The Marriage License
Where do you get one?
A couple who intends to be married in New York State must apply in person for a marriage license to any town or city clerk in the state. The application for a license must be signed by both the bride and groom in the presence of the town or city clerk. A representative cannot apply for the license on behalf of the bride or groom. This applies even if the representative has been given the Power of Attorney. Notarized marriage license affidavits signed by the bride or groom cannot be substituted for their personal appearance.
Is there a waiting period?
Yes. Although the marriage license is issued immediately, the marriage ceremony may not take place within 24 hours from the exact time that the license was issued. When both applicants are 16 years of age or older, the 24-hour waiting period may be waived by an order of a justice of the Supreme Court or a judge of the County Court of the county in which either the bride or groom resides. If either person is under 16 years of age, the order must be from the Family Court judge of the county in which the person under 16 years of age resides.
How long is the license valid?
A marriage license is valid for 60 days, beginning the day after it is issued.
How much does it cost?
If the marriage license is issued by a town or city clerk in New York State outside of New York City, it costs $40. This fee includes the issuance of a Certificate of Marriage Registration. This certificate is automatically sent by the issuing clerk to the applicants within 15 days after the completed license is returned by the officiant (person who performs the marriage ceremony). It serves as notice that a record of the marriage is on file. Couples who do not receive a Certificate of Marriage Registration within four weeks of the wedding should contact the town or city clerk who issued the license.
If the license is to be issued by the City Clerk of the City of New York, please contact the New York City Clerk's Office for current fees and requirements. The City Clerk's Office can be reached at (212) 669-2400 or via their web site at New York City Marriage Bureau.
Is a premarital physical exam required?
No premarital examination or blood test is required to obtain a marriage license in New York State.
What are the age and consent requirements for minors?
Proof of Age and Identity
A person is required to establish proof of age and identity by submitting to the issuing clerk one of the following age related documents:
And one of the following identity related documents:
A marriage may not take place in New York State between an ancestor and descendant, a brother and sister (full or half blood), an uncle and niece or an aunt and nephew, regardless of whether or not these persons are legitimate or illegitimate offspring.
Information regarding previous marriages must be furnished in the application for a marriage license. This includes whether the former spouse or spouses are living, and whether the applicants are divorced and, if so, when, where and against whom the divorce or divorces were granted. A certified copy of the Decree of Divorce or a Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage may be required by the clerk issuing the marriage license.
Every person has the right to adopt any name by which he or she wishes to be known simply by using that name consistently and without intent to defraud. A person's last name (surname) does not automatically change upon marriage, and neither party to the marriage is required to change his or her last name. The bride and groom need not take the same last name.
One or both parties to a marriage may elect to change the surname by which he or she wishes to be known after the marriage by entering the new name in the appropriate space provided on the marriage license. The new name must consist of one of the following options:
The use of this option will provide a record of your change of name. The marriage certificate, containing the new name, if any, is proof that the use of the new name, or the retention of the former name, is lawful. The local Social Security Administration office should be contacted so that its records and your social security identification card reflect the name change. There is no charge for this service.
Whether you decide to use or not use this option at the time of your marriage license application, you still have the right to adopt a different name through usage at some future date. However, your marriage license cannot be changed to record a surname you decide to use after your marriage.
If you plan to use your married name at work, be sure to have your name changed in Social Security records. This way, you will get credit for all your earnings. It's easy and it's absolutely free. Contact any Social Security office. Look in the telephone book for the address and phone number. You will need documentary evidence showing both your old name and your new name.
Where can a marriage take place?
A New York State marriage license may be used within New York State only. Please note that if you go out of New York State to be married, your New York State marriage license will not be filed in New York State.
What about the ceremony?
There is no particular form or ceremony required except that the parties must state in the presence of an authorized member of the clergy or public official and at least one other witness that they take each other as husband and wife. There is no minimum age for a witness. However, in selecting a witness, choose at least one person who you feel would be competent to testify in a court proceeding as to what he or she witnessed.
Who can perform a marriage ceremony?
To be valid, a marriage ceremony must be performed by any of the individuals specified in Section 11 of the New York State Domestic Relations Law. These include:
The person performing the ceremony must be registered with the City of New York in order to perform a ceremony within the New York City limits. The officiant does not have to be a resident of New York State. Ship captains are not authorized to perform marriage ceremonies in New York State.
Where can I get copies of my records?
For copies of marriage licenses issued anywhere in New York State except the five (5) boroughs of New York City, a certified copy of the marriage record may be obtained from the office of the town or city clerk who issued the license, or from the New York State Department of Health. The fee is $10 if you obtain a certified copy from the town or city clerk who issued the license. If applying to the New York State Department of Health, the fee is $30. For a certified copy, write to:Certification Unit
Vital Records Section
New York State Department of Health
P.O. Box 2602
Albany, New York 12220-2602
For marriage licenses issued in New York City, do not apply to the New York State Department of Health. For an application, current fees and ordering information contact the City Clerk of New York at (212) 669-2400 or visit their web site at New York City Marriage Bureau. You can also write them at: