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California's Marriage License Requirements

According to the California State Centerfor Health Services, you do not need to be aCalifornia resident to marry in California.

Only an unmarried man and an unmarriedwoman may marry in California.

Marriage by proxy is not allowed inCalifornia. California Family Code, Section420(a), requires the bride, the groom, themarriage officiant and the witness, if applicable,be physically present together in thesame location for the marriage tobe performed.

Blood tests are not required to obtain amarriage license in California.

Both parties must appear in person andbring valid picture identification to a countyor city clerk’s office to apply for a marriagelicense in California.

Valid picture identification is one thatcontains a photograph, a date of birth and anissue and expiration date, such as a state-issuedidentification card, a driver’s license,a passport or military identification. Somecounties also may require a copy of both parties’birth certificates.

If you have been married before, youwill need to know the specific date your lastmarriage ended and how it ended – death,dissolution, divorce or nullity. Some countiesmay require a copy of the final judgment ifyour previous marriage ended by dissolutionor nullity.

Marriage licenses are valid for 90 daysfrom the date of issuance. If you do not getmarried within 90 days, the license will nolonger be valid. You must purchase a newlicense.

Many county clerks in Californiaperform civil marriage ceremonies in theiroffices. For further information regardingcivil marriage ceremonies, contact the countyclerk’s office to find out if it provides theservice.

California Family Code, Section 400,states that the people authorized to solemnizemarriage ceremonies in California are:

  • • a priest, a minister or a rabbi of anyreligious denomination
  • • a judge or a retired judge, a commissionerof civil marriages or a retired commissionerof civil marriages, a commissioner or aretired commissioner or an assistant commissionerof a court of record in this state
  • • a judge or a magistrate who has resignedfrom office
  • • any of these judges or magistrates of theUnited States:
  • • a justice or a retired justice of the U. S.Supreme Court
  • • a judge or a retired judge of a court ofappeals, a district court or a court createdby an act of Congress, the judges of whichare entitled to hold office during goodbehavior
  • • a judge or a retired judge of a bankruptcycourt or a tax court
  • • a U. S. magistrate or a retired magistrate
  • • a legislator or a constitutional officer ofCalifornia or a member of Congress whorepresents a district within California, whilethat person holds office


Fees and hours of issuance for amarriage license may vary by county.Contact a county clerk or recorder’s officefor the information by going online at

www.dhs.ca.gov

.

The person solemnizing the marriagemust return the original marriage licenseto the county clerk or county recorder asapplicable within 10 days of the date ofthe ceremony. Addresses should be on thecounty Web site.

You will not receive a copy of your marriagelicense aft er you have been marriedunless you request and pay for a certified copy from the county clerk or countyrecorder as applicable.

You may access an application to requesta certified copy of a marriage certificate at:www.dhs.ca.gov/publications/forms/pdf/vs113a.pdf.

All information on the marriage licensemust be legible, unambiguous and reproducible.Do not change any information on thelicense, as that will require the payment forand issuance of a duplicate marriage license.

Contact the county clerk’s office if youhave questions about completing the marriagelicense or have incorrect informationcontained on the marriage license.

For more information go online atwww.dhs.ca.gov.

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