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Marriage Licenses

What You'll Need In Order to Get a Marriage License

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If you're planning to get legally married, there is one thing you mustn't forget – the marriage license. A marriage license is sort of a permit, kind of like a driver's license. It says that you are legally allowed to marry, although obtaining one does not mean that you ARE married.

The rules and requirements for obtaining a marriage license vary from state to state and from country to country. To make sure that you have all your ducks in a row, contact your city or town clerk's office who will direct you to the right information. Many towns now have websites with all marriage license requirements spelled out.

Some things you will want to know:

When: Find out if there is a waiting period, and for how long marriage licenses are valid. You'll likely need to apply in the week or two before your wedding.

What documents you'll need: Most states require birth certificates, proof of citizenship and/or residence, and a driver's license or other photo id. If you have been widowed or divorced, you should bring along a copy of the death certificate or divorce decree.

Fees and how to pay them If there is a fee, you'll probably need to pay it with a money order or cashier's check, although some states are cash only.

Is a blood test required? Some states still ask for a blood test.

If you are having a destination wedding, or getting married in a state other than where you live, you'll also want to find out about residency requirements (how long you must be in the county before you can apply).

Basic Step-by-Step Procedure for Getting a Marriage License and getting Legally Married in the US:

  1. the bride and groom bring identification, necessary paperwork, fees, and sometimes blood test results to the county clerk.

  2. The marriage license is either mailed or picked up by the bride and groom.

  3. There is sometimes a waiting period, depending on your state.

  4. You are married by someone legally allowed to do so in your state.

  5. That person, usually two witnesses, and sometimes the bride and groom sign the marriage license.

  6. The marriage license is returned to the county clerk's office.

  7. About a week later, copies of the certified marriage certificate can be purchased from the clerk's office.


It's really not that complicated a process, but it seems so since the laws vary so greatly from state to state. Here is an overview of what popular wedding destinations require.

New York Marriage License Requirements

Where to apply A town or city clerk
Fees? Approximately $35-$50
Documents needed Documents showing both identification – such as a driver's license or passport – and age – such as a birth certificate or naturalization record.
Marriage License valid for: 60 days
Waiting period or residency necessary: 24 hours waiting period; Non-residents cannot obtain a marriage license if said marriage would be void in their state.

Hawaii Marriage License Requirements

Where to apply Department of Health marriage licensing office
Fees? $60 cash
Documents needed If you are 19 or older, a current driver's license. If you are 18 or younger, you need to show a certified birth certificate. (If you are 16 or 17, you'll also need the written consent of your parent or guardian.)
Marriage License valid for: 30 days
Waiting period or residency necessary: None

Las Vegas Marriage License Requirements

Where to apply The County Clerk's Office
Fees? $55 cash
Documents needed Identification such as a driver's license or ID card, proof of age, Social Security Number
Marriage License valid for: Indefinitely
Waiting period or residency necessary: None

Florida Marriage License Requirements

Where to apply The local County Clerk of Courts
Fees? $93.50
Documents needed driver's license and document showing Social Security number
Marriage License valid for: 60 days
Waiting period or residency necessary: Three-day waiting period between application and the effective date of a marriage license.

California Marriage License Requirements

Where to apply The County Clerk's Office
Fees? yes, vary by county
Documents needed: Valid picture identification such as a driver's license. Some counties also require a birth certificate.
Marriage License valid for: 90 days
Waiting period or residency necessary: no


For more information on marriage license laws and requirements, go to marriage.about.com's fantastic directory.
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