How to Get Married in the Philippines
if You are a U.S. Citizen
article origianlly appeared in filipinoweb.com
The U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, states
that the requirements for getting married in the Philippines, if
you are a U.S. Citizen, are as follows:
Affidavit of Legal Capacity to Contract
Philippine law requires a citizen or subject
of a foreign country to obtain a Certificate of Legal Capacity to
Contract Marriage, issued by the diplomatic or consular offices
of his or her country, prior to the issuance of a marriage license
in the Philippines.
As American consular officers are specially
prohibited from certifying that any U.S. citizen has the capacity
to marry, the Philippine government has agreed to accept as substantial
compliance with the Philippine law, an Affidavit in Lieu of Legal
Capacity to Contract Marriage (“affidavit”). The Affidavit
attests to the absence of any legal impediment to the marriage and
is sworn to before an American consular officer. Therefore, U.S.
citizens wishing to marry in the Philippines must appear personally
before a consular officer, either at the U.S. Embassy in Manila
or the U.S. consulate in Cebu City and complete the Affidavit concerning
their own capacity to marry. There is a $10.00 service fee, subject
to change, for the notarial service.
At the time a U.S. citizen appears to execute
the Affidavit, he or she must present the following:
1. Proof of Citizenship
Examples of sufficient evidence of U.S. citizenship
a. current registration as U.S. citizen
at the Passport and Citizenship Office of the Embassy or at the
b. a U.S. passport
c. a birth certificate issued in the United States or a record
of birth abroad issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, together
with identification bearing a picture or a physical description
d. a Certificate of Naturalization.
2. Evidence of Termination of Previous
If the U.S. citizen has been previously married,
evidence of termination of the previous marriage, such as a certified
copy of the final decree of divorce or annulment, or a certified
copy of the death certificate of the deceased spouse must be submitted.
3. Parents' Consent or Advice
Under Philippine law, the legal age for marriage
is 18. If the contracting parties are between the ages of 18 and
21, they must present written consent to the marriage from their
father, mother or legal guardian. Any contracting party between
the age of 22 and 25 must present written parental advice, i.e.,
a written indication that the parents are aware of the couple's
intent to marry.
4. Military Approval
An active member of the United States Armed
Forces wishing to execute the Affidavit must present a letter of
approval of the marriage from the appropriate military authority.
Military personnel NOT assigned in the Philippines are also required
to obtain their authorization from their respective commanding officer.
Military members are encouraged to plan well in advance of the intended
wedding date and to discuss the requirements with their own command
The procedure to marry in the Philippines
is as follows:
1. Secure the Affidavit in lieu of Certificate
of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage from the American Service
Branch of the U.S. Embassy in Manila or from the U.S. consulate
in Cebu City. If both the bride and the groom are U.S. citizens,
each one must obtain an Affidavit.
2. Apply for the marriage license at the Local
Civil Registrar from the municipality where either the bride or
the groom habitually resides. The documents necessary for the marriage
a. the Affidavit for the U.S. citizen bride
b. the death certificate or divorce decree which shows the termination
of any previous marriage(s) of the bride and/or the groom
c. the birth, baptismal or residency certificate for the Filipino
bride or groom, and
d. the parental consent or advice, if either party is under age.
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 maybe used anywhere in the Philippines.
Present the license to a person authorized to perform marriage
ceremonies, such as judge, justice of the peace, priest or minister
3. Passport Amendment - a female U.S. citizen
may have her passport ammended to indicate her married name. She
should bring her passport and a certified true copy of the Marriage
contract to the Passport 7 Citizenship Office of the U.S. Embassy
in Manila or the U.S. Consulate in Cebu City. This amendment is
not obligatory and there is no fee for this service.
Entry of Alien Spouse into the United
Marriage of a foreign national to a U.S. citizen
does not automatically confer United States citizenship upon the
alien spouse. He or she must be petitioned by the U.S. citizen spouse
as an immigrant to the United States. An alien spouse is almost
never eligible for a non-immigrant visitor vista to the United States.
In almost all cases, the existence of the marital relationship between
the U.S. citizen and the alien makes the alien spouse an intending
immigrant to the United States and, by definition, ineligible for
a temporary visa.
The procedure to obtain an immigrant visa
for an alien spouse is as follows:
1. File the Immigrant Visa Petition: The Petition
Form I-130 for an immigrant visa for an alien spouse should be filed
at the INS office nearest the Petitioner's place of residence. Only
a U.S. citizen who is also a resident of the Philippines may file
the petition at the INS office at Room 1036 of the U.S. Embassy
in Manila. All others MUST file the petition at the INS office in
the United States closest to his or her residence.
When filing the petition, the following documents
must be submitted:
a. a certified copy of the marriage certificate
b. proof of U.S. citizenship
c. a certified copy of evidence of termination of any prior marriage(s)
for either spouse, if applicable, and
d. $75.00 or its equivalent in pesos, to cover the statutory fee
for filing the petition.
2. Obtain the Immigrant Visa: When
the approved petition is received by the immigrant Visa Branch of
the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, it will notify
the foreign spouse and provide guidance concerning the subsequent
steps to be completed in order to obtain a visa. The applicant must
obtain a passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, police
certificate, affidavit of support, photographs, and medical examination
according to specifications provided in the instructions. The visa
is good for four months from the date issuance.
It can take anywhere from two to four
months from the date the petition is approved by INS to the date
of the issuance of the immigrant visa. If a field investigation
is required, the time period may be even longer. Therefore, a U.S.
citizen should not plan to take the alien spouse back to the United
States immediately following the marriage. The non-resident US citizen
spouse should be prepared to leave the alien spouse behind to complete
the required documentation.
Because of the time involved in processing
the petition and the application for an immigrant visa, those individuals
living in the Philippines on assignment, either government or private,
are advised to initiate the required documentation for their spouse's
and/or step-children's visas as far in advance of the anticipated
rotation date as possible.
Note: A separate visa petition must
be filed by the U.S. citizen spouse for each child of the alien
spouse under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage who wishes
to immigrate to the United States. Those children 18 years of age
and older at the time of the marriage must be petitioned by the
alien spouse after he or she becomes legal permanent resident in
the United States. Under U.S. immigration law, only step parent'schildren
under the age of 18 at the time of their natural parent's marriage
to a U.S. citizen are considered a “child” of the U.S.
citizen for immigration purpose.
It is possible to file a petition for an alien
to enter the U.S. as the fiancée of an American citizen.
The procedure is similar to the procedure for filing a petition
and obtaining an immigrant visa for an alien spouse although, fiancée
petitions must be filed in the INS office within the U.S. nearest
to the petitioner's residence. The petitioner will be asked to submit
evidence of his or her U.S. citizenship and evidence that he or
she has met the fiancée in person within the last two (2)
years. He or she may also be required to present evidence of the
bona fide of the relationship with the fiancée.
When approved, the petition will be forwarded
to the Immigrant Visa Branch of the U.S. Embassy in Manila. The
Philippine fiancée will subsequently be provided by the Embassy
with instructions on how to proceed with his or her fiancée
visa application. Again, the time period from the date the petition
is approved by INS to the date the visa is issued is approximately
two to four months and can be longer if a field investigation is
The fiancée visa grants the fiancée
six months from the time of issuance to enter the U.S. Upon entry,
the fiancée has ninety days in which to marry the petitioner.
Once the marriage has taken place, the alien spouse can apply to
adjust status to that of legal permanent resident at the INS office
nearest to his or her place of residence.
Note: U.S. immigration law concerning
the children of an alien fiancée is not the same as that
concerning the children of the alien spouse. The U.S. citizen
does NOT have to file a separate petition for each of the alien
fiancée's unmarried children under 21 at the time the
alien fiancée enters the U.S. The U.S. citizen only
needs to indicate the names and date of birth of the children
in the appropriate block on the petition for alien fiancée.
The children will automatically be included in the petition.
Unmarried children over the age 21 can be separately petitioned
by the alien fiancée after he
or she has adjusted status in the U.S. to that of legal permanent