How to Obtain a U.S. Marriage License
How to Obtain a Marriage License in the United States:
When applying for a marriage license current photo identification such as a driver’s license or passport; proof of citizenship and/or residence; a birth certificate to show your age; proof of parental consent and/or court consent if underage; a death certificate if you are widowed or divorce decree if you are divorced; and sometimes blood test results.
Marriage License Application Requirements:
To complete an application for a marriage license, one or both spouses must appear in person at a courthouse, city hall, or town office and sign the marriage license application in the presence of the clerk (along with payment of a fee). The marriage license is either mailed or picked up by the couple.
Marriage ID Requirements:
Present proof of birth facts and identification in the following form:
- Current drivers license
- State-issued identification card
- Birth certificate
- Military I.D
- Alien Registration Card
- and Social Security Number
Marriage Residency Requirements:
Most states in the U.S. do not require you to be a resident of the state in order to obtain a marriage license there. States that have marriage residency requirements:
- Georgia You do not have to be a resident of Georgia. However, if not a resident, you must apply in the county where your marriage is to be performed.
- Indiana A marriage license shall be obtained from the Clerk of the Circuit Court of the county of residence of either party who intend to marry.
- If neither individual is a resident of Indiana, the marriage license is to be obtained in the county which the marriage will take place
- Michigan For the purpose of marriage application, residency is determined by a current valid driver’s license or state I.D.
- If you are a Michigan resident, you must apply in the county where you live.
- If both parties are Michigan residents, you may apply in either county. The license is valid throughout the state.
- If both parties are out-of-state residents, you must apply in the county where you are going to be married. The license is valid in that county only.
- Montana Non-residents must obtain a license in the county where they are getting married.
- Ohio Residents must obtain their license within the county where either applicant resides.
- If you are not a resident of Ohio, but are getting married in Ohio, you must obtain your license in the county where the ceremony will take place.
- The license is valid anywhere in the State of Ohio.
- Rhode Island Residents must apply for their license in the city/town where they live. Non-residents, they must apply where the wedding will be taking place.
- Vermont If you are a resident, you must get your license in the city/town where you reside.
- Non-residents, you can get your license from anywhere in the state.
- West Virginia If you or your fiancee are a resident of the state, you should apply in the county where one of you has residence.
- If neither of you reside in West Virginia, you can apply in any county of your choosing. In both situations, the marriage license is good throughout the state regardless of the county that issued it.
- Wisconsin Residents must apply for a marriage license at the County Clerks office in the county one of the parties has resided in for at least 30 days prior to making application.
- Non-Wisconsin Residents: Must apply in the county in which they are to be married.
- The license can then be used in any county in the State of Wisconsin.
Marriage Waiting Period after Application:
- 1 day: South Carolina
- 3 days: Alaska, District of Columbia, Florida (upon completion of a pre-marital preparation course), Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington
- 5 days: Minnesota
- 6 days: Wisconsin
Marriage Waiting Period after Receiving Marriage License:
If previously married, Applicant must provide the complete final date of divorce, or if widowed, the complete date of death, where applicable.
Marriage License Fees:
Fees for marriage licenses range from a low of $10 to as much as $115. The cost varies based on county, city or municipality, residential status, and in some cases, completion of a pre-marital counseling or education course. A few states, have standard, statewide fees. Preferred method of payment is cash. For guidance on additional methods of payment, please call ahead.
Marriage Blood Test Requirements:
Blood tests are no longer required in all states. Montana (PDF) is the one state which requires both spouses intending to get married to get a blood test as one of their marriage license requirements.
Marriage Age Requirements:
In the United States, all but one state requires that a couple be 18 in order to marry without parental permission. Nebraska sets the age of majority at 19. Although a few states will waive this requirement if there is a pregnancy, the couple may still have to have court approval.
Delware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, and Oklahoma: Allow pregnant teens or teens who have already had a child to get married without parental consent. However in Florida, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, the young couple must have authorization from a court. Maryland requires that the minor be at least 16. Even with parental approval, many states will require court approval when a person is 16 years of age or less.
A proxy marriage, or marriage by proxy, is when one or both parties are not present at a proxy ceremony, but are represented by others. Only four states allow proxy marriages: California, Colorado, Montana, and Texas. With the exception of Montana, each of these states require one of the spouses to appear before the civil authorities. Montana, however, allows a “Double Proxy” marriage, where proxies may appear, in place of both parties.
- All states allow the marriage of second cousins.
- Twenty states (20) and the District of Columbia allow first-cousins to marry:
Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia
- Six (6) states permit first-cousin marriage only under certain circumstances:
Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin
- Twenty-four (24) states prohibit marriages between first-cousins:
Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming
Common Law Marriages:
- States that recognize these marriages:
Alabama, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia (if created before 1/1/97), Idaho (if created before 1/1/96), Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only, and the recognition begins only after the first spouse dies.), Ohio (if created before 10/10/91), Oklahoma (possibly only if created before 11/1/98), Pennsylvania (if created before 1/1/05), Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah
Wedding Officiants Requirements:
Performance of a marriage ceremony with witnesses and a person recognized by the state to have the authority to perform marriage ceremony (such as a priest, rabbi or a judge).
- A religious ceremony should be conducted under the customs of the religion, or, in the case of a Native American group, under the customs of the tribe. Religious ceremonies normally are conducted by religious officials, such as ministers, priests, or rabbis. Native American ceremonies may be presided over by a tribal chief or other designated official.
- Civil ceremonies usually are conducted by judges. In some states, county clerks or other government officials may conduct civil ceremonies. Contrary to some popular legends, no state authorizes ship captains to perform marriages.
Marriage Witnesses Requirements:
Most states require both spouses, along with the person who officiated and one or two witnesses age 18 or older, to sign the marriage certificate.
Recording of Marriage License after Marriage Ceremony:
The person who performs the marriage ceremony has a duty to send a copy of the marriage certificate to the county or state agency that records marriage certificates. Failure to send the marriage certificate to the appropriate agency does not necessarily nullify the marriage, but it may make proof of the marriage more difficult.
Marriage Certificate after Marriage Ceremony:
Most recording agencies offer you the oportunity to purchase a certified copy of your marriage certificate at the time you buy your marriage license, and as soon a your marriage has been recorded it is picked-up or mailed to you. Others, you must request and pay an additional fee to receive an official (certified) copy of your marriage certificate.
Expiration Date of Marriage License:
- 10 days: Oklahoma
- 20 days: South Dakota
- 30 days: Alabama, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin
- 33 Days: Michigan
- 35 Days: Colorado
- 60 days: Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia
- 65 days: Connecticut
- 90 days: Alaska, California, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Texas</a.
- 6 months: Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey
- 1 year: Arizona, Nebraska, Nevada, Wyoming
- No expiration: District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina
You may request a copy of your marriage certificate in person, online or by mail.
Please Note: State and county marriage license Law requirements often change. The above information is for guidance only and should not be regarded as legal advice.
It is important that you verify all information with your local marriage license office where you will be married for the most up-to-date information.