Marriage License Application and Requirements

United States Marriage License Laws & Requirements

There are many different emotions that come along with the decision to get married. It is a life changing event that will bring happiness, sadness, opportunities, challenges, and other elements. When getting ready to take the plunge, some of those emotions can impact memory and thinking straight. Thus, it is important to remember that when you go to apply for your marriage license, you are going to be required to bring documents with you to prove who you are.

Just as with laws, procedures and forms, states will vary in their marriage license procedures and requirements. That said, there are some common documents associated with satisfying the requirements for the application.

Here are the requirements for a marriage license:

  • Birth certificate
  • Driver’s license or state issued ID
  • Proof of residence
  • Proof
  • Passport
  • Military identification card

Where you obtain the marriage license will vary from state to state. Most often, the parties will apply for their license at a county clerk’s office in the state they intend to marry. Depending upon the state, the parties may be required to apply in the specific town, city or county in which they will marry. Keep in mind that a common requirement is that both parties appear in person when applying.

Be prepared to pay a fee when applying for the marriage license (usually due at the time of application). Review the application process to determine what the required fee is and the methods in which the fee can be paid. There is nothing worse than waiting in line for two hours to apply, only to find that your American Express isn’t an acceptable method of payment (and it is the only one that you have at that time).

Once you apply for the license, you may receive the license immediately and other times, may be required to wait a short period of time…even up to six days. If you are subject to the wait time and are wanting to get married before the end of the wait period, you can look into the local rules to see if there are exceptions that can reduce or waive the wait time.

Once you have the marriage license, it is important to know that they generally have expiration dates. Thus, if you wait too long to marry (after receiving the license), it may expire and you will have to reapply. This period is often between 60 to 90 days after the license is provided.


If previously married, you may be required to provide court documents (such as a final judgement) proving that you are legally divorced.

If one of the parties in a member of the US Armed Forces and they are stationed overseas, are serving in a conflict or war, and is thus unable to appear with the other party when applying for the license, some jurisdictions will allow the use of a Power of Attorney (POA) to enter into marriage by the appearance of an attorney-of-fact (this person will be identified in the POA as being able to legally act on behalf of the party in the Armed Forces).

Again, don’t let yourself get to the marriage license application window unprepared. Be sure to review the required and acceptable documents for your state as well as whether or not they must be original/certified documents or if they can be copies.

Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?

If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.

Take Course