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Marriage Laws U.S. PA Pennsylvania Wedding Officiants

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Here's what you need to know and what documents to bring with you before you apply for a marriage license application in Chester County. We recommend getting this legal aspect of your wedding out of the way about a month before your ceremony date.

It is important that you verify all information with the Chester County Clerk of Orphans' Court before making any wedding or travel plans.

Chester County Justice Center
Register & Clerk of Orphans' Court
201 West Market Street
Suite 2200
West Chester, PA 19380
610.344.6335 [press 0]
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. / M - F
$75 cash only.
Closed for holidays.

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Marriage License in Chester County

  1. The current fee is $75.00 payable with Cash ONLY.  Checks, Money Orders, Debit Cards and Credit Cards are NOT accepted. This fee cannot be waived. If for any reason the marriage does not take place, there is no refund.

  2. BOTH applicants must appear together in the office to apply for the license. Both applicants must be in the office no later than 4 pm. No Exceptions! 

  3. No blood tests are required

  4. There is a 3-day waiting period before the license is valid so application must be made at least 3 days but not more than 60 days before the marriage date. {The chart in #4 shows the application day and corresponding issue/valid day.}

  5. Application day and issue day are as follows:
APPLICATION MADE ISSUED/VALID*
Monday Thursday
Tuesday Friday
Wednesday Monday of following week
Thursday Monday of following week
Friday Monday of following week

*If Legal Holiday, License is valid next business day

  1. License is valid for 60 days from the Issue date that appears on the License. If not used within the 60 day period, the application process must be repeated in its entirety to obtain a subsequent license.  This includes the payment of the license fee. 

  2. License can be used in any County in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. An out- of- state marriage license CANNOT be used in Pennsylvania nor can a Pennsylvania marriage license be used out-of-state.

  3. An Applicant, who has one, is required to provide his/her Social Security Number. It is not necessary to present the Social Security Card. Federal and State law require the Social Security Number.  It is confidential and not public record.  If either applicant refuses to provide his or her Social Security Number, the application will be denied.

  4. Applicants must provide identification that shows their current legal name and date of birth.  Photo ID is required.  We reserve the right to require any further identification as deemed necessary.

  5. If either applicant was previously married, the date of the most recent divorce, legal annulment, or death of previous spouse must be provided. If the divorce or legal annulment was final within 6 months of the application date, a Certified copy of the Final Decree must be presented. This document is retained by the office.

  6. AGE REQUIREMENTS:   If an applicant is under age 18, the following applies:
  • Applicant 16 or 17 years of age:Additional Fee - $20.00-Cash ONLY 
    Custodial Parent must appear with the applicants, show Identification and sign a consent to the marriage.

  • Applicant 14 or 15 years of age:Additional Fee - $60.00-Cash ONLY {Includes Parental and Court Consent}   
    Custodial Parent must appear with the applicants, show Identification and sign a consent to the marriage. The applicants are then scheduled to appear before a Judge for the consent of the Court. The application is not taken until after the Court Consent Order is signed by the Judge!  Applicants are strongly recommended to call this office for further instructions.

Tests:

None.

Proxy Marriages in Pennsylvania:

No.

Cousin Marriages in Pennsylvania:

No. See Pennsylvania Statutes, Title 23, Chapter 13, § 1304, section (e) for more information.

Common-Law Marriages:

No. However, your common-law marriage will be recognized in Pennsylvania if it was created before January 1, 2005.

Same Sex Marriages:

Yes. Same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania became legal on May 20, 2014, when a U.S. federal district court judge ruled that the states' 1996 statutory ban on recognising same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Emergency Waiver of the 3-Day Waiting Period:

  1. Except for Active Duty Military personnel, the waiver request must be submitted to the  Marriage License Department for approval by the Court at least 2 working days BEFORE THE DAY OF THE APPLICATION.    For example, if marriage day is Saturday, the latest day to submit waiver request is Wednesday. Application will not be taken until the waiver is approved by the Judge.  Both of you should be prepared to return to apply at some time after the request is submitted.

  2. $25.00 fee must be paid when waiver request is submitted--Cash or Money Order Only. Checks are NOT accepted! Money order is payable to "Clerk of the Orphans' Court."  Please do NOT mail cash!   No requests are  presented to the Judge unless the fee is paid.  Active Duty Military personnel are NOT subject to this fee. 
  3. Request must be in writing.  Both applicants must sign the request. If either applicant is not able to sign the request, please provide an explanation.

  4. The reason for the waiver request must be given. Include date of marriage and time period involved.

  5. The request can be prepared by the applicants or on a form provided by the Marriage License Department. This may be obtained by phone, mail or in the office.  Form is also available at our website. Click here for the Marriage License Waiver Request.

  6. Mail or hand deliver the request and fee to:

Marriage License Department
Chester County Justice Center
201 W. Market Street, Suite 2200
P.O. Box 2746
West Chester, PA  19380-0989

To receive a copy of the approved waiver, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope.


Officiant of the Marriage:

Pennsylvania has no provision for the registration of officiants to perform marriages.  Selection of and arrangements for an Officiant to perform the marriage ceremony are the responsibility of the applicants. 

Click here for policy concerning officiants of marriages

Non-English Speaking Applicants: 

  1. If either applicant is non-English speaking, an English interpreter must be provided.  It is the responsibility of the applicants to provide an interpreter. Be advised, the interpreter must appear with the applicants, provide a photo ID and sign an oath verifying the translation.
  2. The County of Chester does not have interpreters on staff.
  3. Applicants MAY NOT interpret for each other.
Requisitos para conseguir un licencia matrimonial en Español.

Self-Uniting Marriage Licenses:

A License for a Self-Uniting Marriage is also available. If a self-uniting license is required, inform the clerk BEFORE the application process begins.  Except for the format of the license, the requirements for a Self-Uniting license and a Standard license are the same.

Public Record and Publishing of Information:

All Marriage Applications are Public Record. Except for the Social Security Numbers and Voter Declination Forms, which are confidential, all other information is available to the public. Local Newspapers often publish the names of the Marriage License applicants. This office is NOT permitted to withhold any information considered Public Record without a Court Order. The applicants should contact an attorney for the procedure to petition the Court to impound the record.

Certified Marriage Records:

Requests for Certified Marriage Records are accepted in person or by mail.  Application for the Marriage License must have been made in Chester County, Pennsylvania from 1931 to the present.  Marriage records cannot be certified unless and until the duplicate marriage certificate has been returned to this office by the officiant.

This certification is signed by the Assistant Clerk of the Orphans' Court.  In some instances, for example, Foreign Registration of the Marriage or Foreign Adoptions, the certification must be signed by the Elected Clerk of the Orphans' Court and the Court. You must determine which type of certification is needed.  Refer to the section on Marriage Records for a Foreign Country for more details. 

A form for requesting certified marriage records is available in the Forms and Documentssection.  Walk-in requests are processed immediately.  Please allow 7 to 10 working days for processing of mail-in requests!  All requests require the following information: 

Mail the request to:
Marriage License Department
Chester County Justice Center
201 W. Market Street, Suite 2200
P.O. Box 2746
West Chester, PA  19380-0989


Exemplifications of Marriage Records:

An Exemplification is an authentication of the record by a Judge of the Orphans’ Court and the Elected Clerk of the Orphans’ Court.

An Exemplification contains the complete Marriage Application which has all the information provided when the application was made, e.g. applicants place and date of birth, parent information, etc.  Official Seals and signatures are on the document. 

The fee for the Exemplification is $40.00.  A form for requesting an Exemplification is available in the Forms and Documents section or contact the Office of the Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, in person or by telephone at 610.344.6335.  The process may take 7 to 10 days.

Apostilles for Marriage Records:

If the marriage record is for a foreign country you may need to obtain an Apostille issued by the Pennsylvania Department of State.

An Apostille is used by foreign governments to assess the authenticity of an official signature.  It is recognized only by countries that have signed the Convention of the Hague of 1961.  For those countries that are not signatories, the Department of State attaches a certification.  When the Department of State certifies a document with an Apostille, the department verifies that the person who signed the document is a Pennsylvania official and the department has given “full faith and credit” to the official’s seal and signature.  The Apostille is prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of State for documents signed and sealed by the County Elected Officials.

The Marriage Application and Duplicate are the most commonly requested documents for authentication by the Department of State.   Marriage Documents are required for Foreign Adoptions, dual citizenship and registering marriages performed in USA in a foreign country. The two types of authentication of the records issued by this office and accepted by the Department of State are (1) the Certification of the Marriage signed by the Elected Clerk of the Orphans' Court and (2) the Exemplification, which includes the complete marriage application, signed by the Elected Clerk of the Orphans’ Court and a Judge of the Orphans’ Court.

Copy of Certificate of Marriage:

101 South Mercer St., Room 401
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16101
Phone: (724) 656-3100

In Pennsylvania copies of marriage records were required to be filed starting in 1885. Copies of these marriages may be obtained from the courthouse in the county where the marriage license was issued. There are three types of marriage records available. The first is a plain copy of the marriage record which is typically for family genealogy records or personal use. The second (one-seal) and third type (triple-seal) are for official purposes and used by the persons named in the records. Order Copies of Records Online

After 1906, all birth and death records are stored in the Vital Record Division of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

It is important that you verify all information with your Clerk of Orphans' Court before making any wedding or travel plans.

Please Note: State and county marriage license requirements often change. The above information is for guidance only and should not be regarded as legal advice.

To notify us of corrections or additions send an email to update@usmarriagelaws.com.

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Order Vital Records Online! certified copies of Birth, Death, Marriage, and Divorce certificates, for events which occurred within the state of Pennsylvania.


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