Legal Requirements for Getting Married in California, USA
Allow at least a few days from arrival in California to wedding date for processing paperwork. We recommend giving yourself more time due to preparation, weekends, holidays or unexpected delays.
Necessary legal documents:
Please note that all documents must be submitted in English. Contact the Embassy in your home country or your Embassy in the United States for an authorized translator. If your documents are translated, be prepared to submit the original copies in your native language for verification as well as the translated version.
- Certified copy of birth certificates
- Valid Passports
- Divorce decree, annulment or death certificates, if applicable
Legal requirements to get married:
- Ceremony (Civil/Religious)
Civil and religious ceremonies are legally recognized weddings preformed in California. The officiate must be 18 years or older and authorized to conduct a wedding ceremony.
- Age and Relation
The bride(s) and/or groom(s) must be at least 18 years of age. If they are underage, parental consent is necessary. With parental consent, either party can be no younger than 16 years of age. At least one of the parents or guardians of the underage couple must appear with the couple at the County Clerk’s Office. In addition, an appointment with a counselor and superior court judge will follow. Note that the legal age in your home country must be met to be recognized. The couple cannot be related closely by blood. Cousins can marry. Proxy and common law marriages are not permitted.
One witness over 18 years of age must be present for the ceremony and provide identification.
Take all paperwork to apply in person to the County Clerk’s Office in the area of California you plan to marry. Call prior to arriving to set up an appointment, if possible. You will be applying for your Marriage License. The bride-to-be will need to decide if she will keep her maiden name or take her husband’s name. You will also need to know parents names, mother’s maiden name and their places of birth. The Marriage License is valid for 90 days, to be used in any county within California, but only within the state of California.
If you do not want your marriage to be public record, you would need to apply for a Confidential Marriage License. To apply, the couple must fit the criteria and sign an affidavit that both parties are at least 18 years or older and living together at the time of applying for the license. No witness is necessary for this license.
- The bride(s), groom(s), witness and officiate will sign the Marriage License at the ceremony.
- All ceremonies, other than civil ceremonies, require the Marriage License to be submitted to the same County Clerk’s Office that originally issued the license within 4 days preceding the wedding ceremony. The chosen officiate should take care of filing all paperwork.
- The Marriage License then becomes the Marriage Certificate.
- Certified copies of public Marriage Certificates are available from the County Recorder and confidential Marriage Certificates from the County Clerk, where the license was issued. A notarized sworn statement must be included, please see end of application. This request can take over 6 months to process.
Note: This information can change at any given moment. For up-to-date information, contact your embassy in the country in which you plan to marry.
We invite you to contact us with any new information. Be sure to note, “Update Marriage Requirements in California, USA” in the subject line.