How to Get a Marriage License in California
Before you can be legally married in California, you are required by law to obtain a marriage license.
Marriage licenses can be obtained from the county clerk registrar’s office from any county in California.
When you go to pickup your marriage license the bride and groom must bring a current government issued (unexpired) photo ID. For example: a Drivers License, State I.D. card, Green Card or a Passport. If within the last two years you have been divorced, you will need a copy of your divorce decree.
In L.A. County click here. In Orange County click here. In Riverside County click here. After you pick up your Public Marriage License, you can get married in any county, anywhere in the State of California.
One thing to note is that Orange county has the least expensive public marriage license, $61. In Riverside and LA county a public marriage license costs $90. Remember, once you obtain a marriage license from any country clerks office, you can get married anywhere in Calif.
Tip: When you pick up your marriage license, ask to also pay for a copy of your marriage certificate, (cost $14.). This will help speed up the time it takes to receive your marriage certificate. The marriage certificate is the legal documentation you need (proof that you got married) that is used for name change requests, passports, DMV, school and insurance purposes.
In Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties, you can apply for a marriage license online. After you apply online, all you have to do is go the county clerk’s office with your fiance (within 15 days) to sign & pickup the paperwork.
You can also go directly to the County Clerks office in person and apply for a marriage license while you wait. If you prefer, you can download a hard-copy of the LA County application here and bring it with you to the county clerks office.
For questions about a marriage license or to follow up on your application that you obtained from the Los Angeles County Clerks Office call: 1-800-201-8999. In Orange County call: 714-834-2500. In Riverside call: 951-486-7000.
After you receive your marriage license, bring it with you to the wedding.
There are two types of marriage licenses. A public marriage license and the Confidential marriage license. If you choose the Public Marriage License (the most commonly selected marriage license) you can get married in any county, anywhere, in the State of California. Both parties must be at least 18 years old and have current government issued photo ID. You will need at least one witness to be present at your ceremony who will sign the marriage license. You can have up to 2 witnesses sign your marriage license.
The second type of marriage license is the Confidential Marriage License. The requirements are: A. The bride and groom must be at least 18 years old and be living together as spouses at the time they apply for the marriage license, and they must sign an affidavit on the license attesting to those facts. B. The wedding ceremony can only take place in the County in which the marriage license has been issued (usually LA County only) C. You must provide current government issued photo ID. If selecting the confidential marriage license you do not need any witnesses to be present at the wedding ceremony nor to sign the marriage license (that's why it's called a confidential marriage license). The only signature you need is from the person officiating your wedding ceremony.
In any case, whether you select the Confidential Marriage License or the Public Marriage License the one signature you really need is the officiant's signature (that's me, Reverend Robert Kroll). This takes place immediately following the ceremony. By the way, this is a great time for pictures.
The way it works is that right after the wedding ceremony, the bride, groom, witnesses and officiant/reverend (and photographer) go to a quiet place (away from the guests) to sign the marriage license. The witnesses sign the paperwork first and then I sign it. It's at that point, right after I sign your marriage license, that you and your fiance become legally and officially married. It's important to take care of the signature right after the ceremony.
After the signatures I take the marriage license with me, and by law, file it with the county clerk’s office. I have ten days to file your marriage license although I always file it the following business day.
As a courtesy to all couples whom I marry, and at no extra charge, I scan and email a copy of the signed Marriage License to both the bride & groom's email address. Although it's not official it's nice to have.
Keep in mind that a marriage license is only valid for 90 days so plan well. If it expires, you will need to pay for another one. You do not have to be a California resident or Citizen of the United States to marry in California and blood tests are not required for a marriage license.
How to Request a Copy of your Marriage License:
If you "RECENTLY" got married:
The person marrying you has 10 days to turn in your marriage license. I turn them in the following business day. Sometimes the county will send you a letter saying that they have not received your marriage license. Most of the times they really do have it but somehow the letter gets sent out to you anyway.
If you have received a letter saying the county has not received your marriage license or if you simply want to follow up on its status call the Los Angeles County Clerks Office at: 1-800-201-8999. In Orange County call: 714-834-2500. In Riverside, call: 951-486-7000. Be prepared to be on hold a few minutes when you call (listen to the prompts, select marriage licenses, and then wait until someone answers the phone. They will ask for your name and date of marriage and possibly the license number indicated on your marriage license).
If you are "ALREADY" married:
Visit the county clerk registrar’s office in any county in California in person and fill out the application. It can take 30-60 days to receive an official copy of your marriage certificate. The cost is $14 each.
Or download the Marriage Application Form here and mail it in to the county. (The two forms you will need are: The Application for a Public Marriage Record and the Notarized Certificate of Identity form).
If you are "NOT" married yet:
When you pick up your marriage license, ask to also pay for a copy of your marriage certificate, (cost $14). This will help speed up the time it takes to receive your marriage certificate. The marriage certificate is the legal documentation you need (proof that you got married) that is used for name change requests, passports, DMV, school and insurance purposes.
After the wedding ceremony, the witness ('s) sign the marriage license and then I file the paperwork back to the county. Approximately 30 days later you will receive a copy of your marriage certificate. This is the fastest way to receive an official copy of your marriage certificate (by paying for it advance).
If you did not pay $14 in advance, fill out the two forms given to you when you picked up your marriage license and give them to me (completely filled out) on the day of your wedding. Make sure to get one of the forms notarized. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope (with at least 3 stamps) and a $14 check for each certified copy that you need (payable to: Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk). I then file your Marriage License along with your request for an official copy of your Marriage Certificate (all three forms) together.
Please note: One of the forms require a notary signature so make sure to take care of this quickly before the wedding (Tip: If you are a AAA card holder I heard that AAA members get free notary signatures). The wait time if you give me the two application forms along with the marriage license is approximately 30 days. For more details or to download the forms contact the Calif. Dept. of Public Health.