Marriage solemnized abroad but unregistered locally valid in PH

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,  
My spouse (a foreigner) and I got married abroad. We did not register our marriage here in the Philippines. Is our marriage also valid and recognized in our country?

Dear Brix,

When it comes to the solemnization of marriages, our country follows the rule of lex loci celebrationis, which roughly translates to “law of the place of the ceremony” (Garcia v. Recio, 418 Phil. 723). Under this rule, the law of the state where a marriage is solemnized or performed will be observed.  This means a state will recognize a marriage performed or celebrated in another state as long as it follows the requirements set by the law of that state.  Hence, a marriage validly solemnized or performed abroad will also be valid in our country even though it did not comply with the procedures and requirements set by our Family Code. There are exceptions to this rule, however.

Article 26 of our Family Code that specifically adopts the rule of lex loci celebrationis excludes from the rule certain prohibited marriages. These include cases where a party is below eighteen (18) years of age at the time of marriage or is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations; mistake in identity of a spouse; subsequent marriages celebrated without properly terminating, liquidating and distributing the properties of a previous marriage; bigamous or polygamous marriages; incestuous marriages; or void marriages for reason of public policy such as marriage between collateral blood relatives up to fourth civil degree or between step-parent and step-child.

Applying the foregoing to your case, if your marriage abroad is considered valid in that country, which means it complies with the procedure and requirements prescribed by its laws, and it does not fall under the category of prohibited marriages, then your marriage is also valid and will be recognized in our country.

The fact that your marriage was not registered in our country will not affect its validity. Registration in the civil registry is not required by law to give validity to an act or occurrence.  It is merely done to record an event affecting civil status of persons.  At best, it only serves as evidence of the act or occurrence.  Thus, our Supreme Court has ruled that “the mere fact that no record of the marriage exists does not invalidate the marriage, as long as in the celebration thereof, all requisites for its validity are present” (People vs. Borromeo, 133 SCRA 106). It is the presence or absence of the requisites of marriage that ultimately determines the validity of marriage, not the registration.

We hope we were able to sufficiently address your concern.  Please bear in mind that this opinion is based on the facts you narrated and our appreciation of the same.  Our opinion may vary should actual facts and circumstances change.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to


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