Published: Thursday, Jan. 21st, 2021

Can you apply for your marriage license online? It depends.

Illustrations by Jessica Levey

If you’re one of the many happy couples who got engaged during this unique holiday season, you might be wondering if it’s possible to get your marriage license online. The answer to your question is, well, it depends


Some states have already embraced a new way of doing things, including New York, California, Utah, and Delaware. Not only is applying online more convenient for many couples, it’s also safer. Covid cases are on the rise across the country, causing local offices and courts to close their doors or reduce hours in an effort to protect their staff and the public. 


(Read These states are where you can - and can't - get married online.)


But changes like these take time. Other states, like Ohio and Oklahoma, still require couples to show up in person. 


Recently, a bill was brought to the Missouri Senate that would, if passed, allow couples there to apply for marriage licenses online (HB 144). Bills like this in other states are sure to follow as the pandemic continues, and some states might adopt a mixed approach. For example, in Davidson County, Tennessee (where Nashville is located) and Miami-Dade County in Florida, couples must begin their application online first, and then appear in person at the county clerk’s office to be issued a license. 


Because marriage laws vary not just by state, but by county, it can feel impossible to keep track of them all. (Visit our Marriage Laws page for an overview of your state, then contact your local office to ask if there are any recent changes.)


For now, the best idea for any couples applying for a marriage license is to contact their local government office. 



Contact the city or county clerk in your area to see if you can apply for marriage license online. Image of marriage license.


For the most up-to-date information, contact the local office in your county. 



This is usually the City or county clerk’s office, and is almost always located in the town or city’s courthouse. Ask them about current procedures directly to make sure your information is correct. 


Remember, it’s up to the couple to apply for the marriage license, not their wedding officiant. And timing is important: some states require a waiting period after applying for a license, and licenses are only valid for a set period of time after they are issued. They can, and do, expire! 


So if you were recently engaged over the holidays, or you’ve decided not to postpone your wedding during the pandemic, contact the county office where your wedding will take place to find out what steps to take next. 


(Read An Introduction to the Marriage License to learn more.)


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