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The Philippine Government requires all foreigners to provide a “Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” from his/her embassy before filing for a marriage license. This certification affirms that there are no legal impediments to the foreigner marrying a Filipino (i.e., that the foreigner is already married to someone else). Unlike the Philippines and many other foreign countries, the U.S. Government does not keep a central statistical registry for births, marriages and deaths and cannot verify this information.
U.S. consular officers are prohibited by U.S. law from making any official certification about the status or eligibility to marry of U.S. citizens who propose to be married abroad, or about the laws of the United States or of any of the fifty States or Territories about eligibility for marriage or the solemnization of a 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,” a self-certification that the U.S. citizen is free to marry in the Philippines. The Philippine government has generally accepted this affidavit as satisfying the requirement to certify the U.S. citizen’s eligibility to marry in the Philippines.
The affidavit is the only document the U.S. Embassy is able to provide with regards to establishing an individual U.S. citizen’s eligibility to marry. If the local registrar refuses to accept the affidavit, there is nothing that the U.S. Embassy in Manila can do. It is the U.S citizen’s responsibility to verify requirements directly with the local registrar.
Please note that all fees paid for this service are non-refundable. Because U.S. consular officers are not in a position to respond with authority to questions involving interpretation of specific Philippine laws, such questions may best be addressed by an Attorney licensed to practice law in the Philippines. American diplomatic and consular officers do not have legal authority to perform marriages.
U.S. citizens seeking to obtain this service may do so at the Embassy in Manila or at the Consular Agency in Cebu. Obtaining this document at the Embassy is done by appointment only. Please read the information on our web site before booking your appointment. The Consular Agency in Cebu offers notarial services on a walk-in, first-come/first-served basis each day from 8:30 – 10:30 AM. Visit the Agency’s web-page for more information on service at the Agency.
The Philippine Government requires all foreigners to provide a “Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” from his/her embassy before filing for a marriage license. Below are the instructions for applying for the U.S. Embassy’s version of that document.
Obtaining a Legal Capacity to Marry in Embassy Manila are by appointment only. Please read the rules and regulations below and make sure you are connected to a printer before booking your appointment.
Booking an Appointment for a Legal Capacity to Marry: Step 1: Read the information below to ensure that you understand the rules for the “Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage.”
Step 2: Book an appointment by clicking here. Please select “Request notarial and other services not listed above.” Print the confirmation of your appointment.
Step 3: Please bring your confirmation printout, all divorce decrees or death certificates that show the U.S. citizen is free to marry, and valid U.S. passport to your appointment. Please bring $50 in cash (or Philippine Peso equivalent) or credit card. Due to space limitations, people not needed to witness or sign documents during the notarial service will not be able accompany the applicant to the ACS section and should not come to the Embassy. Fiancées of Americans seeking legal capacities to marry do not need to appear.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided relating to the legal requirements of the Philippines is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific Philippine laws should be addressed to an attorney. American diplomatic and consular officers do not have legal authority to perform marriages.
Certificate Of Legal Capacity To Contract Marriage
The Philippine Government requires all foreigners to provide a “Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” from his/her embassy before filing for a marriage license. This certification affirms that there are no legal impediments to the foreigner marrying a Filipino (i.e., that the foreigner is already married to someone else). The U.S. Embassy cannot provide this type of certification for U.S. citizens who wish to marry in the Philippines. 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,” a self-certification that the U.S. citizen is free to marry in the Philippines. U.S. citizens may execute this affidavit at the Embassy in Manila or the U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu. Personal appearance of the U.S. citizen applicant cannot be waived, but the fiance(e) need not be present. Philippine authorities will not accept any substitute document initiated in the United States.
The affidavit is notarized by a U.S. consular officer. The consular officer can refuse to perform this service if the document will be used for a purpose patently unlawful, improper, or inimical to the best interest of the United States. Entering into a marriage contract with an alien strictly for the purpose of enabling entry to the United States for that individual is considered an unlawful act.
Additional Requirement For U.S. Military Personnel
U.S. military personnel should contact their personnel office regarding Department of Defense joint service regulations.
The Marriage Application Process
Once a U.S. citizen has obtained an “Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage,” he/she can file an application for a marriage license at the office of the Philippine Civil Registrar in the town or city where one of the parties 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;
- U.S. passport;
- documentation regarding paternal consent or advice, if applicable.
A judge, a minister or any other person authorized by the Government of the Philippines can perform the marriage. Marriage applicants aged 18 to 21 must have written parental consent. Applicants aged 22 to 24 must have received parental advice. Philippine law prohibits the marriage of individuals under the age of 18.
Philippine law prescribes a ten-day waiting period from the filing of the application to the issuance of the marriage license. The license is valid for 120 days and may be used anywhere in the Philippines.
Church Wedding Requirements
Note: A Catholic religious ceremony may be performed even without a civil ceremony and the marriage will still be considered legal in the Philippines. Other non-Catholic churches may require documents and/or seminars not specified below. To be sure, inquire with the church in which you plan to be married. The process below describes the general procedures for arranging a Catholic wedding in the Philippines. However, the policies and procedures of individual churches may vary.
- Baptismal and Confirmation Certificates – Required for both the bride and the groom. These documents must be new, be annotated: “FOR MARRIAGE PURPOSES ONLY”, and have been obtained not more than three months before the date of marriage;For mixed marriage (different religions) – a dispensation must be secured from the Parish Office which will be released after the canonical interview with the parish priest or his assistant. These have to be presented one week before the wedding.
- Marriage License – for those who are first married in a civil ceremony, a certified true photocopy of the Marriage Contract with the registry number of the city or town where the marriage was performed must be submitted one week before the wedding date.
- Canonical Interview – The parish priest or his assistant will conduct an interview with the bride and the groom one month before the wedding date. The interview will be scheduled upon the signing of the application form.
- Pre-Marriage Seminar – The seminar will be scheduled during the canonical interview or you may inquire at the parish office. Some churches will allow you to attend other pre-wedding seminars such as the Discovery Weekend or Catholic Engaged Encounter.
- Permission – The bride must receive permission to marry from her parish, if the venue is in another parish.
- Wedding Banns – The couple must post the schedule of their wedding in their respective parishes. These will be provided during the canonical interview and have to be immediately brought to the respective parishes of the bride and the groom for posting. These have to be returned to the office after three Sundays. (The respective parishes may ask some requirements for the posting of the banns i.e. a picture each from the bride and the couple.)
- List of names and addresses of principal sponsors (Ninongs and Ninangs) – The list has to be submitted to the parish office one week before the wedding date. Church policy requires at least a pair of sponsors and, ideally, a maximum of six sponsors.
- For widow or widower – A copy of the death certificate of the former spouse must be presented to the parish office.
- For renewal of vows – Remember to bring a copy of the Catholic Marriage Contract.
A couple who chooses to be married in a civil ceremony will need to apply for a marriage license. Once the license is obtained, they need to go to a judge or a mayor to administer the solemnization of the marriage. There is a ten-day waiting period from the date of the civil wedding before the issuance of the marriage contract.
Alternative To Marriage Abroad
Instead of the procedures presented above, it is possible to file a petition for an alien to enter the United States as the fiance(e) of an American citizen. This enables the parties to marry in the United States. For more information, please go to https://www.uscis.gov/family/family-us-citizens/visas-fiancees-us-citizens.
Where Can I Find Additional Information?
Information about K-1(“fiancé(e)”) or IR-1(“spouse”) visas is available from:
- The U.S. Embassy’s Immigrant Visa Page.
- The U.S. State Department’s National Visa Center in New Hampshire at (603) 334-0700.
Information about immigrant visa petitions is available from:
- The website for the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
- The nearest office of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the United States; or
- The U.S. State Department’s National Visa Center in New Hampshire at (603) 334-0700.
Information regarding the “Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to contract Marriage” is available from the Embassy’s American Citizen Services Unit at (632) 530-12-000, Ext. 2246.