California Marriage License, Registration and Ceremony Information
Welcome to the State of California, Department of Public Health web page. This web page will give you general information regarding the requirements for the issuance and registration of public and confidential marriage licenses in California, as well as answer many frequently asked questions regarding the laws pertaining to marriage licenses and ceremonies in California. For further information, please contact the County Clerk or Recorder’s Office in the county where you will be applying for the marriage license.
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The registration of public and confidential marriages in California is a local and state function. The California Family Code provides for a continuous and permanent marriage registration system. The system depends upon the conscientious efforts of local officials, clergymen, and other officiants in preparing the original records and in certifying the information on these records.
“Laws are mutually accepted rules by which, together, we maintain a free society. Liberty itself is built on a foundation of law. That foundation provides an orderly process for changing laws. It also depends on our obeying laws once they have been freely adopted.”
The County Clerk issues public and confidential marriage licenses. The County Clerk is the local registrar of confidential marriages (Family Code, Section 511). The County Clerk maintains a permanent index of all confidential marriages registered.
The marriage officiant, e.g., clergyperson or authorized individual, who performs the marriage ceremony is required by law to complete the marriage license and return it to the County Recorder’s Office within 10 days of the event for registration. For confidential marriages, the marriage license is returned to the County Clerk’s Office for registration.
The County Recorder is the local registrar of public marriages (which includes declared and non-clergy marriages) under the direction of the State Registrar (Health and Safety Code, Sections 102285 and 102295).
The local official is required to see that a complete and acceptable certificate is filed for each marriage, and that each entry on the certificate is clear and unambiguous. Once reviewed for proper completion, the local official collects the certificates of marriage filed and transmits them to the state office on a monthly basis (Health and Safety Code, Section 102355).
An important function of the local registrar of marriages is to produce an index of marriages registered in his/her jurisdiction (Government Code, Section 27252).
 1985 by Freedoms Foundations at Valley Forge