How to Apply for a Michigan Marriage License


In order to get married in Michigan, you must apply for a marriage license in a county clerk office. Your residency status determines which county you may apply in and how much you must pay.

Residency requirements

Where you must apply for a marriage license and where you can marry afterward is based on residency.

One or both are state residents

If either you or your prospective spouse is a resident of Michigan, you must apply for a license in the county of either's residence. Afterward, you can marry anywhere in the state.

Proof of county residency must be presented to the county clerk.

Neither are state residents

If neither you nor your prospective spouse resides in this state, you must apply for a license in the county where the marriage ceremony will take place.

License fees

The cost of your marriage license is determined by your state residency status.

Residents' fee

If at least one of you lives in Michigan, you will only have to pay $20 for a marriage license.

Nonresidents' fee

If neither of you live in Michigan, you must pay $30 for a marriage license.

Can't afford to pay

If you can't afford to pay the license fee, due to it imposing an undue financial hardship upon you, you may request a probate court to order the county clerk to waive the fee.


The marriage license application is in the form of an affidavit. It's a barebones document that should take you only a few minutes to complete.

Expected questions

You will be asked to specify the following about yourself:

  • Full name
  • Surname on birth certificate, if different
  • Gender
  • Age and date of birth
  • Birthplace
  • Residence, including county
  • Total number of previous marriages
  • Parent's names
  • Parent's birthplaces
  • Social security number (why is this asked?)

Depending on the county, you may also be asked to supply the following:

  • Email address
  • Daytime phone number
  • If you want the date and place of marriage published in the newspaper

Attestation of signature

As mentioned at the outset of this section, the application is an affidavit that must be sworn to. Your signature at the end is a testament to the accuracy and truthfulness of what you've stated. Swearing falsely to any information you've provided is considered perjury and is prosecutable.

Online submission, one person pickup

Some counties allow applications to be submitted electronically, online. If you go this route, you or your prospective spouse can pick up the license alone and sign for both. Whoever's absent must provide the other their identification: original or photocopied.

Application is not a public record

Although the county clerk will forward your application to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), it will not become a public record. It won't even be accessible through freedom of information act requests; only you and the other applicant can access it, upon request.

Social security number

Child support enforcement

Your social security number is requested to enforce delinquent child support payments as mandated by Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.

Your social security number will not appear on your issued license, is kept confidential, and will only be released to the child support division within the Department of Health and Human Services.


You're exempt from supplying a social security number if you don't have one or object to its disclosure on religious grounds. The county clerk should alert you to the latter exemption.

You may be required to sign an affidavit, separate from your application affidavit, attesting to your nonexistent social security number.

Unlawful release

Anyone who releases your social security number in an unauthorized way is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $500.

Subsequent transgressions are elevated to felony charges, punishable by up to four years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $2,000.

Previous marriages

If you've been married before, you do not have to bring a certified copy of your divorce decree or spouse's death certificate. You'll only be asked to document how many times you've been married on the application.

Age requirements

18 years old or older

If you're 18 years old or older, you're an adult who's free to make marriage decisions without your parent's input.

16 or 17 years old

If you're either 16 or 17 years old, you are eligible to marry if you receive the consent of one parent or guardian—assuming you have a parent or guardian and this will be your first marriage.

15 years old or younger

If you're 15 years old or younger, you are prohibited from marrying. If such an underage marriage were in some way established, it would be void.

If your parents live together, either can grant consent. If they're divorced, the custodial parent grants consent. Proof of custody must be presented.

Consent to marry from your parent or legal guardian must be in written form, whether delivered in person or not in attendance, so that it may be catalogued in the county clerk's office.

County clerk offices will often provide readymade, fill-in-the-blank consent forms, in lieu of a parent or guardian drafting their own consent statement from scratch.

Your parent or legal guardian may accompany you to the making of the application to fill out a consent form in the presence of the county clerk. They should be prepared to present their own identification.

If your parent is unable or unwilling to escort you to the making of the application, their consent can be put in writing and verified before a notary public or other official who's authorized by law to administer oaths.

Bring the completed consent form or statement to the county clerk along with a photocopy of your parent's or legal guardian's identification.

If you have no parent or guardian, or have been previously married, you do not require consent to marry. A minor who has been married is no longer under the legal control of a parent.

Of course, you will be required to substantiate your claim.


Identification is solicited to confirm your age and residency. The most preferred form of identification to confirm your age is a certified copy of your birth certificate.

Alternative forms of identification are also accepted, such as an unexpired driver's license, state-issued ID, military ID, or passport. If used for age verification, it must contain your date of birth. If used for residency verification, it must contain your current address.

Non-English translation

Documents that are not written in English, such as a foreign birth certificate or foreign passport, must be translated into English and notarized. Bring both the original and translated version.

Non-English passports must also be accompanied by a I-94 Form.

Parent's or guardian's identification

If you're underage and eligible to marry, and have a parent or legal guardian who intends to consent to your marriage, in person, they must also present a valid form of government-issued photo identification.

If your parent or guardian will not be in attendance with you during the application process, bring a photocopy—front and back—of their identification.

If a custodial parent is granting consent, bring proof of custody. If a guardian is granting consent, bring the guardianship papers.

Issued marriage license and certificate

Your issued marriage license is a single-page, two-part document; the top half is titled "marriage license" and the bottom half is a blank form titled "certificate of marriage." The license and certificate will be issued in duplicate, like carbon copy duplicate checks.

The certificate portion of the license must be completed by whoever solemnizes your marriage.

License is a public record

Unlike the nonpublic application, a facsimile of your issued marriage license will become part of the public record, whether or not you actually get married.

Your original marriage license will eventually become part of the public record once it's been returned for recording following your marriage ceremony.

Waiting period

There is a three-day waiting period—which can be waived—between the day you apply for a marriage license and when you must return to pick it up. The day you submit your application is included in the wait time.

The table below illustrates the day you can pick up your license based on the day you apply.

Apply on Pick up on
Monday Thursday
Tuesday Friday
Wednesday Monday
Thursday Monday
Friday Monday
Saturday (closed) N/A
Sunday (closed) N/A

Note: county clerk offices are closed on weekends and legal holidays.

Although you aren't absolutely required to pick up your license the precise day it becomes available, understand that you are fighting a losing battle against the expiration clock the longer you wait.

Three-day waiver

If you can demonstrate good cause for why the county clerk should waive the three-day waiting period, your license may be issued immediately. You will be required to pay a small waiver fee, which varies from county to county.


Your marriage license will expire 33 days after your application has been filed. Be clear that the expiration countdown begins the moment your applicant is submitted, not when you pick it up following the three-day wait.

If you are granted a waiting period waiver, you'll still be afforded the full 33 days to use your license.

Blood tests and counseling

You are no longer required to get a blood test or premarital counseling in order to receive a marriage license. The long forgotten blood test requirement was eliminated on January 1, 2001.

HIV, STD, and prenatal care materials

In lieu of a blood test, you will be given information on prenatal care and the transmission and prevention of HIV and other STD's. This was the tradeoff for eliminating the blood test requirement.

Prohibited marriages

Family relations

You are prohibited from marrying the following members of your family:

  • Grandmother
  • Grandfather
  • Stepmother
  • Stepfather
  • Mother
  • Father
  • Sister
  • Brother
  • Son
  • Daughter
  • Grandson
  • Granddaughter
  • Aunt
  • Uncle
  • Niece
  • Nephew
  • First cousin


If you have a living husband or wife, you cannot enter into another marriage contract until your prior marriage is dissolved or annulled.

Authorized officiants

The person who solemnizes, conducts, performs, or presides over your marriage ceremony is called the officiant, officiator, or solemnizing official. For the sake of simplicity, we'll use the term "officiant" to describe this individual.

There are five groups of authorized officiants: judges, mayors, clerks, clerics, and religious societies.


Your marriage may be solemnized by a district court judge, district court magistrate, or probate court judge, anywhere in this state; a federal judge, anywhere in this state; or a municipal court judge, but only in the city or township of their jurisdiction.


Your marriage may be solemnized by a mayor, but only within the county in which their city is located.


Your marriage may be solemnized by a county clerk, within the county in which he or she serves, or within another county if written permission is obtained from that other county's clerk.

The county clerk of Wayne County and Oakland County are legally permitted to designate any employee—typically a deputy—to solemnize marriages on their behalf, due to their respective populations exceeding 1.5 million.


Any religious denomination can authorize any member of the clergy to solemnize your marriage, including, but not limited to, ministers of the gospel, priests, rabbis, or imams. The cleric's residence is irrelevant, meaning non-Michiganders can solemnize.

Religious societies

Any religious society, such as the Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, or the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís, is authorized to execute their solemnization procedures however they see fit, which includes having the ceremony performed by a clerk, congregation, the couple themselves, or a combination thereof.

Civil ceremony

A civil ceremony is a non-religious marriage ceremony that's conducted on government grounds, during regular government hours, and performed by a county clerk, mayor, or judge.

By a clerk

If you're to be married by a county clerk, or their designee, you will be charged a solemnization fee that's set by the county commissioners.

Collected fees must be dispatched to the county treasurer and deposited into the county's general fund, by the end of the month.

By a mayor

If you're to be married by a mayor, understand that he or she is required to charge and collect a solemnization fee set by the city council, so what you'll pay may vary from city to city.

Monies collected must be forwarded to the city treasurer and deposited in the city's general fund, by months' end.


Solemnization is the presiding over, performing of, conducting of, officiating of, or solemnizing of your marriage ceremony.

Whoever carries out the solemnization must be an authorized officiant, unless you belong to a religious society that executes its own eccentric form of solemnization.

Before the ceremony begins, you must hand over your marriage license to the officiant.

Form or ritual

The form or ritual for how your marriage must be solemnized is up to you, your prospective spouse, and officiant or congregation.

The only procedural condition the state imposes is that you and your soon-to-be spouse solemnly declare to take each other's hand in marriage before the officiant and two witnesses.


Two adult witnesses, who are 18 years of age or older, are required to attend your ceremony. A witness can be anyone other than the officiant, you, and your prospective spouse.

Completing the certificate

Following the conclusion of your ceremony, it is the responsibility of the officiant to complete, or certify, the blank certificate portion of the license. He or she must type or legibly print his name and title, your name, your spouse's name, the name and residence of both witnesses, when and where the marriage took place, and round it out with his or her signature.

Returning the certificate

As mentioned in the earlier license and certificate section, the license has a duplicate attached. Your officiant must deliver the duplicate to you at some point in the future—typically done immediately, as a courtesy. He or she must also return the original to the county clerk office that issued it no later than 10 days after the ceremony.

If whoever's responsible for returning the completed license and certificate fails to do so, he or she will be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 90 days of jail time or a fine no greater than $100, or both. The court decides how harsh the penalty will be.

Impediment exists

Objection to a marriage during the ceremony, due to a legal impediment existing, may seem like a dramatic gesture confined to movies and novels, but it's a serious matter that must be resolved to the satisfaction of the officiant, for fear that imprisonment or a fine be incurred.

Unlawful solemnization

If your marriage was performed by someone who had no legal authority to do so, its validity will not be called into question if either you or your spouse sincerely believed the marriage was legitimately solemnized at the time. However, the unauthorized officiant may face penalties, upon conviction.

Punishment for the officiant

Generally speaking, if an officiant performs a ceremony that in any way contradicts the laws of this state, he or she will be subject to a maximum fine of $500 for each offense.

Moreover, if an officiant performs a marriage without authority or forges ahead when knowledge of an impediment exists, he or she may be charged with a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, be imprisoned in the county jail for up to one year and/or fined between $50–500.


Once the county clerk receives your completed, original marriage license and certificate of marriage, the information on the certificate will be registered in a marriage log book kept in the office.

Original sent away, replica kept

The original license and certificate will later be forwarded to the state registrar, who's appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The county clerk's office will retain a replica of your certificate, which that can be used to generate certified copies.

Correcting errors

If you find an error in your recorded license and certificate, you can request the county clerk correct it by submitting an affidavit that proves your allegation. If the circuit court approves, the original record will be amended.

Marriage certificate

After your marriage license and certificate of marriage has been recorded, your marriage is official and existent in the state's eyes. At this point, certified copies are available for purchase.

Ordering certified copies

Certified copies of your recorded license and certificate can be ordered from the county clerk office that issued them. A certified copy is a must if you intend to change your name after marriage.

Genuine certified copies of your vital records (marriage, birth, and death) can also be ordered direct from the Department of Health and Human Services by mail or online, but only after the original has been forwarded to them by the county clerk, so there may be a delay immediately following your ceremony.

Certified license vs. certificate vs. record

You might have been confused earlier when the "marriage license" and "certificate of marriage" document was discussed in the license and certificate portion of the page.

There's generally great confusion when it comes to understanding the difference between a marriage license, marriage certificate, marriage record, and certificate of marriage, especially when it comes to certification.

In reality, they all refer to the same document. Think of them as synonyms. When you need to order a certified copy of your marriage certificate, it's the same as ordering a certified copy of your marriage license or marriage record or certificate of marriage.

Name change after marriage

If you plan to change your last name or middle name after marriage, you'll need to obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate/license/record—it's the same document.

Once a certified copy is in hand, you can use it to change the name on your social security card with the Social Security Administration, state ID or driver's license with the Secretary of State's office, passport with the Department of State or local passport office, or any other government or nongovernment institution.

Do not use your duplicate copy

The duplicate copy of the license and certificate your officiant gives you immediately after you're married does not have the same legal force as a certified copy, because it's a non-recorded document that does not have the county clerk's signature, date of recording, and seal. It is highly unlikely to be accepted by a government institution or court of law.

Common-law marriage

Common-law marriages are no longer recognized, except for those that took place prior to January 1, 1957.

Out-of-state marriages

If you and your spouse are residents of Michigan who got married in another U.S. state, your marriage will be recognized as long as it could have legally taken place in this state. This means, you cannot go to another state in order to effectively sidestep the marriage statues of this state.

Interestingly, state law doesn't specify what it thinks of marriages that take place in a foreign country or U.S. territory or jurisdiction that may contradict this state's marriage laws.

Same-sex marriage

Inert constitutional amendment

Although no longer effective, Michigan's Article I, Section 25 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is still on the books, as written:

To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.

Next steps

Now that you know all that it takes to get married in Michigan, including how much it costs, where to go, and ID to bring, it's time to choose the proper county to visit. Consult the following list of Michigan county clerk offices to get you on your way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Cancel Reply

MI Office Locations

Below are the 83 counties in Michigan where you can apply for a marriage license.


Alcona County

10,942 (population)

Alger County

9,601 (population)

Allegan County

111,408 (population)

Alpena County

29,598 (population)

Antrim County

23,580 (population)

Arenac County

15,899 (population)


Baraga County

8,860 (population)

Barry County

59,173 (population)

Bay County

107,771 (population)

Benzie County

17,525 (population)

Berrien County

156,813 (population)

Has 2 offices

Branch County

45,248 (population)


Calhoun County

136,146 (population)

Has 2 offices

Cass County

52,293 (population)

Charlevoix County

25,949 (population)

Cheboygan County

26,152 (population)

Chippewa County

38,520 (population)

Clare County

30,926 (population)

Clinton County

75,382 (population)

Crawford County

14,074 (population)


Delta County

37,069 (population)

Dickinson County

26,168 (population)


Eaton County

107,759 (population)

Emmet County

32,694 (population)


Genesee County

425,790 (population)

Gladwin County

25,692 (population)

Gogebic County

16,427 (population)

Grand Traverse County

86,986 (population)

Gratiot County

42,476 (population)


Hillsdale County

46,688 (population)

Houghton County

36,628 (population)

Huron County

33,118 (population)


Ingham County

280,895 (population)

Has 2 offices

Ionia County

63,905 (population)

Iosco County

25,887 (population)

Iron County

11,817 (population)

Isabella County

70,311 (population)


Jackson County

160,248 (population)


Kalamazoo County

250,331 (population)

Kalkaska County

17,153 (population)

Kent County

602,622 (population)

Keweenaw County

2,156 (population)


Lake County

11,539 (population)

Lapeer County

88,319 (population)

Leelanau County

21,708 (population)

Lenawee County

99,892 (population)

Livingston County

180,967 (population)

Luce County

6,631 (population)


Mackinac County

11,113 (population)

Macomb County

840,978 (population)

Manistee County

24,733 (population)

Marquette County

67,077 (population)

Has 2 offices

Mason County

28,705 (population)

Mecosta County

42,798 (population)

Menominee County

24,029 (population)

Midland County

83,629 (population)

Missaukee County

14,849 (population)

Monroe County

152,021 (population)

Montcalm County

63,342 (population)

Montmorency County

9,765 (population)

Muskegon County

172,188 (population)


Newaygo County

48,460 (population)


Oakland County

1,202,362 (population)

Oceana County

26,570 (population)

Ogemaw County

21,699 (population)

Ontonagon County

6,780 (population)

Osceola County

23,528 (population)

Oscoda County

8,640 (population)

Otsego County

24,164 (population)

Ottawa County

263,801 (population)

Has 4 offices


Presque Isle County

13,376 (population)


Roscommon County

24,449 (population)


Saginaw County

200,169 (population)

Saint Clair County

163,040 (population)

Saint Joseph County

61,295 (population)

Sanilac County

43,114 (population)

Schoolcraft County

8,485 (population)

Shiawassee County

70,648 (population)


Tuscola County

55,729 (population)


Van Buren County

76,258 (population)


Washtenaw County

344,791 (population)

Wayne County

1,820,584 (population)

Has 3 offices

Wexford County

32,735 (population)

Page Sections
Table of Contents