California Marriage License Requirements
If you're getting married in the state of California you must first apply for a wedding license at any in-state county clerk office. These offices, some of which are referred to as the "marriage license bureau," are usually located in the county probate court or circuit court. This document outlines the requirements you must adhere to in order to get a valid marriage license that can be used statewide. Let's begin…
CA county-specific marriage license links below. Scroll down further for statewide requirements.
- Alameda County
- Alpine County
- Amador County
- Butte County
- Calaveras County
- Colusa County
- Contra Costa County
- Del Norte County
- El Dorado County
- Fresno County
- Glenn County
- Humboldt County
- Imperial County
- Inyo County
- Kern County
- Kings County
- Lake County
- Lassen County
- Los Angeles County
- Madera County
- Marin County
- Mariposa County
- Mendocino County
- Merced County
- Modoc County
- Mono County
- Monterey County
- Napa County
- Nevada County
- Orange County
- Placer County
- Plumas County
- Riverside County
- Sacramento County
- San Benito County
- San Bernardino County
- San Diego County
- San Francisco County
- San Joaquin County
- San Luis Obispo County
- San Mateo County
- Santa Barbara County
- Santa Clara County
- Santa Cruz County
- Shasta County
- Sierra County
- Siskiyou County
- Solano County
- Sonoma County
- Stanislaus County
- Sutter County
- Tehama County
- Trinity County
- Tulare County
- Tuolumne County
- Ventura County
- Yolo County
- Yuba County
Cost of Your License
How much does a marriage license cost?
The marriage license fee is $50.00 to $80.00 dollars. Accepted forms of payment are cash.
Are there any special residency conditions for in-state or out-of-state residents?
There are none. You do not have to be a previous or current resident of California to obtain a marriage license that will be valid statewide.
After I submit my application how long do I have to wait before I receive my marriage license?
There is no waiting period. You will receive your marriage license immediately after you submit your application.
Is there a waiting period from the moment the license is given to me to the date I'm allowed to actually marry?
No, you can get married immediately after your marriage license is issued.
How long will my marriage license remain valid once it's been issued?
Your license will expire 90 days from the date it is issued. Once it expires, it can no longer be used to get married.
What happens if my marriage license expires before I get a chance to use it?
Unfortunately, you'll just have to get a brand new one as your expired one will no longer be recognized as valid by the state nor by the person who will be responsible for officiating your marriage.
How old must I be to get married?
You must be at least 18 years of age or older to marry without parental consent. A birth certificate may be necessary to show proof of age.
What if one or both of us is younger than 18?
If either partner is under 18, one parent or legal guardian must be present. If a parent can not be present, due to death, separation, divorce or other circumstances, proper evidence must be presented for verification. You will need a certified copy of your birth certificate. The couple must schedule an appointment with a counselor and then appear before a superior court judge.
Are blood tests and physical exams required?
No blood test or physical exam is required.
Divorced or Widowed Applicants
What if one or both partners have been divorced or have had a spouse die?
If you were previously married, the date of your divorce or the date of your spouse's death must be provided. If the divorce or spouse's death had taken place within the last 90 days, bring a certified copy of the divorce decree or death certificate. If necessary, a copy of your divorce records or spouse's death certificate can be ordered from your local vital records office and mailed to you.
Marriage Name Change
How do I legally change my name before or after I get married?
When you are married, you will receive a marriage certificate, which is a piece of paper proving that you are legally married. This document will serve as evidence of your marriage, which you'll need to complete the process of notifying several government agencies about your name change, as well as any non-government institutions that you do business with (ie, banks, employers, credit cards, memberships, etc).
There is an online marriage name change kit that you can use and complete before or after your marriage takes place. It's applicable for California or any other state in the union. Completing all the necessary name change documentation prior to your wedding is recommended in order to expedite the name change process.
What is a proxy marriage?
A proxy marriage, also known as a "proxy wedding," is when one or both partners to be married are unable to physically attend the ceremony. The missing person, or persons, will have someone "stand in" for them and serve as their "proxy."
Can I get married by proxy if I'm unable to to be present for the ceremony?
Yes. California is one of only five states that does allow marriage by proxy to be legally performed. Bill SB 7 was sponsored by Republican Sen. Jim Brulte of Rancho Cucamonga and Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 10, 2004.
Common Law Marriage
What is a common law marriage?
The term "common law marriage" refers to an informal marriage, based upon cohabitation and a mutual understanding by both partners, rather than getting married through a civil or religious ceremony. The latter, more common approach, would require an actual California marriage license.
Is a common law marriage a legal option for me instead of undergoing a conventional marriage?
No, common-law marriages are not allowed in California. This is unsurprising as only one-fifth of the country currently recognizes common law marriage.
Can I get married to my cousin?
Yes, cousin marriages (first, second, etc) are allowed to take place.
Same Sex Marriage
Are same sex marriages legal?
Yes, same-sex marriages are allowed and legally recognized in California.