California Marriage License

If you're getting married in California, you must first apply for a marriage license. It'll cost you $35.00 to $111.00 (based on confidentiality), and you'll have to use it within 90 days.

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Where to go

Where can I get a marriage license?

California marriage licenses are issued on the county level, at the Recorder/County Clerk Office, by the Recorder/County Clerk.

Where can I use it once I get it?

Your marriage license can be used throughout the state, regardless of which Recorder/County Clerk Office you get it from.

Your license is only valid within the borders of California. For instance, you can't get a marriage license from the neighboring state of Arizona, then use it here—and vice versa.

Costs

How much is a marriage license in California?

There are two different price points:

Price 1: For public (non-confidential) licenses

A regular, public California marriage license costs approximately $35.00 to 108.00 USD. The cost can vary between each Recorder/County Clerk Office, as each county is allowed to set its own price.

Price 2: For confidential licenses

On the other hand, a confidential marriage license costs approximately $40.00 to 111.00 USD.

I've changed my mind; can I get my money back?

Recorder/County Clerk Offices will not issue refunds for unused marriage licenses.

Attendance

Must we both be present when applying?

Both parties to the marriage must appear together when applying for a marriage license.

Waiting periods

Is there a waiting period to get a marriage license?

There is no waiting period to get a California marriage license. You'll get your license the same day you apply for it.

How soon can I get married after getting a license?

You can get married immediately after you receive your marriage license. There is no post-issuance waiting period to abide by before you can have your marriage ceremony.

Expiration dates

When will my marriage license expire?

Your California marriage license will expire 90 days after it's been issued. If you don't get married before time runs out, you'll have to start over and apply for a brand new license.

I need more time; can I get an extension on my license?

Extensions are not provided for expired (or near expiring) marriage licenses. If your license completely expires you must reapply and repay the same $35.00-108.00 application fee, wherein you'll be given 90 more days.

Residency requirements

What are the rules for residents and non-residents?

Whether you're a resident or non-resident of California, the rules are the same; you can apply for a marriage license anywhere in the state. You can then get married anywhere within the state.

Age requirements

How old must I be to get married?

You must be 18 years old (or above) to get married in California without parental consent.

17 years old and below

You must obtain the consent of at least one parent or legal guardian. Even if one parent/guardian objects, you can still obtain a marriage license (over their objection) as long as the other provides consent.

You must obtain a court order from a Superior Court Judge—in California—which will authorize the Recorder/County Clerk to issue a marriage license.

Identification requirements

What forms of ID must I bring?

There are multiple types of identification to consider bringing when applying for a marriage license at your local Recorder/County Clerk Office. They are as follows:

Provide one of the following:

  • Driver's License
  • State-issued Identification
  • Passport
    • Issued by any U.S. or foreign government body
  • Passport Card
    • Issued by the U.S. Department of State
  • Military Identification Card
    • Issued by U.S. Armed Forces
  • Military Dependent Identification Card
    • Issued by U.S. Armed Forces
  • Permanent Resident Card
    • Issued by USCIS
    • Also referred to as an Alien Registration Card, Green Card, and Permanent Visa

Provide two of the following:

  • Birth Certificate
    • This is a mandatory item
    • Original or certified copy
    • Non-English document must be translated into English
  • Consular Identification Card
    • Issued by a foreign (non-U.S.) government body
  • Matricula Consular Identification Card
    • Issued by the Government of Mexico
    • Issued by the U.S. Department of State
  • Employee Identification Card
  • School Identification Card

Name Change

How do I go about changing my name due to marriage?

Undergoing a marriage-related name change in the state of California (or any other state) involves notifying various government and non-government institutions. You'll typically start with updating your Social Security Card, driver's license, passport, and other federal/state/non-governmental institutions.

Keep in mind, your name does not automatically and legally change just because you get married or obtain a marriage license or marriage certificate; you must go through the steps of updating your identification documents, whether it's through an online name change service, or contacting the SSA, State Dept. and CA DMV directly.

Blood Tests

Am I required to get a blood test?

No, California does not require you, nor your partner, to get a blood test as a condition for getting a marriage license.

Divorced

What if I've been previously divorced?

If you've been previously divorced, or have had an annulment or dissolution, there are extra bits of information that you must provide the Recorder/County Clerk when applying.

If your last divorce, annulment, or dissolution took place within the past 90 days, provide the following:

Things you must bring

You will need to provide a copy of your divorce decree (aka divorce certificate). It must be an original or certified copy—not a photocopy. The Recorder/County Clerk will not keep your certificate; it just needs to be examined for authenticity, and to confirm your previous marriage is over.

What if I'm separated from my spouse, but not yet divorced?

California law forbids a marriage license be granted to anyone who is currently married or separated from their spouse. You must have your divorce finalized, or marriage annulled, before getting married again.

Widowed

What if I'm currently a widow or widower?

If your previous marriage left you as a widow or widower, within the past 90 days, the Recorder/County Clerk Office will need to solicit basic information regarding the death of your spouse.

Things you must bring

You must bring the original or certified copy of the death certificate for review. The Recorder/County Clerk will hand the death certificate back to you once it's been looked over.

Witnesses

There are multiple witness requirements. Some or all might apply to you.

Are witnesses required to attend my marriage ceremony?

Witness requirement 1

For a non-confidential marriage license (which is the default), California statutes require at least one (1) witness be present at your marriage ceremony.

Whomever officiates your marriage must log the contact information (typically name and address) and signature of the sole witness.

Note: The officiant does not count as a valid witness.

Witness requirement 2

For a confidential marriage license, California does not require witnesses attend your ceremony. This is a convenience, as most other states do require at least one or two witnesses be present.

Can (or should) I still have witnesses attend?

While you can still have one or more witnesses be present, they won't serve any official purpose or role (during or after the ceremony) in concert with the officiant.

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