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All people who marry in Massachusetts must have a marriage license issued in Massachusetts. An out-of-state license cannot be used. This outlines the procedures you must follow to obtain the license.

How do we apply for a marriage license?

You must both apply in person for a marriage license. According to Massachusetts law, you must jointly file intentions to marry, and you may do so with the city or town clerk in any community in the state. If a person is in the military, intentions may be filed by either party, providing one is a Massachusetts resident. If a person is incarcerated in a county house of correction or a state correctional facility, intentions may be filed by either party. A marriage license, once obtained, is valid for 60 days from the date intentions are filed and may be used in any Massachusetts city or town. It is not valid outside the state.

Note of caution: Please check your marriage license carefully after issuance for accuracy, spelling, and expiration. Your marriage license is a permanent record.


Is there a waiting period from the date of application to the date the license is issued?

Yes, there is a mandatory three-day waiting period. While Sundays and holidays are included in the three days, the day the application is made is not. For example, if you apply on Friday, your license will be issued on or after Monday. Check with your town clerk to determine whether you must pick it up in person, or if it can be mailed.


May we marry before the three days for good reason?

Yes, if you can obtain a court waiver after filing intentions. According to MGL Ch. 207:30, if both parties are residents, or non-residents, or one of each, and they need to dispense with the three days, they may do so by applying to the judge of a probate or district court to have the license issued without delay, after filing intentions with the clerk. Under extraordinary or emergency circumstances, such as if the death of either party is imminent or the female is nearing the end of her pregnancy, an authorized request by a minister or clergyperson or an attending physician shall suffice and the clerk can issue the certificate without delay.


How do we obtain a waiver?

You should file your intentions first with any city or town clerk. Then an application for a waiver must be filed by both of you at a probate or district court. After a hearing, the court may issue a certificate allowing the marriage license to be issued, and the marriage may be performed without delay.


What is the cost of a marriage license?

Fees in most communities range between $10 and $50 dollars. The state statute stipulates a fee of $4 for the license but it allows cities and towns by a vote of their city councils, boards of selectmen or town meeting, or by a change in the by-laws, to set their own fee.


At what age may a man or woman marry?

A Massachusetts resident may marry if he or she is 18 years of age or older. A birth certificate may be required to show proof of age.


What if one or both of us is under 18?

If either party is under 18, a court order from a probate or district court where the minor resides must be obtained before the marriage intentions can be filed.


Is a medical certificate required before a license can be issued?

Effective 28 January, 2005 blood tests/medical certificates are no longer required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


My fiance is in the military and cannot apply for a license in person. How can we get a license?

When one party is in the military and cannot apply in person to file intentions, the other party may file intentions alone as long as he/she can provide proof that the other party is on active duty in the military.


What if one or both of us had been divorced?

While most city or town clerks do not require you to present a divorce certificate when filing intentions to marry, some may require this if divorced within the last two years. It is extremely important that an individual who has been divorced be certain that his/her divorce is absolute. If you are uncertain as to the absolute date of your divorce, you should contact the court where the divorce was granted. In Massachusetts, a divorce does not become absolute until 90 days after the divorce nisi has been granted, regardless of the grounds for divorce.


Is there any special requirement for a widow or widower who is remarrying?

No.

Do we need a license to renew our vows?

No.

Same-Sex Marriages 

We are a same-sex couple. Are there any special requirements for us?

No. The process is all the same as above.


What are the responsibilities of the Justice of the Peace?

The Justice of the Peace must complete and sign the original license and return it to the clerk of the city or town where the license was issued.


What do I do about my name change after I am married?

You may pick up a copy of your Certified Marriage License 7-10 days after the wedding, from the Clerk where you were issued the license.

You will need to go to Social Security, Registry of Motor Vehicles, and any other locations of documents you would like to change.

If you are going out of the country (for a honeymoon etc.) after changing your name, you will have to carry a certified  copy of your marriage license along with your passport, when you get back you can have your passport changed then.

If you are traveling out of the country on your honeymoon the next day after your wedding, book your reservations and tickets under your old name to avoid confusion with respect to your passport.  Any other questions you may have, be sure to contact me any time!    Rick

Marriage License in Massachusetts

Frequently Asked Questions

 
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