The following information is based on our experience on getting legally married in the Philippines as British citizens. Please note that without doing the following, we COULD NOT have got legally married in the Philippines.

Visiting the British Embassy in Manila website:

The first thing we did was to visit the British Embassy in the Philippines website to find out the requirements needed to legally marry in the Philippines. Here is the link: http://ukinthephilippines.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/living-in-the-philippines/how-to-apply-for-a-cni/

Ant and I had never been married previously and are both British citizens. There were 2 options available to us:

A) to stay in the Philippines for 21 days and then obtain a local Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) from the British Embassy in Manila; or

B) to obtain a CNI at our local registry in London and then hand this over to the British Embassy in Manila, who will then swap this for a local CNI issued by them, which in turn is recognised by the Philippine authorities as legal and valid.

Certificate of No Impediment (CNI)

Since Ant and I could not stay in the Philippines for 21 days before getting married, we chose the second option. Essentially, in order for our marriage to be legally recognized in the Philippines (and in turn in the UK), we would need to obtain a CNI from the British Embassy in Manila. The CNI is then given to the local registry where you plan to get married, which, should be at least 3 weeks before your wedding date. In our case, we gave our documents to our wedding coordinator, Amanda Tirol, 2 days before our wedding day and this was still fine.

Contacting the British Embassy in Manila to book an appointment

At least 6-7 months before we flew to the Philippines, we emailed the British Embassy in Manila in order to book an appointment with them for us to obtain a local CNI from them. (They do stipulate this on their website). We told them of our preferred date(s) which was 2 weeks before our wedding day. We were arriving in Manila on a Saturday and asked them for an appointment for the following week, either a Monday or Tuesday. They gave us an appointment for the following Tuesday, in the morning.

Obtaining a local CNI from our local registry office in London

At least 3 months before our wedding day, we then arranged for us to obtain a CNI at our local registry office in London. The process is exactly the same as though you are getting married at your local registry office in the UK. Essentially, we had to go to our local registry office along with our documents such as our original and current passports and/or driving licence, and letters confirming proof of our address, (such as bank statements), to prove that we reside in that particular borough/area in the UK.

The local registrar then interviewed us together initially, and then individually, to determine whether or not our relationship was genuine and that we are not being forced into marriage against our will, i.e. it was not a sham marriage. Once the registrar was satisfied that we had a genuine relationship, the local registry then “announced” our impending marriage to each other on their notice board, and this was posted for 16 days.

After 16 days, we were then be able to obtain our CNI from the local registry. This document is what we needed to bring with us to the British Embassy in Manila on our appointment with them.

Before attending the British Embassy in Manila

Before going to the British Embassy in Manila, ensure that you have the money to pay to the British Embassy for their fees in processing your local CNI. Currently, this is P4,680 EACH (approximately £72 EACH). Please ensure that you know of the current fees by visiting their website before your appointment so as to ensure that you have sufficient cash with you when you go to your appointment. Please also note that the money must be paid in the local currency of Pesos, as the Embassy will not accept Pound Sterling or personal cheques. Unfortunately, they have yet to move on into the 21st century and are yet to install credit card machines, hence bringing your cards with you will be useless. Also, bear in mind that without payment of the fees (and if there are any other missing documents), you may not be able to return until a couple of days after, meaning that you could waste valuable days trying to get your local CNI, which you need in order to get married in the Philippines.

Once you have provided your CNI from the local registry in the UK, along with your original documents such as your original passports, and the fees, you will then be given the local CNI issued by the British Embassy in Manila on the same day. Check that all of your details on the document are correct. You would then need to bring this with you to Boracay, as without this document, you cannot get legally married in the Philippines!

Please also note that you should receive your marriage certificate at least 2 weeks after your wedding ceremony, providing you have submitted all of the necessary documents required.

Will my wedding be recognised as legal under British law?

In essence, the answer is yes, providing that you and your partner were aged 18 or over at the time of the marriage, your marriage was officiated by a local priest/mayor/pastor in a ceremony recognized by the Philippine law. Here is the link from the Home Office concerning overseas marriages: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/nationalityinstructions/nisec2gensec/marriage?view=Binary

Please refer to my other post in relation to the legal documents and the legal processes required in the Philippines in order to get married there… :)

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Filed under: Having a Boracay Wedding