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Can you use a marriage license in another state?

Published Tuesday, Oct. 25th, 2022

Can you get a marriage license in one state and get married in another? Do you have to get married in the state where you live?



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AMM Audio Articles · Can you use a marriage license in another state?




In almost every state, couples must apply for a marriage license from their local government office in order to marry. 


This marriage license is the document that makes the marriage a legally binding contract, and it must be signed by the couple, the wedding officiant, and any required witnesses following the wedding ceremony, and then returned.



But for engaged couples planning a destination wedding ceremony in another state, applying for a marriage license can get pretty confusing: Should they apply for their license where they live, or in the state where their wedding ceremony will be held? 


Can you use a marriage license that’s issued in another state? 


Luckily, the answer is straightforward:

No, marriage licenses can only be used in the state where they are issued. Sometimes, licenses must be used in the same county where they are issued. However, couples are free to apply for a marriage license in any state, regardless of their state of residency. Once your license has been recorded, your marriage is recognized in all states.


This means that if a couple who lives in California wants to get married in a destination wedding ceremony in Texas, they’ll need to apply for their marriage license in Texas.


To summarize: You must apply for your marriage license in the state where your wedding ceremony will be held. In some cases, you will need to apply in the same county where your wedding will be held. 


Advice for Wedding Officiants: 

Wedding officiants should also keep this fact in mind – wedding officiants can only sign a marriage license if it was issued in the same state where they perform the ceremony, and in some cases, the same county. 


In addition, wedding officiants who travel out-of-state to conduct a wedding ceremony should always check the local minister registration requirements there before officiating.



AMM Ministers are authorized to perform marriage in every state and U.S. territitory (excluding Virginia), however each state makes its own laws regarding minister registration, and traveling officiants may be required to register in each state where they wish to perform a ceremony. 





A bride and groom embrace on the wedding day, behind them is the ocean and a cruise ship



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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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