• No Philippine law obligates married woman to drop her maiden name



    Dear PAO,
    I am using the surname of my foreign husband in my Philippine passport. We are not divorced but we are already separated and are not communicating with each other anymore. Can I have a new Philippine passport using my maiden name?

    Dear LP,
    There is no law in the Philippines which obligates a married woman to use the surname of her husband. Upon a valid marriage, a married woman is only given an option to use the surname of her husband in any of the ways enumerated in Article 370 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, to wit:

    “Article 370. A married woman may use:

    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.”

    A married woman who has decided to use the surname of her husband may be issued a Philippine passport in such surname upon presentation with the Department of Foreign Affairs a copy of her marriage certificate. In addition thereto, a Filipino who contracts marriage in the Philippines to a foreigner shall be required to present a Certificate of Attendance in a Guidance and Counselling Seminar when applying for a passport for the first time (Article 6, Section 2, Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 8239).

    However, once a married woman has opted to use the surname of her husband, she shall continue using the same until her marriage with her husband is validly terminated. Hence, a married woman shall only be allowed to revert to her maiden name in her passport in the following instances: annulment, declaration of nullity of marriage, divorce decree obtained by the foreigner spouse, and death of the husband (Section 5(d), RA No. 8239). In case of annulment, it shall be necessary for the applicant to present a certified true copy of her annotated Marriage Contract or Certificate of Registration and the Court Order effecting the annulment. If the woman was divorced by her alien husband, she must present a certified true copy of the Divorce Decree duly authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or consular post which has jurisdiction over the place where the divorce is obtained or by the concerned foreign diplomatic or consular mission in the Philippines. In the event that marriage is dissolved by the death of the husband, the applicant must present the original or certified true copy of the Death Certificate of the husband or the Declaration of Presumptive Death by a Civil or Shari’ah Court, in which case the applicant may choose to continue to use her husband’s surname or resume the use of her maiden surname (Article 6, Section 2, Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA No. 8239). Based on the foregoing, you shall not be issued a new passport since you are only separated in fact with your husband.

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.


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