Santa Cruz County Marriage License Requirements

Santa Cruz County
Marriage License Requirements

If you’re planning to tie the knot in the beautiful state of California, it’s essential to understand the ins and outs of obtaining a marriage license. From public licenses to confidential ones, this article will guide you through the process, requirements, fees, and more. Let’s dive in!


California, with its picturesque landscapes and romantic settings, is a popular destination for weddings and vow renewals. Before embarking on this journey of love, it’s crucial to understand the different types of marriage licenses available and the legal requirements associated with them.

Different Types of Marriage Licenses in California

When it comes to marriage licenses in California, there are two main types: the public marriage license and the confidential marriage license. Each has its unique features and purposes.

Requirements for Marriage License Application

Before obtaining a marriage license, certain requirements must be met. Both parties need to present valid photo identification with birth dates. If a driver’s license or DMV-issued ID is unavailable, a certified copy of the birth certificate along with another acceptable form of photo ID can be used.

Confidential Marriage License vs. Public Marriage License

A public marriage license is available for public viewing, while a confidential marriage license ensures the protection of personal information from public scrutiny. Only a court order or a notarized application by either spouse can grant access to the information on a confidential license.

Required Information for Marriage License Application

Both parties must provide specific information on the marriage license application, including valid photo identification with birth dates. This information helps ensure the accuracy and legitimacy of the marriage.

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Marriage Waiting Period and Residency Requirement

Unlike some states, California does not impose a waiting period for receiving your marriage license. Additionally, you do not need to be a California resident to marry in Santa Cruz County, allowing for a broader range of options for your special day.

Marriage License Fee and Payment Methods

Obtaining a marriage license comes with a fee of $90, subject to change. This fee applies to both public and confidential licenses. It’s recommended to inquire about preferred methods of payment before applying.

Proxy and Cousin Marriages

California does not allow proxy marriages, requiring both parties, the marriage officiant, and any applicable witnesses to be physically present at the ceremony. However, first and second cousins are legally allowed to marry in California.

Common Law Marriages and Blood Tests

Unlike some jurisdictions, common law marriages are not recognized in California. Furthermore, the state does not mandate blood tests as part of the marriage license application process.

Name Change After Marriage

Although a marriage license with your new name does not automatically change your name legally, you can use an online marriage name change kit to make the transition smoother.

Marriage Age Requirement and Parental Consent

California State Law mandates that individuals under 18 years of age must obtain written consent from a parent with legal custody and a court order from the Superior Court to marry. The minor’s county of residence handles the application.

Premarital Counseling and Obtaining a Court Order

Minors seeking to marry in California require a court order granting them permission. This order can be obtained from Family Court Services. The process ensures that all legal requirements are met before the marriage ceremony.

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Applying for a Marriage License

To apply for a marriage license, visit the Santa Cruz County Clerk’s Office. Both parties must present completed applications, a certified copy of the court order (if applicable), valid government-issued photo identification, and the necessary payment.

Authorized Marriage Officiants

California Family Code authorizes specific individuals to solemnize marriage ceremonies. This includes religious leaders, judges, magistrates, and even legislators or constitutional officers.

Returning the Marriage License and Certified Copies

After the ceremony, the person solemnizing the marriage must return the original marriage license to the County Clerk or County Recorder within ten days. Certified copies can be requested from these authorities for a fee.

Witnesses and Expiration Date of Marriage License

The public marriage license requires one or two witnesses, while the confidential license does not. Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance, offering ample time for your wedding plans.


Obtaining a marriage license in California involves navigating a variety of legal and administrative steps. Whether you opt for a public or confidential license, adhering to the state’s requirements will ensure a smooth and legally binding union. Celebrate your love story in the golden state with confidence, knowing that you’ve fulfilled all the necessary prerequisites for a joyful beginning.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I obtain a confidential marriage license if I’m a minor? No, minors are not eligible for a confidential marriage license under any circumstances.
  2. Is common law marriage recognized in California? No, California does not recognize common law marriages.
  3. Are blood tests required for obtaining a marriage license? No, blood tests are not required to obtain a marriage license in California.
  4. Can I change my name automatically after obtaining a marriage license? No, changing your name requires a separate legal process. An online marriage name change kit can help streamline this process.
  5. Who can officiate a marriage ceremony in California? Marriage ceremonies can be officiated by religious leaders, judges, magistrates, and even specific legislators or constitutional officers.

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