Missouri Marriage License: This Is How You Apply


Before you can enter into marriage—which is a civil contract—you must apply for a Missouri marriage license from the county-level recorder of deeds office. The person in charge of processing your marriage license application is, aptly named, the recorder of deeds.

Application vs. license vs. certificate

There's a great deal of confusion for first-time applicants trying to distinguish between the marriage license application, marriage license, and marriage certificate. Let's untangle these documents:

Application generates license

You'll fill out your personal information onto an application. The recorder of deeds will copy over a portion of what you entered onto a blank license form. The application will be archived in office, and a copy of its contents transmitted to the state's vital records department.

License and certificate conjoined

At the bottom of the license will be a blank section titled marriage certificate, which is to be filled out by your officiant after you're married. The license and certificate is one document: license at the top, certificate at the bottom.

Title switcheroo

Once your officiant returns the license to the recorder for recording, it will hold multiple interchangeable titles: marriage certificate, certified marriage certificate, certificate of marriage, recorded marriage license, certified marriage license, or marriage record.

These all mean the same thing: a marriage license that's been recorded by the recorder. The license stays the same; it's just the title that switches, or spawns multiple designations.

Regular application

Your completed application will be used to create your license. If one of you cannot apply in person, then whoever's missing must submit an absentee application.

It will take approximately half an hour to process your application, so schedule accordingly.

Expected questions

Here's a list of personal details you'll be asked to provide on your application:

  • Name (first, middle, last)
  • Maiden name or birth surname (if different from current)
  • Current age
  • Date of birth (month, day, year)
  • Place of birth (state or country)
  • Place of residence (city/town, state, zip, county; or city and country)
  • Number of previous marriages
  • Last marriage ended by (e.g., divorce, dissolution, annulment, death)
  • Last marriage end date (month, year)
  • Last education level completed (e.g., high school, college, some college) (optional)
  • Race (e.g., White, Black, Hispanic, American Indian, other [specify]) (optional)
  • Social security number (if available)

Everything you disclose will be transmitted to the state department of health & senior services vital records division.

Social security number

If you don't have a social security number, you will have to declare that in a signed statement provided by the recorder.

Although your social security number will be provided to the state's vital records division, it will be separated and exempt from the public record. This means it cannot be copied or inspected by members of the general public.

Absentee application affidavit

While most couples tend to apply together, there are circumstances where one is unable to attend the making of the application. This is when the state allows one party to the prospective marriage to apply absentee, but only certain persons are eligible.


You are eligible to apply absentee if you are at least 18 years old, and incarcerated, on active military duty, or diagnosed with a disability that qualifies under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Absentee applicant

If you're the absent applicant, instead of filling out the regular application, you must fill out a special "affidavit of absent applicant and application," or "absentee application" for short.

Give your completed absentee application to your prospective spouse, who must still go in person to fill out his or her own regular application. Your half of their application will be left blank, as your absentee application will take its place.

The absentee application is, more a less, a reproduction of the regular application. It asks the same questions, but includes a few extra mandatory questions, including:

  • Your prospective spouse's full name (first, middle, last)
  • If incarcerated, where at
  • If on active military duty, where at
  • If diagnosed with a disability, attest to that by marking a checkbox


Your absentee application must be signed in the presence of a notary public, who must apply their sign and signature.

Verification form

Attached to each absentee application is an affidavit verification form that must be filled out by a third-party who verifies your absentee status. This portion does not have to be presented to the notary public.

Verify incarceration

If you're incarcerated, the warden, sheriff, or official designee of the prison or jail must attest to your incarceration status and the accuracy of the information provided on your absentee application.

Verify military duty

If you're on active military duty, your commanding officer or their designee must certify your active status.

Verify disability

If you've been diagnosed with a serious disability that would qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you must get a doctor or other qualified medical official to confirm your disability. Qualified medical officials include, but are not limited to, physicians, nurses, chiropractors, physical or occupational therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and clinical social workers.


There are no residency requirements. You can apply in any county and marry in any county.


In Missouri, marriage-related fees are established on the county level; however, the state does mandate a minimum baseline for the main license fee. All fees are nonrefundable.

License fee

In Missouri, the cost of a marriage license varies from county to county; however, about three-quarters of the counties charge $51, with $46 at the low end and $60 at the high end.

License fee allocation

Out of every marriage license transaction, $15 is remitted to the state's department of revenue to subsidize the children's trust fund, and $5 is remitted to the county treasurer to fund domestic violence and shelter programs.

The following is a typical breakdown of the most common license fee, which is $51.

Percent Amount Description
61% $31 Retained by the recorder of deeds office
29% $15 Children's trust fund
10% $5 Domestic violence programs

Certificate copy fee

The cost to obtain a copy of your marriage certificate is not uniform across the state. It typically costs $1 for a photocopy and $9 for a certified copy, of which $7 goes to the state's children's trust fund.

Keep in mind, your certificate will not be available until after you are married and the license has been returned to the recorder for recording.

Although blank parental consent forms can be picked up for free, some offices may charge an extra fee—about one dollar—to process this submitted document.

Age restrictions

Rules of marriage are broken into the following three age brackets:

18 and older

If you're 18 years old, or older, you can marry without having to obtain consent from your parent or guardian.

15 to 17

If you're 15 to 17 years old, you must obtain consent to marry from one parent or guardian.

14 and younger

If you're 14 years old, or younger, you must obtain permission to marry from the circuit court.

The terms "parent" and "parental" should be taken to reference custodial parent or guardian.

The recorder's office furnishes blank parental consent forms. Your parent must supply their name, place of residence, signature, and declaration of consent on the form.

Bring the original or certified copy of your birth certificate to confirm the name on the consent form matches what's on your certificate.

If your parents are divorced, provide the recorder a certified copy of the divorce decree to prove the consenting parent is the custodial parent. If you have a guardian, provide the guardianship papers.

Your parent can grant consent in person or in writing. Either method uses the same consent form, which should not be signed until in the presence of the recorder or notary public.

If your parent wishes to accompany you to the making of the application, they can fill out the consent form in the presence of the recorder, who will have them swear an oath.

If your parent is unable or unwilling to provide consent in person, you must pick up a blank consent form to be completed and notarized in advance.

Circuit court permission

If you're required to obtain permission to marry from the circuit court, then the request must be made in the same county where the application is going to be submitted. You will be heard by a circuit judge or associate circuit judge.

If the judge finds good cause for you to marry, a written order will be approved to compel the recorder issue a license.


You must bring unexpired, government-issued photo identification, such as a driver's license, state-issued ID card, military ID card, or passport.

Extra ID for minors

If you're below the age of 18, bring a certified copy of your birth certificate. If your custodial parent or guardian intends to grant in person consent for you to marry, they too must bring valid photo ID.

Waiting periods

There is no waiting period to receive or use your issued marriage license. There used to be a three-day wait time before issuance, but that requirement hasn't been in effect since August 28, 2007.


Your marriage license will expire 30 days from the date of issuance.

Unused license

If your license will not or cannot be used, the recorder should be made aware of that fact.

If expired

If your license expires, it should be returned to the office that issued it. If returning it in office, you may be asked to sign an affidavit. If returning by mail, a note containing your signature would be appreciated.

If lost or destroyed

If your license (expired or not) becomes lost or destroyed, the recorder should be notified. If done in person, you may be asked to sign an affidavit or provide a signature.


You will not be granted a refund for an expired, near expiring, lost, or destroyed license. Your time will not be extended. If you still intend to marry, you must reapply and repay.

Blood tests

You are not required to get a blood test or physical exam in order to obtain a marriage license.

Previous marriages

If you've been previously married, you'll have to supply the date it ended. If it ended by divorce, provide the date it was finalized. If it ended due to your spouse dying, provide the date of death. You are not obligated to present physical proof, by way of a divorce decree or death certificate.

Prohibited marriages

If you enter into any of the following types of prohibited marriages, it will be void by the state upon discovery.

Family relations

You cannot marry ascendants or descendants (regardless of degree), siblings (either whole blood or half blood), or anyone else on the following list:

  • Grandparent
  • Parent
  • Child
  • Grandchild
  • Brother
  • Sister
  • Aunt
  • Uncle
  • Niece
  • Nephew
  • First cousin

Living spouse

You cannot marry if you have a living husband or wife. If your prior marriage is not dissolved before entering into another, the subsequent marriage will be considered bigamous.

Lacking capacity

You cannot marry someone who lacks capacity to marry, unless the court that has jurisdiction over the subject authorizes it.

Authorized officiants

Persons authorized to solemnize marriages fall into two groups: religious and judicial.


Your marriage can be solemnized by any active or retired member of the clergy who remains in good standing with their church or synagogue.

Beyond that, any religious institution, society, or organization can authorize anyone to perform solemnizations, as long as either you or your prospective spouse is a member of that institution, society, or organization.


Any judge can solemnize your marriage, whether they are on the federal, state, or municipal level. Judges are not permitted to charge a fee to solemnize.


The act of presiding over your marriage is called solemnization. Before beginning, you must hand over your marriage license to the person authorized to officiate your marriage. It will be inspected and if the officiant finds no impediment or cause to be suspicious, the ceremony can commence.


Two witnesses—excluding the officiant—must be present at the ceremony and sign the license thereafter. State law doesn't stipulate a minimum age your witnesses must be, but they should be competent enough to satisfy the officiant. They should also be capable of providing testimony that your marriage took place, if its veracity or existence is ever questioned.


Once your ceremony is done, the officiant must immediately endorse the license. This is also referred to as certifying the license. Endorsement entails filling out the bottom certificate portion of the license. It's a brief fill-in-the-blanks exercise that requires the following be supplied:

  • Ceremony city and county
  • Ceremony date (month, day, year)
  • Officiant's name, title, signature, and residence (street, city, state)

The officiant fills out everything except for the witnesses' signatures. Neither you nor your spouse will have anything to complete or sign, as your names will already be visible on the top portion of the license.

Returning the license

Your officiant must return the endorsed/certified license to the recorder who issued it within 15 days after the ceremony takes place, so that it may be recorded.


Once the recorder of deeds receives the endorsed license from your officiant, it will be recorded. Recording entails logging all the information from the license into a marriage record book kept in the office. Records must be properly indexed and cross-referenced with the original archived application.

Transmission to vital records

On a monthly basis, all the information that was submitted on your application as well as everything detailed on the recorded license will be transmitted to the state's vital records division.

Marriage certificate

The recorder can provide you a photocopy or certified copy of your marriage certificate after it's been recorded.

Possibly free or separate charge

Some offices charge a separate certificate copy fee, while others integrate it into the main license fee. A small minority of offices will even provide it to you for free, as long as you request it within 30 days of its recording.

Some offices will automatically mail out your certificate, while others will call you to let you know it's available for pick up or purchase.

Name change

If you plan to change your name after marriage on your social security card with the Social Security Administration, driver's license with the Department of Revenue, or passport with the U.S. Department of State, you'll need to show them a certified copy of your marriage certificate, not a photocopy.

Proxy marriage

Missouri prohibits proxy marriages. For those not in the know, a proxy marriage is useful when one party to a marriage can't physically be present at the ceremony site, so a stand-in is asked to take the missing person's place and act as their proxy, or middleman/middlewoman.

Interestingly, you can submit an absentee application (which is sort of like applying by proxy), but you can't marry as an absentee.

Common-law marriage

Common-law marriages are not recognized in Missouri, regardless of where it originated. If a common-law marriage were to be instituted in this state, it would be considered null and void.

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MO Office Locations

Below are the 115 counties in Missouri where you can apply for a marriage license.


Adair County

25,607 (population)

Andrew County

17,291 (population)

Atchison County

5,685 (population)

Audrain County

25,529 (population)


Barry County

35,597 (population)

Barton County

12,402 (population)

Bates County

17,049 (population)

Benton County

19,056 (population)

Bollinger County

12,363 (population)

Boone County

162,642 (population)

Buchanan County

89,201 (population)

Butler County

42,794 (population)


Caldwell County

9,424 (population)

Callaway County

44,332 (population)

Camden County

44,002 (population)

Cape Girardeau County

75,674 (population)

Carroll County

9,295 (population)

Carter County

6,265 (population)

Cass County

99,478 (population)

Cedar County

13,982 (population)

Chariton County

7,831 (population)

Christian County

77,422 (population)

City of Saint Louis

319,294 (population)

Clark County

7,139 (population)

Clay County

221,939 (population)

Has 2 offices

Clinton County

20,743 (population)

Cole County

75,990 (population)

Cooper County

17,601 (population)

Crawford County

24,696 (population)


Dade County

7,883 (population)

Dallas County

16,777 (population)

Daviess County

8,433 (population)

DeKalb County

12,892 (population)

Dent County

15,657 (population)

Douglas County

13,684 (population)

Dunklin County

31,953 (population)


Franklin County

101,492 (population)


Gasconade County

15,222 (population)

Gentry County

6,738 (population)

Greene County

275,174 (population)

Grundy County

10,261 (population)


Harrison County

8,957 (population)

Henry County

22,272 (population)

Hickory County

9,627 (population)

Holt County

4,912 (population)

Howard County

10,144 (population)

Howell County

40,400 (population)


Iron County

10,630 (population)


Jackson County

674,158 (population)

Has 2 offices

Jasper County

117,404 (population)

Jefferson County

218,733 (population)

Johnson County

52,595 (population)


Knox County

4,131 (population)


Laclede County

35,571 (population)

Lafayette County

33,381 (population)

Lawrence County

38,634 (population)

Lewis County

10,211 (population)

Lincoln County

52,566 (population)

Linn County

12,761 (population)

Livingston County

15,195 (population)


Macon County

15,566 (population)

Madison County

12,226 (population)

Maries County

9,176 (population)

Marion County

28,781 (population)

McDonald County

23,083 (population)

Mercer County

3,785 (population)

Miller County

24,748 (population)

Mississippi County

14,358 (population)

Moniteau County

15,607 (population)

Monroe County

8,840 (population)

Montgomery County

12,236 (population)

Morgan County

20,565 (population)


New Madrid County

18,956 (population)

Newton County

58,114 (population)

Nodaway County

23,370 (population)


Oregon County

10,881 (population)

Osage County

13,878 (population)

Ozark County

9,723 (population)


Pemiscot County

18,296 (population)

Perry County

18,971 (population)

Pettis County

42,201 (population)

Phelps County

45,156 (population)

Pike County

18,516 (population)

Platte County

89,322 (population)

Polk County

31,137 (population)

Pulaski County

52,274 (population)

Putnam County

4,979 (population)


Ralls County

10,167 (population)

Randolph County

25,414 (population)

Ray County

23,494 (population)

Reynolds County

6,696 (population)

Ripley County

14,100 (population)


Saint Charles County

360,485 (population)

Saint Clair County

9,805 (population)

Saint Francois County

65,359 (population)

Saint Louis County

998,954 (population)

Sainte Genevieve County

18,145 (population)

Saline County

23,370 (population)

Schuyler County

4,431 (population)

Scotland County

4,843 (population)

Scott County

39,191 (population)

Shannon County

8,441 (population)

Shelby County

6,373 (population)

Stoddard County

29,968 (population)

Stone County

32,202 (population)

Sullivan County

6,714 (population)


Taney County

51,675 (population)

Texas County

26,008 (population)


Vernon County

21,159 (population)


Warren County

32,513 (population)

Washington County

25,195 (population)

Wayne County

13,521 (population)

Webster County

36,202 (population)

Worth County

2,171 (population)

Wright County

18,815 (population)

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