you or your intended spouse reside. Couples must personally appear together to apply for the marriage license at the municipal hall.

Make sure to obtain a claim slip to prove you attended the required counseling seminars. 

Requirements for a Philippine marriage license application

1

Requirements of legal marriage in the Philippines

  • that the marrying couple are female and male in gender
  • that the marrying couple are at least 18 years old and above
  • that the marrying couple is not related by blood up to the 4th degree (first cousins)
  • that the bride and groom hold a civil status of single or unmarried

2

Additional marriage documents required

  • Marriage license application form Municipal Form 90 (Form No. 2)
  • Community Tax Certificate (Cedula)
  • Barangay Certificate issued by the local civil registry (LCR)
  • Original copy and photocopy of the couple's valid IDs (see accepted list of government IDs below)
  • Pre-Marriage Counseling Certificate
  • Authenticated original birth certificate - PSA certified copies are accepted
  • Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR)
  • Recent 1x1 or 2x2 Passport Photo (check with your LCR, as size requirements vary)
  • Required if 18-20 years old- Affidavit of parental consent
  • Required if 21-25 years old- Affidavit of parental advice
  • Required if Widowed- Death certificate of the deceased spouse
  • Additional documents if a spouse is a Foreign Citizen- Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage or Statement or Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage (see section below of additional information), Foreign birth certificate, foreign passport, and valid visa or passport stamp
  • If applicable, copy of divorce papers 
  • If applicable, death certificate

While each City Civil Registration Office has its requirements, most require three copies of the marriage application forms and two sets of the required documents (Original copy and photocopies) to be submitted for the license.

NOTE: While not required, I recommend all foreigners get a prenup prior to the wedding.

Accepted Government-Issued Identification Cards  

ID TypeIssuing Agency
Driver's LicenseLand Transportation Office (LTO)
National IDPhilippine Identification System
NBI ClearanceNational Bureau of Investigation Office (NBI)
OWWA OFW e-CardDepartment of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
PassportDepartment of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
PhilHealth IDPhilippine Health Insurance Corporation, PhilHealth
Postal IDPostal Office, PHLPost
PRC ID Professional Regulation Commission (PRC)
PWD IDPersons with Disability Office (PDAO), City Municipal Health Office, Office of the Mayor
Senior Citizen IDMunicipal Office of the Senior Citizen Affairs
TIN IDBureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)
UMID- Unified Multi-Purpose IDSocial Security System (SSS)

 INSIDER TIP : US Citizens Getting Married In The Philippines- The US Embassy in Manila and Cebu Consulate no longer provides notary service for “Affidavits in Lieu of the Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage.”

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Americans marrying in the Philippines can use a local notary public for Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage affidavits.

NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST-AMERICAN MARRIED IN THE PHILIPPINES

3

Have two witnesses

Two witnesses are required when applying for a marriage license in the Philippines. Invited witnesses must be of legal age and be informed of the wedding details. Remember to have backup witnesses just in case the ones you initially asked are unavailable on your wedding day.

4

Attendance of Pre-Marriage Counseling Classes

Applicants need to attend a Family Planning Seminar before receiving their Marriage License and provide certificates from the Social Services Development Department and City Health Department. 

 INSIDER TIP Receipt For Marriage License- Depending on your Local Civil Registrar, it is possible to process your without completing the pre-marriage seminar. However, your registrar will only release your marriage license after you receive your certificate for attendance for marriage counseling.

Just bring your receipt for marriage license to the LCR where you or your intended spouse are a resident to schedule your marriage counseling seminar. This allows you to apply for the wedding license and then schedule your seminar while waiting for the 10-day period to pass.

5

Compulsory Waiting Period Before Issuance Of The Marriage License

Marriage license laws requires a ten-day public announcement after submitting the marriage application form to the local civil registrar. This creates a "cooling off" period of 10 consecutive days before a marriage ceremony can take place. Note that the waiting period is 90 days/3 months if you are under 25 and don't have an Affidavit of Parental Advice.

6

Marriage license requirements for foreign nationals

The actual marriage license application for Filipinos to marry a foreigner is the same, with a few additional documents.

Foreign nationals must obtain a "Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage" (or an Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage) before filing for a marriage license in the Philippines. These required documents confirm that the applicant is not married and is eligible to marry a Filipino. 

Note that foreign nationals also need a valid passport and visa with latest arrival date to obtain a Philippines marriage license.

 INSIDER TIP : License Requirements For Two Foreigners Getting Married In The Philippines- You don't have to be a Filipino citizen to get married in the Philippines. Two foreigners can get married in the Philippines, but you must prove your single civil status.

You also need to obtain a certificate of legal capacity to contract marriage and to complete all the same legal documents and marriage license requirements above.

If you were previously married, you must obtain certified photocopies of divorce papers, a declaration of nullity from your previous spouse, or a deceased spouse's death certificate.

7

Additional marriage license requirements if widowed

To get married in the Philippines, widowed foreigners must submit a death certificate and proof of single status. Widowed foreign nationals must also submit a death certificate of their previous husband or wife.

8

Additional license requirements if the previous marriage was annulled.

The likelihood of an annulment ought to be the least of your worries. However, contrary to religious marriages, civil unions are easier and less expensive to dissolve. If things don't work out, a civil annulment typically costs PHP 150,000 and can be finished in a year if handled in courts specializing in annulment cases.
Contrarily, a church annulment may take up to three years of hearings, consultations, and seminars before it becomes effective. However, a church annulment is only necessary if you intend on another church wedding.

9

Additional marriage license requirements if you are divorced

If you have previously been married, you need a court order or judicial decree of your absolute divorce.

Foreigners must contact their consul general or embassy for specific instructions, as a judicial decree varies by country.

A Philippine court must grant a Petition for Judicial Recognition of Foreign Divorce on behalf of a Filipino spouse who obtained a divorce in another country. The complexity of this petition warrants legal counsel. I advise getting a lawyer from the Philippines.

Philippine officials may not always accept divorce decrees from other countries. Couples from abroad who were previously married in the Philippines but divorced there should check with the Philippine Statistics Authority (formerly known as the National Statistics Office or NSO) to ensure their overseas divorce is recognized.

 INSIDER TIP : Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) – the PSA is the country's go-to resource for all official civil documents. The PSA Serbilis website is where you request official physical documents, including an original birth certificate, annotated marriage certificate, certificate of no marriage (CENOMAR), or even a death certificate.

Deliveries to Metro Manila are within 3 working days, while nationwide delivery to other locations takes up to 8 working days.

The PSA Online site can issue an original copy of your CENOMAR, death, and birth certificate

A marriage license is a church and civil wedding requirement

Step-By-Step Guide When Applying For A Marriage License In The Philippines

Step 1: Start Civil Registry Office Paperwork

Head over to the Local Civil Registry (LCR) in the city where one of you resides and pick up an application form and the necessary paperwork. 

It might be your hometown, the place you've lived because of your job, etc. Don't worry if you want to get married in a different city or state because the marriage license is legal everywhere in the nation.

Additionally, check the schedules and choose a time slot when you may attend the required pre-marriage counseling, family planning and responsible parenthood seminar.

 INSIDER TIP : Civil Registry Offices- Barangay, municipal, and city halls are notoriously busy and slow. The best time to avoid the lines and crowds is to be there right when they open in the morning.

Crowds at the Local Civil Registrar in Cebu City- Photo Credit

Step 2: Submit Marriage License Application Packet

Complete the marriage license application form and compile your additional documents. Submit the requirements packet and pay the marriage license fees to the LCR.

 INSIDER TIP : Tips When Completing A Philippine Marriage License Application Form - Application forms vary by LCR, but the sample form below gives you a basic idea of the format. The forms are usually divided into separate columns for the groom and the bride. Couples must complete and sign their respective sections.

I highlighted two sections in the form below that require special attention:

  • IF PREVIOUSLY MARRIED: How was it dissolved- this section is required if either you or your fiancée were previously married. You will need to provide details of how the previous marriage was dissolved through annulment or divorce. 
  • Persons who gave consent or advice-this section is required only if you are under the age of 25. Per the Philippines Family Code, anyone below 25 needs written Parental Consent or Parental Advice. 

    Between 18-21, Parental Consent is required
    Between 22-25, Parental Advice is required
    Over 25, this section with your parent's details can remain blank

Marriage License Application  - Quezon City Sample Form

Step 3: Family Planning And Marriage Classes

Attend the pre-marriage seminar. Facilitators lead classes lasting roughly two hours.

"The main objective...is to equip the participants with fundamental knowledge on parenting skills [for] a more harmonious and wholesome family relationship."

Seminar of Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning- Photo Credit

Pay your fee to receive a certificate of attendance from your local Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). 

Step 4: Certification For Marriage Seminar Attendance

Submit your family planning and marriage seminar completion of attendance certificate to the same LCR you used to submit your license in STEP 1. 

The LCR will review your final paperwork.  The license application process is complete after you take an oath swearing your application is truthful and accurate to the best of your knowledge.

Step 5: Public Posting After Complete Documents Submitted

Wait for a mandatory 10-day posting period to end as your marriage is publicly announced on bulletin board outside the LCR office. Your waiting period extends to 3 Months if you do have an Affidavit of Parental Advice.

Step 6: Release Of Marriage License

Pick up your license at the civil registry counter after the waiting period. Your newly minted license is good anywhere in the Philippines within 120 days from the release date of the marriage license.


We moved the comments to the New Expat Forums

  • Americans marrying in the Philippines can use a local notary public for Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage affidavits. Do you mean local as in the city or town where you are there in the Philippines? Or local as in a notary public here where we live in the United States?

  • Does a foreigner (Australian) need to do a marriage seminar to marry in the Philippines?

  • Arnold J. Deschaine says:

    Hello. Me and my Filipina fiancée live in China. We plan to marry in the Philippines. We will come to do paperwork a few months before the wedding. When we come and apply for the license, do we need to stay for the 10 waiting period? Or can it be mailed to us or can we return and pick it up at a later date.

    • Hi Arnold, You don’t need to stay for the waiting, but I don’t know if they can mail it, especially international. Nor would I trust the post office not to lose it. I would just pick it up at a later date. Remember, the license is valid anywhere in the Philippines, but only for 120 days.

  • Hello. I was wondering, what if the father of the man or woman is unknown on the birth certificate? Should the person just right “unknown" on the marriage license application?

    • Hi Jay, each City Civil Registration Office has flexibility to make their own requirements. Unknown “should" work, if the birth certificate matches. Personally, I would confirm with the Registration office to avoid any surprises.

  • Hi, is there a way to apply for a marriage licence without being in Philippines? Me and my partner are both foreigners (my partner is Filipino) but has a British passport. We would ideally arrive in Philippines a week before the wedding, so wanted to know if possible to get marriage licence sorted in advance. Thank you

    • Hi Erika, not that I am aware of. Getting a marriage license in the Philippines requires in-person pre-marriage classes and seminars. These are done at the LCR-level and I don’t know of any LCR technically advanced enough to offer virtual or online classes.

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    About the author

    Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last eight years to over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller, Abroad: Expats That Thrive. [view press...]