Merced County Marriage License Requirements

Merced County
Marriage License Requirements

When it comes to tying the knot in the beautiful state of California, it’s important to understand the different types of marriage licenses available. Whether you’re planning a grand wedding or an intimate ceremony, knowing the details about public and confidential marriage licenses can make the process smoother. In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of these licenses and provide you with the information you need to make the right choice for your special day.


The journey of marriage begins with a crucial step: obtaining a marriage license. California offers two main types of marriage licenses: public and confidential. Each type has its own set of features, benefits, and requirements, making it essential for couples to be well-informed before making their choice.

Types of Marriage Licenses in California

Public Marriage License

A public marriage license is open to the public for viewing. It contains personal information about the couple that is accessible to anyone who wishes to see it. This type of license is ideal for those who don’t mind their marital details being available for public scrutiny.

Confidential Marriage License

On the other hand, a confidential marriage license offers a higher level of privacy. All personal information on the license is protected from public view. Access to this information requires a court order or a notarized application by either spouse. This option is popular among couples who value their privacy and wish to keep their marital details confidential.

Application Process

Obtaining a marriage license involves a simple process. Both parties, referred to as the First Person and Second Person, need to bring valid photo identification with their birth date. This can include a driver’s license, military I.D., passport, or green card. If these are not available, a certified copy of the birth certificate and another acceptable form of picture I.D. can be used.

See also  Tehama County Marriage License Requirements

Requirements for Obtaining a Marriage License

For couples seeking a confidential marriage license, they must be living together as a married couple. The same identification requirements apply.

Marriage Waiting Period and Residency Requirement

Unlike some states, California does not have a waiting period. Once you submit your application, you’ll receive your marriage license immediately. Additionally, you don’t need to be a California resident to marry in the state, allowing couples from various locations to choose California as their wedding destination.

Handling Previous Marriages

If either partner has been previously married, they need to provide the specific date the previous marriage ended and the manner in which it ended (Death, Dissolution, Divorce, or Nullity). Some counties may require documentation of the final judgment if the previous marriage ended by dissolution or nullity.

Marriage License Fees

For couples looking to obtain a marriage license in California, there is a fee involved. A public marriage license costs $61, while a confidential marriage license comes at a fee of $70. These fees can be paid in cash, money order, or credit cards.

Special Cases and Considerations

California’s marriage laws address various special cases and considerations:

  • Proxy Marriages: Proxy marriages, where one party is not physically present, are not allowed in California.
  • Cousin Marriages: First and second cousins are legally allowed to marry in California.
  • Common Law Marriages: Common law marriages are not recognized in California.
  • Marriage Blood Test: Blood tests are not required to obtain a marriage license.
  • Name Change: Obtaining a marriage license with a new name does not automatically change the name legally.
  • Marriage Age Requirement: If either partner is under 18, parental consent is required.
  • Authorized Marriage Officiants: Individuals such as priests, ministers, judges, and certain officials are authorized to solemnize marriage ceremonies.
See also  San Bernardino County Marriage License Requirements

Returning and Requesting Marriage License Copies

The person solemnizing the marriage must return the original marriage license to the County Clerk or County Recorder within 10 days of the ceremony. Copies of the marriage license can be requested from these offices.

Witnesses and Expiration Date

A public marriage license requires the signature of one witness, with an option for an additional witness. The license is valid for 90 days from the date of issuance. If the marriage does not occur within this period, a new license needs to be obtained.

Using Marriage Licenses Across California

Both public and confidential marriage licenses are valid throughout the state of California. This ensures that couples can have their weddings anywhere within the state’s beautiful landscapes.


Choosing the right marriage license type is an essential step in preparing for your wedding day. Whether you opt for the privacy of a confidential marriage license or the openness of a public one, understanding the requirements and procedures ensures a smooth process. With this comprehensive guide, you’re now equipped to navigate the world of California marriage licenses confidently.


  1. Can I change my name through the marriage license?Obtaining a marriage license with a new name does not automatically change your name legally. You may need to use a marriage name change kit.
  2. Are blood tests required for a marriage license in California?No, blood tests are not required to obtain a marriage license in California.
  3. Can I marry my first cousin in California?Yes, first cousins are legally allowed to marry in California.
  4. What’s the difference between a public and confidential marriage license?A public marriage license is available for public viewing, while a confidential license protects personal information from public view.
  5. How long is a marriage license valid?Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance. If the marriage doesn’t occur within this period, a new license is needed.

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