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.

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

  1. imee

    hi atty,

    Ung kapatid ko po walang surname sa birthcertifiate, wala din po ung name ng tatay namen sa birth certificate niya, paano po kaya yung gagawin doon? paano po malalagay ung name ng tatay namen at maayos ung surname niya? thank you po

  2. Jun

    Would like to seek consultation regarding removing alias in my birth certificate.
    What are the steps needed to be done to clear the alias in my Birth certificate?

    For Example:
    Birth Certificate Name: Juan “DonDon” dela cruz

    But since I wen to school I never used the “DonDon”.
    Can this be removed without going to court?


  3. Pat

    I was bullied in my elementary years because my name has ‘Princes’ in it. I judt tolerated it until college. I went overseas and of course people would like to know my name. Whenever they learn about my first name they either tell me ‘what a lovely name’ or would ask me ‘what is your real name?’ ‘Is that your real name?’ (Annoying right?!)

    My concern is if it’s possible to change my first name without going through the lenghty process?

    I’m currently living overseas and don’t have a luxury of time to go home due to studies and work committment.

  4. Michelle

    Hi! I want to change my surname, I’m 18yrs old. my parents are legally married but my father left us 15yrs. ago to be with his mistress and his bastards. is that possible that I could legally use my mother’s maiden name? I hope you could give me some piece of advice.I’m willing to undergo some process just to change my surname . Thank you

  5. guia

    Good day Atty.

    21yo ako nung nagka anak ako out of wedlock. pagkatapos ko manganak, ipina register agad ny parents ko ang bata under teir name. pareho sila public employee and about to retire next year. may posibilidad po ba na hindi sila maulong? ano po ang dapat kong gawin na ma transfer ang name ng anak ko sa name ko na hindi ma trouble ang parents ko at ang kanilang retirement.

    I’m looking forward for your reply. maraming salamat po.

  6. Adrian

    Is it legally possible in the Philippines to change your surname from your father’s surname to your middle name or your mother’s maiden name?

  7. Jj

    Iam a widower until i remarried last 2015. I want to change my daughter’s surname to my current husband’s surname. I have received several advises to undergo the late registration process. Will this be a legal action? Pls advise, thanks

  8. Jamrence

    My friend use surname of there known Father but in nso there’s no surname of her and no father name appear only name and middle name of her,what the procedure she must do?

  9. evangeline

    Hi po ask kung anu po ang dapat gawin para mapalitan po ang last name ng anak q.dahil magdadalawang taon n rin na hindi nagbibigay ng sostento yung ama ng anak ko.

    Thank you

  10. Angelica

    I am now taking care of my husband’s son.. I want to change the mother’s name in his BC into my name.. Is that possible? Im Having a hard time as well as my son ( stepson) in school.. I am now married ti his father.. And i dont know now his biological mother’s where about. What to do. I want him to be under my name . so that he will nit be question when time cones thank you

  11. apa

    Hi! My friend’s name in NSO says “Baby Boy Leonard”. He wants to have the “Baby Boy” dropped and wishes to retain “Leonard”.

    How will he go about this?

  12. Nina

    hi po gusto ko lang po malaman kung pano po papalitan ung second name po ng anak ko ng hindi na po nag pupunta sa court ano po yung mga requirements thank you


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