Getting a marriage license in NYS requires a bit of preparation. You must have valid ID, money to pay for your license and you must appear in person — together! With changes from the Pandemic, the actual license requirements can vary by location, so be sure to check with your Marriage Bureau. That being said, the following information is pretty consistent across all Marriage Bureaus in the State of New York and can act as
a guide for what you need to know.
Where do you get a marriage license? If you intend to be married in New York State, you must apply in person and at the same time for a marriage license to any town or city clerk in the state. The application for a license must be signed by by the both of you in the presence of the town or city clerk. A representative cannot apply for the license on your behalf. This applies even if the representative has been given a Power of Attorney. Notarized marriage license affidavits signed by the two of you cannot be substituted for a personal appearance.
Since the Pandemic, many Marriage Bureaus require advance appointments rather than walk-ins. NYC has also dramatically changed their application process. Know what you need before you go. (This sometimes varies from week to week.)
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. If both of you 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 you 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? The license is valid for 60 calendar days, beginning 24 hours after it is issued.
Does New York State allow same sex marriages? Yes. (And I couldn't be happier about that!)
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 currently costs $40. This fee includes the issuance of a Certificate of Marriage Registration. This certificate is automatically sent directly to you by the issuing clerk within 2-3 weeks after the completed license is returned by the officiant (like myself -- the person who performs the marriage ceremony). It serves as notice that a record of the marriage is on file. If you do not receive your Certificate of Marriage Registration within four weeks of the wedding (except NYC license allow 6 weeks), you 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. Allow 4-6 weeks for your Marriage Certificate -- longer during busy wedding seasons.
Is a premarital physical exam required? There is no longer a requirement for a premarital examination or blood test in order to obtain a marriage license in New York State.
Who can get married? Age Requirements
NOTE: The City of New York has simplified its Proof of Age and Identity requirements so that you now only need to provide one form of photo identification (Driver's License or Passport).
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 surname of the other spouse • any former surname of either spouse • a name combining into a single surname all or a segment of the pre-marriage surname or any former surname of each spouse • a combination name separated by a hyphen, provided that each part of such combination surname is the pre-marriage surname, or any former surname, of each of the spouses.
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 your 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'll find the address and phone number of your local Social Security Office at http://www.ssa.gov. You'll 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 code:
The former mayor, the city clerk or one of the deputy city clerks of a city of more than one million inhabitants; a marriage officer appointed by the town or village board or the city common council; a justice or judge of the following courts: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Southern, Eastern or Western Districts of New York, the New York State Court of Appeals, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, the New York State Supreme Court, the Court of Claims, the Family Court, a Surrogates Court, the Civil and Criminal Courts of New York City (including Housing judges of the Civil Court) and other courts; a village, town or county justice; a member of the clergy or minister who has been officially ordained and granted authority to perform marriage ceremonies from a governing church body in accordance with the rules and regulations of the church body; a member of the clergy or minister who is not authorized by a governing church body but who has been chosen by a spiritual group to preside over their spiritual affairs; other officiants as specified by Section 11 of the Domestic Relations Law.
In New York City, the person performing your ceremony must be registered with the City of New York in order to perform a ceremony within the 5 boroughs. (My NYC Registration ID is 1538098.) Your 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.