Iowa Marriage License

If you're getting married in Iowa, you must first apply for a marriage license.
It'll cost you $35.00, plus you'll have an unlimited amount of time to use it, as it won't expire.

See FAQ Offices

Where to Apply

How can I get married in Iowa?

In order to get married in Iowa, you must first apply for a marriage license at the county recorder's or registrar's office.

Do I go to the county recorder or county registrar?

The county recorder and county registrar are one and the same. "Recorder" is the more commonly used title.

Where is the county recorder's office located?

The county recorder is usually located in the county courthouse or administrative building. See the county list at the end for directions.

Residency

Are there any residency requirements?

Your residency has no affect on the marriage license process or fee. Iowans and foreigners are welcome.

Costs

How much is a marriage license?

An Iowa marriage license costs $35. It includes one certified copy of your marriage certificate. The fee is nonrefundable.

Usage

Where can I use my marriage license?

Your Iowa marriage license can be used anywhere in the state. It is only valid in Iowa.

Can I use a non-Iowa marriage license in Iowa?

You can only get married in Iowa using an Iowa-issued marriage license.

Application

What form will I have to fill out?

You must detail the following on the gender-neutral marriage license application:

  • Title (i.e., bride, groom, or spouse)
    • Optional
  • Name
  • Birth name
  • New name after marriage
    • Is legally nonbinding
    • Used by the SSA and Iowa DOT
    • Will appear on your marriage certificate
  • Gender
    • Optional
    • Can be written in
    • For statistical purposes
  • Residence
    • City, state, and county
    • City and county is optional
  • Date of birth
    • Must match identification
  • State or foreign country of birth
  • Parents' full birth names
    • Optional
  • Phone number
  • Mailing address
    • PO Box is acceptable
    • One address for both applicants
    • Where to mail your marriage certificate
  • Social security number
    • For child support payment enforcement
    • For IRS earned income tax credit compliance
  • Expected ceremony date and officiant
    • Leave blank if unknown

Attendance

How can I submit my application?

Apply in person?

You must both be present if submitting a marriage license application in person.

Apply by mail?

A mailed application must include payment and be notarized. Anyone can pick up the marriage license, as it will not be mailed.

What's this I hear about an application witness?

What will my witness do?

A witness aged 18 or over—with photo ID—must vouch for both of you by completing an "affidavit of competent and disinterested person" form.

What if my witness can't attend?

The "affidavit of competent and disinterested person" can be notarized by a notary public in lieu of physical attendance.

Can a family member serve as my witness?

A family member can indeed serve as your application witness.

Age Requirements

How old must I be to get married?

Aged 18 and over?

If you're at least 18 years old and mentally competent, parental consent to marry is unnecessary.

Aged 16 and 17?

If you're 16 or 17 years old, you can marry with the consent of your custodial parents or guardian. The county recorder's assigned district court must also approve.

Aged 15 and under?

If you're 15 years old or younger, you cannot lawfully marry.

How does underage marriage work for 16 and 17 year olds?

Which comes first: consent, court, or the application?

First, complete the consent form. Second, schedule a district court hearing. Third, take the court order to apply for a marriage license.

How can parental consent be granted?

The consent to marry a minor form can be picked up in any recorder's office. Either complete it in person or have it notarized.

Who grants consent if I don't live in a two-parent household?

Whoever has primary legal custody over you grants consent, be it one or both parents.

What if one or both parents refuse to grant consent to my marriage?

If your custodial parents object to your marriage, you can request a district court judge override them. Success is unlikely.

Waiting Period

When will I get my marriage license?

Your marriage license will be issued immediately, but there's a three-day wait to use it, excluding the current day. For instance, apply on Monday to marry Friday.

Can the three-day waiting period be waived?

A district judge can waive the three-day waiting period for extraordinary situations. The county recorder preps the petition. The waiver fee is $5.

For mailed applications, how long is my license held in reserve?

You will have six months to pick up your marriage license, after which it will be voided. A voided license will not be refunded.

Who can pick up the license?

The application provides a spot to designate who may pick up the marriage license.

Expiration

How long will my marriage license remain valid?

Iowa marriage licenses do not expire once issued.

Identification

Do I have to show my ID?

You must present unexpired government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, state-issued ID card, or passport.

Does my witness need to show ID?

The witness you bring to the making of the application must also present valid photo ID.

Do I have to bring my birth certificate?

You do not need to bring your birth certificate. That goes for adults and minors.

Do I have to bring my social security card?

You do not need to bring your social security card. Just know the number.

Blood Test

Do I have to get a blood test?

You are no longer required to obtain a premarital blood test.

Divorced

Do I have to show proof of divorce?

You do not have to bring proof of divorce, such as a divorce decree.

If recently divorced, do I have to wait to marry?

You can marry the same day your divorce is finalized.

Widowed

Do I have to show proof of being widowed?

If you've been widowed, you do not have to bring your late spouse's death certificate.

Name Change

How can I change my name because of marriage?

You can choose a new name on the marriage license application. Your marriage certificate will reflect it. The SSA and other institutions will honor it. An online name change resource can prepare the forms.

What are my name change options?

You can change your middle or last name because of marriage. First name changes require petitioning the court.

Witnesses

Are witnesses required at my marriage ceremony?

Two competent witnesses aged 18 or older must attend your marriage ceremony. Afterward, they'll sign the marriage license.

The Ceremony

Who can lawfully preside over my marriage?

Your marriage can be solemnized by a judge, magistrate, authorized official of a religious organization or society, or yourself.

Can I solemnize my own marriage?

You and your prospective spouse can preside over your own marriage. No officiant needed.

Can I get married in the county recorder's office?

Civil ceremonies do not take place in the county recorder's office. However, you may request a list of available judges.

License Return

When does the marriage license need to be returned?

The marriage license must be returned to the issuing county recorder for recording within 15 days after the marriage ceremony.

Marriage Certificate

How can I get a certified copy of my marriage certificate?

You'll automatically receive one certified copy of your marriage certificate by mail after your marriage license has been recorded.

What if I need additional certified copies?

Certified copies of an Iowa marriage certificate are sold by county recorders and Iowa's vital records office for $20.

Can I go to any recorder's office?

For marriages before 1954, go to the recorder's office that issued the marriage license. Otherwise, go to any office.

Proxy Marriage

Can I get married through a proxy?

You cannot get married by proxy, phone, videoconference, or similar. You must be in physical attendance.

Prohibited Marriage

Can I marry my first cousin?

Iowa outlaws marriage among first cousins without exception.

Can I marry a particular member of my family?

You cannot marry a blood relation closer to you than a second cousin.

Common-law Marriage

Does Iowa permit common-law marriage?

Iowa law does recognize common-law marriage, as long as you cohabitate and present yourselves as married.

Office Locations

Where will you apply?

Comments

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63 Comments

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  1. can the ceramony be the same day as marriage license.

    1. Hi Alexis. You can't get married the same day you get your marriage license. There's a three-day waiting period.

      If you can't wait, you'll have to get a district court judge to waive the wait time. The county recorder can file your waiver request for $5, but there's no guarantee the judge will accept it. You'll need to provide a good reason.

    2. Someone didn't read all the information before he decided to ask a question now did he? It is clearly stated above with the following example… "Get you license on Monday to get married on Friday" Sorry, Not Sorry. Just saying!

      1. I don't think you're an ass. I think you make a valid point. Read the darn info first before you ask questions.

  2. If my partner and I chose to solemize the marriage ourselves is it recognized in other states?

    1. Hi Susanne. Your self-solemnized marriage ceremony would absolutely be recognized in other states and jurisdictions.

    2. Technically, yes; but proving a "self-solemnized" (common law) marriage is difficult. Ask a family law attorney what you need to do to show a common law marriage.

  3. hey guys, sorry if i missed the information in the page but something im yet not clear on.

    I got my marriage license already, assuming i do not need a specific ceremony what is the next step, do i need to go somewhere else (another office, cityhall etc..) with my marriage license and get another paper signed?

    im not familiar with the Iowa process as in new york its a two step cityhall process, we go to the city hall get the marriage license, and then come back with it, get a small ceremony and sign papers to vaildate the marriage.

    please help

    1. do i need to go somewhere else

      You need to go through with your marriage ceremony. After you're married have your officiant return your completed marriage license to the issuing recorder. It must be done within 15 days following the ceremony.

      If you're presiding over your own ceremony (yes, couples can do that in Iowa), you're responsible for returning your own license.

      1. I'm a brand new officiant who will be doing my first wedding in May. I don't live in Iowa. Am I required to return the signed documents to the relevant county recorder or can the bride and/or groom or someone else?

        1. Am I required to return the signed documents to the relevant county recorder or can the bride and/or groom or someone else?

          It doesn't matter who does the return.

  4. How many people can be in the room with you besides your witnesses

    1. Hi Christina. If you're talking about a courthouse marriage, you'll have to get in touch with the judge or their staff.

  5. Is it possible to get married in Iowa as a foreigner? I am from Czech republic, my partner is from Iowa and we're thinking of getting married there - I'd travel on ESTA (when its possible again) and go back home, then he'd start the CR1 visa process while i finish my bachelor's degree.

    What documents do I as a foreigner need in order to get marired in the US/Iowa? Is a translated birth certificate and a passport enough? Thank you

  6. Do we have to return the marriage license ourselves in person or can we have a family member do it while we are on our honeymoon? Thank you

  7. hello, after receiving my license, what is the next step? where do i make the appointment with the judge, so i can get married?

    1. Hi Isa. The county recorder can provide you a list of judges when you apply.

  8. I have a marriage license for Warren County, but the venue is in Clarke County. Can I use the marriage license from Warren County?

    Based on the FAQ, I can use my marriage license anywhere in state of Iowa. Please confirm.

    Where can I use my marriage license? Your Iowa marriage license can be used anywhere in the state. It is only valid in Iowa.

    Thank you.

    1. Can I use the marriage license from Warren County?

      Yes, you can.

      I can use my marriage license anywhere in state of Iowa. Please confirm.

      Yes, a marriage license obtained in any Iowa county may be used statewide.

      Where can I use my marriage license?

      Anywhere in Iowa. But only in Iowa.

  9. My question is my son has asked me to officiate for his wedding. I'm just a Dad. I don't have any official officiant certificates although looking at different websites it looks like they can be easily attained.

    I see that couples can self solemnize in Iowa which I didn't realize. Can my son and his wife self solemnize their wedding even if I would be the officiant going through the ceremony with them or do I need to go through one of these websites to get an "officiants license" even though I don't agree with the ideas put forth on some of those websites. Thank you.

    1. Can my son and his wife self solemnize their wedding even if I would be the officiant going through the ceremony with them

      Yes, that would work. In this case, they would sign the marriage license, not you.

      do I need to go through one of these websites to get an "officiants license"

      Yes, you'd have to get ordained.

  10. If I live in Warren county, can I get my marriage application through Polk county? And also if I mail in my application, do they mail the license back? If so, how long does that take?

    Thank you so much!!

    1. If I live in Warren county, can I get my marriage application through Polk county?

      Yes.

      do they mail the license back?

      You or your partner will have to pick it up. They won't mail your license.

      how long does that take?

      There's a three-day waiting period that starts when you application is received. It doesn't count the current day it arrives. You'll have to contact the Polk County Recorder for details on how much longer beyond the three days it might take. Before going in to pick up your license, consider calling ahead to make sure it's ready.

  11. If I live in Iowa and my wedding ceremony is in Texas but we plan to live in Iowa, how should I handle this? Does she need to be present to file for marriage license or can we do it online?

    1. Hi James. You'll need to apply for your marriage license in Texas, not Iowa. Some of their county clerks may provide online registration. One party to the marriage may also apply absentee via notarized affidavit.

  12. How do I get an application to mail in, notarized? Live in MO but want to marry in IA over the holidays.

    1. Hi Brenda. You may be able to download an application from the registrar/recorder's website. If you specify the county you're planning to apply, I can see if it's available.

  13. If our application is signed (using witness) and notarized can our parent take it in to the court house? As were not available to do it?

    1. Hi Cody. That's fine, but one of you will have to pick up your marriage license once it's ready.

  14. "A district judge can waive the three-day waiting period for extraordinary situations." When requesting the judge to wave the waiting period would "wanting it done before one of the parties (who is incarcerated) goes to prison" considered an extraordinary situation?

    1. Hi Stephanie. Waiving the waiting period is up to each judge's discretion. It's not an easy thing to override, as it's prone to abuse. Your case might not meet the threshold, but you won't know unless you try and request the waiver.

  15. I'm wondering if my fiance is incarcerated in prison in Nebraska, how we get a marriage license and marry while he's still incarcerated. Is it possible to get a license through Iowa?

  16. If I apply wait the 3 days and get married by a judge can I have a ceremony later through the year and will the officiant redo a marriage certificate or will they just keep when we first were married

    1. Hi Amber. Your second marriage ceremony will be informal and not registered with the state. Only your first ceremony will have legal bearing.

  17. Can't get to office to apply for marriage license because started a new job and can't get off. Is there a way to apply for marriage license without going into the office?

  18. We are new to the state and do not have friends or family here yet. We had an informal wedding out of state and are planning on legally getting married in Iowa soon. What happens if we can’t find two witnesses? Could we get away with just one?

    1. What happens if we can’t find two witnesses? Could we get away with just one?

      No, two witnesses are required. You needn't know them well.

  19. My fiancée is incarcerated in the Iowa State penitentiary. I currently live in Ga. Can I obtain an application have it notated here, mail it to him and he has it notarized there and then mail it to the court house? I believe it's Scott's County.

    1. Hi L A M. The license would still have to be picked up. Your fiancée should get in touch with the prison chaplain to help make arrangements. It's required anyway.

  20. Me and my fiancé would love to get married here while we are here in Iowa. What do I need to do and have to make that happen.

    1. Hi Felecia. Since Iowa does not have residency requirements for marriage, the rules as written on this pare are the same for you as anyone else.

  21. Where does the officiant sign on the marriage license or do they not need to sign on the state of Iowa?

    1. Hi K. The signature block should be near the bottom of the form.

  22. I have my marriage license ready for the wedding. I am living in Polk County but getting married in Iowa County. After the wedding can I turn it back in at Polk County or does it have to be Iowa County?

    1. Hi Noah. Return your marriage license to the same office where you applied.

  23. Do you have to have a marriage ceremony for the marriage to be legally recognized?

    1. Hi AJ. Solemnization is required. The ceremony needn't be elaborate. You just need to fill out the certificate of marriage portion of the marriage license and return it, documenting when and where the marriage took place.

  24. What if my partner is on a work visa? if I get a marriage license what happens next?

    1. What if my partner is on a work visa?

      The application requirements will not differ.

  25. I am ordained and I'm getting married. I can ordain my own wedding right?

    1. Hi Michael. Yes, you may preside over your own marriage.

  26. Is there a certain date that is applied on the certificate for the marriage day itself?

    For instance, if I wanted to get married on the 28th, would I have to apply for the license the 25th or apply before hand to get it on the 25th and then the 3-day waiting period and have the ceremony on the 28?

    Or how does the ceremony work if I want it to be on a certain day as well as on the certificate itself?

    1. Is there a certain date that is applied on the certificate for the marriage day itself?

      There should be a date of activation.

      if I wanted to get married on the 28th, would I have to apply for the license the 25th

      Since we're in December, you'd have apply by the 23rd, as the 25th is a Sunday, and the clerk's office will be closed.

      how does the ceremony work if I want it to be on a certain day

      Count three days, excluding today. So if today was the 1st, start on the 2nd, then add three days, which would be the 5th.

  27. Where do I find a judge to marry us? Wanting to get married at the Polk County courthouse, or in Winterset, Iowa. Also what are the hours, phone number of contact to ask these questions as well by phone? what do we need to bring when getting married there?

    1. Where do I find a judge to marry us?

      You can contact the recorder's office for a list or referrals, as the recorder's office does not perform ceremonies.

      Also what are the hours, phone number of contact to ask these questions

      You can use the office locator on this page.

  28. My fiancé’ is incarcerated. The ceremony, if we proceed, is outlined and easy to understand, but how do we obtain the license if he can’t be there in person with me?

    1. Hi Linda. The prison chaplain will procure your license for you.

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