Marriage in the Philippines- Steps for U.S. Citizens
Marriage in the Philippines for US Citizens
About Marriage in the Philippines
Each year, hundreds of men from the U.S. go to the Philippines to marry their Filipina sweetheart.
Lea and I married in the Philippines. Therefore, we know the Philippine government requirements for marriage in the Philippines. As a result, we are sharing the requirements for marriage in the Philippines with you.
Also, additional information on marriage in the Philippines is in the U.S. Philippines Embassy website HERE.
#1 Legal Capacity to Marry
About Legal Capacity to Marry
Firstly, the Philippine government requires U.S. Citizens, who wish to marry in the Philippines, obtain a “Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage”. Hence, this is required to be obtained from the U.S. Embassy in Manila or consulate in Cebu. Also, this is required before filing an application for a marriage license.
Why does the Philippine government require this document? In order to affirm that there is no legal impediment to marry, is the main reason.
Obtain Legal Capacity to Marry
The legal capacity to marry is obtained from the U.S. Embassy or consulate.
Because the U.S. does not keep track of births, deaths and marriages in a central system, the U.S. Embassy cannot confirm and provide a “Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage”.
Instead, the U.S. Embassy provides U.S. citizens the opportunity to sign an “Affidavit In Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage”. This is a self-certification that the U.S. citizen is free to marry in the Philippines. Almost always, the Philippine government entities have accepted this affidavit as satisfying the requirement to certify the U.S. citizen’s eligibility to marry in the Philippines. However, a few Philippine municipalities do not accepted the affidavit.
The Affidavit is obtained using U.S. Citizen Notarial Services at either the U.S. Embassy in Manila or at the Consular Agency in Cebu. Obtaining this document at the Embassy is done by appointment only.
Schedule U.S. Embassy Appointment
In order to make an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, do the following:
- Click HERE to make a notarial services appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
- Then, click “Make An Appointment”.
- Followed by, select country “Philippines” and City “Manila”.
- Then, select “Request Notarial and Other Services Not Listed Here” and the reviewed check box.
- Consequently, you see a calendar with available dates.
- Finally, pick the date that you want for your appointment.
Click our previous blog post on “Top 3 Hotels near the U.S Embassy in Manila“.
Also, see our previous blog post on “Bayview Park Hotel Review, Ermita, Manila Philippines“. In fact, Bayview Park Hotel is our #1 recommendation for a hotel near the U.S. embassy.
Alternatively, the U.S. Embassy Consulate in Cebu offers notarial services on a walk-in, first-come/first-served basis each day from 9:00 – 11:00 AM.
See our previous blog post on the “Top 3 Hotels Near US Consulate Cebu, Philippines“.
You need to bring the following documents:
- Print out and bring your appointment confirmation,
- a valid U.S. Passport,
- If you had a previous marriage, bring certified copies of:
- your divorce decree, if applicable
- annulment, if applicable
- death certificate of your former spouse, if applicable
- Fee of $50 in U.S. Cash, credit card or Philippine Peso equivalent
For U.S. military personnel, contact your personnel office regarding Department of Defense joint service regulations.
#2 Obtain CENOMAR
New Update 1/11/18
Previously, it was only a requirement for the Filipino citizen to get a CENOMAR.
Now, it is a requirement for both the Filipino citizen and US citizen to both get a CENOMAR. This is not a requirement of the US Embassy to get the Affidavit In Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage. Rather, it is a Philippine requirement to get the marriage licence. Therefore, it is the municipality that requires the CENOMAR.
What is a CENOMAR? A CENOMAR is a Certificate of No Marriage which you obtain from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), formerly NSO. In other words, it is a certification issued by the PSA stating that a person has not contracted any marriage in the Philippines. PSA searches its database of vital records for any marriages under your name.
What do I need to get a CENOMAR? Also, how do I get a CENOMAR?
I found a great website to help you with that. For this purpose, see the blog post, “How to Get NSO/PSA Certificate of No Marriage Online (2018 Update)“.
#3 Marriage License
Once you obtain your “Affidavit In Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” and CENOMAR, you and your partner file an application for a marriage license. File this application at the office of the Philippine Civil Registrar in the town or city where your partner is a resident. The license is a requirement for either a civil or church wedding in the Philippines. The U.S. citizen applicant will need to present:
- The Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry;
- Divorce decree(s) or death certificate(s) required to verify civil status and capacity to marry, if applicable;
- U.S. passport;
- documentation regarding paternal consent or advice, if applicable.
- Birth certificate
Your Philippine partner will need to present:
- A valid ID
- Birth Certificate
- A Certificate of No Marriage (Cenomar)
Wedding Official and Age Requirements
However, marriage applicants aged 18 to 21 must have written parental consent. Also, applicants aged 22 to 24 must receive parental advice.
Specifically, Philippine law prohibits the marriage of individuals under the age of 18.
Philippine law requires a ten-day waiting period from the filing of the application to the issuance of the marriage license. Then, the license is valid for 120 days and may be used anywhere in the Philippines.
Because there are many requirements to get the licence, give yourself plenty of time. Here are the requirements from our experience:
- Fill out the application and get it approved
- Family planning seminar
- Pay the fee
See the U.S. Embassy List of Requirements for a church wedding.
If you chose your wedding to be a civil ceremony, you just apply for a marriage license. Once you obtain the license, go to a judge or a mayor to perform the wedding. For example, we had the Mayor of Ibaan perform our wedding at a Villa. There is a ten-day waiting period from the date of the civil wedding before the issuance of the marriage contract. Therefore, we use this time period to go on a honeymoon.
Once you receive your marriage contract back, you can submit your petition for a CR-1 Spousal Visa to USCIS. This is contingent on having all the other documents ready that you need for USCIS. See our web pages on IR-1/CR-1 Spousal Visa and the IR-1/CR-1 USCIS Stage for help.