Types of Marriage Licenses
There are two types of marriage licenses commonly issued in California. The public marriage license and confidential marriage license. In addition to the general requirements listed above, there are additional requirements for each of the licenses listed below.
Public Marriage License:
- You must be at least 18 years old. Persons under 18 with written consent from at least one parent (or legal guardian) AND permission from a California Superior Court Judge may marry. Emancipated minors are NOT exempt from this process. Contact the County Clerk’s Office in your county for further information regarding these requirements.
- The marriage license may be obtained from any county in California. You are not required to get married in the county where you purchase the public marriage license; however, you must be married in California. You must file the license in the county where it was purchased.
- You must have at least one witness present at your ceremony. The license contains a place for two witnesses if you prefer. You may NOT have more than two witnesses sign the official marriage license. Licenses received with more than two witnesses signatures will be returned to the officiant and a duplicate marriage license will need to be purchased.
- There is no age requirement in California for witnesses, however, they must be old enough to know that they are witnessing a marriage ceremony, AND be able to sign their name on the official marriage license.
The marriage license is registered at the County Recorder’s Office in the county where the license was purchased, and is a public record. Anyone may request copies of the marriage license by submitting the required fee to the County Recorder. Download a copy of the Application for Certified Copy of Marriage Record (PDF) Opens a new browser window. Only one officiant may sign the marriage certificate as solemnized.
Confidential Marriage License:
- The participating parties must be at least 18 years old to apply for a confidential marriage license. Minors may NOT purchase a confidential marriage license.
- The participating parties must be living together as spouses at the time they apply for the marriage license, and must sign an affidavit on the license attesting to those facts.
- You are not required to get married in the county where you purchase the confidential marriage license; however, you must be married in California. You must file the license in the county where it was purchased.
- No witnesses are required to be at the ceremony, AND no witnesses sign on the marriage license.
The marriage license is a confidential record and is registered at the County Clerk’s Office in the county where it was purchased. Only the couple may purchase copies of the marriage license and must present valid picture identification together with the required fee to the County Clerk in order to do so. Persons other than the married couple requesting copies of a confidential marriage license may only do so by presenting a court order to the County Clerk in the county where the license is registered.
Copies of confidential marriages are not available from the state office.