How Do I Get a Copy of My Marriage License in San Francisco, California?

Getting married is often one of the happiest days of peoples’ lives, but marriage also has several legal aspects. If you are planning on getting married in San Francisco, you’ll need a marriage license. That naturally leads one to wonder: How do I get a copy of my marriage license in San Francisco, California? This article will explain everything you need to know about California marriage licenses and certificates.

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Close-up of a marriage license document showing text and blank fields for personal information.

Marriage License vs. Marriage Certificate

No matter what state you are getting married in, you will need both a marriage license and a marriage certificate. Many people use these terms interchangeably, but they are different things.

A marriage license is a document that allows you and your partner to get married. State governments issue marriage licenses, and the license indicates that there are no applicable conditions that would prevent you from getting married. You can get a marriage as long as both you and your partner:

  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Are not currently married (either to each other or to different people)
  • Have a government-issued ID (e.g., driver’s license, passport, etc.)

Marriage licenses from California are valid anywhere in the state. So for example, you can get a license in San Diego, and it will still be valid for getting married in San Francisco. If you or your spouse have been married before, you must provide legal documentation about the union ending before you can get another license.

Alternatively, a marriage certificate is a legal document issued by the state that indicates you and your spouse are married. In other words, you can think of a marriage certificate as legal proof of your marriage with your spouse. You can contact the county if you need a copy of your marriage certificate.

Marriage certificates indicate the time and place of your marriage. You must also have a valid marriage certificate to take advantage of various benefits that marriage provides, such as health insurance, home loans, and tax benefits. You also need a marriage certificate to change your last name to your spouse’s.

Public vs. Confidential Marriage License

In California, there are two types of marriage licenses you can apply for: public and confidential. The main difference between the two is whether or not they are visible under public records. If you have a public marriage license, anyone can look up records of the license as it is part of the public record. Marriages with a public license also require at least one witness.

Alternatively, confidential marriage licenses are not viewable by anyone except the married couple. In California, you must be living together to get a confidential marriage license, and a witness is not required.

How Do I Get a Copy of My Marriage License in California?

So, “How do I get a copy of my marriage license in California?”

To request a copy of a marriage license in San Francisco, you and your spouse must go to a local county clerk office in person and fill out the requisite forms. Many locations now allow you to complete preliminary applications online, but you will still have to go to an office in person to sign the license.

When you go to your appointment, both you and your spouse must provide a form of government ID and pay the marriage license fee. As of 2024, the standard fee for a marriage license in San Francisco is $120.

Once you get your marriage license, it is valid for 90 days and you can get married in any county in California. If 90 days pass after the marriage license was issued, you will have to get a new one before you and your spouse can get married.

San Francisco Marriage License FAQ

Below are some of the most common questions we receive about marriage licenses in San Francisco.

Is There a Waiting Period for a Marriage License in San Francisco?

There is no waiting period to get a marriage license in San Francisco. The county office will issue your license as soon as they approve the application. However, it will take about 10 to 14 days for them to process the application.

Do I Have to Have My Birth Certificate to Get a Marriage License?

Yes. When you and your spouse apply for a marriage license, you will have to provide a birth certificate in addition to a form of government photo ID, such as your driver’s license or passport. If you do not have your original birth certificate, you must get a certified copy before you get your license.

Can I Get My Marriage Certificate and Get Married on the Same Day?

Yes, you can get your marriage license and get married on the same day in California. There is no law saying you have to wait, but it may be difficult to coordinate both licenses and certificates on the same day, so most recommend that you wait.

Do I Need to Take a Blood Test to Get a Marriage License in San Francisco?

No, you do not need to take a blood test to get a public marriage license in San Francisco. California stopped requiring blood tests for public marriage licenses in 1995.

Can I Pay for a Marriage License in San Francisco with a Credit Card?

Yes, San Francisco allows you to pay with credit cards for your marriage license.

Can I Get a Marriage License from Any County in California?

Yes, you can get a marriage license in any county in California and it will be valid in all other counties. You do not have to get married in the county in which you received your marriage license.

Plan Your Wedding Today!

Now that you know the answer to: “How do I get a copy of my marriage license in San Francisco?” read our blog to learn about some excellent customized wedding cake ideas. Sign up for our newsletter or contact City Hall Wedding online if you have any questions!