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California Marriage License Requirements

You may wish a legal marriage - I even help couples find their special Purposes for doing such!

Meanwhile there are various legal considerations involved (Note: https://tpc-marriage- )..

To get married legally in California, you need to get a license... and this requires BOTH of you to be present at the same time to buy one (Family Code, Section 420(a) requires the marrying couple, their CA-Licensed Officiant, and at least one legal Witness (Age 18+) be in the same location, all physically and mentally present, for the marriage to be performed).  So, marriage by proxy is NOT legal in the state of California.

Some relevant points:

Both of you cannot be already married to each other nor to anyone else.  You CAN have all of the Vows Renewals or Weddings you like, but only one will be legally-recognized by the State of California.

Neither of you need to be a California resident to marry in California.

You will have to pay the County Clerk-Recorder's Office a fee for your Marriage License.  The fee varies by county, so check their website for information.

California Family Code 420(b) allows a member of the Armed Forces of the United States who is stationed overseas and serving in a conflict or a war and is unable to appear for licensure and solemnization of the marriage to enter into a marriage by the appearance of an attorney-in-fact, commissioned and empowered in writing for that purpose through a power of attorney (POA).  Applicants must use the POA form issued by the State Registrar’s Office that can be obtained at the following link:  POA form (PDF).

  •  The attorney-in-fact must personally appear at the County Clerk’s Office with the party who is not stationed overseas and POA that is acknowledged by a notary or witnessed by two officers of the United States Armed Forces.  Copies of the form, including by facsimile, are not acceptable.

  • The POA shall state the full given names at birth, or by court order, of the parties to be married, and that the POA is solely for the purpose of authorizing the attorney-in-fact to obtain a marriage license on the person’s behalf and participate in the solemnization of the marriage. 

  • The original POA shall be a part of the marriage certificate upon registration.  Additional information can be obtained from the County Clerk or State Registrar’s Office.


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

To apply for a marriage license in California, both of you have to go in person to ANY California County Clerk’s Office and bring valid picture identification (and some counties have additional identification requirements). 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, driver’s 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 are requiring Appointments now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Make sure you check first, before you go to the office. 

Who can solemnize your marriage (make it official)?.. California Family Code, Section 400, states the persons authorized to solemnize marriage ceremonies in California are as follows:

  • A Licensed Officiant through the State of California.

  • 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.  

California Family Code 400.1 allows marriage to be solemnized by a County Supervisor, City Clerk, or Mayor of a city elected in accordance with Article 3 (commencing with Section 34900) of Chapter 4 of Part 1 of Division 2 of Title 4 of the Government Code, while that person holds office. The County Supervisor, City Clerk, or Mayor shall obtain and review from the County Clerk all available instructions for marriage solemnization before the County Supervisor, City Clerk, or Mayor first solemnizes a marriage.

California Family Code, Section 401, allows Deputy Commissioners to perform marriages and may do so in any California county.  The Commissioner of Civil Marriages may appoint Deputy Commissioners of Civil Marriages who may solemnize marriages under the direction of the Commissioner of Civil Marriages and shall perform other duties directed by the Commissioner.  For each county, the County Clerk is designated as a Commissioner of Civil Marriages.

The person solemnizing the marriage is responsible for returning the signed (Witness(es) and Officiant) Marriage License to the County Clerk or County Recorder within 10 days of the date of the ceremony.  

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.

Any alteration of ANY of the information on the marriage license renders your License invalid!!  We CAN'T change any information on the license, cross out information, use white-out, etc., as that will require additional payment for, and issuance of a duplicate marriage license that then has to be re-signed by all parties!  Contact the County Clerk’s Office if you have questions about completing the marriage license and/or incorrect information contained on the marriage license.


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