San Benito County Marriage License Requirements

San Benito County
Marriage License Requirements

If you’re planning to tie the knot in the picturesque state of California, understanding the different marriage license options and their associated requirements is crucial. Whether you’re envisioning a public wedding or a more confidential affair, California offers distinct choices to suit your preferences. Let’s delve into the details of obtaining a marriage license in the Golden State.

Types of Marriage Licenses

Public Marriage License

A public marriage license in California is a license that’s available for public viewing. All the information on this type of license is accessible to anyone interested. It’s an excellent choice if you want to publicly celebrate your union and have your marriage details open for scrutiny.

Confidential Marriage License

On the other hand, a confidential marriage license ensures that your personal information remains protected from public view. Only a court order or a notarized application by either spouse can grant access to the information. If privacy is of utmost importance to you, a confidential marriage license might be the ideal option.

Application Process

To obtain a marriage license in California, both parties (with exceptions for incarceration or hospitalization) must appear together at the County Clerk’s office. This ensures that all necessary documentation and information can be gathered efficiently.

Required Information

When applying for a marriage license, certain information and documents are essential:

  • Personal Identification: A valid driver’s license, DMV issued Identification Card, or other acceptable photo identification such as a passport or military ID.
  • Proof of Relationship: For a confidential marriage license, both parties must be living together as a married couple.

Marriage License Fee

There are costs associated with obtaining a marriage license in California. A public license fee amounts to $75, while a confidential license requires a fee of $85. It’s recommended to bring cash for payment, and if you need alternative payment methods, be sure to inquire ahead of time.

See also  El Dorado County Marriage License Requirements

Waiting Period and Residency Requirement

Unlike some states, California doesn’t impose a waiting period for obtaining your marriage license. You’ll receive your license immediately after submitting your application. Additionally, you don’t need to be a California resident to marry in the state.

Previous Marriages and Documentation

If you’ve been married before, you’ll need to provide details about your previous marriage, including the date it ended and how it ended (e.g., dissolution, divorce, or nullity). Some counties might require documentation, such as a copy of the final judgment.

Proxy Marriages, Cousin Marriages, and Common Law Marriages

California doesn’t permit marriage by proxy, meaning both parties, the officiant, and any witnesses must be physically present for the ceremony. First and second cousins are legally allowed to marry, but common law marriages are not recognized in the state.

Blood Tests and Name Change

Unlike some places, blood tests are not required to obtain a marriage license in California. Additionally, acquiring a marriage license with your new name doesn’t automatically change your name; you’d need to use a marriage name change kit.

Marriage Age Requirement

For partners under 18, one parent or legal guardian must be present. If this isn’t possible due to specific circumstances, proper evidence must be provided for verification. A counselor appointment and appearance before a superior court judge are also necessary.

Authorized Marriage Officiants

Several individuals can solemnize marriage ceremonies in California, including priests, ministers, rabbis, judges, retired judges, and more. However, marriage by proxy is not allowed in the state.

Returning and Obtaining Marriage License Copies

The person conducting the ceremony must return the original marriage license to the County Clerk or County Recorder within 10 days of the ceremony. If you wish to obtain a certified copy of your marriage license, you can request it from the appropriate authority.

See also  Plumas County Marriage License Requirements

Witness Requirements

A public marriage license requires at least one witness signature, with room for an additional witness if desired. However, confidential marriage licenses don’t necessitate witness signatures.

Expiration Date of Marriage License

Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance. If you don’t get married within this period, you’ll need to purchase a new license. Both public and confidential licenses can be used throughout California.


Navigating the realm of marriage licenses in California doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By understanding the distinctions between public and confidential licenses, the required documentation, and other essential details, you can embark on your marital journey with confidence.


  1. Can I obtain a marriage license if I’m not a California resident?
    • Yes, California does not require residency for obtaining a marriage license.
  2. Is there a waiting period for receiving a marriage license?
    • No, you’ll receive your marriage license immediately upon application.
  3. Can I change my name using the marriage license?
    • No, changing your name requires a separate process using a marriage name change kit.
  4. Can cousins marry in California?
    • Yes, first and second cousins are legally allowed to marry.
  5. What’s the expiration date for a marriage license?
    • Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance, after which a new license must be purchased.

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