Published: Wednesday, Jun. 2nd, 2021
The state of New Hampshire recently introduced a special marriage officiant license for unordained individuals who wish to perform a single ceremony, along with updates to their Minister registration process.
All AMM Ministers are authorized to perform marriage in New Hampshire, and these changes won’t affect that. However, it’s helpful to stay up to date on current marriage laws, especially if you’ll need to register with the Secretary of State ahead of a ceremony.
Here’s what you need to know!
Marriages in New Hampshire can be performed by:
- A Justice of the Peace commissioned in the State of New Hampshire
- Any member of the clergy who is not ordained but is engaged in the services of the religious body to which he or she belongs and resides in New Hampshire, after being licensed by the Secretary of State.
- Any minister who resides outside of New Hampshire, but has a pastoral charge wholly or partly in New Hampshire, if the marriage is performed within his/her parish.
- Any minister of the gospel in New Hampshire who has been ordained according to the usage of his or her denomination, who resides in New Hampshire and is in regular standing with the denomination (This includes AMM Ministers living in NH, registration is not required.)
- Any minister who resides outside of New Hampshire - after being licensed by the Secretary of State (SOS). (This includes AMM Ministers living outside of NH, registration is required.)
* Special cases are listed below, including the special license and options for other unordained individuals.
All AMM Ministers are authorized to solemnize weddings in NH. Ministers who reside in NH do not need to register.
AMM Ministers who do not reside in NH must register with the Secretary of State (SOS) before the ceremony and may be asked to provide proof of ordination.
(Ordination through AMM is free and can be completed quickly online!)
If you’re an ordained minister and don't reside in NH, you’ll need to complete:
We recommend you have your minister credentials ready before you start the application process. These include a Letter of Good Standing and your Ordination Certificate, which are available through our store. If your home state requires minister registration, proof of this registration may also be requested.
An application fee of around $25 will be required to register with the SOS, and it will take about 2 weeks to complete the process.
Contact the Secretary of State directly with any questions on the process. Their contact information and a description of the licensing process is available here.
The Special Marriage Officiant License:
Changes to New Hampshire’s process primarily affect non-ordained individuals who wish to perform a single wedding in the state using a ‘special marriage officiant license.’
The SOS may issue a ‘special marriage officiant license,’ which temporarily authorizes any individual who is not ordained to solemnize a marriage in New Hampshire. The individual must complete a special application and pay a fee of around $85. Their authority expires at the same time as the corresponding license (90 days). No ordination or minister credentials are required for this type of application.
This application should be completed by residents and nonresidents:
The application can now be completed and paid for online.
Section 457:32-b outlines the Special Marriage Officiant License:
I. The secretary of state may issue a special marriage officiant license, which shall temporarily authorize an individual to solemnize a marriage in this state. Any individual who applies for the special marriage officiant license shall register with the secretary of state, complete the registration form prescribed by the secretary of state, and submit an $85 fee to the department of state. The secretary of state shall forward $80 of the fee to the department of health and human services for deposit in the fund for domestic violence programs, established in RSA 173-B:15, and shall retain the remainder of the fee for administrative costs associated with issuance of the license.
II. Upon registration as a special marriage officiant, the individual shall be authorized to solemnize only the civil marriage designated on the registration form and shall receive proof of such authority from the secretary of state. The individual's authority to solemnize the marriage shall expire at the same time as the corresponding license.
Other non-ordained individuals:
Here’s a summary of the current requirements for other special cases for unordained clergy and individuals. This includes residents and nonresidents.
Unordained clergy who are residents of New Hampshire:
Unordained clergy who are residents in NH may be issued a license by the SOS if they can show that they are a member of, and engaged in the service of, a religious body that is chartered by the state. They will also need to present a certification from that body that proves they are in its service, complete an application, and pay a fee of $5.00. The license issued by the SOS will authorize the clergy to solemnize marriages in NH as long as he/she retains a good standing in his/her religious body.
Unordained clergy who are not residents of New Hampshire:
Unordained clergy who reside outside of New Hampshire can perform marriage in the state by completing an application, along with paying the statutory fee of $25.00. A special license will be issued to perform one marriage, and must be filed along with the regular marriage license which the couple obtained from the town or city clerk.
Individuals authorized to perform marriage in their home state:
An individual who resides outside of New Hampshire, who is authorized or licensed by law in their state of residence to perform marriages (such as notaries or justices), can solemnize marriages in NH after completing an application to be licensed by the SOS.
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