A passport, in general, is an official document of identity and nationality issued to a person intending to travel or sojourn in foreign countries. A “Philippine passport,” on the other hand, is a document certifying to the Philippine citizenship of the holder in use for travel purposes. Passport means a document issued by the Philippine government to its citizens and requesting other governments to allow its citizens to pass safely and freely, and in case of need to give him/her all lawful aid and protection.
A married woman has the option to use the surname of the husband in any of the ways provided by Article 370 of the Civil Code, to wit:
(1) Her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname; OR
(2) Her maiden first name and her husband’s surname; OR
(3) Her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as “Mrs.”
The law allows a married woman to use her maiden name in her passport. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) allows a married woman who applies for a passport for the first time to use her maiden name. The applicant is NOT required to adopt her husband’s surname.
In the case of renewal of passport, a married woman may either adopt her husband’s surname or continuously use her maiden name. If she chooses to adopt her husband’s surname in her new passport, the DFA additionally requires the submission of an authenticated copy of the marriage certificate. Otherwise, if she prefers to continue using her maiden name, she may still do so. The DFA will not prohibit her from continuously using her maiden name.
However, once a married woman opts to adopt her husband’s surname in her passport, she may not revert to the use of her maiden name, except in the cases enumerated in Section 5(d) of RA 8239. These instances are: (1) death of husband; (2) divorce; (3) annulment; or (4) nullity of marriage. While the marriage is still subsisting, a married woman may not change her family name at will. The reason? To avoid confusion and inconsistency in the records of passport holders.
[References: Republic Act No. 8239, also known as the Philippine Passport Act of 1996; Remo vs. Secretary of Foreign Affairs, G.R. No. 169202, 5 March 2010; In re Petition for Habeas Corpus of Willie Yu vs. Defensor-Santiago, G.R. No. L-83882, 24 January 1989]