Reverting to maiden surname

Dear Atty. Chris,

My sister has told me that her passport has already expired and that she wants to renew it using her maiden surname since her husband has already passed away. Can she do this?



Dear Roger,

The Philippine Passport Act prohibits a woman from changing her surname from her husband’s last name to her maiden surname most especially if marriage still exists.

Republic Act 8239, otherwise known as the Philippine Passport Act, along with its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), prohibits a married woman from changing the surname appearing in her passport, unless for causes mentioned therein:

“Sec. 5. Requirements for the Issuance of Passport. — No passport shall be issued to an applicant unless the Secretary or his duly authorized representative is satisfied that the applicant is a Filipino citizen who has complied with the following requirements: (d) In case of a woman who is married, separated, divorced or widowed or whose marriage has been annulled or declared by a court as void, a copy of the certificate of marriage, court decree of separation, divorce or annulment or certificate of death of the deceased spouse duly issued and authenticated by the Office of the Civil Registrar General: Provided, That in case of a divorce decree, annulment or declaration of marriage as void, the woman applicant may revert to the use of her maiden name: Provided, further, That such divorce is recognized under existing laws of the Philippines.”

“The passport can be amended only in the following cases: Amendment of woman’s name due to marriage; Amendment of woman’s name due to death of spouse, annulment of marriage or divorce initiated by a foreign spouse (Section 1, Article 12 of the IRR).”

However, the prohibition on the reversion to maiden surname only applies if the marriage between the female passport applicant and her spouse is still subsisting. Once the said marriage has been terminated by the death of her spouse, by divorce, by the annulment of marriage, or by the nullity of marriage, she may use her married surname in her new passport, provided that she can present valid proof of the demise of her spouse or the appropriate court decision recognizing her divorce or dissolving her marriage.

Hope this helps.

Atty. Chris Liquigan

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