Getting married in the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country means that a couple is married in the eyes of man and of God. It is thus imperative that couple seeking to be married in a Catholic Church need to fulfill the legal requirements first, that is, they should apply first for a marriage license. This license, which is required even for civil weddings, is secured from the office local civil registrar (LCR) from where either of the two contracting parties resides and needs their personal appearance. There is a normal 10-day waiting period from the time the application for the license is filed, to the time when the actual license is issued. It is valid for 120 days from the date of issuance, and can be used anywhere in the country.
These are the following documentary requirements that need to be submitted upon application for a marriage license:
• Certified true copy of each party’s birth certificate, issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO)
• Since 18 is the legal marrying age under Philippine laws, any party aged 18-21 needs parental consent, while those aged 21-25 need a written parental advice that expresses parents’ or guardian’s awareness of the intention to marry
• Certificate of attendance in a pre-marital counseling and responsible parenthood seminar, usually conducted by the health department of the city/municipal hall where the couple applied for the license
• For those previously married, the death certificate of the deceased spouse, or the decree of divorce or annulment of previous marriage, whichever is applicable
• For a foreigner marrying a Filipino citizen in the Philippines, a certification stating the legal capacity to contract marriage, obtained from the diplomatic or consular office of his country
Once the marriage license is issued, the couple will need to comply with other requirements as prescribed by the church where they have opted to get married in. In general, the requirements are:
• Baptismal and confirmation certificates of both parties, with the annotation “For Marriage Purposes Only”, and issued within the past three months. Non-Catholic Christians may also verify with the Catholic church if their baptism is acceptable;
• Marriage license from the LCR of the city/municipality of either of the contracting parties;
• If previously married in civil rites, a certified true copy of their marriage contract issued by the NSO;
• A canonical interview with the parish priest or his duly authorized representative;
• Certificate of attendance in a marriage preparation seminar (also called “pre-Cana seminar”);
• Ecclesiastical or marriage banns, which are posted in the respective parishes of both parties for at least three consecutive Sundays or weeks prior to their wedding date;
• Permit from the bride-to-be’s parish, to be submitted to the parish office of the church where the wedding will take place; and
• The names and addresses of the wedding sponsors.
The following may also be required, as the case may be:
• A certificate of freedom to marry, for Filipino citizens who have been living abroad for the past six months
• If widowed, the death certificate of the deceased spouse
• For previously annulled marriages, the document of nullity from a competent marriage tribunal
• If one of the parties is non-Catholic, a certification from the non-Catholic minister or pastor on the corresponding party’s freedom to marry
The Catholic Church also administers the required baptism and confirmation sacraments for non-Catholics who wish to convert to the Catholic religion before getting married.
It is important to note that many of the above, whether required by the government or by the church, are subject to fees, validity periods, and deadlines for submission.
As a side note: There are instances when a marriage is considered valid even without a marriage license. These are:
• when at least one of the contracting parties is dying. Note, though, that the marriage is valid even if the dying party/ies survives;
• if the contracting parties reside in an area that has no means of transportation to allow them to appear personally before the LCR;
• marriages among Muslims and members of ethnic communities, as long as their union is in accordance with their customs, rites or practices; and
• those who have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and have no legal impediments to marry each other. They need only submit an affidavit stating such facts.
In the first two cases, the solemnizing officer has the duty to establish the contracting parties’ ages, relationship, and absence of legal impediments to the marriage, as well as submit an original affidavit and legible copy of the marriage contract to the LCR of the locality where the ceremony was performed, and within 30 days after it was performed.