also see comments on our blog about how to apply for your marriage license
Legal Requirements for Marriage Licenses in New York
Legal requirements for marriage in NYC are the same for everyone, whether you are a U.S. citizen or resident, or from another country. You must comply with age requirements, show legal proof of your identity, including birth date and country of birth, present any documents regarding any previous marriages (divorce, death of spouse, etc.) You may obtain a license at any City Hall in New York State, and the license may be used in any city in the State, including New York City. The couple must obtain the license IN PERSON and TOGETHER, at City Hall at least 24 hours before the marriage ceremony. (note: you may now apply for your license in NYC online, up to 21 days ahead, but you must still go TOGETHER to finish the application for the license at the Marriage Bureau). Here is a list of the Marriage Bureau locations in New York City. International couples or anyone who wishes to return to pick up their Marriage Certificate the next day should use the office at 141 Worth Street.
You may be married at any Borough Office in New York City, by the Judge, 24 hours after you obtain the license (the license is good for up to 60 days). Weddings are performed on a first-come basis, during office hours. You simply line up with your witnesses and you may have a simple 2-minute wedding ceremony, 24 hours to the minute after you obtained your license. Or you may also have a marriage ceremony performed by a legally registered Marriage Officiant at a location of your choice, including your hotel, apartment, Central Park, a restaurant, church, or even on the Brooklyn Bridge. The Officiant will file the license with City Hall. [Note: if you are applying for an apostile, which some countries require for international weddings - please check with your consulate, and write to us with any questions]
The City Clerk's Office tells you how to make sure your officiant is properly licensed:
"Please note that any marriage officiant who performs a marriage in any of the boroughs of New York City must be registered with the Office of the City Clerk. Therefore, if your marriage ceremony will take place in any of the five boroughs you should ensure that the person performing the ceremony is registered with the Office of the City Clerk. You can ask for your officiant's registration number, and call 212-669-2778 to check."
Here is the Basic Marriage License information from the City Clerk's office, New York:
"The fee for a Marriage License is $35 payable by Money Order or Credit Card.
"Both the prospective bride and groom must appear together in person to apply for a Marriage License, or to complete their online application".
"The application must be completed in our offices. The application consists of an affidavit wherein the applicants list various personal details such as their name, address, birth place, date of birth, social security number, and marital history and make a sworn statement that there are no legal impediments to the marriage.
"Applicants who have been married previously must list all prior marriages on the Marriage License Application. They are required to supply their prior spouse's full name, the date the divorce was granted and the place the divorce was filed and may be asked to produce the final divorce decree. All divorces, annulments, and dissolutions must be finalized before applying for a new Marriage License. If you are a widow or widower, you must provide your deceased spouse's full name and date of death.
"The Marriage License is generated based on this information. It will be prepared while you wait, and you will take it with you upon your departure. Unless you obtain a judicial waiver, you must wait a full 24 hours before your Marriage Ceremony can be performed.
"It is strongly suggested that you proof read your Marriage License before leaving our offices. If an error is found, please return to the clerk for a correction. Any errors found within the first 24 hours after issuance will be corrected at no cost to you. After the 24 hours, there is a fee of $25 payable in money order only for any corrections. A Marriage License which is lost in the mail or is returned to the City Clerk's Office mutilated must be replaced with a duplicate Marriage License for a fee of $25 payable in money order only.
"A New York State Marriage License is valid for 60 days only and can only be used in the state of New York.
"A blood test is not required to obtain a Marriage License in New York State.
"All applicants must bring valid forms of identification when applying for a Marriage License. All identification must be valid. Expired forms of identification will not be accepted, no exceptions.
Acceptable forms of identification:
"If you are under the age of 18 and want to obtain a Marriage License, continue to read the following message:
If either prospective bride or groom is under the age of eighteen years, but over the age of sixteen years, written parental consent is required to obtain a Marriage License. If either prospective bride or groom is under the age of sixteen years, in addition to parental consent the written approval of a judge of the Supreme Court or Family Court is needed. If you are less than eighteen years of age be prepared to show proof of your date of birth. Such proof of date of birth may be one of the following: original or certified copy of birth certificate, baptismal record, passport, driver's license, life insurance policy, school records, naturalization record or court record. In all instances where either prospective bride or groom is under eighteen years, both parents must be present with valid identification at the time of application for the Marriage License and at the Marriage Ceremony if the ceremony is performed in our offices. If one parent is deceased, the surviving parent must appear and a death certificate for the deceased parent must be produced. If both parents are deceased, the legal guardian must appear instead. A person under the age of fourteen years cannot be married.
"You should have at least one witness unless one of the applicants is under 18, in which case both parents should also be present."
Minimum requirements for a Marriage Ceremony
We are often asked for our "bare bones" wedding ceremony. Here is an essay on the minimum requirements for a Civil Marriage Ceremony, and you may read and compare some of our other simple wedding ceremonies, which may be helpful if you are planning a civil ceremony.