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.


Are there any residency requirements?

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


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.


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.


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


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.


How long will my marriage license remain valid?

Iowa marriage licenses do not expire once issued.


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.


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.


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.


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?


Share your questions or comments


Leave a Comment
  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!

  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.

  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?


      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.

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