North Dakota Marriage License: Rules for Applying


If you want to get married in North Dakota, you must first obtain a marriage license from a county's designated licensing officer.

Licensing officers

By default, county recorders are responsible for issuing marriage licenses, unless a county's board of commissioners decides to put someone else in charge.

As shown in the table below, recorders represent nearly three-quarters of licensing officers, court clerks represent one-fifth, with the remaining three holding the job title of auditor, treasurer, and tax equalization director, respectively.

Percent Total Licensing officer
72% 38 County recorders
22% 12 District court clerks
2% 1 County auditor
2% 1 County treasurer
2% 1 Tax equalization director

You don't have to hunt down the proper official or office: the list of counties far below will point you in the right direction.

Don't apply drunk

You won't be issued a marriage license if you show up drunk or under the influence of drugs. Come back later once you've sobered up.


License fee

In North Dakota, a marriage license will cost you $65 throughout the state. County offices are not allowed to deviate from this price, which is set by the general assembly.

Where the money goes?

Thirty out of the sixty-five dollar fee is retained by the county, with the remainder to be remitted to the state treasurer to help subsidize the state's domestic violence prevention fund. This fee split is represented in the following table:

Percent Amount Description
46% $30 Remitted to county treasurer
54% $35 Funds domestic violence prevention programs

Civil ceremony fee

If you intend to get married in a civil ceremony, by a recorder or other designated official, during regular courthouse hours, the fee will be $30.

As with the license fee, the cost of a civil ceremony is established by the state government and made universal across counties. However, if you decide to get married outside of regular courthouse hours, you'll have to negotiate the fee with whoever will solemnize.


State residents

If either of you live in North Dakota, you're free to obtain your license from any county. You can also marry in any county.

Non-state residents

If neither of you live in the state, you must obtain your license from the county where your marriage ceremony is going to take place.

Stationed armed forces

If you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed anywhere in the state, you are effectively considered a state resident.


Identification is solicited solely to verify your. An original or certified copy of your birth certificate is the preferred means of verification, but other forms of government-issued identification are acceptable, such as a driver's license, state-issued ID card, military ID card, passport, or whatever other form of ID is to the satisfaction of the licensing officer.

Underage marriage

You must be at least 18 years old to marry without involving your parents or guardian. If you're either 16 or 17 years old, a parent or guardian must grant consent for you to marry. If you're 15 years old or younger, you cannot marry—consent or no consent.


If you have a legal guardian, he or she must grant consent for you to marry. Even if one or both your parents are alive, a court-appointed guardian supersedes a parent's authority.

Parents split

If your parents live apart, your custodial parent grants consent.

Parents together

If your parents live together, either can grant consent.

One surviving parent

Finally, if you only have one living parent, he or she must grant consent.

What about going to court?

There is no court option. If you're a minor who fails to get consent to marry from your guardian or parent, you cannot marry until you're of age.

Issued license and certificate

Once your application is submitted, paid for, and approved, you will be issued a marriage license with certificate of marriage, in triplicate. Each copy will be signed by the licensing officer with an official seal affixed.

The license and certificate are on the same sheet of paper, license on top, certificate on the bottom. Whoever solemnizes your marriage will have to fill out and return the marriage documents.

Waiting period

You will be issued a marriage license the same day you apply for one. Your issued license will become effective and ready for use the moment it's issued.


Once your marriage license has been issued, you will have 60 days to get your marriage solemnized before it expires.

There is no mechanism to renew or extend an expired licensed; you will have reapply and pay the license fee all over again.

Blood tests

You are no longer required to submit to a blood test for syphilis prior to being issued a marriage license. Prior to repeal of this requirement, applicants had to submit statements from a lab and physician confirming completion of a serological test.

Previous marriages

If you've been previously married, proof of its ending must be provided. If you're a divorcee, bring a certified copy of your divorce decree. If you're a widower, bring a photocopy or certified copy of your prior spouse's death certificate.

Prohibited marriages

Blood relations

You cannot marry an ascendant or descendant, regardless of how many degrees of separation exist, nor can you marry a sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or first cousin, whether they're of the whole or half blood. Such a marriage would be considered incestuous and void from inception.

Living spouse

If you have a living husband or wife, you cannot enter into another marriage until your prior marriage has been annulled or dissolved by divorce. Doing otherwise would constitute an act of bigamy.

Exception, if abandoned

If your prior spouse has abandoned you for five consecutive years and you believe him or her to be dead, entering into another marriage without having first dissolved the prior would not be considered bigamous, nor would it be subject to voiding.


Before your marriage ceremony can begin, you must present your three, unexpired marriage license and certificate of marriage documents to whoever will be performing the marriage.

Who may solemnize?

Your marriage can be solemnized by a judge of a court of record, including a municipal judge; an official authorized to issue licenses, which are predominately county recorders; or an ordained minister of the gospel, priest, rabbi, or person authorized by any religious organization, sect, or society.

Witnesses required

Two adult witnesses—excluding you, your spouse, and the solemnizing official—must be present during the ceremony. Afterward, they'll be required to sign the certificates.

Completing the certificates

Once the ceremony is over, the person who solemnized must complete the three certificates of marriage by writing in their name, title, address, and signature; the ecclesiastical body they represent, if applicable; both you and your spouse's full names after marriage; when and where the ceremony was conducted; and instruct both witnesses to print their names and signatures.

Dispersing the certificates

The three marriage license and certificate of marriage documents are tagged Original, Duplicate A, and Duplicate B, respectively.

Duplicate B is for you to keep, while the Original and Duplicate A must be returned to the county office that issued them within five days after the ceremony was held.

Failure to return the original duplicate certificate is a class A misdemeanor.

Unauthorized solemnization

If your marriage is solemnized by someone who did not have authority to do so, it wouldn't invalidate your marriage as long as either you or your spouse believed the solemnizing official to be genuine.

The person who performed the unauthorized solemnization would have committed a class A misdemeanor.

Can't marry drunk

You can't get married if you're drunk. The law forbids the person tasked with solemnizing your marriage to follow through with the celebration if one or both of you are intoxicated or under the influence of narcotics. If such a marriage were consummated, it would be subject to voiding.


Once the returned original and duplicate marriage license and certificate of marriage documents are received by the office that issued them, they will be recorded by the appropriate county official in a book kept for that purpose.

Certified marriage certificate

Even though you'll be given a duplicate certificate of marriage at the conclusion of your marriage ceremony, it doesn't have the full legal force as a certified copy that's issued after it's been recorded.

If you intend to change your name after you're married, most government institutions will want a certified copy instead of the original.

Certified copies of your license and certificate can only be ordered from the county office that issued them and from the state division of vital records.

Marriage name change

Both you and your prospective spouse must specify any new middle name or last name choice on your marriage license application, which will be reflected on your marriage certificate. This will allow you to change your name after marriage using just a certified copy of your marriage certificate.

Last name change options

You can keep your current last name, return to a former last name, replace your current last name with your spouse's current or former last name, combine all or a segment of your current or former last name with all or a segment of your spouse's current or former last name, or combine—using a hyphen or space—your current or former last name with your spouse's current or former last name.

Middle name change options

You can keep your middle name unchanged, replace your middle name with your current or former last name, hyphenate your middle name with your current or former last name, or hyphenate your middle name with your spouse's current or former last name.

Out-of-state marriages

If you're a North Dakota resident who marries in another state, territory, jurisdiction, or country, your marriage will be recognized here as long as it doesn't conflict with the laws of this state. In other words, if your foreign marriage could not have legally taken place in this state, it will be considered illegitimate.

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ND Office Locations

Below are the 53 counties in North Dakota where you can apply for a marriage license.


Adams County

2,343 (population)


Barnes County

11,066 (population)

Benson County

6,660 (population)

Billings County

783 (population)

Bottineau County

6,429 (population)

Bowman County

3,151 (population)

Burke County

1,968 (population)

Burleigh County

81,308 (population)


Cass County

149,778 (population)

Cavalier County

3,993 (population)


Dickey County

5,289 (population)

Divide County

2,071 (population)

Dunn County

3,536 (population)


Eddy County

2,385 (population)

Emmons County

3,550 (population)


Foster County

3,343 (population)


Golden Valley County

1,680 (population)

Grand Forks County

66,861 (population)

Grant County

2,394 (population)

Griggs County

2,420 (population)


Hettinger County

2,477 (population)


Kidder County

2,435 (population)


LaMoure County

4,139 (population)

Logan County

1,990 (population)


McHenry County

5,395 (population)

McIntosh County

2,809 (population)

McKenzie County

6,360 (population)

McLean County

8,962 (population)

Mercer County

8,424 (population)

Morton County

27,471 (population)

Mountrail County

7,673 (population)


Nelson County

3,126 (population)


Oliver County

1,846 (population)


Pembina County

7,413 (population)

Pierce County

4,357 (population)


Ramsey County

11,451 (population)

Ransom County

5,457 (population)

Renville County

2,470 (population)

Richland County

16,321 (population)

Rolette County

13,937 (population)


Sargent County

3,829 (population)

Sheridan County

1,321 (population)

Sioux County

4,153 (population)

Slope County

727 (population)

Stark County

24,199 (population)

Steele County

1,975 (population)

Stutsman County

21,100 (population)


Towner County

2,246 (population)

Traill County

8,121 (population)


Walsh County

11,119 (population)

Ward County

61,675 (population)

Wells County

4,207 (population)

Williams County

22,398 (population)

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