Colorado Marriage License and Civil Union Requirements


Marriage or civil union requires three steps: licensure, solemnization or certification, and registration. This page covers each, including common-law marriage. Let's begin…

Where to apply?

Before getting married in Colorado you must apply for a Colorado marriage license at any county clerk and recorder's office. Civil union licenses can also be gotten there.

Licensing officers

The person who will assist you during the application process is the county clerk and recorder (an elected official) or their deputy (a hired employee).

Statewide uniformity

Colorado's Department of Public Health and Environment thankfully standardizes the marriage and civil union application, license, and certificate forms used by every county.

Marriage and civil union law

Marriage law is covered by the "Uniform Marriage Act" circa 1963 and civil union law is covered by the "Colorado Civil Union Act" established in 2013.

Civil unions

Civil unions have existed in Colorado since May 1, 2013 and still do. The marriage and civil union process is virtually identical. Both will be discussed and differentiated.


A Colorado marriage license or civil union license costs $30. Cash is universally accepted. Check, money order, and credit or debit card acceptance varies by office.

Marriage license fee distribution
Percent Amount Description
23% $7 Retained by the county
10% $3 Credited to the vital statistics records cash fund
67% $20 Credited to the Colorado domestic abuse program fund


There are no residency requirements. Apply anywhere in Colorado and hold your ceremony anywhere in Colorado.


The Colorado marriage license application (form M-1) or civil union application (form CU1) is a one-page document where you must disclose the following:

  • Name
  • Previous married name
  • Last name at birth if different
  • Sex
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Place of birth (city, and state or country)
  • Parents' or guardians' names and residences
  • If related by blood, specify how (e.g., first cousins)
  • Current marital or civil union status (e.g., single, widowed, divorced or dissolved or annulled, married, civil union)
  • Date, place, and court (if applicable) last marriage or civil union ended
  • Prior spouse's or partner's name

Absentee affidavit application

If one of you can't attend the making of the application, complete and have notarized an "absentee affidavit application" instead—questions are the same.

Whoever visits the county clerk and recorder's office must complete the regular, non-absentee application, hand over the affidavit, and show identification for each applicant.

Issued license and certificate

Once your application is processed and fees paid, the county clerk and recorder will issue you a two-part document: license and certificate form.

The "license" portion instructs your officiant to solemnize your marriage or certify your civil union and to complete and forward the "certificate form" for registration.

Prior relationships

If you've been previously married or in a civil union, bring your certificate of divorce, dissolution, or annulment. Death certificates are unnecessary.


You'll need to present proof of age, such as an original or certified copy of your birth certificate, valid driver's license, passport, or equivalent document.

Age requirements

Cavaet: minors cannot enter into civil unions under any circumstance.

18 years old and above

If you're 18 years old or older, you can marry or enter into a civil union without anyone's permission; however, if you're a ward you must get permission from your guardian.

16 and 17 years old

If you're 16 or 17 years old, you must obtain consent to marry from any of the following:

  • Guardian
  • Both parents
  • Custodial parent

If you cannot obtain consent to marry from any of the above, you may appeal to the juvenile court assuming any of the following is true:

  • You have no living parent or guardian
  • Your parent or guardian is unable to grant consent
  • Your parent or guardian is unwilling to grant consent

15 years old and below

If you're 15 years old or younger, you must obtain permission to marry from the juvenile court and the consent of any of the following:

  • Guardian
  • Both parents
  • Custodial parent

Juvenile court

Juvenile court refers to the "juvenile court" in the city and county of Denver or the "juvenile division" within the district court everywhere else.

If you're underage and seek permission to marry from the juvenile court, it will only be granted if applicable consent requirements are fulfilled and it's judged to be in your best interest. Pregnancy alone doesn't constitute best interests.

If the court approves, you'll be granted a court order instructing the county clerk and recorder to issue a marriage license. Get court approval before applying.

Blood test

Colorado does not impose a blood test requirement on applicants.

Waiting period

There is no waiting period; your license will be issued immediately.


Your license will expire 35 days after issuance, after which it will be void. Expired licenses should be returned to the county clerk and recorder for cancellation.


Witnesses are not required to attend your marriage or civil union ceremony; however, two witnesses are allowed to sign the certificate portion of the license afterward.

Authorized officiants

Colorado law is fairly flexible regarding who may solemnize marriages or certify civil unions, which includes:

  • Court judge, active or retired
  • Court magistrate
  • County court magistrate
  • Small claims court magistrate
  • The couple, for a self-solemnized ceremony
  • Public official empowered to solemnize or certify
  • Authorized person(s) belonging to any Indian nation or tribe
  • Authorized person(s) belonging to any religious denomination or society

Solemnization or certification

The performance of a marriage is called solemnization. The performance of a civil union is called certification. Before either can begin, give your license to the officiant.

Certificate completion

Once the ceremony is over, the officiant must complete the certificate form attached to the license by documenting the following:

  • Ceremony date
  • Ceremony location or address
  • Printed names and signatures of the couple
  • Officiant's signature (if self-solemnizing, enter your signatures)
  • Officiant's title (if self-solemnizing, enter self-solemnize, bride/groom, bride/bride, or groom/groom)
  • Witness signatures (optional maximum of two)

Certificate forwarding

Whoever performs the ceremony must forward the license and certificate to the issuing county clerk and recorder for registration within 63 days following the ceremony.

Failure to make the return results in a late fee of $20 which increases by $5 daily until $50 is reached. Late fees are assessed based on the postmark date.

Proxy ceremony

Proxy civil union

Colorado law does not allow civil union by proxy.

Proxy marriage

Marriage by proxy is allowed if the following conditions are met:

  1. Either's a resident.
  2. Both are 18 years old or older.
  3. Whoever's absent is out-of-state serving in or for the U.S. military.
  4. Whoever's absent authorizes in writing a third-party to act as their proxy.

If the person who solemnizes your marriage is unconvinced that you meet the proxy requirements, you can petition the district court to compel solemnization.


Once your license and certificate is returned to the issuing county clerk and recorder it will be registered—also called recording—and then your marriage becomes official.

Certified certificate

You can order certified copies of your marriage certificate or civil union certificate from the issuing county clerk and recorder or Colorado's vital records division.

Living spouse or partner

Before entering into another marriage, civil union partnership, or cohabitation, you must dissolve any prior marriage, civil union, or cohabitation. Failure to do so would make you guilty of bigamy, which is a class 6 felony.

If you knowingly marry a bigamist, you too would be a bigamist, but the charge would be dropped to a lesser class 2 misdemeanor.

Cohabitation defined

Cohabitation refers to living together with someone and acting as though you were actually married to that person even though no such marriage was ever solemnized.

Bigamy lines of defense

There are three lines of defense against an accusation or charge of bigamy:

  1. Reasonably believed remarriage or civil union lawful.
  2. Reasonably believed prior spouse or partner to be deceased.
  3. Prior spouse or partner absent for five years and not known to be alive.

Whichever excuse you go with, the burden of proof is on you.

Forbidden family relationship

If you enter into a marriage of civil union in Colorado with any of the following members of your family, it would be considered invalid, incestuous, and a class 4 felony:

  • Great-grandparent
  • Grandparent
  • Parent
  • Child
  • Stepchild
  • Adopted child
  • Grandchild
  • Great-grandchild
  • Sibling (half or whole blood)
  • Aunt
  • Uncle
  • Niece
  • Nephew

First cousins

You are allowed to enter into a marriage or civil union with your first cousin.

Common law marriage

Colorado does recognize common law marriage; however, if it was established on or after September 1, 2006, both parties must have been 18 years old or older at the time.

Out-of-state marriage

If you get married outside of Colorado, the marriage would be recognized as valid in this State as long as the marriage was lawful in whichever jurisdiction it was contracted.

Closing thoughts

You should now have a solid understand of what it takes to enter into a marriage or civil union in the great State of Colorado. Your next step is to choose a county clerk and recorder's office to apply in. See the list of Colorado counties.

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CO Office Locations

Below are the 64 counties in Colorado where you can apply for a marriage license.


Adams County

441,603 (population)

Alamosa County

15,445 (population)

Arapahoe County

572,003 (population)

Has 4 offices

Archuleta County

12,084 (population)


Baca County

3,788 (population)

Bent County

6,499 (population)

Boulder County

294,567 (population)

Has 3 offices

Broomfield County

55,889 (population)


Chaffee County

17,809 (population)

Cheyenne County

1,836 (population)

Clear Creek County

9,088 (population)

Conejos County

8,256 (population)

Costilla County

3,524 (population)

Crowley County

5,823 (population)

Custer County

4,255 (population)


Delta County

30,952 (population)

Denver County

600,158 (population)

Dolores County

2,064 (population)

Douglas County

285,465 (population)


Eagle County

52,197 (population)

El Paso County

622,263 (population)

Has 5 offices

Elbert County

23,086 (population)


Fremont County

46,824 (population)


Garfield County

56,389 (population)

Has 2 offices

Gilpin County

5,441 (population)

Grand County

14,843 (population)

Gunnison County

15,324 (population)


Hinsdale County

843 (population)

Huerfano County

6,711 (population)


Jackson County

1,394 (population)

Jefferson County

534,543 (population)

Has 5 offices


Kiowa County

1,398 (population)

Kit Carson County

8,270 (population)


La Plata County

51,334 (population)

Lake County

7,310 (population)

Larimer County

299,630 (population)

Has 3 offices

Las Animas County

15,507 (population)

Lincoln County

5,467 (population)

Logan County

22,709 (population)


Mesa County

146,723 (population)

Mineral County

712 (population)

Moffat County

13,795 (population)

Montezuma County

25,535 (population)

Montrose County

41,276 (population)

Morgan County

28,159 (population)


Otero County

18,831 (population)

Has 2 offices

Ouray County

4,436 (population)


Park County

16,206 (population)

Has 2 offices

Phillips County

4,442 (population)

Pitkin County

17,148 (population)

Prowers County

12,551 (population)

Pueblo County

159,063 (population)


Rio Blanco County

6,666 (population)

Rio Grande County

11,982 (population)

Routt County

23,509 (population)


Saguache County

6,108 (population)

San Juan County

699 (population)

San Miguel County

7,359 (population)

Sedgwick County

2,379 (population)

Summit County

27,994 (population)


Teller County

23,350 (population)

Has 2 offices


Washington County

4,814 (population)

Weld County

252,825 (population)

Has 3 offices


Yuma County

10,043 (population)

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