So You Want to Marry a Filipina in the Philippines



by Rick Smith

I did this 2 years ago and have helped 3 “Kanos” and 2 Filipinas since then on getting their paperwork straight.
First thing is check your home country’s embassy site for in the Philippines.  It can give you some useful ideas, notable requirements but not all the fine details.

This is the webpage for the  US Embassy , since I am quoting from their site.

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 before booking your appointment.

DISCLAIMER: Philippine Law requires non-Filipino citizens to obtain a “Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry” if they wish to marry in the Philippines.  U.S. Consular Officers cannot make any official certification about the status or eligibility to marry of persons residing in the United States 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 an Affidavit In Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry. The affidavit is the only document the U.S. Embassy is able to provide. If the local registrar refuses to accept the affidavit, there is nothing that the U.S. Embassy in Manila can do. It is the applicant’s responsibility to verify directly with the local registrar their requirements.

In late 2011, the U.S. Embassy learned that the following local registrars had refused to accept the Affidavit In Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry as a viable alternative to the Philippine document:  Makati City, Quezon City and Davao City.

Please note that all fees paid for this notary 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.

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.
OK so now you can legally marry in the Philippines but now you need to process your marriage license. Go to the Local Registrar’s Office (LRO), in the area you want to get married in, usually the LRO’s are near or in City Hall.  Legal age to marry for a Filipina is 18 years old, younger means not legal to marry. At 18-21 years old, Filipinas need a parents ‘authorization‘ to marry.  From 21-25 years old they need a parents ‘acknowledgement’ that they will get married.  Most attorneys can print these up and notarize them.  Sometimes it is handy to have a copy of your Filipina’s parents NSO marriage contract handy for details needed in filling out license request.  Bring multiple copies of your own birth certificate to the Philippines if planning on marrying here.

The LRO can guide you to other requirements, but best to have your future intended with you to help translate any miscommunications.  You need the LRO guidance in setting up and the locations given for the 2 required seminars, Family Planning and Marriage Counseling.  You both will have to attend these as seminar instructors’ signature on your attendance is required to get your marriage license.

When all you paperwork is finally completed properly, then 10 business days are required to process your Marriage License.  After receipt of this you can marry anywhere in the Philippines, usually the license is valid for one year.

Be prepared to go slow don’t rush or get pushy.  You run from office to office, fill out forms here,  go pay there, sign here, bring receipts here.  Expect more than one day in the LRO, remembering that most Filipino businesses and Government offices shut down completely during their lunch hours which can be anywhere from 11:30 am till 1:30 pm.

Where you get married in Philippines, Church or Civil, it’s up to you.  Civil is usually fast, cheap and lawful, but possibly frowned on by your Filipino family.  Church weddings are scheduled,  intensive and expensive.  As the foreigner you will be expected to pay for everything.  Everything from the hair and makeup on every bridesmaid, their dresses and possibly even the Baron of any and all groomsmen and the brides father.  A Barong is a traditional wedding shirt for men, also known as a Barong Tagalog.  Please note that although this is written for a foreign man marrying a Filipina, it is the same regulations for a foreign woman marrying a Filipino man.  That just doesn’t happen as much though.

Reference Websites

Getting Married with your Filipino  Fiance/Fiancee in the Philippines

How to Marry a Filipina or Filipino in the Philippines

US Embassy – Manila – Marriage

Live in the Philippines – The Charm of Filipina Beauty (feature picture)

15 thoughts on “So You Want to Marry a Filipina in the Philippines

  1. I arrived Nov 9th 2010 in Manila, then on the 14th here in Calbayog, knowing all the paperwork and locations i needed help from, got my Lisc. o marry in 12 full days, 10 business days, planned our engagement party,wedding receptions and our civil wedding, We got Married Dec 10th,2010Less than 30 days after my arrival in Calbayog, it just don’t get much faster than that. One couple I have helped actual was faster but their relative was a judge they were actual civil married b4 the Lisc. was issued LOL, just a little back dating required.

    1. That’s good to know for a reference. I’m sure that some people are wondering about that. Actually I have seen some questions on other sites concerning this issue. I know I would be if I were single and heading this way to get married.

  2. I got married in Philippines in 68 and I do not remember going to Embassy for interview. I think everything was handled by the Naval Base except marriage license which wife took care off. I had to give copy to personnel so wife could get ID to get on base to do shopping and get my pay increase for being married to a whopping $ 300.00 a month as E5. I do remember taking a couple of days off to drive my wife to Embassy for her visa interview to come to states. And if my memory servs me right I just showed my military ID and I drove into the Embassy and parked. I don’t think we was there more then an hour after we showed her military ID and marrige license and kids birth certificates from the Embassy.

    1. ’68? Wow, I was only 10 years old and didn’t even know where or what about the Philippines. I suppose that things got done easier for Americans when the bases were here. While it was Clark AB, I was only there one time and I have never been to Subic. I was also at Camp John Hay while it was US Military, man it sure was great then. Not so wonderful now, with the Philippines running it. At least not so wonderful for me.

  3. Hi Rick,

    I was married here six years ago and I had a slightly different experience. I did not make an appointment for my permit to marry. I showed up at the embassy. The line was long so I went to the guard and explained that I am an American and would like to enter my embassy. I was allowed to bypass two hundred people waiting in line. I had maybe a ten minute wait and then a short question and answer session. Keep your answers short. I observed one man that could not answer with a simple yes or no and I could see that the bullshit alarm was going off inside the interviewers head.
    As the foreigner you will be expected to pay for everything. I guess that depends on the age and status of the person that you plan to marry. My wife and I shared the expenses of our wedding. We quickly established the fact that we will not support anyone. If you agree to support the extended family as a favor for being allowed to marry a young girl then you are a deserving victim.
    I am not trying to be confrontational but sometimes bad behavior like financial demands are presented as cultural norms. If you find a good woman from a good family you will never be pressured.

    1. That’s interesting Tom. So all you did was go into the embassy, then you went to the office you needed? All the people in line what where they waiting for? Excuse my ignorance, but I have never been to an US Embassy or any Embassy for that matter. Heck, I was married for 4 years before I even went to the Philippines.
      I am glad that you decided to post a comment again though. It’s about about 3-4 months since your last one.

      1. That’s interesting. I had to make the appointment and work it around my schedule. The interview went really quick and was not a hassle. They did allow American citizens into the building before anyone else but we still had a line to stand in. I probably paid for everything at the wedding. I have no idea as my wife’s family made all the arrangements and I just paid when ever my wife asked for money, lol.

        1. This is more of what I hear from others.
          As for just giving the wife money when she asked for it to pay for things, a wedding in this case, I use to do that too. Now I’m a bit more inquisitive for the details, even after over 32 years of marriage. Not that I think she would cheat me or anything, but sometimes she buys on impulse and some things can wait or are not really necessary.

          1. You are 100% right with that but during the wedding I didn’t want to rock the boat if you know what I mean, lol

      2. Wow so I guess my experience makes me the pushy guy that gets his way. The others in line were Filipinos so I knew in advance that I have priority since it is my embassy as an American.

        1. Well maybe not. From what I read, all you did was ask to get in to your Embassy. Aren’t you allowed to go to whichever office you want once you are in? Was the line for people that were getting married? Like I said, I don’t know how the Embassy thing works, I’m just wondering. Or maybe you just asked the right question, to the right guard, at the right time on the right day. In other words, you just got lucky.

          1. I’ve been there several times over the last few years. From the wedding and proving an existing relationship to establishing our son’s citizenship it seems there’s always some visit needed to interview for this or that. You are not allowed carte blanche once inside as it is a very secure environment, or at least appears so. Bags and phones used to be checked at the front and you would retrieve them on the way out. Recently though they’ve don’t even check them in; they just don’t allow them in the building. I guess they don’t want to take responsibility for the items once checked in. It’s my feeling that Tom was very lucky, indeed. Probably a case of right time and right place…or maybe the guard just didn’t want to deal with him, lol.

          2. So many ‘necessary’ visits and I couldn’t tell you where the Embassy is in Manila, even though I have seen it a couple of times.
            That security sounds like when I went to visit at Security Hill in San Antonio. Guards everywhere with weapons. There was even a story about a General that tested the system and got jacked up by an Airman. The Airman was promoted to Sergeant, a double promotion.

    2. Hey Thomas, we also were married in the RP (26 yrs ago) and I remember hiring a close friend as a fixer to take care of all the leg work that we didn’t have to do. As an American in the RP (or at least with my experience), I was usually always a priority visitor at the U.S. Embassy. Every time I would visit, we always were ushered in ahead of all the Filipino’s that were there for other things like visa or immigration issues. We were married after a 2 year courtship and the entire paperworks drill only took about 4 months (fixer cost – about $175) until she received her Philippine passport and clearance to travel. Sometimes it’s just better WHO you know, not WHAT you know. 😉

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