The general requirements for obtaining a marriage license in California are as follows:

  1. Go to the Clerk’s Office: The first step in getting married is to apply for a license at the county clerk’s office in your county.
  2. Proof of Age: A valid California I.D, driver’s license, passport or alien resident card must be presented as a proof that both parties are at a minimum age of 18 years.
  3. Proof of Divorce, Dissolution, or Death: Couple must be unmarried at the time obtaining a marriage license. Any person previously married must provide a copy of a divorce/annulment form if the separation occurred within 2 years. All widows of 2 years or less must present a death certificate of deceased spouse.
  4. Marriage License Application: Both applicants getting the marriage license must appear together at the County Clerks office to fill out an application for a marriage license.
  5. Marriage License Fees: All fees and hours of issuance of a marriage license vary by county in California, but range from $40 – $90.
  6. Duration of Valid Marriage License: In California, marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date it was issued. If no marriage ceremony occurs within the 90 days, the license will no longer be valid and you must go through the process all over again and pay required fees.
  7. Blood Tests: Blood tests are no longer required to obtain a marriage license in California.
  8. Residency Requirements: You do not have to be a California resident to apply for a marriage license within the state.

Who Can Solemnize My Marriage Ceremony in California?

California Family Code, section 400 provides that the individuals certified to solemnize marriage ceremonies in California are:

  • A priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious assembly.
  • A judge or retired judge, commissioner of civil marriages or retired commissioner of civil marriages, commissioner or retired commissioner, or assistant commissioner of a court of record in this state.
  • A judge or magistrate who has resigned from office.
  • Any of the following judges or magistrates of the United States.
  • A justice or retired justice of the United States Supreme Court.
  • A judge or retired judge of a court of appeals, a district court, or a court created by an act of Congress the judges of which are entitled to hold office during good behavior.
  • A judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy court or a tax court.
  • A United States magistrate or retired magistrate.
  • A legislator or constitutional officer of this state or a member of Congress who represents a district within this state, while that person holds office.

The individual solemnizing the marriage must return the original marriage license to the County Clerk or County Recorder within 10 days of the date of the marriage ceremony.

The married couple can receive a copy of the marriage license after they have been married upon request and payment of the certified copy fee.

All information on the marriage license must be readable, definite and reproducible. There should be no change of information on the license, crossed out information, or anything whited out, etc.

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

Before getting married, you may want to speak to a family lawyer for a number of reasons. For example, a lawyer can help you draft a prenuptial agreement and can assist you in updating your estate plan.