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Important changes to WI marriage license laws effective July 1, 2022

Published Friday, Jul. 1st, 2022

Wisconsin’s marriage license laws are changing.


Here’s what couples and wedding officiants need to know about the state’s revised application process, expiration period, waiting period, and return process. 




Several big changes to Wisconsin’s marriage license laws go into effect today, July 1, 2022. These changes will impact how couples apply for and use their marriage license, and how marriage licenses are returned in the state. 


To help our Ministers and wedding officiants in Wisconsin better serve the couples they marry there, we’re including both a short summary and detailed list of the changes below. 


These changes don’t impact your ability or authority to marry couples in Wisconsin, only the way in which you’ll handle a marriage license there. They may also change the witness requirements for your ceremonies, depending on who you’re marrying. 


For more information on how to perform a wedding in Wisconsin: 
Step-by-Step Instructions on How To Marry People in Wisconsin.



Summary of changes: 

A marriage license can now be purchased, used, and returned in any county in the state, regardless of where it’s issued or where the couple lives. Licenses are valid for 60 days, and the waiting period to marry is shortened to 3 days. Only one adult witness is required when a party to a marriage is active military personnel. County clerks have the discretion to determine if an applicant’s documentation is unattainable, and must notify applicants of the right to have their documents reviewed by a judge if desired. 




WI Marriage Law Updates Effective July 1, 2022



  • No residency requirements for marriage license applicants
    Couples will be able to apply for their marriage license in any county in the state regardless of where they live. (§ 765.05)


  • Resident and nonresident couples can use their marriage license in any county in the state 
    Both resident and out-of-state couples can use their marriage license in any county in the state, regardless of where the license was issued.  (§ 765.05)


  • License expiration period is extended from 30 days to 60 days
    Marriage licenses can now be purchased up to 60 days before the ceremony. (§ 765.12)


  • License waiting period is shortened from 5 days to 3 days 
    A marriage license can now be issued 3 days from the time of application; Couples can marry as soon as 3 days after applying for their marriage license. (§ 765.08)


  • License can be returned to the Register of Deeds in any county in the state
    Marriage licenses can be returned by the wedding officiant to the Register of Deeds in any county in the state, regardless of where the license was issued. If there is no officiant, the couple can return the license in any county in the state. (The return period remains the same – a license must be returned within 3 days after the date of the marriage.) (§ 765.19)


  • Only one adult witness required if party to the marriage is in active military service
    Only one adult witness is required at a wedding ceremony in addition to the officiant if one of the parties to the marriage is in active military service. (§ 765.16)


  • Passports and other specific ID can be used when applying for a license
    County Clerks are required to accept a marriage license applicant’s passport or permanent resident card (or other specific ID) in lieu of a birth record. (§ 765.09)


  • County Clerks have discretion to determine unobtainable documentation 
    If an applicant claims that a necessary record is unobtainable, the County Clerk has the discretion to decide if this is accurate.  (§ 765.09)


  • Applicants must be notified of the right to have a judge review their documents, and request a review if desired
    If a County Clerk is not satisfied with an applicant’s documentation, they must notify the applicant of the right to have a judge review those documents, and then submit the documentation if a review is requested  (§ 765.09)


For the most up-to-date information always contact your local County Clerk Office


(These amendments were passed as part of Assembly Bill 270 / 2021 Wisconsin Act 84 in November of last year. Read the full text of Act 84 here.)






AMM works hard to keep our Marriage Law library up to date so that our ordained Ministers have reliable and accessible information when officiating ceremonies, answering couples' questions, and returning marriage licenses. 


Head here to see all current Wisconsin marriage laws: 








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Friends and family members can perform wedding ceremonies in Wisconsin if they’ve been ordained. Get ordained online with AMM to get started.





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