Common-law marriage has diverse names, from "marriage in fact", "marriage by repute and habit", "informal…
Where to Apply
How do I get married in Massachusetts?
In order to get married in Massachusetts, you must first apply for a marriage license at any city or town clerk's or registrar's office.
Do I go to the clerk's or registrar's office?
The clerk and registrar title is synonymous. It refers to the same office and person.
May I apply at a county clerk's office instead?
Unlike most other states, in Massachusetts the issuance of marriage licenses is a city and town role, not a county-level duty.
Do I apply for a marriage license or file a marriage intention?
Applying for a marriage license is the same as filing a marriage intention or notice of intention of marriage.
Do I have to be a resident to apply?
You do not have to be a current or prior resident of Massachusetts to marry in the Commonwealth.
Do I have to apply in my city, town, or county?
You may apply for a marriage license at any city or town clerk's office.
Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to marry in Massachusetts?
You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to get married in Massachusetts. Foreigners are welcome to apply.
How much does a marriage license cost?
A Massachusetts marriage license costs between $4 and $60. Most cities and towns charge about $25.
Does the marriage license fee include a marriage certificate?
The marriage license fee includes one certified copy of your marriage certificate. It will be mailed to you after marriage.
Where can I use my marriage license?
Your marriage license may be used anywhere in Massachusetts, but not outside the Commonwealth.
Can I use an out-of-state marriage license in Massachusetts?
You may only get married in Massachusetts with a Massachusetts marriage license.
What information will I have to fill out?
The notice of intention of marriage application will ask for the following under oath:
- First, middle, last
- Surname after marriage
- Men, women, and same-sex couples
- Residential address
- No PO Box
- Number, street, city/town, state/country, zip
- Age and birthdate
- City or town, and state or country
- Phone number
- Social security number
- Give reason if nonexistent
- For child support enforcement
- Parents' names and birth surnames
- Related by blood
- If yes, specify how
- Last marriage ended
- Yes or no
- Last marriage dissolved by
- Death, divorce, annulment, void, etc
- Which marriage "this" represents
- First, second, third, etc
- Civil union or domestic partnership
- Are or were you a member
- State or country established
- Was the relationship legally dissolved
- Post-marriage mailing address
- No PO Box
- One address for both of you
- Where to mail your marriage certificate
- Ceremony details
- Ceremony date and address
- Officiant's name, title, and address
Will my private information be publicized?
Your marriage application will become a public record, minus your residence and social security number.
How long does it take to apply for a marriage license?
The marriage application process takes about 30 minutes, so arrive accordingly.
What if I can't apply in person?
Are you sick?
Nonattendance due to illness may be excused by a registered physician's affidavit submitted by your parent, guardian, or co-applicant.
Are you incarcerated?
If you're incarcerated in a county or state correctional facility, your co-applicant may apply on your behalf.
Are you in the armed forces?
If you or your partner is in the armed forces and either lives in Massachusetts, one can apply on the other's behalf.
How old do I have to be to marry?
Aged 18 and over?
If you're 18 years old or older, you may marry without parental consent.
Aged 17 and under?
If you're 17 years old or younger, you may marry with parental consent and a court order.
What are the underage marriage requirements?
Which parent grants consent?
Consent is prioritized as follows: guardian, both parents living in Massachusetts, or the sole parent living in Massachusetts.
Must consent be granted in person?
Consent may be granted directly to the clerk or by notarizing a consent form.
Which court must I file the petition in?
Do I go to court or apply for a license first?
Obtain a court order authorizing underage marriage before applying for a marriage license.
What if my parents cannot or will not grant consent?
Parents' and guardians' objections may be overruled by a judge.
Is there a premarital counseling reduced license fee?
Massachusetts does not have a premarital counseling program that reduces the marriage license fee or waives the waiting period.
When will I get my marriage license?
Your marriage license will be issued three days after applying. For instance, apply on Friday to pick up on Monday.
Can the three-day waiting period be waived?
City or town clerk waiver?
The city or town clerk may unilaterally waive the waiting period in cases of imminent death.
Should I get the waiver before applying?
A court-issued waiting period waiver should be obtained before applying for a marriage license.
When may I use my marriage license after issuance?
You may get married immediately after your marriage license is issued.
How long will my marriage license remain valid?
Your marriage license will expire 60 days after you apply for it, not 60 days after it's issued.
Do I have to bring ID?
Bring proof of age, such as a certified copy of your birth or baptismal certificate, passport, life insurance policy, or school, employment, court, immigration, or naturalization record.
What if I lack sufficient ID?
If you lack the previously listed identification, bring a driver's license, state-issued ID card, military ID card, or similar.
Do I have to bring my birth certificate?
Some clerks will ask to see a certified copy of your birth certificate, regardless of age.
Do I have to bring my social security card?
Your social security card is not required, but your social security number is.
Do I have to get a blood test?
Massachusetts' premarital blood test for syphilis was abolished on January 28, 2005.
Must I bring proof of divorce?
If your last marriage ended in divorce, you do not need to bring documentary proof.
May I get married immediately after divorcing?
You may remarry after your divorce is finalized, following the 90–120 day nisi period.
Must I bring proof of being widowed?
If your prior marriage ended in spousal death, a death certificate will not be requested.
How soon may I get married after being widowed?
Unlike a non-finalized divorce, you may remarry immediately after being widowed.
Can I change my name?
Men, women, and same-sex couples may change their names after marriage.
Is name change mandatory?
Name change is optional, even if your marriage record specifies a new surname.
What authorizes name change?
A certified copy of your marriage certificate authorizes you to change your name.
What are my new last name options?
Either of you may take either's current or birth surname, or any hyphenated combination.
What are my new middle name options?
You may replace your middle name with your maiden name or birth surname.
Can I change my first name through marriage?
You cannot change your first name through marriage. Petition the court instead.
Which documents must I update and in what order?
Can the process be initiated ahead of time?
You may start the paperwork anytime or use a name change kit to consolidate the forms.
Are witnesses required at my ceremony?
Witnesses are not required to attend your marriage ceremony.
Who may perform our marriage?
Your marriage may be solemnized by a city or town clerk, court clerk, justice of the peace, or authorized person of any religious organization or society.
May we solemnize our own ceremony?
You may not conduct a self-solemnized marriage ceremony. A third-party must officiate.
Must officiants register to solemnize marriages?
May a friend or family member solemnize our marriage?
Anyone may solemnize your marriage by submitting a one-day marriage designation.
When must the marriage license be returned?
After solemnization, the marriage license must be returned to the issuing city or town clerk by the tenth day of the following month.
How do I get a copy of my marriage certificate?
Obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the city or town clerk that issued your marriage license or Massachusetts' registry of vital records.
Can I get married by proxy?
Massachusetts does not allow proxy marriage. No stand-ins. You must be present.
Can I marry a first cousin?
Marriage between first cousins is allowed in Massachusetts.
Can I marry a family member?
You cannot marry a grandparent, parent, stepparent, child, grandchild, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew.
Will my out-of-state marriage be recognized in Massachusetts?
If your out-of-state marriage could have legally taken place in Massachusetts, it will be recognized in the Commonwealth.
Can I enter into a common-law marriage?
Massachusetts abolished common-law marriage in 1646.