My Tiny Wedding: Applying for a Marriage License in the Philippines

My fiancé—whom I shall simply refer to as A on this blog moving forward—and I recently applied for our marriage license at Parañaque City Hall and the process went a lot more smoothly than we both expected. To be honest, I thought it would be a pain in the ass because of how troublesome dealing with government offices could be. To keep that from happening, I did preliminary research and made sure we had everything prepared before going to the city hall to file our application.

The Requirements

I read several blogs about the marriage license application and also found a document on the official Parañaque City website listing down the requirements. To be fair, everything except one document was there. Because A is a Japanese national, he was required to submit a photocopy of the page of his passport documenting his most recent entry to the Philippines.

So what are these requirements?

  • Birth certificates from PSA (formerly NSO), one original and one photocopy
  • Barangay clearance, original (You can secure this from your barangay hall. We paid Php100 for the clearance.)
  • Certificate of Attendance in a pre-marriage counseling and family planning seminar
  • Personal appearance
  • If 18 to 20 years old, personal appearance of father with valid ID
  • If 21 to 24 years old, personal appearance of mother and father with valid IDs
  • If 25 and older, Certificate of No Marriage from PSA, one original and one photocopy
  • For foreigners:
    • Legal Capacity to Marry from their embassy in the Philippines
    • Photocopy of passport and the page that indicates date of last entry to the Philippines

Some of the blogs I read indicated ID photos as a requirement, but we didn’t need to submit any, but other municipalities might require them so be ready just in case. Also, we made sure to have two photocopies of all our documents so we wouldn’t have to keep running to a photocopier. It paid to be a good girl scout that day. Laging handa!

Because A is Japanese, he had to secure some documents required for the application for the legal capacity to marry, along with an original copy of my PSA birth certificate:

  • Certified True Copy of Japanese Family Register (Koseki Tohon), within 3 months from date of issue
  • Original and valid Japanese Passport

The Procedure

Once you have all the requirements, proceed to the Local Civil Registry Office of your municipality. In Parañaque, we were instructed to go inside the office and submit our documents to the Marriage License processing desk. If you’re getting married to a foreigner, you have to apply at the municipality where you, the Filipino national, reside. I suppose this is partly what the barangay clearance is for.

You will then be given a form to complete in triplicate. Bring a black pen as the document indicates it should be filled out using blank ink. Once all three forms have been completed, return them to the person in charge of processing the license applications and they’ll instruct you to have them notarized. We were advised to go to a specific law office, which was just across the street. This process didn’t take long either and cost us Php200.

Return to the LCR and submit the notarized documents. You will be issued an order of payment, which you will have to pay at the Treasurer’s Office. This also costs Php200. Once paid, go back to the LCR and submit. You will then be advised to attend the Pre-Marriage Counseling and Family Plannign Seminar at the local DSWD office. In Parañaque, the CSWDO is located on the second floor of the city hall. They hold these seminars every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1PM onwards.

The Seminar

Luckily for me and A, we went to the city hall on a Wednesday, so we didn’t have to go back for the seminar on a different day. We didn’t know what the seminar schedule was prior to going to the city hall because that information was not available online. This is also something that isn’t uniform across all municipalities.

If you’re having a Catholic church wedding, you might be required to attend a Pre-Cana seminar instead. I don’t know the specifics of the requirements of a church wedding, unfortunately, but I’m sure there is a wealth of information on this online.

So at 1PM, A and I proceeded to the CSWDO to submit the receipt and register for the seminar. We were each given a questionnaire to answer, which was mostly about individual expectations from the relationship. It was a breeze to complete and was sort of hilarious because one of the questions, instead of having Yes as an option for an answer, had OK lang. We finished answering the questionnaire in maybe ten minutes and after submitting it, we were told to come back at 2PM for the seminar.

We killed time and went back to CSWDO at 2PM and were led to a small office. There were supposed to be four couples in total, but one was a no show. A was already quite pissed that he had to spend time on the seminar and I was telling him there’s nothing we can do about it as it’s a requirement. I was expecting the seminar to start late because Filipino time, goddammit, and my expectations have been exceeded.

The seminar started around forty five minutes later than scheduled. At 2:15, I was already getting annoyed. Five minutes passed. Another five. At 2:30, I left my seat and stepped out of the office. I asked the lady outside, “Hindi pa po ba magsisimula yung seminar?”

I was told we’re till waiting for the fourth couple. This, of course, made me furious. “Bakit po sila hihintayin?” I asked. “They’re thirty minutes late! We shouldn’t have to wait for them!” 

I went back inside and by then I was already seething. It didn’t help that the employees kept asking each other who was going to conduct the seminar and I overheard one say that the woman who was supposed to do it didn’t want to do it! I thought, WHY?! THIS IS HER JOB! HOW CAN SHE REFUSE TO DO IT?! Ah, government offices. Always a pleasure to deal with.

At 2:40, it still hasn’t started, so I asked again, “Hindi pa po ba magsisimula?!” Shortly after, the speaker finally came in and began the seminar.

If you’re wondering what was discussed in the seminar, it was quite disorganized, to be honest. She rambled during the first few minutes, which didn’t help improve my sour mood. If we’re requiring people to sit in a seminar, can we please at least make sure that the person conducting it is prepared? Anyway, she asked us a few questions about our relationships and expectations, and then gave some advice. She also had these print outs of quotes which she read to us, asked us what we thought, and offered more advice. To be fair, some of the questions she threw at us were tough and some of the advice she gave was pretty solid.

The wait was longer than the seminar itself. Before 3:15, it was over and we left the CSWDO with our certificate of attendance, which we then brought to the LCR. Remember to have the certificate photocopied. Actually, just PHOTOCOPY EVERYTHING!

You will be given an official receipt, which you will have to present when you claim your license.

The Wait

Now that the application is complete, all you need to do is wait for ten calendar days for the release of your license. Note that the license is valid for use anywhere in the Philippines for 120 days only.

All in all, we spent a little over Php500 during the application, and collectively around Php1500 for all the other documents we had to submit. With the exception of the unreasonably long wait during the seminar, the application process was surprisingly fast and easy, so good job, Parañaque City Hall! It also helps that they have a document online that outlines the LCR’s services, requirements and detailed instructions included. Hopefully the CSWDO steps up and makes the entire process even more efficient.

With the license application out of the way, we can finally start preparing for the specifics of the wedding day, i.e. the guest list and the mini-reception.

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