A Guide To NYC Marriage Licenses

Mar 10, 2024 | marriage, New York Prenuptial Agreements

Are you gearing up to exchange vows in the Big Apple? Congratulations! Before you take that next step, you’ll need to follow some basic legal procedures, including obtaining a marriage license. But what is a marriage license? Don’t worry–it’s not too difficult. This article will walk you through everything you need to know about NYC marriage licenses. From understanding the process to the associated fees. So, let’s dive into the world of New York City marriages.


What is a marriage license?

A marriage license is a legal document that authorizes couples to marry. In essence, it validates that you and your future spouse have met the necessary legal prerequisites for marriage in New York City. Without a valid marriage license, your marriage would not be legitimate. It’s worth noting that marriage licenses in NYC typically come with expiration dates, requiring couples to hold their wedding ceremony (i.e., solemnize their marriage) within a specified timeframe. In New York City, the validity period for a marriage license is typically 60 days (unless you are military personnel, then it’s 180 days). This means you must get married within that timeframe after obtaining the license. 


How do you get a NYC marriage license?

NYC marriage licenses are obtained through the Office of the City Clerk. You may obtain your NYC marriage license in the city and then get married anywhere else in New York state. You may NOT get an NYC marriage license and take it to another state to get married, though. 

In NYC, the marriage application process can be completed virtually or in person by appointment only. You can schedule your in-person marriage license appointment here. If you’re looking to apply virtually, you can do so here.

It’s important to ensure that both parties are present during the application process (whether in person or virtual) and that you bring the proper identification to match each spouse, such as an IDNYC, passport, or a US driver’s license.


The application process

The application process is fairly simple. We’ve laid it out step-by-step below:

  • Step 1: Fill out the pre-appointment paperwork here
  • Step 2: Complete the marriage application process in person (by appointment) or virtually (while both spouses are together). 
  • Step 3: Wait for your marriage license to be processed.
  • Step 4: Once you receive the license, make sure to read it carefully and ensure no mistakes. 
  • Step 5: Wait a full 24 hours before holding your wedding ceremony. The only way around the 24-hour waiting period is to obtain a Judicial Waiver. 

See? Easy as 1, 2, 3! The entire process, from start to finish, can be done and dusted on the same day if you’re diligent! 


Eligibility criteria for a NYC marriage license

To qualify for a marriage license in New York City, both parties must be at least 18 years old. No, you cannot get married in NYC under 18, even if you have parental consent. Additionally, both individuals must be present during the application process and must provide valid identification. Don’t forget about payment. You’ll need to render payment to get your license. And finally, if you or your partner were previously married, there’s an additional requirement for that situation. You’ll need to provide the following details about the previous divorce:

  • Full name of the former spouse. If deceased, include the date of death.
  • Date the divorce was finalized.
  • Location where the divorce was filed.

NYC marriage license waiting period

In New York City, there is typically a 24-hour waiting period between obtaining a marriage license and the actual wedding ceremony (i.e., solemnization). However, this waiting period may be waived under special circumstances, such as with a Judicial Waiver. You may ask for a Judicial Waiver from the County Clerk’s office in the New York borough in which you got your marriage license. However, getting a Judicial Waiver is typically only for emergency purposes, such as being deployed.


NYC marriage license application fees

How much will it cost to get a marriage license, you ask? It’ll cost ya $35! Yep, that’s it! Fairly affordable compared to other state marriage licenses. In fact, in Florida, the average marriage license costs nearly $90! On the other hand, in Albany County, New York, the marriage license fee is actually $30. Anyway–you can pay the $35 NYC marriage license application fee via credit card, debit card, or money order. 


What to do after you have the marriage license 

Congrats! You’re almost there! Next stop: wedding ceremony. After the marriage ceremony concludes, the person who married you (i.e., the wedding officiant), the spouses, and any witnesses must sign the marriage license. It’s the wedding officiant’s job to return the license to the City Clerk’s office in the location where the license was originally rendered within five business days of the wedding ceremony.


Last step: The marriage certificate 

Your marriage certificate is different from a marriage license. It comes after you’ve been officially married. It’s proof that you are actually married. On the other hand, the marriage license is a document that allows you to get married. You will receive your marriage license by mail within about 20 days. If the wedding ceremony takes place at the City Clerk’s Office, you will receive your marriage certificate on that same day. So efficient! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About NYC Marriage Licenses

Still have questions? Here are responses to some of the frequently asked questions about NYC marriage licenses:

Q: How long does it take to get a marriage license in NYC?

A: The processing time for a marriage license varies, but if you are prudent, you can get it in hand on the same day you start the application!

Q: Can we apply for a marriage license online in NYC?

A: Yes, online marriage license applications are available. Click here to set up your virtual NYC marriage license appointment.

Q: Is a blood test required to obtain a marriage license in NYC?

A: No, New York City does not require couples to undergo a blood test to get a marriage license.

Q: Can we get married the same day we obtain the marriage license?

A: Typically, no, unless you have an emergency situation, then you can get a Judicial Waiver. There is a mandated 24-hour waiting period between obtaining a marriage license and the marriage ceremony in New York City.


Final thoughts

Securing a marriage license is a required step on the journey to wedded bliss. We know it’s a pain, but it’s a bureaucratic blip in time that you’ll barely remember one day. And the good news is it’s fairly cheap in NYC (only $30!). By familiarizing yourself with the process and requirements for obtaining a marriage license in New York City, you can ensure that your special day unfolds seamlessly. From completing the necessary paperwork to paying the fees, if you are diligent, you’ll be able to get your NYC marriage license on the same day!

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