In order to get married in Washington DC you must first apply for a DC marriage license in the Clerk's Office within the Superior Court, which is also referred to as the Marriage Bureau.
Your marriage application will be processed by either the Clerk of the Superior Court or their authorized assistant clerk.
A marriage license issued from the District of Columbia may only be used within the District. A license issued outside the District is invalid here.
Applying by proxy
If necessary, a third-party may apply on a couple's behalf provided they fill out the application in full and bring identification for both parties to the marriage.
A Washington DC marriage license costs $35. Payments are nonrefundable.
The marriage license application, which must be sworn to under penalty of perjury, will ask you to disclose the following about yourself and the marriage ceremony:
- Date of birth
- Social security number
- Residence (street address, city, state, zip code)
- Home and work phone numbers
- Number of times you've been married
- Prior marital statuses (e.g., divorced, widowed) and end dates
- If divorced, where finalized
- Relationship to one another (e.g., none, first cousins)
- Officiant's name, if applicable and known
- Choosing to self-solemnize (yes or no)
Your social security number is used for paternity and child support enforcement purposes as required by Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.
Your submitted application will become a public record with the social security numbers redacted.
There is no longer a waiting period to receive your marriage license. You may marry immediately after issuance.
Three-day wait repealed
The prior three-day wait time was rescinded with the passage of the Marriage License Issuance Amendment Act of 2014, which became effective on August 1, 2014 with then Mayor Vincent C. Gray's signature.
Although your issued marriage license is given to you, its language is directed to whoever will solemnize your marriage ceremony. You're role is that of a courier.
DC marriage licenses do not expire once issued.
You are no longer required to get a blood test.
Premarital blood test repealed
The premarital blood test requirement was in effect between October 15, 1966 and August 1, 2014. The Marriage License Issuance Amendment Act of 2014 eliminated it.
Bring identification to confirm your name and age, such as a driver's license, non-driver's ID, passport, or certified copy of your birth certificate.
If previously married, you do not have to bring proof of its ending such as a copy of your divorce decree or spouse's death certificate. The application will merely require you to provide a brief summary of your marital history.
If you're below the age of 18, you must obtain consent to marry from at least one parent or guardian. Consent can be expressed directly to the Clerk of the Superior Court or in writing attested to by one witness.
If you're below the age of 16, you cannot marry—consent or no consent.
The person who solemnizes your marriage is called the officiant. Officiants must be at least 18 years old and registered with the Superior Court.
Your marriage may be solemnized by any of the following:
- Clerk of the Superior Court
- Deputy Clerk of the Superior Court authorized by the Clerk and Chief Judge
- Active or retired judge of a court of record
- Authorized individual of any religious denomination or society
- Religious society, based on their customs
- DC council member
- DC mayor
- Civil celebrant
- Couple themselves (a.k.a. self-uniting marriage)
- Temporary officiant (one-time authorization from the superior court clerk)
Refusal to solemnize
No religious individual, society, or nonprofit is require to provide services, goods, or facilities for any marriage celebration if it violates their religious beliefs. No cause of action or civil suit may be brought against them for such refusals.
Solemnization is the act of presiding over your marriage ceremony. The person who conducts the ceremony is called the officiant.
You do not have to bring a witness to your marriage ceremony.
Completing the license
Following the conclusion of your marriage ceremony, the officiant must complete the certificate portion of the marriage license by documenting their name and residence, your name, your spouse's name, and the date and location of marriage.
Returning the license
The officiant must return the completed marriage license to the Superior Court Clerk's office—by mail or in person—within 10 days following the ceremony. Failure to return incurs a $50 penalty if convicted.
Upon receipt of your returned marriage license, the Clerk of the Superior Court will register your marriage and archive the license within court records.
Marriage license copies
You can obtain copies of your marriage license from the Clerk's Office within the Superior Court, but only after it's been recorded.
Following are the various copy fees:
|$10.00||Certified copy (what most people want)|
|$20.00||Triple-seal certificate (for adoptions and foreign countries)|
Note: Obtaining a copy of your "marriage license" is the same as obtaining a copy of your "marriage certificate"; both phrases refer to the same document.
Marriage among relatives
If you were to marry any of the following members of your family in DC, the marriage would automatically be void from its beginning, even without a judicial declaration.
District law does not distinguish between whole blood, half blood, and relationships established through adoption.
First cousins permitted
Marriage between first cousins is allowed, as DC law neither prohibits nor sanctions it.
If you have a living spouse, you can't get married to someone else until your prior marriage has ended in divorce or annulment. Doing otherwise would result in a bigamous marriage that's automatically void from the start, with or without judicial intervention.
It's possible for a bigamous marriage to avoid nullification and criminal punishment if your subsequent marriage took place following a consecutive five year absence of your prior spouse who you did not know to be alive or dead.
Punishment for bigamy
Punishment for a bigamy conviction ranges from two to seven years imprisonment.
Illegal outside marriage
If you live in the District and enter into an out-of-district marriage that couldn't have lawfully taken place here, the marriage would be deemed illegal and predisposed to voiding if you were to maintain your DC residence.
The Family Court does not distinguish between ignorance of the law and intentional evasion of the law.
The District does not recognize common-law marriages.
Although you can apply by proxy, you cannot marry by proxy. Both you and your future spouse must physically be in attendance during solemnization.