In the Philippines, children who were conceived and born outside a valid marriage are considered illegitimate or non-marital. Under the Family Code of the Philippines, non-marital children may only use the surname of their mothers, and not that of their fathers.

On 19 March 2004, Republic Act No. 9255 (RA 9255) became effective and this law allows non-marital children to use the surname of their fathers provided that they are recognized or acknowledged by the latter. However, this law was given prospective application and was not applicable to those who were born during 03 August 1988 to 18 March 2004 (the effectivity of Family Code provision anent use of surname of non-marital children). Thus, those excluded should file a petition in court to be able to use the surname of their fathers.

This is no longer true today.

On April 28, 2023, the Civil Registrar General issued Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 2023 (AO No. 1, s. 2023) amending the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9255. Under the amendment, said law shall now apply to all non-marital children even those who were born during the effectivity of the Family Code.

Said amendment provides:

Rule 1. Coverage

These Rules shall apply to all non-marital children during the effectivity of Executive Order No. 209 or otherwise known as the “Family Code of the Philippines”. This includes

1.1 Unregistered births; and

1.2 Registered births where the non-marital children use the surname of the mother.”

Further, AO No. 1, s. 2023 states that RA 9255 shall have retroactive effect for all births occurring within and outside the Philippines.

This is a welcome development as non-marital children who were born during the effectivity of the Family Code may now use the surname of their fathers without going to court. All they need to do is to go to the Local Civil Registrar’s Office where their birth certificates are recorded and apply for the change of their surname through RA 9255.

The Pampanga (Angeles City, Mabalacat City, San Fernando City or nearby municipalities) and Tarlac (Capas, Bamban, Concepcion, Tarlac City, Camiling, Paniqui, or nearby municipalities) lawyers of Sanchez & Cunanan have extensive experience in handling cases involving correction and cancellation of entries in birth, marriage, or death certificates. For inquiries, you may contact them through or at 0976-175-7486 (Angeles Branch) or 0976-385-6705 (Tarlac Branch), and see the profiles of the legal team at this link.