In California a couple must obtain a Marriage License before a ceremony is performed. Couples must appear in person with valid picture Identification. Passports (American or Foreign), Permanent Resident ID Card (Green Cards), Driver's License, California Identification cards or Consular ID cards are acceptable. Foreign or International Driver's Licenses are not accepted.
The Marriage License is valid for 90 days and you must use the license before or on the expiration date.
The Name Equality Act of 2007
The Name Equality Act of 2007 changed California’s Marriage Laws effective January 1, 2009 - California Family Code Section 306.5.
The Name Equality Act allows the couple, at the time they are applying for their marriage license, to choose and list on the marriage license the new name that each party will go by after marriage. It is very important that couples give thought to what their married legal name(s) will be and make their decision before applying for a license. Parties are not required to have the same name, nor are they required to change their names.
The California Department of Public Health prepared a brochure on the Name Equality Act of 2007. Please read this information thoroughly before you begin your marriage license application.
NOTE: Changing a name after the license is issued (and before the couple marries) will require the purchase of a new license. Changing a name after the marriage is solemnized requires a court order and can be a lengthy, expensive process.
Applying for a Marriage License
To obtain a public or confidential marriage license, you must go to the County Clerk's Office with your intended spouse. If either partner does not speak English, someone who can translate must accompany the couple.
For convenience, you can print the application now and bring it with you, or begin the process with our Online Application system.
You will not receive a valid marriage license until you have appeared together in person at the County Clerk's Office, signed the application, and paid for the license.
The fee for a public marriage license is $85.00 and the fee for a confidential license is $93.00. Payment is accepted in cash or check, payable to the “Marin County Clerk”. Debit and credit cards are also accepted (additional $2.50 processing fee applies).
For more information please view the videos.
If you need additional information or have more questions, please contact the Marin County Clerk at (415) 473-6772 or send an email. The office of the Marin County Clerk is located at the Marin County Civic Center Room 234, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael, CA. Office hours are 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. However, due to processing time, licenses and applications are accepted for filing between 9:00 am and 3:30 pm.
The Difference Between a Confidential and a Public Marriage License
A public marriage license is a public record. The license allows you to hold the ceremony anywhere within the State of California and you are required to have at least one witness present during the ceremony.
A confidential marriage license requires the couple to be living together prior to applying for the license. Couples who are living together may obtain a confidential marriage license as long as they meet the requirements listed on the County Clerk website. The ceremony may take place anywhere within the State of California and witnesses are not required during the ceremony. The marriage record is only made available to the parties to the marriage unless a court order is obtained from Superior Court.
Both types of marriage licenses are legally valid and certified copies of a Public License (found in the Recorder's Office) or Confidential License (found in the County Clerk) may be purchased after a ceremony is performed and the license has been registered.
Getting Married at the Civic Center
Civil wedding ceremonies are performed by the County Clerk's office by a deputy commissioner of civil marriages. Ceremonies cost $56.00 and are performed by appointment only at 9:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The couples have a choice of getting married in our garden area or in the office in our wedding room.
To make an appointment for a ceremony at the Civic Center, please call (415) 473-6772 during business hours, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
If you are using a public marriage license, you must bring at least one witness with you to the ceremony. There is room for two witnesses on the Public Marriage License but only one is required.
No witnesses are required if you have a confidential marriage.
Cameras are permitted but, for safety reasons, nothing may be thrown in or around the Civic Center areas! Bubbles are okay.
After the public license is issued you may be married by a priest, rabbi, minister or other authorized person of your choice. If you prefer, you may be married at the County Clerk's Office as discussed above. You must be married within 90 days of the issue date, and may be married anywhere in California. The person who performs the ceremony will return the certificate to the Marin County Recorder's Office, Room 232. Copies may be obtained at the Recorder's Office.
Confidential marriage licenses are also effective the day they are issued and must be used within 90 days of issuance. The marriage may be solemnized by a priest, rabbi, minister or other authorized person of your choice. The license must be returned to the County Clerk's Office within 10 days of the ceremony. Certified copies may be obtained from the County Clerk's Office by appearing in person with picture ID or by submitting a notarized request form.
Getting Someone Deputized to Perform a Wedding
The Marin County Clerk’s office offers an opportunity to have a special friend or family member appointed to perform your marriage ceremony. This is a one-time, one-event appointment.
The person to be deputized must be at least eighteen (18) years old and the couple must have purchased the license from the Marin County Clerk's Office prior to deputizing the person. The person wishing to be deputized must apply in person at the County Clerk's Office in Marin County Civic Center Room 234, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael, CA. Office hours are 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. However, due to processing time, licenses and applications are accepted for filing between 9:00 am and 3:30 pm.
The fee is sixty dollars ($60.00). For more information you can call (415) 473-6772.