When Should The Marriage License Be Returned?

An Introduction to the Marriage License

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MARRIAGE LICENSE INTRO

▸ What is a Marriage License? ▸ What is the Difference Between a Marriage License and Marriage Certificate? ▸ Who Files For The Marriage License? ▸ Where Does The Couple File For a Marriage License? ▸ How Much Does a Marriage License Cost? ▸ Who Returns The Marriage License?

▸ When Should The Marriage License Be Returned?

▸ How Do I Confirm The Wedding I Officiated is Legal? ◀︎ MARRIAGE LICENSE INTRO INDEX

When to Return the Completed Marriage License

As a best practice, the completed marriage license should be returned as soon as possible after the wedding. If you follow this advice, the marriage license will always be returned well within the time limits established by any State.

That being said, complications can arise. It is always good to know what the exact laws are regarding returning the marriage license where you are officiating weddings.

The table below outlines the time frame of when a marriage license must be returned. This information may not be immediately clear so let's take a look at how to find out when a marriage license must be returned in your state.

Marriage License Expiration and Return

The marriage license return deadline in each state is determined by two laws. One law outlines how long a marriage license remains valid. We call this law, Marriage License Expiration. The other law outlines the maximum number of days after the wedding date within which the marriage license must be returned. We call this law, Marriage License Return.

One or both of these laws establish the timeline of when a completed marriage license must be returned in order for the marriage to be legal.

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Calculating the Marriage License Return Deadlines

The way to determine the marriage license return time frame is by looking at one of these two laws. Let's start with the Marriage License Return.

Marriage License Return

For any given State, the marriage license return law will dictate that the marriage license either be returned within a certain amount of days after the wedding, or before the marriage license expires.

For instance, in California the marriage license must be returned within 10 days of the wedding.

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On the other hand, in Colorado, there is no explicit time period for the marriage license to be returned after the wedding. This means the marriage license must be returned before it expires. A Colorado marriage license expires 30 days after issuance, so the wedding must take place and the completed marriage license returned within this time frame.

Marriage License Expiration

For any given State, the issued marriage license will expire within a specified time frame or it will have no expiration date. If the marriage license has no expiration date then you need to observe the Marriage License Return deadline.

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For instance, a marriage license issued in Iowa has no expiration date. The couple can literally file for the marriage license a year before the wedding. However once the wedding takes place, the marriage license must be returned within 15 days of that date.

On the other hand, a marriage license issued in Michigan is valid for 33 days. There is no specific time frame to return the marriage license after the wedding but the Michigan marriage license must be returned within 33 days of its issuance.

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Marriage License Return and Expiration

Some States specify both a marriage license expiration date and its return period. For instance, an Oregon marriage license is valid for 60 days and it must be returned within 5 days of the wedding. This means that if a couple files for a marriage license in Oregon and have their wedding within a week of issuance, they still need to return that marriage license within 5 days of the wedding, even though the marriage license is valid for 60 days.

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Marriage License Return Best Practices

Understanding when a marriage license expires and when it must be returned in any given State can be confusing. In order to keep things simple, our advice is to return the marriage license the day of, or the day after the wedding. You cannot go wrong by following this advice.

The table below outlines the marriage license expiration and marriage license return timelines for each US State and Territory.

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Marriage License Expiration and Return by State


Alabama

EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Alaska

EXPIRATION 90 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Arizona

EXPIRATION 1 Year
RETURN 20 Days from Wedding

Arkansas

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

California

EXPIRATION 90 Days
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Colorado

EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

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Connecticut

EXPIRATION 65 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Delaware

EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

District of Columbia

EXPIRATION No Expiration
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Florida

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Georgia

EXPIRATION No Expiration
RETURN 30 Days from Wedding

Hawaii

EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

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Idaho

EXPIRATION 1 Year
RETURN 30 Days from Wedding

Illinois

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Indiana

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Iowa

EXPIRATION No Expiration
RETURN 15 Days from Wedding

Kansas

EXPIRATION 6 Months
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Kentucky

EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

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Louisiana

EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Maine

EXPIRATION 90 Days
RETURN 15 Days from Wedding

Maryland

EXPIRATION 6 Months
RETURN Before Expiration

Massachusetts

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Michigan

EXPIRATION 33 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Minnesota

EXPIRATION 6 Months
RETURN 5 Days from Wedding

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Mississippi

EXPIRATION 90 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Missouri

EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN 15 Days from Wedding

Montana

EXPIRATION 6 Months
RETURN 30 Days from Wedding

Nebraska

EXPIRATION 1 Year
RETURN 15 Days from Wedding

Nevada

EXPIRATION 1 Year
RETURN Before Expiration

New Hampshire

EXPIRATION 90 Days
RETURN 6 Days from Wedding

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New Jersey

EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN 5 Days from Wedding

New Mexico

EXPIRATION No Expiration
RETURN 90 Days from Wedding

New York

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

North Carolina

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

North Dakota

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 5 Days from Wedding

Ohio

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 30 Days from Wedding

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Oklahoma

EXPIRATION 10 Days
RETURN 5 Days from Wedding

Oregon

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 5 Days from Wedding

Pennsylvania

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Puerto Rico

EXPIRATION No Expiration
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Rhode Island

EXPIRATION 90 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

South Carolina

EXPIRATION No Expiration
RETURN 30 Days from Wedding

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South Dakota

EXPIRATION 20 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Tennessee

EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN 3 Days from Wedding

Texas

EXPIRATION 90 Days
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

US Virgin Islands

EXPIRATION No Expiration
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Utah

EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN 14 Days from Wedding

Vermont

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

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Virginia

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 5 Days from Wedding

Washington

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

West Virginia

EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Wisconsin

EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN 3 Days from Wedding

Wyoming

EXPIRATION 1 Year
RETURN Before Expiration

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