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Getting married in New York State

Where do you get a marriage license?

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 applicants in the presence of the town or city clerk. A representative cannot apply for the license on behalf of the applicants. This applies even if the representative has been given a Power of Attorney. Notarized marriage license affidavits signed by the applicants 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 of the applicants 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 calendar days, beginning the day after it is issued.

How much does the license 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 calendar 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) NEW-YORK or via its 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.

Who can get married?

Age Requirements

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:

  1. Birth Certificate
  2. Baptismal record
  3. Naturalization record
  4. Census record

And one of the following identity related documents:

  1. Driver's license
  2. Passport
  3. Employment picture ID
  4. Immigration record

Familial Restrictions

A marriage may not take place in New York State between an ancestor and descendant, siblings (full or half blood), an uncle and niece or nephew or an aunt and niece or nephew, regardless of whether or not these persons are legitimate or illegitimate offspring.

Previous Marriages

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.

Surname Options

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. Parties to a marriage 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. You can find the address and phone number of your local Social Security Office at http://www.ssa.gov. 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 public official or authorized member of the clergy and at least one other witness that each takes the other as his or her spouse. 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 do you get copies of 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:

Visit the NYS Department of Health website

Mail-in Application for Copy of Birth Certificate available from NYS Department of Health