If you’re a Filipino citizen living abroad, you still have to report major life events to the Philippine government – such as when there’s a marriage, birth, or death. This is not common knowledge. I only found this out from a chance meeting with a Filipino who got married to a foreigner outside the Philippines. Sounds just like me.
In a nutshell, the process goes like this: You report your marriage to the embassy (or a consulate, which then passes everything along to the embassy). This report is then sent to the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines, and finally, they pass this along to the Philippine Statistics Administration (formerly National Statistics Office, NSO).
The NSO is the government agency that grants the Certificate of No Marriage (or CENOMAR), which is a pre-wedding requirement in the Philippines. This is a letter that certifies that according to their records, you’re currently not in a marriage and can, therefore, enter into one. So they must be notified if there’s a change to your marital status so that they don’t keep issuing a letter that says you’re still single.
Some important notes:
1) There is no Philippine embassy in Nepal. There is a consulate in Kathmandu, where they accept the forms but these are all forwarded to the embassy in New Delhi. International shipping takes time and costs money.
2) One or both parties need to be present during filing. A representative may claim the document afterwards, provided he has an authorization letter.
- 6 copies of the Report of Marriage Form
- 6 copies of your Marriage Certificate, one must be notarized.
- 6 copies of the identification of your witnesses*
- Birth certificate of both parties**
*You need two witnesses for each side, four in all. They don’t need to be the same people who witnessed your wedding or your marriage registration. They can be family members.
**In Nepal, the birth certificate is surrendered to the government upon issuance of the citizenship card (on the 16th birthday). So this was tricky in Scott’s case because we had to ask the village secretary to look for a document from decades ago when he was not yet the village secretary. We had to go back and forth with this but in the end, the consulate agreed that we submit a certification letter in lieu of a birth certificate, signed and certified by the village secretary, attesting that Scott was born to his parents, both Nepali citizen, at this date in this place. Despite the difficulty, it was in a way interesting to witness the difference in our countries. Because when we registered for our marriage, the Nepali government asked for my citizenship card. I don’t have one, we usually use our birth certificate in such cases. But this time, the Philippine government asked for a birth certificate, and Scott doesn’t have one because they usually use the citizenship card for such cases.
Extra requirement: If for some reason you fail to file your Report of Marriage within a year of your wedding, you need to submit a notarized letter explaining why. You can simply say that you were not aware of this rule, which is usually the case.
Now on to the section I call “Learn from our mistakes” or “things I wish someone told us beforehand”
1) The form (at least the one required by the consulate in Nepal), must be the Report of Marriage form, revised on July 2016. When you search online, several versions of the form pop up from the various Philippine embassies and consulates around the world. We mistakenly filled up the one that was revised in April 2016 so we had to do it all over again.
2) The Philippine consulate in Nepal does not accept forms filled in manually. And this is tricky because the link for the Report of Marriage form in the New Delhi embassy website does not work (at least at the time that we needed it in January 2017). The link for the Visa Application form (which we did not need, but I wanted to check anyway) worked, but it opened up to a form that was not fillable. The whole thing was ridiculous and annoying. At some point, Scott suggested that we look for a typewriter in Thamel or something (a typewriter?! in this day and age?!). And I put my foot down and said no, this cannot be OUR problem. If they don’t want us to submit a handwritten form, then they should make a fillable form accessible. After much persuasion (really, he had to be persuaded), the guy at the consulate accepted our pen drive so that he can give us a copy of the form. We never got to check what that form looked like because, after several attempts at a Google search, I found a fillable form online. [Tip: widen your search to “report of marriage”, don’t search for “report of marriage Nepal/India” because that form may not come up in the search results.]
3) The Report of Marriage can only be filed at the embassy that has jurisdiction over it. For our marriage that was registered in Nepal, we could only file our Report of Marriage at the embassy in New Delhi, through the consulate in Kathmandu. Say for example we moved to Norway, we would still have to mail our application to the embassy in Delhi even if there’s an embassy in Oslo.***
***This was indicated on the embassy website but when we talked to the guy at the consulate about how we might be traveling soon, one of our options is that they can certify (for a fee) that our marriage certificate is authentic, and then we can file for our Report of Marriage at ANY Philippine embassy anywhere in the world. WRONG. So had we gone to Oslo, it would have cost us even more time and money to have our documents mailed to Delhi. I don’t know what is up with that guy. He spoke to Scott in Nepali most of the time, and to me, he seemed decent and competent, but let’s just say he was not very good at his job.
4) This thing is NOT CHEAP. So it took us several visits to the consulate to finally get everything in order, and then we had to part with a LOT of money.
The embassy in New Delhi only accepts the Marriage Certificate that was issued by the Nepal government, if it has been authenticated by the consulate in Kathmandu. We had to pay 2840 NPR for the authentication. And then we had to pay 1775 INR for the Report of Marriage, and 3500 INR for the courier services. They’re shipping important documents between three countries so I guess the cost is justified. It’s expensive, but it’s not like you can opt out. So you just do what you gotta do.
In less than a month, the consulate called to let us know that we can claim our authenticated marriage certificate (the Nepali one), and the receipts for the payments. And that’s it. We’ve done our part, and now it’s just a matter of letting inter-agency processes run their course. We expect that if we request for our marriage certificate (the Philippine one) sometime this year, they can already provide us with one.
Obviously, the consulate/embassy should be your primary source of information. This blog post will eventually become outdated, but I still hope that someone would find it useful. I wrote it because I didn’t find any useful information at the time that I needed it. There were posts about mailing their applications directly to the embassy, but nothing about applications through a consulate. And the issues that we encountered in Nepal are unique to the country and were quite unexpected. I really thought that this would be a simple errand that can be accomplished in an hour, but it took us more than two weeks to sort everything out. And we could have cut down on that time if only we knew what we needed to address.