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Birth, marriage & life events

Get a marriage license

You need a marriage license before you can legally get married. Both applicants must appear in person at the Register of Wills and provide the required documents, including identification.

You can use your marriage license in any county in Pennsylvania. You cannot use it in another state or country.

General requirements

All applicants for a marriage license must provide photo identification (ID) and documentation of their Social Security number (or a second ID).

Photo ID

Both applicants must provide a current, valid photo ID. Acceptable forms of ID include:

  • Driver’s licenses.
  • State-issued photo IDs.
  • International driver’s licenses.
  • U.S. or international passports.
  • Military IDs.
  • PHL City IDs.

Documentation of Social Security number or second ID

Both applicants must also provide documentation of their Social Security number, if they have one. They can use their Social Security card to fulfill this requirement. Applicants can also provide a form of ID containing their Social Security number, as long as it’s issued by an official entity. This includes:

  • Social Security printouts.
  • Pay stubs.
  • W-2 forms.
  • Income tax returns.

If an applicant does not have a Social Security number, they must provide a second ID. This can be a birth certificate (officially translated, if necessary) or an acceptable form of photo ID, as described in the previous section.

Special cases

In addition to providing identification, some applicants may need to meet additional requirements when they apply for a marriage license.

Previous marriages

If either applicant was previously married, they must prove they are no longer married. Widowed applicants must submit a certified copy of the deceased spouse’s death certificate. Divorced applicants must provide a certified copy of their most recent divorce decree.

Death certificates and divorce decrees must be in English. If the original documents are in another language, they must be translated and certified as accurate.


Previous name changes

If an applicant has had a legal name change, they must provide the certified decree of the court.


Applicants with limited English proficiency

If either applicant cannot speak or understand English, they should bring a translator when applying for a license. The translator must provide current valid photo ID and be at least 18-years-old.

If the applicants don’t have a translator, the Register of Wills can provide one for free. Contact the office at least two days before your appointment to request a translator.

Cost

A regular marriage license costs $90. Quaker or self-uniting licenses cost $100.

Other common costs include:

  • Corrections fee – $25
  • Additional certified copy – $15 per copy
  • Replacement fee for lost license – $10

You can pay with Visa, Mastercard, or money order at the time of your visit. We do not accept cash or personal checks.

How

1
Prepare the documentation you'll need.

You must bring your required forms of identification and payment. You should also bring any other documentation you may need, as outlined in the special cases section.

2
Contact the Marriage License Department to schedule your appointment.

To arrange your appointment, email MLAppt@phila.gov.

You should contact our office at least a month or two before your wedding, to ensure that you get an appointment in the right time frame.

3
Go to the Marriage License Department and apply for your license.

Both applicants must appear at the Marriage License Department. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

City Hall
Room 413
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Only the applicants need to attend. At your appointment, you will fill out your application and present any necessary documentation, such as your photo IDs.

For marriage licenses, everyone is considered an applicant. Genders do not factor into the application process and are not captured.

4
Receive your license.

You will receive your license at the end of your appointment. It will be valid on the third day after you apply, and remain valid for 60 days from the issue date.

If you lose the license within the 60-day period, you can get a replacement for $10.

If you don’t use the license within 60 days, you must return the license and reapply. You’ll also need to pay the fee again.

What happens next

With a regular marriage license, an officiant must preside over the marriage ceremony. This person must be qualified under 23 PA CSA §1503. After the ceremony, the license is signed by the officiant, who must return the license to the Marriage License Department within 10 days.

With a self-uniting license, a couple officiates their own ceremony. (Another person may preside over the ceremony, but only in an unofficial capacity.) Afterward, the couple and two witnesses sign the license. The couple must return the license to the Marriage License Department within 10 days.

Changing your name

If you only want to change your surname, you can sign your marriage license with your new last name. This change will be reflected on your marriage certificate. You can then use the certificate as proof when you update your driver’s license, passport, and other documents.

If you want to make a more significant change, like shifting your current surname to your middle name, you need to file a petition with the Court of Common Pleas.


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