To be legally married in the State of California, you must purchase a marriage license and have a marriage ceremony performed. The fee for the license depends on the county, but generally, they run $91.00 for public marriage and $85 for a confidential marriage.

Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance. If you do not get married within 90 days, the license will no longer be valid. You must purchase a new license.

For answers to the most common questions and to determine the actual costs and/or any additional regulations, please contact the specific County’s Recorder-Clerk that you plan to marry in. 

Additional Information on California Marriage Licenses (Please note, check directly with the County you plan to marry in for any changes or additional regulations.)

You do not need to be a California resident to marry in California.

Only an unmarried male and an unmarried female may marry in California.

Marriage by proxy is NOT allowed in California. Family Code, Section 420(a) requires the bride, groom, marriage officiant and witness if applicable, be physically present together in the same location for the marriage to be performed.

Blood tests are NOT required to obtain a marriage license in California.

Both parties must appear in person and bring valid picture identification to the County Clerk’s Office to apply for a marriage license in California. Valid picture identification is one that contains a photograph, date of birth, and an issue and expiration date, such as a state issued identification card, drivers license, passport, military identification, etc. Some counties may also require a copy of your birth certificate.

If you have been married before, you will need to know the specific date your last marriage ended, and how it ended (Death, Dissolution, Divorce or Nullity). Some counties may require a copy of the final judgment if your previous marriage ended by dissolution or nullity.

Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance. If you do not get married within 90 days, the license will no longer be valid. You must purchase a new license.

Many County Clerks in California perform civil marriage ceremonies in their offices. For further information regarding civil marriage ceremonies, please contact the County Clerk’s Office directly to see if they provide this service.

California Family Code, Section 400 states the persons authorized to solemnize marriage ceremonies in California are as follows:

  • A priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination.
  • 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.

All fees and hours of issuance for a marriage license may vary by county.

The person solemnizing the marriage must return the original marriage license to the County Clerk or County Recorder as applicable within 10 days of the date of the ceremony. Addresses should be on the county site.

You will NOT receive a copy of your marriage license after you have been married unless you request and pay for a certified copy from the County Clerk or County Recorder as applicable.

ALL information on the marriage license MUST be legible, unambiguous and reproducible. DO NOT change any information on the license, cross out information, use white out, etc., as that will require the payment for and issuance of a duplicate marriage license. Contact the County Clerk’s Office if you have questions about completing the marriage license and/or incorrect information contained on the marriage license.