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California Marriage License

If you are living in California and are planning to get married, you will need a California marriage license. Before solemnizing the marriage ceremony, the couples must obtain a legal right to marry in California. So, for that, they must get a marriage license at the Clerk-Recorder’s Office.

Who can and can not get married in California?

There are a certain age and other requirements for the people who want to get married in California. The State of California does not allow marriages between first and second cousins. In order to get a license, people must be single. Even if they were married before, they must have a legal divorce decree. Same-sex marriages are already allowed in California according to the U.S. Supreme Court Proposition 8.

Now let’s come to the age requirements for getting a California marriage license. The State of California does not allow minors to get a marriage license. That is to say, people who are under the appropriate age (18 years old) can not marry in California. However, there are several exceptions. Sometimes, the court may admit the application when there is an acceptable reason for minors to get married. In all cases, the minor(s) must get consent from at least one parent or guardian in order to obtain the license. They will need to show the written permission and maybe the certified copy to the county clerk’s office.

For some precise information, contact the county clerk’s office where you want to apply to. Here is an address of one of the offices in California you may apply to:

Clerk-Recorder’s Office
70 W. Hedding, East Wing, 1st Floor
San Jose, CA 95110

California Marriage License Requirements and Special Rules

Procedurally, the couple must acquire a marriage license from the county clerk before marriage. California marriage license is only valid for ninety days. That is to say, after obtaining the marriage license, the couple should plan to induce their marriage within that framework of time. Once the marriage ceremony is solemnized and the marriage certificate is signed and completed, the couple must return their marriage license to the county clerk’s office. They must give the license back to the clerk who issued the license within ten days after the marriage ceremony.

The State of California accepts the marriage if the couple obtained their marriage license in another state of the US or foreign jurisdiction. But, it is only in the case when the license is valid in that state and that jurisdiction still recognizes the marriage. For instance, if the couple move to California and they have a valid marriage license from another state, their license is valid in California, as well.

If you have some concerns about your marriage license and additional questions about California marriage law, you can reach out to a California family law attorney.

What documentation do you need to apply for a California marriage license?

As we have already said, the parties must be 18 years old or older to marry in California. So, they will need some documentation to prove their age. Here is the list of those papers:

  • a valid California I.D.
  • passport
  • certified birth certificate
  • driver’s license
  • baptismal record
  • photo I.D.
  • a copy of dissolution or annulment papers (if previously married).

There are several requirements that the State of California does NOT ask:

  • health certificate
  • blood test
  • same last names
  • residence or citizenship status.

What information should you fill out in the application form?

When you apply for the California marriage license, you should fill out a written application. Every detail that you write in the application form must be precise and accurate information. You will need to fill in your legal name as it is in your passport and ID. Besides, you will need to write your birthplace, residence, and date of birth.

Do not forget to mention the legal names of your parents in the application. You must also mention their places of birth (state or country).

You will need to know the date of your divorce if you were married and divorced before. If your divorce was within 90 days prior to the marriage, you will need to bring a copy of the judgment of divorce.

Changing your name

If you plan to change your name after the marriage, you must write down your new name, as well. According to the Name Equality Act of 2007, here are some kinds of changes you can make to your name when getting married in California:

  • You can not change your first name
  • You can only change your middle or last names to the:
    1. current last name of your spouse
    2. last name of either spouse given at birth
    3. a single and combined name that includes both spouse’s last names (current or birth surnames)
    4. a hyphenated combination of last names.

Types of marriage licenses

In the application, the parties must choose the type of marriage license they want to obtain. There are two types of marriage licenses in California:

  • Standard
  • Confidential

Mainly all the applicants choose the standard type of marriage license. If you apply for the Standard License, your marriage becomes a part of the public record. However, it does not make your personal information public and nobody can search for it online.

On the other hand, Confidential License does not become a part of the public record. It has several restrictions that a Standard marriage does not have. So, you can choose this type of marriage license only when you have already lived with your future spouse.

How much is a California marriage license?

In the State of California, the fees and appointment systems vary depending on every county. So, it is better to contact your local office and acquire the information you need.

However, the fee for a Standard marriage license is $80. The fee for a Confidential marriage license is $83. If you have decided to get married in a civil ceremony, the fee is $25.

You can do the payments with cash, check (with I.D.), credit or debit card, or money order. All these ways are acceptable forms of payment. There is a $2.50 convenience fee for credit and debit cards.

How long does it take to get a marriage license in California?

The authorized person who performed the marriage ceremony must return the license to the county clerk within 10 days. And, after the clerk receives and records your marriage license, it becomes a marriage certificate.

Nevertheless, the clerk will not automatically send a copy after your marriage ceremony. If you want to get a certified copy of your license, you will have to apply for it. After paying the additional fee to the county where the marriage took place, you may get a certified copy.

How to apply for a marriage license in California online?

Some people may find it more convenient and easier to apply for a California marriage license online. For that, you just need to visit and fill out an online application on the county website.

Are California Marriage Records open to the public?

Mainly all the California marriage records are open to the public. Depending on the type and the year of the record, access to a record may vary. Generally, family members, legal guardians, or any party with written authorization restrict the certified or authorized copies.

However, for conducting an online search for California marriage records, the requesters must provide proper information about the record. They must mention the following points:

  • name of the registrant(s)
  • date and place of the event
  • first and last name of couple’s parents
  • city or county where the event occurred
  • marriage or divorce records.

Rita S.

With over the years of writing content for a number of websites, Rita has a uniquely developed style of writing. Rita is a copy and content writer with experience of three to four years. She has worked as an SEO and an SMM specialist, as well. During her working years, Rita has written many articles and blog posts for different companies in the world. She provides coaching, ghost writing, and ghost editing services. She has brought very high rankings for the websites she has teamed up with. She uses the combination of SEO and different content tools in her writings, as she knows that successful content is the one that is well optimized. Rita has posted her articles on the websites, such as Medium, ArticlesBase, LicenseSearch.org, and so on.

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