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 Rhode Island?
To get married in Rhode Island, first apply for a marriage license at a city or town clerk's office. Your residency matters.
Does where I live matter?
Do either of you live in Rhode Island?
If either of you live in Rhode Island, you may apply in either's hometown.
Do you both live outside of Rhode Island?
If neither of you live in Rhode Island, apply in the city or town where the marriage will occur.
Do I have to show proof of residency?
Bring a document that shows your address, such as a photo ID, utility bill, paystub, etc.
How much is a marriage license?
A Rhode Island marriage license costs $24.
How much is a marriage certificate?
Walk-in copies are $22. Mailed copies are $25. Extra copies are $18 each.
Where can I use my marriage license?
Do you live in Rhode Island?
If either of you live in Rhode Island, you may get married anywhere in the state.
Are both of you nonresidents?
If neither of you live in Rhode Island, you must get married in the city or town where you get your marriage license.
What do I have to fill out?
The gender-neutral Rhode Island marriage license application will ask you to disclose the following under oath:
- Bride, groom, or spouse
- Current name
- Last name on birth certificate
- If different
- Mailing address
- PO Box is okay
- Residential address
- If different
- PO Box is not acceptable
- Date of birth
- State or foreign country of birth
- Are you under guardianship
- Social security number
- Is kept confidential
- Will not appear on license
- For child support enforcement
- Phone number
- Parents' birth names
- Parents' states or foreign countries of birth
- Marriages and legal equivalents
- Includes civil unions and domestic partnerships
- Total occurrences
- Last end date
- Last end reason (i.e., death, divorce, dissolution, annulment)
- Officiant details (if known)
- Phone number
- Ceremony details (if known)
- City or town
- Location name
- Location address
- Location phone number
- Names of both witnesses
- Must sign in the clerk's presence
Can I fill out the marriage application in advance?
You may download and print the marriage application ahead of time. Use black ink.
Do I have to apply in person?
You and your partner must apply for a marriage license in person, at the same time. No exceptions.
How old must I be to marry?
Aged 18 and over?
You may marry without parental consent if you're at least 18 years old and not under guardianship.
Aged 16 and 17?
If you're 16 or 17 years old, one parent or guardian must grant written consent to your marriage in the clerk's presence.
Aged 15 and under?
If you're 15 years old or younger, you may only marry with permission from the family court.
What are the parental consent and court rules?
What if my parent can't attend?
Written consent alone is not enough. The consenting parent or guardian must escort their minor child or ward.
What if my parents are divorced or separated?
Either parent, with or without custody, may grant consent to your underage marriage.
What if neither of my parents will grant consent?
Parental consent for a 16- and 17-year-old child to marry is mandatory. Courts will not intervene.
Do I go to family court first or apply for a license first?
If you're below the age of 16, you must obtain a court order from the family court before applying for a marriage license.
When will I receive my marriage license?
You will get your marriage license without delay. You may marry the same day.
How long will my marriage license last?
Your marriage license will stay valid for three months after issuance.
What happens if my marriage license expires?
If your marriage license expires, you must return it. The clerk will not offer a refund nor rebate for a new license.
Must I show photo ID?
You may have to show government-issued photo ID along with your birth certificate.
Must I show my birth certificate?
Born in the U.S.A.?
If you were born in the U.S.A., bring a certified copy of your birth certificate. You may have to supplement it with photo ID.
Born outside of the U.S.A.?
If you were born outside of the United States, bring a certified copy of your birth record, passport, or green card.
What if I can't show my birth certificate?
The clerk may accept a driver's license, passport, or other photo ID. Call ahead to be sure.
Must I show my social security card?
You do not have to show your social security card, but you must know the number.
Are non-English documents acceptable?
Birth, death, and divorce certificates not written in English must have a certified and notarized translation.
Do I have to get a blood test?
You do not need blood work done. But the clerk will give you information on fetal alcohol syndrome.
Do I have to show proof of divorce?
If your last marriage ended in divorce, bring a certified copy of the final decree of divorce. The clerk will examine it, not keep it.
How soon can I get married after divorce?
You may get married as soon as your divorce is final.
Do I have to show proof of being widowed?
If your last marriage ended in spousal death, bring a certified copy of the death certificate. The clerk will return it after inspection.
How soon can I remarry after the death of a spouse?
You do not have to wait to remarry following a spouse's death.
How do I change my name after marriage?
You may change your name in Rhode Island with a certified copy of your marriage certificate.
Can I keep my name?
Name change after marriage is up to you. It's neither mandated nor automatic.
Can I change my first name?
You must file a change of name petition at a Rhode Island probate court to change your first name.
Can I change my middle name?
You may drop your middle name and insert your maiden name.
What are my last name change choices?
You may take your husband's last name or hyphenate surnames.
Which identity documents should I update?
When can I begin the name change paperwork?
You may use an online name change packet to begin the name change process before or after your marriage occurs.
Do I need to bring witnesses?
Two witnesses aged 18 or over must attend your marriage ceremony. Afterward, they must sign your marriage license.
Who may conduct our marriage?
A judge, justice, magistrate, court clerk, ordained clergy in good standing, or religious society may solemnize your marriage.
Can I get married by a city or town clerk?
The city or town clerk may issue you a marriage license, but may not conduct your civil ceremony.
When must I return my marriage license?
Your officiant must return your marriage license to the city or town clerk that issued it within 72 hours after marriage.
How do I get a copy of my marriage certificate?
Ordering from the clerk?
You may order a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the city or town clerk that issued your marriage license.
Ordering from Rhode Island's Vital Records Office?
Rhode Island's Vital Records Office sells certified copies of birth, death, civil union, and marriage certificates for every city and town.
Can I get married by proxy?
You may not get married through a proxy. You must be in physical attendance at your marriage ceremony.
Can I marry a first cousin?
Rhode Island law does not forbid marriage among first cousins.
Can I marry a member of my family?
You may not marry your grandparent, parent, stepparent, child, stepchild, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew.
Will Rhode Island recognize my out-of-state marriage?
Rhode Island will recognize an out-of-state marriage if it could have legally taken place in Rhode Island.
Can I enter into a common-law marriage?
You may enter into a common-law marriage in Rhode Island, but proving its validity is hard.