Frequently Asked Questions - Marriages

Licenses

  • Regular (Public) License - $100
  • Confidential License - $111
There is no blood test requirement for a marriage license in the State of California.
You do not need to present a birth certificate to obtain a marriage license, only a valid government issued photo ID.
Both parties are required to appear together in person to purchase the marriage license.
You may not use a California marriage license in another state. Marriage licenses issued in California are only valid within this state.
Your marriage license expires 90 calendar days from the date it was issued by the Clerk-Recorder's Office. You may use the license on the expiration date. If the license expires before a ceremony is performed, you must purchase a new license. There is no grace period or extension available.
If you are under the age of 18, you must present a certified copy of the court order granting you permission to obtain a marriage license. Emancipated minors are not exempt from this requirement. Minors may only apply for a regular (public) marriage license. For more information contact the Family Law Division of Superior Court.
Only unmarried couples can apply for and purchase a marriage license. If your marriage license was issued in Santa Barbara County and you would like to purchase a copy of the certificate, please visit our Marriage copy order page.
If the marriage license is lost before the wedding ceremony is performed, then you must purchase a new marriage license.

If the license is lost after the ceremony, but before it is registered with the Clerk-Recorder's Office, then the person solemnizing the marriage (officiant) must apply for and purchase a duplicate marriage license for $56.

If you notice a mistake on your license before your ceremony, you may choose to purchase a brand new license for the applicable fee.

If you see a mistake on your license after your ceremony, you may file an amendment for a public marriage license at the Clerk-Recorder's Office or the California State Department of Vital Records . You can use an amendment to correct erroneous information only.

Amendments for confidential marriage records are processed at the Clerk-Recorder's Office only and are subject to a $50 fee.

  • Regular (Public) License - $100
    • Is a public record and anyone may obtain a copy
    • At least one witness is required for the ceremony
  • Confidential License - $111
    • Parties must be living together as spouses
    • Both parties must be at least 18 years old
    • No witness is required
    • Copies of the record are not available to the public
    • Certified copies may only be issued to one of the parties to the marriage or upon court order

Ceremonies

Ceremonies are performed by appointment only during regular business hours, Monday-Friday. Please refer to our hours for more information.
Our staff cannot confirm available appointments or take payment over the phone, nor can we accept the request form and payment via email. If you submit your request and your first or second choice are not available, we will contact you via email with alternate dates and times.
Once your license is recorded, you do not automatically receive a certified copy of your certificate. You may submit your request for copies in person, by mail, or by fax. Please refer to our Vitals Page for more information on requesting copies.

Please note that it takes approximately 2-3 weeks to record the marriage license once it is received from the officiant.

Marriages in other countries are legally binding, provided all requirements for marriage within that country are met. If you were married in another country and met all legal requirements for marriage, your marriage is still valid in the State of California. If you not sure if all legal requirements were met we recommend you seek legal advice.

Our staff cannot provide legal advice per California Government Code Section 24004 and California Business & Professions Code Section 6125 expressly prohibit the County Clerk-Recorder and his deputies from the practice of law.The California Supreme Court has defined "the practice of law" to include legal advice and the preparation of legal instruments. (Baron v. Los Angeles (1970) 2 Cal.3d 535, 542-543.)

Officiants

Unfortunately, our office cannot make recommendations for officiants within the area. However, if you have difficulty finding an ordained officiant, you may wish to have a friend or family member deputized as a Civil Marriage Commissioner for a Day.
Yes, you may perform a marriage ceremony in California as long as you meet the requirements defined in Family Code Section 400 . We do not require proof of your ordination.
Yes, online ordinations are acceptable provided you meet the requirements defined in Family Code Section 400 .
For more FAQ's visit the California Department of Public Health's FAQs by Marriage Officiants

Name Changes

You will be responsible for changing your name after marriage on all of your legal documents. The marriage certificate is used by multiple local, state, federal and private agencies, each of which has different requirements regarding which documents are acceptable to change your name on their records following marriage. Please contact these agencies to verify their requirements prior to applying for a marriage license.

If you did not opt to change your middle or last name at the time you purchased the license and you have not had a marriage ceremony performed, you may choose to purchase a brand new license for the applicable fee.

If you did not opt to change your name and you have already had your marriage ceremony, you may wish to seek legal advice or speak to the Clerk of Superior Court regarding legal name change processes.

Our staff cannot provide legal advice per California Government Code Section 24004 and California Business & Professions Code Section 6125 expressly prohibit the County Clerk-Recorder and his deputies from the practice of law. The California Supreme Court has defined "the practice of law" to include legal advice and the preparation of legal instruments. (Baron v. Los Angeles (1970) 2 Cal.3d 535, 542-543.)