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How To Change Surname After Marriage in the Philippines

How To Change Surname After Marriage in the Philippines

A day after your wedding, you excitedly updated your Facebook status and added your husband’s surname to your last name. However, you wonder how you can also reflect this change on your legal documents in the Philippines.  

In this article, I’ll discuss the laws, rules, and regulations governing the use of the surname of a married woman in the Philippines, and talk about the pros and cons of adopting your husband’s last name after getting married. I’ll also give you an overview of the requirements and procedure for changing the last name in legal documents as well as some helpful tips to help you with the process.

DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. The use of the information contained herein does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the user/reader.

Table of Contents

 

What Surname Can I Use After Marriage According to the Law?

The main provision of the law on what surname to use after getting married is Art. 370 of the New Civil Code1. The law says that a married woman may use any of the following:

  1. Her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname, or
  2. Her maiden first name and her husband’s surname, or
  3. Her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as “Mrs.”

Option 1: Using a Hyphenated Surname

Hyphenated surname simply means your surname is now your maiden name + your husband’s surname joined by a hyphen. Some women prefer using a hyphenated surname for several reasons, one of which is when they have already established a name for themselves or have successful careers in their field, thus wanting to retain their identity at the same time recognizing their new status as a married woman.

To illustrate, suppose you are Maria Tan Cruz, and you married Daniel Garcia. Your new full name will be:

Maria Tan Cruz-Garcia or Maria T. Cruz-Garcia

What about your children? If you choose this option, will they also use a hyphenated surname? The answer is no. Under Sec 384 of the New Civil Code, legitimate and legitimated children shall principally use the father’s surname.    

Option 2: Using Your Husband’s Surname

Some women prefer to drop their maiden name and adopt the last name of their husband as their new surname. This option is handy if you have a long name, and hyphenating your husband’s surname would make it even longer.

Imagine if you have three first names and two surnames, a common practice in the Philippines (e.g., being Maria Christina Angelica Del Castillo getting married to a Villa Roman).  Hyphenating your husband’s surname will be a pain, especially if you fill out forms where you need to write one character per box. In this case, using your husband’s surname seems the practical option.  

Using the same example in the previous option, you will simply be referred to as Maria Cruz Garcia or Maria C. Garcia, dropping Tan as your middle name and replacing it with your maiden name, Cruz.

Option 3: Using Your Husband’s Full Name

I have not encountered anyone using the third option, but if you want to be different and radical, you are also allowed to use your husband’s full name as your new identity and simply add Mrs. to mean you are the wife of your husband.

Simply put, you can be Mrs. Daniel Garcia moving forward. 

 

Can I Retain My Maiden Name After Marriage in the Philippines?

Yes, you definitely can retain your maiden name even if you are already married.

In the case of Yasin vs The Hon. Judge Shari’a District Court2, reiterated in Remo vs. the Hon. Secretary of Foreign Affair3, the Supreme Court, citing Tolentino4 ruled that Article 370 of the New Civil Code used the word “may” which means that it is not mandatory to use the above three options. Married women have an option, but not a duty, to use the surname of the husband in any of the ways provided in Art. 370 of the New Civil Code. 

In short, a married woman can use her maiden name even after marriage because the law uses the permissive word “may” which makes it not obligatory. 

However, even after this pronouncement of the Supreme Court, some government agencies and private entities still do not allow a married woman to have the option to use her maiden name.  The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) received several complaints from private individuals on the discriminatory policies of government agencies and private institutions requiring married women to use the husband’s surname in accomplishing application forms and other records.

As a response, the PCW issued Memorandum Circular No. 2016-075 addressed to government agencies and private institutions mandating the latter to allow married women to retain and use their maiden name.

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) issued a similar Memorandum dated 01 October 20206, prohibiting the following actions when applying for Student-driver’s permit, Driver’s license, and Conductor’s license:

  1. Requiring married women to use their husband’s surname
  2. Requiring married women to declare their civil status as “single” if they do not use their husband’s surname
  3. Refusing to make a proper correction when a married woman realized that she is not compelled by law to use her husband’s surname 
  4. Encoding or using the name of the husband in the records without the woman’s knowledge or consent, and
  5. Requiring married women who use their married surname to present a court decree of annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage.
 

Should You Change Your Surname After Marriage in the Philippines?

Gone are the days when women simply adopted the husband’s last name because it is customary and dictated by a long-standing tradition. With the growing movement on feminism and empowered women, the alternative of retaining the maiden name is enticing. 

While adopting the husband’s surname or retaining the maiden name after marriage is a personal preference and sometimes a matter of practicality, what are the pros and cons of this important decision?

Surveys and forum yield the following reasons for some women to change or not to change their surname after marriage:

Reasons why you should change surname after marriage

  • To have the same surname with the children

Perhaps one of the dominant reasons a woman chooses to adopt the husband’s surname is because she wants her and the children to have the same family name, thus, creating a cohesive family unit and inclusive environment for her children. If she uses her maiden name, the public might think she’s not the birth mother which might create problems or a lot of explaining when traveling with the children. 

  • To avoid confusion

As a married woman, society expects her to have the same last name as her husband. The Philippines still adheres to strict traditions; thus, she might raise some eyebrows if she uses her maiden name, especially if all the married women in her family adopted their husband’s last name. She’ll need to carry a lot of patience explaining to her friends, family, and the public of her choice. To avoid confusion and to stick to tradition, some women simply adopt the husband’s surname.

  • To signify commitment and reverence to the husband

Some women find it romantic to use the husband’s surname. It shows their commitment to the marriage. Changing the surname marks a new chapter as a married woman and bonds the couple as a family.

  • To drop a surname one never liked

I know of a person who says she’ll use her husband’s surname when she gets married because she doesn’t like her surname. She said she’s been using it for too long, so she wants to use her husband’s surname for a change.

  • To upgrade the status in the community

Admit it or not, some surnames are good to have due to their prominence in the community. Hence, if a woman happens to marry a person with such a last name, her tendency is to adopt it as well to instantly upgrade her status and gain favors from society. 

Reasons why you should NOT change surname after marriage

On the other hand, here are some of the reasons women choose to retain their maiden name: 

  • Not wanting to lose identity and lineage

Some women prefer to retain their maiden name even if they are already married because they have been known in public for such a name. They have already established a career or a brand with their last name; hence, changing it will erase their identity. In addition, old friends and acquaintances might not recognize them with the new last name. 

  • Too much work in changing the last name in public documents

Imagine going to different offices and lining up to get a new ID. For some women, this is a lot of paperwork; hence retaining the maiden name is more practical. 

  • Hard to get back your old identity should you separate from your husband

It’s a reality these days that more couples are separating. If a woman had adopted her husband’s last name and they later on separated, she cannot legally revert to her maiden name without going through the legal process. There are many cases of women wanting to get back to their maiden name after a long separation from their husband but they cannot simply because they are not yet legally annulled or separated. Carrying the last name of their estranged husband becomes a curse.

  • Too patriarchal and too sexist. it goes against equality

Some women are huge advocates of feminism. For them, changing their last name is conforming to an old tradition that is no longer applicable in a dynamic society. Using the husband’s last name is being subservient and goes against equality. Some argue that a woman is not the property of the husband. Just because one got married means she has to change her identity.

 

Hyphenating Surname After Marriage

Some women find hyphenating the surname as the best option as they get the best of both – using the husband’s surname at the same time retaining their own identity and honoring their lineage. 

However, as discussed above, it might be a different story if a woman has a particularly long name and hyphenating would make it even longer, or in cases where she simply doesn’t like her husband’s last name. 

Changing the surname or retaining the maiden name after marriage is really up to the woman. There is no right or wrong answer as the choice depends on her personality, preference, and lifestyle. 

A woman should do what feels right to her.

 

How To Change Surname in Different Public Documents After Marriage in the Philippines

Now, after careful consideration of the pros and cons, you have finally decided to change your surname. What are the requirements and procedures? 

Let’s discuss each.

1. Passport

Requirements:

  • Confirmed online application
  • Accomplished application form
  • Personal appearance
  • Current passport with photocopy of the data page
  • Original PSA authenticated copy of Marriage Contract
  • For NON-ePassport, any of the following IDs with one (1) photocopy: See list of acceptable IDs for passport processing

Procedure:

  1. Schedule an appointment online via the DFA’s passport appointment portal and follow the instructions provided. 
  2. Go to the chosen DFA Consular Office at least 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment date and time and submit all your required documents.
  3. Claim your passport or wait for its delivery (if you opted for courier service).

Related: How to Change Surname on Philippine Passport After Marriage

2. PhilHealth ID

Documentary Requirements:

Procedure:

  1. Print a copy of the PMRF, which you can download online, and fill out the requested information. If you don’t have a printer, you can go to the nearest Philhealth Branch Office to get the form and fill out the details on-site. 
  2. Submit the duly accomplished form together with all supporting documents to the designated personnel for processing.

Related: How to Update PhilHealth MDR (Member Data Record)

3. SSS

Documentary Requirements:

Procedure:

  1. Print 2 copies of the E-4 Form, which you can download online, and fill out the requested information (click here for specific steps in accomplishing the form). If you don’t have a printer, you can go to the nearest SSS Branch Office to get the form and fill out the details on-site. 
  2. Submit the duly accomplished form together with all supporting documents to the designated personnel for processing.

Learn More: How to Change, Correct, or Update Your SSS Membership Data

4. Pag-IBIG

Documentary Requirements:

Procedure:

  1. Print the MCIF, which you can download online, and fill out the information requested (click here for specific steps in accomplishing the form). Alternatively, you can go to the nearest Pag-IBIG Branch Office to get the form and fill the form on-site.
  2. Submit the duly accomplished form together with all supporting documents to the designated personnel for processing.

5. Driver’s License

Documentary Requirements:

Procedure:

  1. Print the application for Driver’s License, which you can download online, and fill out the information requested. The same form is used when applying for a Student Driver’s Permit or Conductor’s License. Alternatively, you can go to the nearest LTO District Office to get the form and fill the form on-site.
  2. Submit the duly accomplished form together with all supporting documents to the designated personnel for processing.

Related: How to Apply for Revision of Records to Change Driving License Status

6. PRC ID

Documentary Requirements:

  • Duly accomplished Petition for Change of Registered Name Due to Marriage Form
  • Original and photocopy of Marriage Contract duly issued by the Philippine Statistics Office (PSA)
  • Two passport size ID pictures in white background with a full name tag
  • Php 225 fee
  • Metered documentary stamp
  • Photocopy of PRC ID

Procedure

  1. Fill out the Petition Form, which you can download online and have it notarized.
  2. Go to the PRC Office and submit all the documentary requirements and pay the required fees.
  3. Check the PRC Website (www.prc.gov.ph) for verification of your petition status. Once amended, you may claim your new PRC ID card.

Learn More: How to Update Your Name After Getting Married Before Renewing Your PRC License.

7. Voter’s ID

Documentary Requirements:

Procedure:

  1. Print a copy of the Revised CEF-1, which you can download online in a long bond paper (8” x 13”), and fill out the requested information 

Note: Check the appropriate choice in oval, i.e., APPLICATION FOR CHANGE OF NAME DUE TO MARRIAGE OR COURT ORDER/CORRECTION OF ENTRIES IN THE VOTER’S REGISTRATION RECORD. 

If you don’t have access to a printer, you can personally go to the Office of the Election Officer (OEO) of the city or municipality where you are currently registered, and fill out the CEF-1 on-site.

Alternatively, you can also use the iRehistro web app and follow the instructions provided by the app.

  1. Submit the duly accomplished form and all supporting documents to the OEO in the city or municipality where you are currently registered.

Please note that you should NOT sign or affix your thumb mark on the application form as you must do this in the presence of the Election Officer or an Authorized COMELEC Representative. 

8. BIR and TIN Card

Documentary Requirements:

Procedure:

  1. Print BIR Forms 1905 and 0605,  which you can download online, and fill out the information requested. Alternatively, you can go to the RDO where you are registered to get the form and fill the form on-site.
  2. Submit the duly accomplished form together with all supporting documents (including proof of payment at the RDO’s authorized agent bank) to the designated personnel for processing.

Learn More: How to Replace Lost, Damaged, or Unupdated TIN ID

9. Postal ID

Documentary Requirements:

Procedure:

  1. Print the Application Form, which you can download online, and fill out the information requested. Alternatively, you can go to any Post Office to get the form and fill the form on-site.
  2. Submit the duly accomplished form together with all supporting documents to the designated personnel for screening. Your data, photograph, and fingerprint will be taken/captured as well. 
  3. Wait for your ID to be delivered.

Learn More: How to Renew or Replace Postal ID

10. Bank Account

Documentary Requirements

  • Duly accomplished Bank Form
  • Marriage Contract /Marriage Certificate
  • Any two valid IDs with your new name 

Procedure:

  1. Go to your bank and bring a copy of your marriage contract and valid IDs.
  2. Fill out the appropriate bank form on-site and submit your supporting documents to the customer service for processing.

Related: Best Banks in the Philippines

 

Tips and Warnings

  • Always bring the original or certified true copy of your marriage contract/marriage certificate (issued by the City or Municipal Civil Registrar or Philippine Statistics Authority) and other required documents. The personnel will need the original documents for validation and authentication.
  • If you are working, it is best to check with your HR before going to different offices, as your HR might be able to process the change of name and status on your behalf. In this way, you’ll save time.
  • If you only want to change your marital status and still intend to use your maiden name and the officer refuses to process your application, show a copy of the Memorandum Circular No. 2016-07 of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW). The Memorandum mandates government offices and private entities to adhere to the married woman’s choice of surname.
 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I still use my maiden name after marriage in the Philippines?

Yes, you can. It is perfectly okay and legal to use your maiden name even after marriage. As discussed in this article, a woman is given four options under the law on what surname to use after marriage, i.e.,

  1. Her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname, or
  2. Her maiden first name and her husband’s surname or
  3. Her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as “Mrs.” or
  4. Her maiden name

2. How long after you get married do you have to change your last name? Is there a deadline?

There is no specific number of days or timeline on when you are required to change your name after marriage. In fact, you are not even required to change your surname. However, you do need to change/update your marital status on your public documents as soon as practicable because your status has legal implications, e.g., taxation, benefits, and beneficiaries, among others.

If you have already decided to use your husband’s surname going forward, it is practical to update/amend your last name during your visit to save you time.

3. I used my husband’s last name after marriage. Our relationship turned sour, and we have been separated for ten years. I want to renew my passport. Can I now use my maiden name?

No, you cannot. Separation for ten years is not a valid reason to revert to your maiden name in your passport. Under Section 5(d) of R.A. 82397, you need to present a copy of the following if you wish to revert to your maiden name:

  • Decree of separation, or
  • Decree of divorce or annulment, or 
  • Certificate of Death of the deceased spouse duly issued and authenticated by the Office of the Civil Registrar General (Philippine Statistics Authority)  

4. I got married to a foreigner, and he later divorced me. Can I automatically revert to my maiden name?

No, you cannot automatically revert to your maiden name. Under Section 5(d) of R.A. 8239, a woman may revert to the use of her maiden name only if the divorce decree is recognized under the laws of the Philippines.

The Philippines recognizes divorce under the following scenarios:

  • Those obtained under the Code of Muslim Personal Laws (for Muslim marriages), or
  • Those approved by a Philippine court after filing for a Petition for Recognition of Foreign Divorce (Divorce was first obtained abroad).
 

References

  1. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Republic Act No. 386 (Civil Code of the Philippines) (1949).
  2. Yasin vs The Hon. Judge Shari’a District Court, G.R. No. 94986 (Supreme Court of the Philippines 1995).
  3. Remo vs. the Hon. Secretary of Foreign Affair, G.R. No. 169202 (Supreme Court of the Philippines 2010).
  4. Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code of the Philippines, Vol. 1 (1990 edition), p. 675
  5. Masilang-Bucoy, R. (2016). Memorandum Circular No. 2016-07: Allowing Married Women to Retain and Use their Maiden Name in lieu of their Husband’s Surname in accordance to Existing Laws and Pertinent Jurisprudence. Retrieved 5 June 2021, from https://pcw.gov.ph/memorandum-circular-no-2016-07-allowing-married-women/
  6. Land Transportation Office (LTO). (2020). LTO Memorandum on Retention or Reversion and Use of Maiden Name in Lieu of Husband’s Name by Married Women [PDF]. Retrieved from https://lto.gov.ph/images/ISSUANCES/Memorandum/Memo_01102020.pdf
  7. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Republic Act No. 8239 (Philippine Passport Act of 1996) (1996).

Written by Atty. Kareen Lucero

in Family and Relationship, Juander How, Legal Matters

Last Updated

Atty. Kareen Lucero

Kareen Lucero is a lawyer previously doing litigation before working for different agencies in the government and for a multinational corporation. She has traveled to 52+ countries including a 3-month solo backpacking in South East Asia and more than 1 year of solo traveling across four continents in the world. As part of giving back, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge of law and travel. She is currently doing consulting work for a government agency. For inquiries, you may reach her via Facebook Messenger (https://m.me/kareen.lucero.77) or email ([email protected]).

Browse all articles written by Atty. Kareen Lucero

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