Marriage Licenses

Guide to Marriage License Services

A marriage license is an important document you may need to obtain at some point in your life. Before you can legally wed in the United States, you need to apply for this document. If you have previously been married, you may eventually need to obtain a copy of a marriage license. This is especially true if you need to prove your name change or apply for an ID or government benefits.

Whether you have begun to complete your marriage license application or you are beginning to search for a copy of this document, there are different procedures you need to follow. It is important that you understand the specific in-person and online marriage license resources you can access. When you review how these processes work, you will know how to obtain your documents quickly and effectively.

What is a marriage license?

A marriage license is the document that allows you to marry legally. You need to obtain this document before your nuptials. Before you get married, you need to make sure you apply for a marriage license in the state where you want to hold your wedding. Individual states are responsible for issuing these licenses. In some states, you may even be required to submit your marriage license application in the county where you want to wed. Once you apply for your document, some states may require you to wait a certain period of time until the license becomes valid. In some instances, you may be able to waive this requirement if you take a premarital course.

Marriage License Requirements

The marriage license bureau in your state has specific requirements you need to meet to apply for your license. For example, you need to make sure you bring the following with you when you apply:

  • Proof of identification. Driver’s license, passport or birth certificate.
  • Your parents’ information. Their names, birthdates, birth states and death dates, if applicable.
  • Proof that your previous marriage terminated. Your former spouse’s death certificate or your proof of divorce.
  • Witness. A friend or other individual who has known you for the amount of time required by your state.

Can you get a marriage license at the DMV?

Depending on where you live, you may be able to obtain DMV marriage license certificates. However, keep in mind that you cannot go to your department of motor vehicles (DMV) to apply for your document the first time. You can only go to your DMV to conduct a marriage license search and request a copy of an existing document. In any case, it is important to note that only certain states offer this service at DMV offices.

Where to Get a Marriage License

Before you get married, you need to get a marriage license. Usually, you are required to go to your county’s marriage license bureau, which is generally located in the clerk of courts office. This government building is also where you must go if you need other vital records, such as a birth certificate. If you plan on applying for a state or federal ID like a passport or driver’s license, you will probably need to provide one of these documents. This is also true if you get married and need to change your name on your ID.

How to Apply for a Marriage License

You cannot apply for a marriage license online. You are required to go to a clerk of courts office and apply in person. If you are younger than 18 years of age, your parent or guardian needs accompany you. Furthermore, keep in mind that both you and your future spouse need to be present to sign.

How much is a marriage license?

The marriage license cost associated with obtaining your document varies by state. Make sure you speak with a representative at your county clerk of courts to learn how much you are expected to pay. Additionally, if you are wondering, “How much does a marriage license cost?” keep in mind that there may be restrictions regarding how you can pay. Be sure you know if you can pay using cash or if debit or credit cards are accepted before visiting.

How long does it take to get a marriage license?

When you decide to apply for a marriage license, the process itself does not take a long time to complete. However, you may be required to wait several days until your license becomes available. In some states, you could have the opportunity to speed up this process by taking an approved marriage counseling class.

Are marriage licenses public records?

A marriage license record is available to the public. If you have been married in the past, individuals can view this document at a local courthouse.

How to Get a Copy of a Marriage License

There are different ways you can find marriage license records. However, the specific process you need to use depends on the type of document you are searching for and your relation to the individuals listed in the record. For example, if you need a copy of your own certificate, you can request it at the clerk of courts office in the county where the document was issued. If you are doing genealogical research for an ancestor, you may be able to conduct a free marriage license lookup online and find the document.