Marriage License

There are two types of marriage licenses a couple may apply for: Public and Confidential. Blood tests are no longer necessary for obtaining a marriage license as of Jan 1, 1995.

Public Marriage License

Clerk Recorder

A public marriage license is valid for ninety (90) days from the date it was issued. It is a permit to marry. You are not legally married until the marriage is solemnized by a person authorized to do so. The license can be used anywhere in the State of California. You do not need a blood test. You must present the license to the person who is to perform the marriage ceremony. It is their responsibility to return it to the County Clerk for filing within five days after the ceremony.

To apply for a public marriage license you will need:

  1. Both  Party A and Party B must be present to apply.
  2. Valid picture identification of Party A and Party B.
  3. Complete a marriage license application and pay the marriage license fee. For the application, instructions and fee, click here. If the license is lost before the ceremony the couple must pay the fee for a new license.
  4. Party A and Party B parents full birth names, including mother's maiden name.
  5. State or country of birth of Party A and Party B parents.
  6. Date of dissolution of most recent previous marriage.
  7. If divorce was finalized within the last 90 days the applicant will need to provide a copy of the final entry of judgment.

Confidential Marriage License

A confidential marriage license is valid for ninety (90) days. It can be used anywhere in California. A couple must sign under penalty of perjury that they are over 18 years of age and currently living together as spouses. A copy of the marriage license may be obtained only by the party A or party B. The document is confidential, the clerk may indicate whether a confidential license has been issued, but no other information may be given except to the party A or party B.

To apply for a confidential marriage license you will need:

  1. Both Party A and Party B  must be present to apply.
  2. Valid picture identification of Party A and Party B.
  3. Pay marriage license fee. For the application, instructions and fee, click here. If the license is lost before the ceremony the couple must pay the fee for a new license.
  4. Party A and Party B’s  parents full birth names, including mother's maiden name.
  5. State or Country of birth of Party A and Party B’s parents.
  6. Date of dissolution of most recent previous marriage.
  7. If divorce was finalized within the last 90 days the applicant will need to provide a copy of the final entry of judgment.

Who May Solemnize Marriages

Clerk Recorder

Family Code Section §400

Marriage may be solemnized by any priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination, a judge or retired judge, commissioner or retired commissioner, or assistant commissioner of a court of record, a judge or magistrate who has resigned from office, or by a person authorized to do so under Family Code Section §401.

Effective January 1, 2017

Expands who may solemnize marriages in California to include: a former member of the Legislature or constitutional officer of this state or a former member of Congress from this state or a person that holds or formerly held a city or county elected office.

Family Code Section §401

For each county, the county clerk is designated as a commissioner of civil marriages. The commissioner of civil marriages may appoint deputy commissioners of civil marriages who may solemnize marriages under the direction of the commissioner.

Civil marriage ceremonies are performed on a limited basis through the Clerk-Recorder Office, Friday from 9-11a.m. by appointment only. Fees must be pre-paid and are non-refundable. For current civil marriage ceremony fees, click here.

Civil marriage ceremonies are performed in Spanish on the first Friday of the month through the Clerk-Recorder Office. Friday from 9-11a.m. by appointment only. Fees must be pre-paid and are non-refundable. For current civil marriage ceremony fees, click here.

Miscellaneous Information

  1. Minors, emancipated minors included, cannot be licensed to marry in California without a parent's written consent and a Superior Court Order. Please call for more information. Stanislaus County Superior Court website.
  2. There are no state residency requirements.
  3. The public and confidential marriage license can be used anywhere in the State of California.
  4. One witness is required on the public marriage license. Two are also acceptable. No witnesses are necessary for the confidential marriage license.
  5. The public license is a public record and available for anyone's inspection. It may be published in a local newspaper.
  6. Certified copies can only be ordered after the ceremony has taken place and it has been recorded, at the Clerk Office. For the instructions and application for a certified copy of a public or confidential marriage license, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How far ahead of time do we need to get our Marriage License?

The license is valid the same day it is issued and usable for up to ninety (90) days.

Do we need a blood test?

No, as of January 1, 1995, blood tests are no longer necessary.

How much does it cost?

See the fee page.

Where do we go to get the License?

The County Clerk-Recorder's Office, 1021 “I” Street, Suite 101, Modesto, California.

Do we get a copy of the Certificate?

No. You may purchase a certified copy after the ceremony has been performed and has been recorded at the Clerk Recorder's office. For the instructions and application for a certified copy of a public or confidential marriage license, click here.