How to legally change your name in the Philippines

There are various reasons people want to change their names. Some may face ridicule because of their birth name. Others simply want to clear any confusion about their original names. Most women seek a name change after marriage to adopt their husband’s family names. And there are those who want to change their names to abide by the dictates of a new religion or simply to reflect a change in their lifestyle.

Whatever your reason, you can have your name changed legally. Under Philippine laws, a name has two parts – the first or given name, and the family name or surname. Middle names, which in the Philippines are traditionally the mother’s maiden surname, are not required but are often necessary for verifying your identity or in distinguishing you from others who have the same first and last names.

Different sets of rules apply to changing your first name and family name. Here are some important pointers to consider:

Changing your first name

You may have your first name legally changed to the Local Civil Registry Office (LCRO) that has the documents bearing your original name. This often means the place where your birth certificate was issued. But if you currently reside in a different place, you may apply for a name change at the LCRO in your present area as a migrant petitioner.

You may petition to change your name if you’re at least 18 years old, and must show that the name change is necessary for any of the following reasons:

  • Your present name invites ridicule or dishonor or is simply difficult to pronounce or spell
  • You have continuously used and been known since childhood of the name you want to adopt
  •  Changing your name will prevent confusion in legal documents and other purposes

These reasons should be spelled out in an affidavit and presented to the LCRO along with a fee and other documents that include:

  •  NBI Clearance and Police Clearance
  • Baptismal certificate
  • Birth certificate
  •  School records/ Employment certificate
  •  Valid IDs
  • Others that may be required by the Local Civil Registrar

After filing your application, you typically need to wait about one to four months for the petition to be granted, depending on the Local Civil Registrar

Changing your family name

Changing your family name is a bit trickier. You will need a court order, which you can obtain from the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of your municipality/city. You need to file a petition detailing why you want to change your surname, as well as other required documents including those mentioned above for first name changes.

A child born out of wedlock may use the father’s family name without undergoing a change of name, especially if the father issues an affidavit or a document recognizing parentage of the child. If you’re a mother and want to change a child’s surname to yours, you would need a court order, but the Supreme Court has previously ruled that a child’s change of surname may only be granted when they reach legal age and can decide on their own.

If you’re a woman who recently got married and want to officially adopt your husband’s surname on your official IDs, you will only need to comply with the “change of status” requirements and do not need a court order for that. Note that changing your family name when you get married is not a legal requirement, so for IDs like your driver’s license or passport, you might want to wait until they’re up for renewal so you can accomplish both changes of status and renewal in one go.