History and Purpose of Marriage Licenses
- Marriage licenses began in the Middle Ages to permit marriages that would otherwise be illegal.
- Initially issued to ensure the necessary period of notice for the marriage.
- Today, marriage licenses are a legal requirement in some jurisdictions and serve as the record of the marriage.
- Some jurisdictions do not require a license and recognize common-law marriages.
- Some jurisdictions do not have marriage licenses and issue a marriage certificate after the ceremony.
Marriage License Requirements in Different Countries
- Australia: No requirement for a marriage license, but individuals under 18 need authorization from a judge. Notice of Intended Marriage must be provided to the marriage celebrant at least one month before the wedding.
- United Kingdom: Marriage licenses have a long history. Banns of marriage were introduced in 1215, and marriage licenses were introduced in the 14th century. Civil marriages have been a legal alternative since 1837.
- Scotland: Marriage law differs from England and Wales. Public promises without a formal ceremony are no longer available. Religious marriages have no restrictions on the place of the ceremony. Notice requirements vary based on marital status and other procedural matters.
- United States: Common-law marriages were recognized until the mid-19th century. Marriage licenses are required in most states, with varying specifications. Both parties must appear in person to obtain a license. North Carolina and Tennessee do not recognize common-law marriages without a license.
- Netherlands: Couples must register their intention to marry beforehand.
- Mexico: Only civil marriage is recognized as legal. Religious ceremonies have no legal effect. Civil weddings are performed without charge at municipal halls.
Requirements for Obtaining a Marriage License in the United States
- Marriageable age (over 18 years, lower with parental consent).
- Proper identification required (driver's license, state ID card, birth certificate, or passport).
- Proof of being unmarried (proof of spouse's death or divorce may be required).
- Some states previously required blood tests for diseases.
- Waiting period between license granting and marriage ceremony in many states.
Process After the Marriage Ceremony in the United States
- Both spouses and the officiant sign the marriage license.
- Some states require one or two witnesses.
- Filing for a certified copy of the marriage license and a marriage certificate.
- Some states have a time limit for filing the license.
- Marriage records are held by the state where the ceremony took place.
Controversies and Related Topics
- Some groups argue that marriage licenses are unnecessary or immoral.
- Controversies include restrictions on same-sex marriage and religious practices.
- Instances of discrimination, such as refusal to issue licenses to interracial couples.
- Related topics include banns of marriage, birth and death certificates, and marriage certificates.
Marriage license Data Sources