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.

Prepare for application and issuance

  • Have a current valid government issued photo ID
  • Know the ending date of previous marriage (if any)
  • If a previous marriage ended within 90 days, a certified copy of the dissolution paperwork from the Superior Court is required to be presented at the time of issuance
  • Review the Marriage License Fact Sheet  
  • Know parents birth names and place of birth (information can be found on each the applicant's birth certificate, however, it is not required to bring a birth certificate when you come to our office)

Apply for your Marriage License

Complete an application in one of the following ways and then come to our office.

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

  2.  In-person in our office at our kiosk. Both parties to the marriage must be present to have a license issued. 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.Valid identification is required

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 Marriage 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 Office 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 is eligible?

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 at the Clerk-Recorder’s office in San Luis Obispo during our transaction hours except during County observed holidays. 

  • We do not close for lunch however, due to rotating lunch breaks, wait times can be extended between the hours of 12-2. Please plan accordingly.
  • To ensure a license can be issued the same day, we recommend arriving with a completed application no later than one hour prior to close.

Location, directions and hours of operation

Click on location name to show hours of operation, directions and phone information

Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM* Wednesday, 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM* *Last transactions processed 30 minutes prior to closing

1055 Monterey Street Suite D120
San Luis Obispo, CA 93408

Tel: (805) 781-5080

Fax: (805) 781-1111