Obtaining a Marriage License in Massachusetts
Where do I get the license? License issued by any city or town clerk in MA. Out-of-State marriage licenses cannot be used in Massachusetts.
How old ? The legal age to marry in Massachusetts is 18
Proper I D? Picture ID such as a driver’s license.
Cost: MA stipulates $4 for the license but allows cities and towns to set their own fee. Typically $10 - $15
No blood test required.
Residency Requirement: Do not have to be a resident of Massachusetts.
Application Requirement: Both the bride and groom must appear in person.
Military: If a person is in the military, intentions may be filed by either party, providing one is a Massachusetts resident.
Prison: If a person is incarcerated intentions may be filed by either party. Ceremony can be performed in the Prison or Jail
Valid How Long: License is valid for 60 days.
Witnesses: Witnesses are not required.
Waiting Period: 3 business days. Example, if you apply on Friday, your license will be issued on or after Tuesday.
Waiver of the Waiting Period: You may do so by applying to the judge of a probate or district court to have the license issued without delay, after filing intentions with the clerk. If the death of either party is imminent or the female is nearing the end of her pregnancy, an authorized request by a JP or Doctor shall suffice and the clerk can issue the certificate without delay.
Medical Certificate needed: No.
Same Sex Marriages: Yes.
Notary Publics: Cannot perform weddings in Massachusetts.
Need a Copy of your Certificate of Marriage: Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, Department of Public Health, 150 Mt. Vernon Street, Boston, MA 02125, Telephone: (617) 740-2600
Divorced ? You are not required to present a divorce certificate. Important that divorced people be sure divorce is absolute. In Massachusetts, a divorce does not become absolute until 90 days after the divorce nisi ( decree ) has been granted.
Under 18: Parental consent is needed if under 18 years of age. If you are between 16-18 years of age, one of your parents or guardian must be with you and provide written consent.
If you are under 16 years of age, you will need both the written consent of your custodial parent or guardian and the written approval of a judge of the Orphans’ Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas.
If you are under 18, pregnant or have a child, and show a certificate from a licensed physician stating you are pregnant or have had a child, the parental consent requirement may be waived.
immigrant status: If either of the parties has arrived as an immigrant from a foreign country within five days, the application may be filed at any time before the marriage, and the certificate shall be issued at any time after the filing.
After you're married...there are a few things you should be aware of concerning your marriage license, especially if you're changing your name. Certified copies of your marriage certificate are available from the city or town clerk's office where you applied for your marriage license. Fees are typically $10.00 to $15.00 per copy and I would suggest getting two copies, or more if one or both of you are not US citizens.
The marriage certificate is needed for name changes, to obtain a passport under your new name, and for any other legal issues related to your marriage and/or name change (see below).
Copies of your marriage certificate are not usually mailed to you automatically. You must request them. I suggest calling the City/Town Clerk's office ahead of time to confirm they received the marriage license back from your JP and so that your certificates are ready when you arrive.
Certified copies of your marriage certificate will be available forever at the Clerk's office. They do not follow you in life; if you move to another town or state, your certificate stays at the Clerk's office where you applied for your marriage license.
If you are changing your name, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 to request an SS-5 Form (Application for a Social Security Card) or go to
This should be the very first thing you do. There is a Social Security office near you. Call 1-800-772-1213 for locations and hours.
Remember all of the places you may need to change your name or provide proof of marriage, including:
Banks and credit card companies
Registry of Motor Vehicles to update drivers license and vehicle registration
Landlord and utilities
Employer and benefits providers
US Citizenship & Immigration Services
Officiant for a Day: In Massachusetts, a couple can choose to have a family friend or relative perform their wedding ceremony. In order to become a “Justice of the Peace” for a day, you must fill out an application from the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth. The process takes 4-6 weeks to complete.
After filling out the application and sending it back, you will then receive a letter from the Secretary of Commonwealth granting permission for the person to perform the wedding ceremony. The letter will give you further instructions to complete the process. There is a $25 fee to apply. For complete details and an application, click here.
Massachusetts: Procedure to Perform (Solemnize) Marriages for Non-Resident Clergy Member TO ALL NON-RESIDENT, OUT-OF-STATE CLERGY MEMBERS WISHING TO SOLEMNIZE A MARRIAGE: Pursuant to the provisions of M.G.L. Chapter 207, Section 39 states in part that, The state secretary may authorize, subject to such conditions as he may determine, the solemnization of any specified marriage anywhere in the Commonwealth by the following non-resident clergy members: a minister of the gospel, a commissioned cantor or duly ordained rabbi, authorized representative of a Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is, the Imam of the Orthodox Islamic religion, a duly ordained priest or minister of the Buddhist Religion, a minister in fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association, a leader of an Ethical Cultural Union, a justice of the court or a justice of the peace, … in a regular and special meeting … of a Friends or Quaker monthly meeting.
A nonresident clergy member may also solemnize a marriage according to the usage of any church or religious organization which shall have complied with the provisions of the second paragraph of section 38. (C. § 38 …Churches and other religious organizations shall file in the office of the state secretary information relating to persons recognized or licensed as aforesaid, and relating to usages of such organizations, in such form and at such times as the secretary may require.) A certificate of such authorization shall be issued by the state secretary and shall be attached to the certificate issued under section twenty-eight and filed with the appropriate city or town clerk. Please complete the application and return it to this office promptly. The application may be mailed or sent by facsimile transmission to 617-727-5914. Upon receipt of a completed application, a Certificate of Solemnization will be mailed to the Non-Resident Clergy member shown on the application. The Clergy member is responsible for filing said Certificate with the appropriate town or city clerk pursuant to G.L. ch. 207.
Massachusetts Justices of the Peace Summary of Duties The following is a general guide of the responsibilities that their commissions entail. References can be viewed at: http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/.
Massachusetts I. SOLEMNIZE MARRIAGES WHEN SO AUTHORIZED A marriage may be solemnized by a Justice of the Peace, anywhere in the Commonwealth, if he or she is also a clerk or assistant clerk in a city or town. A Justice of the Peace who is not a clerk or assistant clerk may also solemnize marriages anywhere in the Commonwealth.
Massachusetts FORM OF CEREMONY As a general rule, there is no prescribed form of ceremony to solemnize a marriage. Although particular words are not essential to a ceremonial marriage, the words employed must be sufficient to demonstrate a present marriage contract. At a minimum, the parties must assent to a mutual agreement to take each other as marital spouses and the Justice of the Peace must assert to act in his or her official capacity in pronouncing the parties to be married.
Massachusetts FEES FOR THE SOLEMNIZATION OF A MARRIAGE A Justice of the Peace who is designated to solemnize marriages or a justice who is a city or town clerk or court clerk or their assistant may charge for traveling, or for providing flowers, music, photographer, a location where the ceremony takes place, prenuptial counseling conferences, rehearsals, and other special requests by the couple whose marriage is being solemnized; provided, however, that the amount of these additional charges must be disclosed in writing to the couple whose marriage is being solemnized at least forty-eight hours before the rending of these services.
Massachusetts MARRIAGE RECORDS AND RETURNS: PENALTIES A Justice of the Peace who is designated to solemnize marriages is required to keep a record of each marriage performed and to return all marriage certificates to the clerk or registrar who issued the certificate no later than the tenth day of the month following the marriage.
Massachusetts REFUSAL TO PERFORM MARRIAGE CEREMONY Justices of the Peace are public officials that have sworn an oath that to “bear true faith and allegiance to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and [to] support the constitution thereof.” As such, Justices of the Peace may not refuse to marry same sex couples based on their sexual orientation, and may face personal liability if they do refuse to marry a couple based solely on sexual orientation. In addition, refusing the marry a same sex couple solely based on their race, sexual orientation, or other protected status may constitute cause for removal of a Justice of the Peace’s commission. Please note, however, that a Justice of the Peace who knowingly marries a couple that is prohibited from marrying in Massachusetts could be punished by a fine and/or imprisonment.