Marriage Licenses

What is the process?

Understand the Types of Marriage Licenses

There are two types of marriage licenses commonly issued in California, a public marriage license and a confidential marriage license.

      Public Marriage License:

  • You must be at least 18 years old. Persons under 18 with written consent from at least one parent (or legal guardian) AND permission from a California Superior Court Judge may marry. Emancipated minors are NOT exempt from this process. Contact the San Luis Obispo Superior Court Family Law Division at (805) 706-3600 for further information regarding these requirements.

  • The marriage license may be obtained from any county in California. You are not required to get married in the county where you purchase the public marriage license; however, you must be married in California. You must file the license in the county where it was purchased.

  • You must have at least one witness present at your ceremony. The license contains a place for two witnesses if you prefer. You may NOT have more than two witnesses sign the official marriage license.  There is no age requirement in California for witnesses, however, they must be old enough to know that they are witnessing a marriage ceremony, AND be able to sign their name on the official marriage license.

  • A public marriage license is a public record from which anyone can obtain the information and a copy. A certified copy for the purpose of establishing identity can only be issued to an authorized person indicated on the request for a marriage record.

      Confidential Marriage License:

  • The participating parties must be at least 18 years old to apply for a confidential marriage license. Minors may NOT purchase a confidential marriage license.

  • The participating parties must be living together as spouses at the time they apply for the marriage license.

  • You are not required to get married in the county where you purchase the confidential marriage license; however, you must be married in California.  You must file the license in the county where it was purchased.         

  • No witnesses are required to be at the ceremony, AND no witnesses sign on the marriage license.

  • A confidential marriage license is a confidential record and is registered at the county clerk’s office in the county where it was purchased. Only the couple may purchase copies of the marriage license and must present valid picture identification together with the required fee. Persons other than the married couple requesting copies of a confidential marriage license may only do so by presenting a court order. The only information available to the public is that the marriage exists.

Call for an Appointment

NOTICE:  Appointments are REQUIRED in order to help control the number of people in our lobby at any given time.  Please call us at 805-781-5080 to request an appointment.  We will be scheduling appointments on a first-come, first-served basis. Should you come to our office without an appointment, you may be required to schedule an appointment and come back at another time. Our Atascadero office remains closed at this time. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Apply for your Marriage License

AFTER scheduling an appointment, apply for a marriage license in one of the following ways:

  1. Online via the Self-Service Portal (recommended). After submitting your information online, both parties to the marriage must come into one of our offices to complete the process within 30 days. Valid identification is required.

  2. In-person during appointment. Both parties to the marriage must be present at the time of applying. Upon arriving, use one of our kiosk computers in the lobby to fill out your marriage application, then proceed to the counter to pay for and receive the marriage license. Both parties must show valid identification.

Effective January 1, 2009 - both parties can now elect to change their middle and/or last names at the time of issuing the license. Click here for information on the rules for acceptable name changes.

Appear in person to obtain your Marriage License

Both parties must be present.

When you arrive in the office, you will complete the marriage license information on the Marriage Kiosk located on the computers in our office if you did not already complete the application online.

Once completed, staff will ask for your identification and will review the license information with you.

It takes about 30 minutes for the license to be issued. 

Fees can be found on the fee schedule.

Getting Married

The license can be used immediately and is valid for 90 days from the date of issuance.

The ceremony can take place anywhere in the State of California with a public and confidential license.

You may be married by a priest, rabbi, minister or other authorized person of your choice. You can also be married in a civil ceremony in our office by appointment only or you can elect to have someone of your choice appointed  as a Deputy Commissioner of Civil Marriages for a day so they can perform your marriage ceremony. 

What happens next

The marriage license should be returned to the Clerk Recorder's Offfice within ten (10) days. (Family Code, Section 359(e)).

Our office will register the marriage license within two business days from the date we receive the marriage license. In order to change your name with Social Security and DMV, you will need to obtain a certified copy of your marriage license. 


Who can use this service?

You must be 18 years old or older to obtain a marriage license. If either party is under 18, you must contact the San Luis Obispo Superior Court Family Law Division at (805) 706-3600 prior to coming to applying for a marriage license. 

Is there a charge for this service?

Yes. Please refer to the Clerk-Recorder's Fee Schedule.

When and where is this service offered?

This service is available by appointment only at the Clerk-Recorder office in San Luis Obispo during regular business hours except during County observed holidays.

Location, directions and hours of operation

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