What’s in a name? Change of name without going to court

A name, according to the Supreme Court in a 2005 case, has two parts: (1) the given or proper name and (2) 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.

Middle names, on the other hand, are not regulated by law, although the Filipino custom is to use the mother’s surname as the child’s middle name. Still, you cannot drop or delete your middle name. Middle names serve to identify the maternal lineage or filiation of a person as well as further distinguish him from others who may have the same given name and surname as he has.

How about an illegitimate child whose filiation is not recognized by the father? Can that child use the middle name of the mother? The answer is, no. That child “bears only a given name and his mother’ surname, and does not have a middle name.  The name of the unrecognized illegitimate child therefore identifies him as such.”

An illegitimate child may now use the surname of the father. This is a recognition of the fact that illegitimacy is not the child’s fault, and, therefore, the child should be shielded against the social stigma and other negative consequences arising from illegitimacy. To illustrate, what’s your first thought should you notice that a kid uses the name of the mother, and not of the father? Even the illegitimate child’s friends and contemporaries in school, should they learn that, unlike them, their friend follows the surname of the mother, would start asking why.

Another welcome amendment is with respect to the procedure in changing names. Going to court, with all the expenses that goes with it, to change first names and correct clerical errors is no longer necessary. Under Republic Act No. 9048 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, the city or municipal civil registrar or the consul general is 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. It must be made clear, however, a court order is still required for substantial changes such as surname, gender, nationality, and status.

R.A. 9048, which took effect on 22 April 2001, amends the Civil Code (Articles 376 and 412), which prohibits the change of name or surname of a person, or any correction or change of entry in a civil register without a judicial order. The matters that you need to know (Primer) about R.A. 9048 is found at the National Statistics Office (NSO) website.

164 thoughts on “What’s in a name? Change of name without going to court

  1. Mico


    I have a question. What are the grounds and requirement for me to change my surname to my mother’s?
    I am born in Jan 1986 and an illegitimate child.
    I am using my Father’s surname since childhood.
    My Father have already passed away and I wish to use my mother’s Maiden name .

    Thank you

  2. len

    hello. gusto ko lang itanong sana. paano makakuha ng passport ang anak ko 12 years old. nakaapelyido siya sa tatay pero hindi kame kasal at hiwalay na kame. ngayun kailangan ng dfa ng letter of abandonment kasi wla ng support at ayaw na magpakita ng tatay. paano makakuha ng ganun document, anu proseso? at gaano katagal. kasi ako ay nandto sa ibang bansa. maraming salamat sa reply

  3. Salvacion

    Dear Maan/Sir
    Can i ask you a question ? I have a problem with my daughters birthcertificate , its about my name, i wrote Nakename in her pSA How to change my real name in her birth certificate ?

    Please reply,

  4. Chelsea

    I have a question sir/mam… I have a live in partner and he has one daughter. Now we want to fix the papers of the child. To be my legal child. What should we do?

    Thanks God Bless

  5. erikamaeparungao

    Hi this is Erika Mae Cunanan Parungao and I’am at legal age and unfortunately on my NSO(PSA) I have incorrect last name (Erika Mae Cunanan Santigao) on PSA which came from my fathers middle name I’m planning to work abroad and I don’t know how to correct those information. Mother’s maiden name is Margarita Torres Cunanan . And my father’s name is Eranio Santiago Parungao. They were married and all my documents and school record is under Erika Mae Cunanan Parungao. What to do please help me

  6. JIE

    Hi atty,

    We have a child my eldest, used the surname of his father but not recognized on his NSO live birth my surname used there sa NSO live birth kasi that time year 2002 hindi pa kami kasal..Paano po namin ma change yong surname sa NSO? kasi ang nandoon apelyido ko How to transfer it to his father’s surname? kasal na po kami last 2004..

  7. Cathyrine

    In my daughter’s birth certificate both my parent’s name are signed as her mother and father so it appears that I am her sister,biologically I am her real mother, how will I change her birthcert and make it under my name,I am a single mom and she’s my only child both my parents are now deceased

  8. elena

    good morning.
    i have 12 years old daughter and his carrying his biological father but we’re not married and we’re separate since my daughter 5 months,we don’t have any support ever since,I’m married to my new husband and we want to change my first daughter’s surname,my daughter ask me also to change her surname.
    what is the best way to do,and what is the requirements for changing of surname,where we can file!
    thank you, god bless.

  9. Illoisa

    hi.. My mom is Japanese and my dad is French. I was born in France and an illegitimate daughter. I studied primary level in Europe using my name Illoisa Couer as registered also being a French citizen. However since my mom grew up here in the Philippines, she registered me under a different name and nationality which is Elena Santos with Filipino nationality, which is I currently use in my documents. I do not have even a little blood of Filipino in me. Now I own a Philippine and French passports.. I want to apply for work in France using my original name so I won’t need visa anymore and that I can claim my identity. How is it possible to fix? I mean all my documents are under the Filipino name Elena Santos and not Illoisa Couer… Thank you in advance for your response.

  10. R. S.

    My family is a mess and I’m torn between either just filing for emancipation or a complete name change. I need advice. thanks,
    -A 28 year old in need.

  11. Margarette

    I recently discovered that my first name indicated in my birth certificate is Margaret. For all my other records – Baptismal Certicate, SSS, Pag Ibig, Philhealth, Drivers License and my daughter’s Birth Cerificate, I used Mary Margarette. Can I have my first name in the birth certificate changed to Mary Margarette? If yes, how do I go about it.

    Thanks in advance.

  12. theresa

    good day!
    its been 15 years since my husband leave me with my 2 kids which nearly reach thier adulthood now. i want to use my maiden name after all this year of using his. i am a government employee and i do not know anybody in the agency to help me on this.
    hope i can receive a reply. thank you!


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