So I haven’t had time to write about this properly, but I got my marriage registered in November last year (2019), with my Filipino husband. We had the marriage registered in Malaysia and started planning as early as 2018. It took us over a year to have everything in place.
Getting married in Malaysia is no walk in the park if your spouse is a foreigner. The information available online is not complete, and in some cases policies change – so we ended up running to a lot of different government agencies, having to enter and exit the country multiple times, etc. I hope that by sharing my own experience, it can help other spouses plan their marriage registration better!
Note: This is written from the perspective of a non-Muslim Malaysian spouse and a non-Muslim Filipino spouse (husband). The procedure for Muslims is different.
Note 2: Information is updated as of 2019. Some policies may have changed in the meantime.
WHAT TO GET IN THE PHILIPPINES – FILIPINO SPOUSE
Step 1: NSO Birth Certificate & Certificate Of No Marriage (CENOMAR). You can order copies of these online at psa.gov.ph which should take two business days. They should cost around PHP 350 – 450 each. The CENOMAR is valid for 120 days from the date of issuance. Order two copies of each to be safe.
Step 2: The NSO Birth Cert & CENOMAR has to be authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in a process called ‘Red Ribbon’. This can be done at any of their satellite branches and will cost around PHP300. Hubs had his done at the branch in SM Megamall Ortigas.
Step 3: Getting a Single Entry Visa (SEV) from the Malaysian Embassy in Makati.
Okay, this is the complicated part. Filipinos travelling to Malaysia get 30 days on arrival, without having to apply for any visas. BUT. The marriage registration process takes more than 30 days. So unless you’re willing to exit Malaysia, go for a holiday in Bangkok for a couple of days or something, and come back again with a fresh 30-day pass, I recommend getting a Single Entry Visa (SEV), which allows Filipinos to stay up to 60 days in Malaysia without exiting. I think it used to be 90 days but they’ve shortened it to 60 – not sure if it’s applicable across the board or if it was our own personal experience.
Because this section is pretty long in its own, I will detail this in another post.
Other stuff: Passport sized photos with white / blue background. Make lots and lots of them.
WHAT TO DO IN MALAYSIA
So your Filipino spouse is finally in Malaysia. You’re halfway done, congrats! This part will involve lots of running around to different government departments – hopefully this’ll help guide you in your journey. 🙂
STEP 1 : CERTIFICATE OF SINGLE STATUS – FOR THE MALAYSIAN SPOUSE
No one actually told me that I had to get a cert of single status. So when we got to the Philippine embassy (with all the other documents ready for submission) and got asked for it, we had to scramble to the Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara in Putrajaya to have it issued – there goes the day! At JPN, head to the Marriage and Divorce counter and tell them you want to get a cert of single status issued. If there aren’t too many people, you should get it within a couple of hours. PS: I can’t recall exactly but I THINK this needs to be certified by a commissioner of oaths. You can find one within the building.
Important note: After I got the cert of single status, a member of the staff advised for me to get the cert authenticated at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Wisma KLN, Precinct 2, Putrajaya. The reason given was that ‘anything that deals with foreign affairs must be authenticated at the foreign affairs department’. I have not read anything about having to do this step, but we didn’t want to risk going to the Philippine embassy and being turned away again. So we got EVERYTHING (my cert of single status, Hubs’ CENOMAR and birth cert, etc.) authenticated.
STEP 2: Applying for CLCCM (Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage)
We returned to the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur the next day with documents in hand:
- Copies of Birth Certificate and CENOMAR by NSO, authenticated (Red Ribbon) in Philippines AND stamped by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia.
- Malaysian – Certificate of single status
- Photocopy of Malaysian spouse IC
- Photocopy of Philippine Passport (front page + page with date of entry to Malaysia will do but we printed everything to be safe)
- Passport size photos of both parties (2 pieces each)
- Affidavit of Contracting Party (you can get this at the embassy)
- Application for CLCCM (you can get this at the embassy)
- Payment: RM106.25.
Be there early (before 9AM) because it gets pretty crowded. We submitted our documents within the hour, and were told to return after 13 working days.
STEP 3: Waiting
It is a requirement to reside in the state where your spouse lives for at least 7 days. I think this is pretty hard to track because you can be travelling around as a tourist, and it’s not likely they’ll come to check on you – but to be safe, stay at your spouse’s place and go check out their neighbourhood, get used to Malaysian life, etc.
STEP 4: Collecting the CLCCM / Getting It Authenticated
After 13 business days, return to the Philippine Embassy to get your CLCCM. Guess where you’re headed again? The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Putrajaya. We made a return trip to get the CLCCM authenticated. Remember, if you’re not sure (and government staff tend to give you different instructions or “I don’t know”) , just have everything authenticated.
STEP 5: Verification of Marital Status Letter
One final hurdle before you can apply to get married. Foreign marriages can only be registered at the district where the Malaysian spouse resides. It cannot be done in JPN Putrajaya if the Malaysian spouse’s IC is not registered in Putrajaya (excluding special cases like Chinese or Nigerian nationals).
My IC is in Puchong, which falls under the purview of Daerah Petaling. Puchong has a JPN but it’s very small so for all major happenings /registrations/whatnot = JPN Petaling (in Petaling Jaya). BUT. I cannot go directly there. I had to get a Verification of Marital Status Letter issued by JPN Putrajaya, which I would have to bring to JPN Petaling. It’s basically an approval letter stating that you’re intending to marry this person and have already gotten your certificate of single status and are therefore allowed to marry.
STEP 6 : Application for marriage
We finally went to JPN Petaling for our marriage application. Documents needed:
- Verification of Marital Status Letter
- Form JPN.KC02 (can be obtained at JPN Petaling)
- One (1) colour passport-sized photograph per applicant.
- Malaysian spouse’s MYKAD
- Photocopies of Malaysian spouse’s MYKAD (photocopying services are available but it costs RM1)
- Filipino spouse’s passport
- Photocopies of Filipino spouse’s passport
- CLCCM (authenticated)
- CENOMAR (original and photocopy)
- Filipino Birth Cert (original and photocopy)
Again, to be safe, bring every single document listed in the procedures from above. You don’t want to be running to another department to get some thing or other.
Our JPN officer guided us through the forms that we had to fill up. She could speak English so we didn’t require translation services from a commissioner of oath. If you or your spouse can’t speak English or Malay, you might have to get the forms translated (I think there is a commissioner of oath available inside the JPN building)
Once you’ve submitted and filled out everything, they’ll put up a notice for 21 days, and anyone (jealous exes?) who wants to raise an objection can do so in this period. You can also set a date for the swearing in.
We had a hiccup here because even though we had a 2-month SEV for him to stay in Malaysia (mid August – mid October) the dates available for the swearing in were full until November. We went to immigration to ask if we could extend but they didn’t allow it. He ended up flying back to the Philippines (additional cost ;__;), then flew back here in November on a tourist pass lol. Which sucked because we wasted a lot of money applying for the SEV, not to mention plane tickets back and forth.
In most cases, two months should suffice. To give you a breakdown of the timeline that we followed:
- Verify Filipino spouse’s CENOMAR, Birth Cert and Malaysian spouse’s Certificate of Single Status at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Putrajaya – 1 day
- Apply for CLCCM at Philippine Embassy KL – 1 day
- Wait 13 business days for the CLCCM (does not include weekends – so we’re looking at almost 3 weeks here. It may be earlier; they will call you if it is)
- Collect CLCCM. Go to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Putrajaya to authenticate. – 1 day
- The Malaysian spouse has to get their Verification of Marital Status Letter if you’re marrying anywhere other than Putrajaya. We got this on the same day we verified the CLCCM at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Head to the JPN Branch of the district where your Malaysian spouse is residing and apply for marriage. They’ll put up a notice for 21 days. – 21 days
- Total: About 40 days, give or take.
Step 7 : Swearing in !
After all that hullabaloo, our swearing in date was finally set. The process is on a first come first served basis, so be there early ! (we were at JPN Petaling around 7.30AM). Bring:
- 2 witnesses (if they’re Malaysians, have MYKADS ready, if they’re non-Malaysians then passports)
- Malaysian spouse IC
- Foreign spouse passport
Casual wear is not allowed so no flip flops or tees. You don’t have to wear your gown though – a dress for the girl and a formal shirt for the guy should be good enough.
We were called into the room where the officer read a bunch of stuff and we had to sign some forms. We also did a symbolic ring exchange.
Getting married in Malaysia is not easy and couples should be ready to face a tonne of bureaucracy and challenges that require lots of patience and perseverance. If your foreign spouse is planning to stay here in Malaysia for the long term, it’s a whole new set of hurdles, like applying for a long term spouse visa and work permit. We haven’t gotten to that point yet, but we’ll face it when the time comes.
I hope this guide will be helpful to future couples. Good luck!