If you are planning on marrying in the future, it is essential to know the answer to the question – “what do you need a marriage license for?” But before that, you need to understand the basic definition of this term.
What is a marriage license?
In simple words, a marriage license is a legal document that is needed for a marriage to occur. Wikipedia, on the other hand, defines the term as a “document which is issued, either by the Church or State Authority, authorizing a couple to marry.”
Basically, a marriage license is essentially a legal permit that states you and your partner are legally allowed to marry. Also, it is a confirmation from the authority that there are no qualifications that would disqualify you from a legal marriage.
But before you go applying for a marriage license, there are things you need to be aware of and several requirements you must meet to obtain a marriage license. These requirements include physical items such as personal records, as well as other qualifications related to your age, mental status, and more.
And, the second most important you need to have an answer to – why do you need a marriage license?
But before that, you need to understand the difference between marriage certificate and marriage license.
Marriage certificate vs. Marriage license
The marriage license is a permit that you need to procure from a county clerk before you get married to your partner. Marriage certificate, on the other hand, is a document that proves you are legally married to your partner.
There are quite a few requirements for a marriage certificate, but they vary from state to state. The most basic ones are –
- Presence of both the spouses
- The person who officiated the ceremony
- One or two witnesses
They are needed to sign the marriage certificate and legalize the bond between the couple.
Procuring a marriage certificate is equally important as getting a marriage license is. The former is considered an official recorded document that is issued by the Government to certify the union legally. At times, a marriage record is regarded as a part of the public record.
Understanding the purpose of a marriage license
Getting a marriage license is mandatory in every state of the United States of America and across the world. The purpose of obtaining a marriage license is to legalize the marriage and serves as a legal permit.
It is proof of the couple’s new obligations and responsibilities towards each other as husband and wife. This license safeguards couples against other social issues such as underage, bigamous, and familial unions.
The license is issued mainly by a Governmental Authority.
But, you need to understand that the marriage license is like a marriage permit which legally allows couples to get married, not proof of their marriage.
Now, there are specific requirements for a marriage license. You cannot just walk up to any Governmental authority and demand for a marriage license, Right?
Let’s take a closer look at what you need for a marriage license.
What do you need for a marriage license?
Procuring a marriage license is not easy. The first thing the newlywed couples need to do is pay a visit to the county clerk’s office from where they are planning to exchange their marriage vows.
Also, you need to be aware of another important point here and i.e. the marriage license is good for that particular state from where you obtained it. You cannot use the same license, which was procured from Texas, for example, but used for the wedding, which is supposed to take place somewhere in Florida.
But there is a catch here – a U.S. citizen can manage a marriage license in any of the fifty states.
Just remember! There are certain things you need for a marriage license. You will need to bring certain personal records to your clerk’s office in order to apply for a marriage license.
The exact records can vary from state to state, but most states will require these basics –
- A state-issued photo ID of you and your partner
- Proof of residency for both you and your partner
- Birth certificates for both you and your partner
- Social security numbers for both you and your partner
Again, some states require more specific records than others.
If your state requires you to take a physical examination or submit to certain tests (such as for rubella or tuberculosis) then you will likely have to provide proof of these examinations as well.
If you are under 18 but live in a state where you can marry with parent/guardian consent, your parent/guardian will need to come with you to apply for the license.
You may also need to prove that you are not related to your partner.
The list doesn’t end here. There are a few other information you need to provide before you are granted the permission to marry the person of your choice.
What else do you need for a marriage license
1. Divorced or widowed?
When most people ask “What do you need for a marriage license?” they don’t consider people who are divorced or who have been widowed.
If you had a previous marriage that ended, whether, through death or divorce, you will need to bring proof of the first marriage—as well as proof that it ended.
While it may seem harsh, especially in cases where the first partner died, marriage clerks must be able to prove that the marriage is legal, which requires knowing that any previous marriages are now void.
2. Physical exam before marriage
Most states in the USA used to require mandatory physical examinations before marriage. These examinations also included testing for certain diseases, including venereal disease as well as serious contagious diseases such as rubella and tuberculosis. These laws were originally created to help stop the spread of these diseases.
Today, however, mandatory testing is not the norm—although there are still some states which require testing for rubella and tuberculosis due to the serious and contagious nature of the disease.
To find out whether or not you will need a physical examination before you can apply for a license, look up your state’s specific marriage requirements. If you do require an exam, you will likely need proof from the physician with you when you apply in person for your marriage license.