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Certificate of MarriageNearly everything about weddings has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Marriage licenses are no exception. NBC News reported that New York license applications were down by 60% compared to last year. Global pandemic or not, you’ll still need a license to make it legal in 2021. Before you head to your local clerk's offices, review these tips to help make the process go smoothly.   

Virtual or In-Person?  

Most states have public health measures in place. They'll affect how you’ll access local government services, including marriage licenses. Some city or county clerk offices have reduced hours, or they’re completely closed to the public. Those still open ask visitors to wear masks and follow physical distancing protocols.  

Many clerks’ offices offer marriage license applications online. Some allow you to complete and send your forms right on their websites. Others, such as Arizona’s Maricopa County, let you send applications via email or postal mail.  

Depending on where you live, you still may need to visit your clerk’s office in person to complete the process. Some require applicants to make an appointment first. Larger metro areas like Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, offer videoconferencing services. Check your clerk’s office website for hours and special instructions. 

Essential Documentation 

Marriage license applications ask for certain pieces of information. Your local clerk may need to verify this information before issuing your license, so it’s wise to have the necessary documents when you apply. Each clerk’s office is a little different, but you’ll need to supply some commonly requested items: 

  • Government-issued photo ID 
  • Social Security number 
  • Your parents’ names, birthdates, and birthplaces 

Most states ask for information about prior marriages. The license app may only request a former spouse’s name, the date of your wedding, and when your marriage ended. You may need to present documentation – a certified copy of your divorce decree, for example. Also, keep in mind that some county clerks may not accept passports as photo identification. They may only take driver’s licenses or state IDs. 

All the other information makes sense, but why does the clerk need your Social Security number? Federal law requires it, explains The Spruce’s Sheri Stritof. Your SSN appears on the marriage license. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, you may also need to bring other documents: your green card, birth certificate, passport, and work permit. Your clerk’s website should have a list of acceptable documents. If not, contact them for details.

Other Requirements 

Documents aren’t the only things you must think about when getting a marriage license. Most states don’t have a residency requirement. However, they may ask out-of-state couples to apply for licenses wherever their weddings take place. If only one of you is a resident, you may need to apply in the county where that person lives. Also, you won’t need to take a blood test. Montana was the last state to mandate blood testing, but it abolished that rule in 2019.  

Many states have eliminated waiting periods for marriage licenses. That means you don’t need to wait after receiving your license to hold your ceremony. But there are some exceptions, and these waiting periods vary. Delaware, Illinois, New York, and South Carolina have the shortest: only 24 hours. But allow extra time if you’re marrying in the Badger State – Wisconsin mandates a five-day wait. Wedding Wire offers a quick rundown on each state’s waiting periods, but you should check with your local clerk for the latest information.  

Doing Your Homework 

No matter what your wedding plans look like, your safety comes first. Every state has taken steps to protect both its staff and residents when delivering public services. With the pandemic changing much of our daily lives, you shouldn’t take ordinary tasks for granted. Knowing essential requirements can help you get your marriage as quickly and painlessly as possible.  

Category: Wedding Materials

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