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How To Get A Marriage License: A State-By-State Guide

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How To Get A Marriage License IN EVERY STATE
Love

It's probably the most important part of your wedding.

We all need a marriage license to get married, but how and where and when to get that license does vary from state to state? Confused yet? So are we, so we broke it down. Here's how to get a marriage license, all depending on where you live.

Acquiring a marriage license does vary state by state; however, most couples are required to wait a few days (typically 3) after obtaining said license.

“You need valid identification, birth certificates, and proof of residency. You can always visit your county clerk office or look online for what documentation is needed to apply and be approved for a marriage license. After the wedding, it is customary for the officiant to sign the license with two witnesses and mail it in for you,” reveals Rebecca Lang, a certified wedding planner and owner of Live Love Laugh Events.

Luckily, most states have information and forms you need available online for an easy, quick download or submission.

RELATED: Here Are The First 5 Steps All Brides Who Are Planning Their Own Wedding Should Take

"Many people know they need to apply for a marriage license before they get married, and that if they want a prenuptial agreement, they should start discussing the terms with their fiancé months in advance of the wedding," adds Andrea Vacca, a divorce and family attorney.

But what else do you need to know about getting a marriage license? Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Applying for the marriage license

"A license needs to be issued in the state where you plan to marry. In New York State, for example, couples can apply for a license at any town or city clerk’s office if they plan to marry anywhere in New York State," says Vacca. You need to bring proof of your date of birth, which can established by:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Baptismal record
  • Naturalization record
  • Census record

You’ll also need to establish your identity, which can be established by:

  • Driver's license
  • Passport
  • Employment picture ID
  • Immigration record 

2. Your prior relationship status

The clerk will want to know if you’ve been married before.

Says Vacca, "If so, you need to bring a certified copy of your Judgment of Divorce with you when you apply for the license. If you don’t have a certified copy of that document, you’ll need to obtain one, in advance, from the county clerk’s office in the county where you were divorced."

3. Who performed your wedding

After the wedding, make sure the person who performed your wedding, whether the clergy person or other officient, actually mails the license back to the clerk’s office. Or better yet, "Have them give the license to you so you can mail it yourself," suggests Vacca. 

Why? Because according to Vacca, "A marriage certificate will not be issued until the clerk receives the license with the necessary signatures and information filled in. Friends of mine thought they were married for a couple of years before they learned the rabbi who performed her wedding never mailed the license! They only found this out when the wife took a new job and tried to enroll her husband on her medical plan. Once they learned this, they had to get married at the clerk’s office to make their marriage legal."

2. Name change

Are you and/or your spouse planning to change your last name? If so, "In New York, specifically, you have a number of options for how you want your name to appear on the marriage certificate," advises Vacca. According to the New York State Dept of Health website, you can choose:

  • The surname of the other spouse
  • Any former surname of either spouse
  • A name combining into a single surname all or a segment of the premarriage surname or any former surname of each spouse
  • A combination name separated by a hyphen, provided that each part of such combination surname is the premarriage surname, or any former surname, of each of the spouses

"But remember," Vacca adds, "the marriage certificate is just proof that you can legally use this new name. You still need to contact the Social Security Administration, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Passport Office to notify them of the change and update your records."

If you decide to change your name, make that decision consciously and be consistent about it.

She adds, "Using your pre-marriage surname in some aspects of your life, and a hyphenated name or your spouse’s name in others, just leads to confusion and can interfere with your ability to properly identify yourself in the future."

With all that in mind, here's how to apply for a marriage license in each state.

Alabama

It’s pretty easy to get married in Alabama. For the quick hitch, there’s no waiting period, but those marriage licenses must be used within 30 days. You’ll need valid ID, proof of residency, and either be 16 with a parents’ permission, or 18. No blood test necessary.

Marriage License Application

Alaska

A photo ID is necessary to prove you are over 18, and there’s no state residency requirement, but the marriage license does expire in three months. There’s also a three-day wait time. Two witnesses must be present for the ceremony, but not in getting the license.

Marriage Licenses and Applications

Arizona

To get a license, you need a valid photo ID and must be over 18 (or have parental consent). There’s no wait time, and the license will be valid up to a year.

Marriage Licenses

Arkansas

There’s no waiting period, and licenses are valid up to 60 days; however, those under 18 do require a five-day wait period.

Marriage Licenses

California

“The County Clerk’s office is responsible for issuing marriage licenses in California. Both you and your partner must bring in government-issued photo IDs, be at least 18 years old, and have a witness present to sign the marriage license. License fees are also required at the time that you apply,” says Kevin Dennis, owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services.

“In California, your marriage license is valid for 90 days after obtaining it, meaning you have three months from the date of receipt to marry before it expires.” Otherwise, there is no waiting period required. You’ll be issued a license immediately after you submit an application.

Marriage Licenses

Colorado

Photo ID is necessary, and the license is valid for about a month. No witnesses are required.

Marriage Licenses

Connecticut

Valid photo ID is necessary, and the license expires in 65 days. Both parties must be 18, unless they have parental consent, and witnesses are not required.

Marriage Licenses

Delaware

As in everywhere else, photo ID is necessary and so is parental consent if under 18. The license will expire in 30 days. Two witnesses are necessary.

Marriage Licenses 

Washington, D.C.

Valid photo ID is needed, and you must be at least 18 unless you have parental consent. There is no required wait time and no witnesses are necessary.

Marriage Licenses

Florida

“The first step is to find the nearest clerk of the circuit court office. You can get a license from anywhere in the state and get married in any county,” advises Shannon Tarrant, founder of Wedding Venue Map. Also, consider using an online wedding license service like Married by Mail or Florida Marriage License by Mail and let them do the work for you.

Marriage Licenses

Georgia

A valid photo ID is necessary, and while there’s no state residency requirement, you must apply in the county where the marriage is to be performed. You must be 18 or over or have parental permission, but the license never expires once issued.

Marriage Licenses

Hawaii

The minimum age to marry in Hawaii is 15 with written consent from both parents or legal guardians, but the legal age is 18 without parental permission.

Marriage Licenses

Idaho

There's no expiration date on marriage licenses in Idaho, and all licenses are issued by the county clerk’s office.

Marriage Licenses

Illinois

A marriage license in the state of Illinois is valid for 60 days, and you must be 18 years old or have parental permission. There’s also a waiting period of one day.

Marriage Licenses

Indiana

Both applicants for the license must be present and also have a photo ID. And beware: The cost of a license here will be different depending on if you are a state resident.

Marriage Licenses

Iowa

You can apply for a license at any county clerk’s office, and both applicants and one witness (must be 18 years or older) must appear with valid photo ID. There’s then a three-day waiting period.

Marriage Law and Licenses

Kansas

Either of the two applicants can appear for the license; both do not have to appear, but that person must be 18 years old.

Marriage Application and Affidavit

Kentucky

Both applicants must appear together and licenses are valid for 30 days. Both must be 18 years of age and have proper state ID.

Marriage Licenses

Louisiana

Louisiana has a 72-hour wait after a license is issued, but out-of-state couples can get married in New Orleans without a wait.

Marriage Licenses

Maine

Both parties must come together to the town office, and the marriage license is valid for 90 days, but there is no waiting period in Maine.

Marriage Licenses

Maryland

Maryland is pretty specific, and marriage licenses must be obtained at the Circuit Court in the county where the marriage is to take place, no matter where the couple lives in the state. That license needs to be obtained at least 48 hours before the wedding, with valid photo ID.  

Marriage Licenses

Massachusetts

Valid photo ID is necessary, but the couple does not need to be a resident of Massachusetts and the waiting period is three days. Note: Sundays and holidays count as part of those three days.

Marriage Licenses

Michigan

Must be 18 years of age and the license is valid throughout the state, but there’s a three-day waiting period to use the license, which will expire 33 days from the date of application. 

Marriage Licenses

Minnesota

You must be 18 to apply for a license, and after a license is issued, it is valid for six months. But there is a five-day waiting period before it can be used.

Marriage Licenses

Mississippi

If either applicant is under 21 years of age, parental consent is required. But once the license is applied for, it can be granted and used the same day.

Marriage Records 

RELATED: How To Change Your Name After Marriage

Missouri

In Missouri, both applicants must appear in person with both valid ID containing date of birth, and also a Social Security card.

Marriage Licenses

Montana

There’s no waiting period and the license can be used immediately or within 180 days (approximately 6 months), with valid ID to anyone over 18.

Marriage License Requirements 

Nebraska

The license is good for a year and there’s no waiting period, but come prepared, as you’ll need the names of their parents (including mother’s maiden name), and parents' birthplaces.

Marriage Licenses

Nevada

There is no waiting period to get married after the marriage license has been issued, and marriage licenses are good for one year.

Marriage License Information 

New Hampshire

The license is valid for 90 days from the date of filing, and both applications must appear in person.

Marriage Licenses 

New Jersey

“In New Jersey, there is a form you can complete online, or you can pick one up at your local Registrar's office. It's very important that you do not sign it until you go to the Registrar's office because you are signing it under oath and with witnesses,” says Danielle Rothweiler of Rothweiler Event Design.

Marriage or Civil Union Licenses

New Mexico

Both applicants must be present and at least 18 years of age with a valid photo ID or birth certificate, and also a social security number. 

Marriage Licenses 

New York

Must apply in person, and the application must be signed by both applicants in front of the town or city clerk. The license is issued immediately, but the marriage may not take place within 24 hours from the exact time that the license was issued. However, the license is valid for 60 calendar days, beginning the day after it is issued.

Marriage Certificates 

North Carolina

Both applicants must appear in person with a valid photo ID and a Social Security Card that is not laminated. The license is valid for 60 days and there is no waiting period. 

Marriage Licenses

North Dakota

Marriage license is valid for 60 days and applicants need to be at least 18 years old to marry, with photo ID.

Marriage Licenses

Ohio

Someone younger than 18 needs consent of parents, but also proof that he or she has received marriage counseling. After the application is accepted there is no waiting period, and the license is valid for 60 days.

Marriage Licenses

Oklahoma

Must be over 18 with valid ID or have parental permission. If you are divorced in Oklahoma, you are not allowed to marry anyone other than your previous spouse for a period of six months after the divorce. There’s no waiting period except for those under the age of 18, who have a 72-hour waiting period.

Marriage Licenses 

Oregon

There is a three-day waiting period and the license is good for 60 days. Applicants must be 18 years old.

Marriage Licenses

Pennsylvania

A valid photo ID is required, and both parties must be at least 18 years of age, with licenses are valid following a three-day waiting period, and are valid for 60 days from issue date.  

Marriage Licenses

Rhode Island

Both applicants must appear together in the City Clerk’s office with a certified copy of a birth certificate and a valid photo ID.  

Marriage Licenses 

South Carolina

Both applicants need a valid photo ID and a social security card, and there will be a 24-hour waiting period, with no expiration date.

Marriage Licenses

South Dakota

Valid photo ID is required, and applicants must be 16 with parental consent and birth certificate, or 18 without parental consent. The marriage license may be used the same day, but it's only valid for 20 days.  

Marriage License Application 

Tennessee

Be prepared with the names, ages, addresses, names and addresses of the parents, and the applicants’ social security numbers, who must appear in person and present valid ID. There is not a waiting period, but the license must be used within 30 days.

Marriage Licenses 

Texas

There is a three-day waiting period, and the license is valid for 30 days. If an applicant is under the age of 18, an applicant needs a court order or if the person is 16 years of age or older, but under 18 they need parental consent.

Marriage Licenses 

Utah

The applicants must appear together, be 18 years of age, and have valid state-issued photo ID, birth certificate, or passport. Licenses are valid for 30 days from the date of issue.

Marriage Licenses 

Vermont

Both applicants must be 18 years old, but if you are at least 16, you will need the consent of a parent or guardian. There is no waiting period for a license, and it is valid for 60 days from the date it is issued.

Marriage Licenses

Virginia

“To marry in the state of Virginia, you’ll need to visit the deputy clerk of a circuit court in a city or county. No blood test is required, and the fee can be up to $50. In some instances, you may be required to prove your age, as well as provide additional paperwork about past divorces,” warns Tommy Waters of The Renaissance in Virginia.

There is no waiting period once the marriage license is issued, and you have up to 60 days to marry.

Marriage License Requirements 

Washington

The license is valid for 60 days and the waiting period is three calendar days. Both applicants must be at least 18 years old, with valid photo ID.  

Marriage Licenses

West Virginia

Marriage licenses are issued in county where the applicants (either one) have residence, but the marriage license is good throughout the state no matter where in the state it was issued. Marriage licenses expire in 60 days.

Marriage Licenses 

Wisconsin

The license is valid for 30 days and the minimum age is 18. Applicants must apply together in person with photo ID.

Marriage Licenses 

Wyoming

Marriage licenses are valid for one year from the date of issue, and both applicants must be at least 18 years old or have parental consent. 

Marriage Licenses

Destination weddings

Mexico

To get married in Mexico, you’ll need to provide documentation in addition to your passports and birth certificates. “This is largely dependent on which state you plan to visit, but can include anything from application forms to blood test results and chest X-rays,” says Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group.

This process must be done locally, so you’ll want to plan your travel accordingly to arrive with enough time to verify your paperwork. It can take up to three business days (not including weekends), at which point you’ll need four witnesses to be present for your legal ceremony. If you are looking to have a Catholic ceremony, there are additional forms that need to be completed. 

The Bahamas

Bahamian law requires couples to arrive at least 24 hours prior to applying for a marriage license.

“You must have two witnesses present when you sign the paperwork; however, the civil offices are prepared to provide witnesses if you plan to elope. For those arriving by cruise ship, you can receive documentation from the Ship’s Purser or Guest Services that confirms that you’ve been in Bahamian waters for at least 24 hours prior,” Avey advises.

Jamaica

This Caribbean destination offers a much less rigorous process, with only standard procedures necessary.

Says Avey, “Any marriage that happens in Jamaica is recognized as legal in the United States. Two weeks prior to the ceremony, connect with your planner or the Registrar General’s Department to supply your paperwork: birth certificates, passports, occupational information, and marriage license fees.”

Costa Rica

Required documentation to marry in Costa Rica is similar to those listed above, although there will be some extra steps if you plan to host a religiously-affiliated wedding.

“The only officiants that are legally recognized are Catholic priests, and the process may require pre-marriage classes and additional paperwork to complete in Costa Rica. You must also have two witnesses that are not related to you to the third-degree — an unrelated bridesmaid and groomsman can easily fill in that role,” says Avey.

RELATED: 5 Things To Keep In Mind If You Want To Pull Off Your Dream Wedding

Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her.

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