How can we apply for a marriage license if one or both of us work abroad (with limited vacation leaves)?

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As you may already know, the marriage license application requires the personal appearance of both parties. 

OFWs with limited vacation leaves are in a tricky situation because of two reasons:

  • The marriage license is issued 10 days from the time of application. Most couples who aren’t aware of this usually set their wedding dates in advance, with their paid leaves reserved only for the ceremony itself and the honeymoon.
  • Even if they’re able to schedule a time to go back to the Philippines for the license application (e.g., during special holidays), there are instances when these leaves and the actual wedding date are months apart. It renders the license useless since it only has a 120-day validity period. 

If your jobs abroad are preventing both of you from personally applying for a marriage license in the Philippines at the right time, you can try one of the following suggestions:

  • If there’s a way to move your vacation leave closer to your wedding date, please do so. By doing this, you will be able to secure the marriage license and use it within the 120-day validity period to get married in a church. If this isn’t possible, try the next two alternatives.
  • Go to the nearest Philippine Embassy and have a civil union there. By doing so, you and your partner can be legally married (Consuls are allowed by law to officiate civil weddings abroad) without flying back to the Philippines to apply for a license. After the ceremony, you can choose to tie the knot in a church anytime using your marriage certificate.
  • If your vacation leave and your actual wedding date are several weeks or a few months apart, you can also try civil wedding, this time doing it in the Philippine soil. For example, let’s assume your wedding date is set in December and the only time you and your partner can visit the Philippines is during your vacation in June. Assuming again that your vacation in June lasts for only 2 weeks, I recommend applying for the license as soon as you arrive. Then, use that marriage license to have a civil wedding officiated by a mayor or judge in your city/municipality. This way, you can be legally married and simply proceed with the church wedding later on without the need for the license.

Although I admit that some places offer under-the-table negotiations for those who can’t personally apply for the license, I will never recommend it as an alternative.

By having a civil wedding before the church wedding, not only will your union be protected by both the law and the Church, you’ll also get a workaround for the stringent rules of the marriage license application.

Go back to the main page: How to Get Married in the Philippines – An Ultimate Guide