The Marriage Process

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My wife and I were recently married in Baguio City. We had a civil ceremony at the courthouse and did not get the church involved. I am a 41-year-old US citizen and my wife is a 34-year-old Filipina. Here are the steps we needed to go through in order to get married. If you are under 25 or 21, there are additional requirements for parental consent. I'm including time and cost for each step but I'm pretty sure the cost varies based on how rich the various clerks and bureaucrats think you are. For the time estimates, I'm only including how long we spent in each office to complete the specific task. There are some waiting periods and scheduling oddities that will impact how long it takes you to get your marriage license.

  1. Go to US embassy in Manila and get a certification from the consular officer stating that I was legally able to contract marriage. The entire process took about 2 hours and cost 1800 php. All I had to do was swear that I was not already married and was legally able to marry my wife. Get to the embassy early. There is a special line for citizens but you still have to wait in line for a while to get into the consulate. Time: 2 hours Cost: 1800php
  2. Go to Health Department in Baguio and receive family planning certificate. Normally, this consists of a 2-4 hour lecture for the couple and you need to schedule it in advance. Ironically, the 'family planning counseling' did not even mention birth control, but that's a separate topic. In our case, I got to attend the special foreigner lecture where the woman told me that since foreigners don't have babies and just leave them where ever they feel like, she just wanted to make sure that I loved my wife and helped raise the extended family out of poverty. She was also concerned that I help my wife adjust to life in the US once we moved. When I told her we were going to live in Baguio, she wrapped up her spiel, told us where to pay the 40 php fee and gave us our certificate stating we completed the family planning counseling. Time: 2hours Cost: 40php
  3. Submit marriage license and required paperwork at Health Dept. in Baguio and pay the application fee. Paperwork for us consisted of certified copies of our birth certificates, the statement from the US embassy, a CENOMAR for my wife and the family planning certificate mentioned above. Gathering the required paperwork can take weeks, but once you have it, applying for the license was easy. Time: 10 minutes Cost 120 php
  4. Wait the required 10-day period before your marriage license is approved. Then go back to Health Dept. and pick up your approved license. Time: 10 minutes Cost: 25 php
  5. Take approved license to the main courthouse and submit it to clerk of the courts. Once you give it to the clerk, you need to have it assigned to a judge. This only happens on Wednesday morning at 10:30am. We got there Wed. morning about 11am and had to wait a week for it to be assigned. Time: 30 minutes Cost: 800php (I think this was graft or a foreigner only fee. My sister in law did not pay this when she was married)
  6. Once assigned to a judge, go to the clerk's office for your judge and get on the schedule. Marriages are done every Thursday, so plan accordingly. Time: 30 minutes Cost: none
  7. Show up at the courthouse on the big day with 1 female and 1 male witness for the ceremony. Time: 2 hours Cost: 3000php (I think this fee is substantially higher for foreigners)
  8. In 30-days, go back to Health Department and pick up your local marriage license. Time: 30 minutes Cost: none
  9. Wait 30 days for your NSO certified copy to arrive.

When we married, we didn't really understand the process so it took longer then it could have. All told, it took us 7 weeks to complete the legal process and cost about 4000php.

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Posted

Also remember to have some coins in your pocket as part of the ceremony, I think its called paying dowry.No one had remembered this when I was married by a judge, JJ ,Paul's ex and a witness had to do a handbag search to fix this little matter.I always tell my wife that I paid to much, I think it was about 10 pesos :lmao:

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