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.

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

  1. cathyk

    actually sir, mejo complicated ang problem ko, kasi for 28 years ive been using my last name Kho and middle name Barro

    only to found last February 2010 na fake pala ung birth certificate na ginagamit ko na only proof ko na ako si Catherine Barro Kho

    hinidi rin married ang parents ko at wala akong papel na pinanghahawakan na acknowledged ako ng tatay ko

    both of them passed away for almost 3 yrs na, so kahit ung tatay ko hindi ko na mahahatak na pirmahan nya ung o sumulat sya sa korte na in acknowledge nga nya ako sa anak kahit illegitimate.

    pano po un sir, does it mean na hindi ko na magagamit ang last name na Kho?
    wala rin po akong birth certificate ng mama ko na nagpapatunay na Barro tlaga ang last name nya only her death certificate ang meron lang akong dokumento na ngpapangalan sa knya.
    sir , do u think magpakasal muna ako para meron akong magamit na isa pang dokumneto na mgpaptunay na catherine kho ako? (so ang ma su submit ko po nun ay ung fake ko na birth cert?)
    hindi po ba mas mo do doble ang problema pag ganun?
    actually plan ko po kasi magpa kasal kaso nag wo worry ako na baka mas malaking problema kapag nagpaksal ako tapos fake pla ung birth cert na ippapsa ko.

    Please help…

  2. mique

    Hello Attys!

    My concern is same with nikkabebez… hope I could have some advice or opinion on this. My kid knows what her father’s last name is and she then gets mad if I come across of telling her that her last name should be like this and that. She’s only 6 but she understands what went wrong between me and her father. She keeps on insisting that she has the same last name as mine and she wants it that way. How can I go about on changing her last name back to mine? Hope to have some feedback.

  3. wilma cheng

    I am a singlemom… then I got married… Now, my husband want to change my daughter’s first name and family name..

    Where do I start?..
    what are the requirements…
    pls help… or atleast advice…

  4. mjamito2

    Hi atty,

    When i was 17, my aunt secure a SSS# for me but she put MARICEL instead of AIDA as my first name. Since then when i started working , i use MARICEL in my pag-ibig, philhealth, voter’s id and even in my kids birth certificate. How can i change my first name in my kids bc as well as most of my docs? please reply.

  5. joanstl

    Hi Atty,

    I am a Filipino married to an American. I have 2 daughter, both I had when I was single in the Philippines They both have my maiden name ( Their birth certificates dont have their biological father’s name). We all have green cards but are not American Citizens yet. Our Philippines Passport have already expired and I’m planning to have them renewed. My questions are:

    1. If I have my family name in my Philippines Passport changed to my married name, how will this affect my 2 girls who sill have my maiden name when going out and back to the country? What documents do I need to present? ( Birth Certificates? Marriage certificate?)

    2. Is it alright ot retain my maiden name in my Philippines Passport even though I am married? When we visited inthe Philippines in 2009, they asked me to present supporting documents why I have different family names in my passport and plane ticket.

    3. How advantageous is it to have dual citizenship? My husband and I are planning to move to the Philippines when he retires.

    4. I am already eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship, should I just wait ’till I have my new citizeship and acquire a U.S. passport? By then I may have myself and my 2 girls have the same family names.

  6. mjamito2

    Hi atty,

    This is my second time, but until now i havent recvd any answer from you.. let me ask the same scenario,when i was 17, my aunt secure a SSS# for me but she put MARICEL instead of AIDA as my first name. Since then when i started working , i use MARICEL in my pag-ibig, philhealth, voter’s id and even in my kids birth certificate. How can i change my first name in my kids bc as well as most of my docs? please reply

  7. roy04

    Hi atty

    pano po ang aking gagawin. Simulat sapul po kc Roy Clemente n po ang aking gnmit, all my documets and valid id, pero Baby Boy clemente po pla ang real name ko. Atty help me. D po kc ako maka kuha ng pasport. Maraming salamat po.

  8. crizbasa

    Hi Atty,

    Good day.

    I am having a problem with regards to my fathers’ middle initial in my birth certificate. It was mistyped incorrectly. It should be ‘N’ instead of ‘M’. What should I do?

    Please help me because I need your advice very badly :(

    Thank you.

  9. Femar

    Hi sir,
    I have my 4 years old son, he got the surname of his father, but were not married. He agreed already that I will change my sons last name. And I’v got married 7 months ago and my husband wants him to carry his last name. Please help.. I do really need your help badly. I really appreciate your help.

    Thank you very much.

  10. lang2x

    Hi i just want to know pano po ba makakuha ng legal separation, my husband now is married from his first wife. tapos 2 years na po ka meng nagsasama. 2 years na din po sila hiwalay pero may contact po sila kasi humihingi po ng suporta yong una nya na asawa. pls answer me we need it. thanks
    God Bless

  11. haydee22

    Good day attorney, I’m a mother of two kids. Both was born before they allowed again illegitimate children to have their fathers last name. So both of my children aged 12 and 9 are using my last name and have no middle name. I would like to ask attorney what we should do to change their last name to their father’s last name and to have my last name as their middle name( as everyone thus even illegitimate). Their father is deceased but he have signed the birth certificate of my children. Now since his dead and was married to another women, what procedure should I do for them to have their father’s last name…thank u very much attorney…

  12. solo_parent

    Hi Attorney,

    I too would like to know how to have my children’s (both minors) last name changed to mine (mother) apart from filing a petition to change their surnames. Their father and I were not married and have separated. If this has been answered in another post, please provide the link.

    If the only course however is to file the said petition, what would be the grounds/basis for the courts to approve the request?

    Thank you.

  13. Esteban

    hello po atty.

    tanong ko lang po kung ano ang gagawin dahil ang kapatid ko ay walang middle name at ipananganak sya nung 1992. dahil sa lahat ng records nya kahit ang passport ay may middle name sya kasi nung ni-register sya, my mother wrote her surname and middle name to register yung kapatid ko kung saan unknowingly binura pala ng sa lcr ang middle name. illegitimate po ang kapatid ko.

    maraming salamat po.

  14. grandia

    I just want to ask something. What if I denounce the surname of my biological father? I mean I don’t want to use his surname anymore. Is it possible that I can use my mother’s maiden name as my maiden name and her surname as my surname too? Hoping for a response. Thank you.

  15. NathanMumar

    Good day!

    I am hoping to have a minor name change. My first name in both the original and NSO birth certificates is written as ‘NATHANIE’ instead of ‘NATHANIEL’. Ever since childhood I have always been mistaken as a girl/woman. And ‘Yes’ I am a man. It was a clerical error. I remember a lot of episodes in my life wherein various government offices would deny me of documents due to uncertainties of either my name or my gender. My family have not pursued a name change before due to the painstaking court procedures and the costly expenses it pertains.

    I do not have two documents to show as a basis for my name to be changed. The only document that I have wherein ‘NATHANIEL’ and not ‘NATHANIE’ is written is my Baptismal Certificate. Unfortunately, all of my present documents had depended heavily on the original birth certificate with error. I would gladly appreciate any possible remedies. Thank you.


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