How to Change your Name in Philippines

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Every individual bears a close relationship with his/her name. And yet sometimes it may happen that he/she may wish to adopt a new name, whether as a result of change of marital status or as a mark of embracing a different religion or culture. Sometimes a person may simply wish to forge new identity for him/herself and break away from their past. Some societies follow common law where it is easy to change a name while others follow a civil law where name changes involve judicial procedures. Philippines belongs to the latter group where a change of name is bound by certain official rules and regulations.

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A name, according to the Philippines Supreme Court in a 2005 case, has two parts: the first is the given or proper name and second is the surname or family name. The given or proper name is that which is given to the individual at birth or at baptism, to distinguish him from other individuals. The surname or family name is that which identifies the family to which he belongs and is continued from parent to child. Parents are free to select the given name of their child, but the law fixes the surname to which the child is entitled to use.



Till 2001 it was quite difficult to adopt a new name in Philippines. According to the country’s Civil Code - Articles 376 and 412 – the change of name or surname of a person, or any correction or change of entry in a civil register was prohibited without a judicial order. This meant that people had to go through a long, cumbersome and often expensive court process in order to change their names.

On 22 April 2001, an amendment was made to the Philippine Civil Code by the Republic Act 9048 according to which the city or municipal civil registrar or the consul general would be authorized to correct a clerical or typographical error in an entry and/or change the first name or nickname in the civil register without need of a judicial order. However, a court order would still be needed for substantial changes such as surname of a persona along with, gender, nationality, and status.
In order to prevent its misuse, the Republic Act 9048 stipulates that a request for change of name would be allowed only under for certain purposes. Thus in order to officially adopt a new name, a petitioner must be able to show that:
 

  • His/her first name or nickname is ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to write or pronounce
  • The new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously used by him/her and he/she has been publicly known by that first name or nickname in the community
  • Or that the change will avoid confusion.


In order to apply for a change of name, the petitioner must be at least eighteen years of age or above. Thus in Philippines, a minor or someone less than eighteen years old, cannot by him/herself file a petition, either for correction of clerical or typographical error or for change of his first name.

The second condition for a petition for change of name is that the applicant must have a direct and personal interest in the change of first name in the civil register. This can either be the:
 

  • Owner of the record that contains the first name to be changed or
  • The owner's spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, guardian, or any other person duly authorized by law or by the owner of the document sought to be corrected.


Apart from mentioning who is eligible to appeal for a change of first name, Philippines civil law also clearly lays down the correct procedure for filing of the petition. According to the Section 5 of RA 9048 and Rule 8 of Administrative Order No. 1, S. 2001 the petition should be in the form of an affidavit; in other words, it should be subscribed and sworn to before a person authorized to administer oath.

Essentially, the petition for a change of name must contain the following facts or information:
 

  • Merits of the petition
  • Competency of the petitioner
  • First name to be changed and the proposed new first name.


Documentation

In order to apply for a change of first name, the petitioner may be required to present a whole array of documents. Apart from producing various past and present identity documents, the petitioner would also need to prove clearance from authorities such as clearance from employer, if employed; the National Bureau of Investigation; the Philippine National Police and other clearances as may be required by the concerned City/Municipal City Registrar. Also a proof of Publication is required which may be in the form of an attached affidavit of publication from the publisher and copy of the newspaper clippings. Apart from these the petitioner will be required to produce the notice and Certificate of Posting, a certified machine copy of the Official Receipt of the filing fee and other documents as may be required by the City/Municipal Civil Registrar. The full details of documentation necessary to file a petition for change of first name can be obtained from the relevant page of government of Philippines Census website1.

Cost

If you are filing a petition for the change of first name with the City/Municipal City Registrar or the District/Circuit Registrar, expect to shell out around three thousand pesos. On the other hand if you are filing the petition for change of name with the Consul General at any of the Philippine Consulate, the fee is one hundred and fifty US dollars. A migrant petitioner shall have to pay an additional service fee to the Petition Receiving Civil Registrar and for a change of the first name, this will be one thousand pesos.

Where to file the petition?

Once you have done all the paperwork and have all the documents ready, you can file your petition for change of name with the Local Civil Registry Office or LCRO in Philippines which houses your personal records including your original birth name. However, in case the petitioner is a migrant within or outside the Philippines, meaning that your present residence or domicile is different from where your civil registry records are registered, your may file the petition in the nearest LCRO in your area in which case your petition will be treated as a migrant petition.

Reference:

  1. National Statistics Office: Philippines Official Web Site: Civil Registration - Primer for RA 9048