How to Get a Marriage License in Maryland

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Photo by Kate Headley

Whether you opt for the nautical charm of the Eastern Shore or the industrial glamour of Baltimore, if you’re getting married in Maryland, you'll always need a marriage license to make it official.

Every state follows different rules and regulations when it comes to obtaining this important legal document, so we asked expert Paulius Klimas to break down the procedure for the Old Line state. 

Meet the Expert

Paulius Klimas is the supervisor of the license department for Maryland’s Montgomery County Circuit Court. His department oversees the approval of marriage licenses for the state’s most populous county. 

Read on for everything you need to know about the Maryland marriage license, including how much it costs, where you can wed, and what to do if you cannot apply in person. 

Maryland Marriage License Requirements 

In many counties in Maryland, if you are over the age of 18 you are legally able to marry without showing proof of age. You do not need to be a resident of Maryland in order to marry in Maryland, but unlike in nearby Pennsylvania and Virginia, you do need to obtain a marriage license in the county in which you plan to wed. Meaning: If your wedding venue is in Montgomery County, you’ll need to get your marriage license in Montgomery County!

Marriage licenses are granted through a county’s Circuit Court. Many Maryland counties do not permit you to pre-fill your paperwork online, but the process is relatively quick and painless once you appear in person. Only one member of the couple is required to apply for the license—they’ll just need to swear under oath that the information they provide is factually accurate for both them and their partner. 

Per Klimas, if neither member of the couple is able to appear in person to obtain the marriage license, Maryland does accept applications by mail. In these circumstances, one member of the couple must bring the county’s Non-Resident Affidavit form (example here) to the circuit court clerk or a comparable official in their home county. They will likely be required to complete the form in the presence of the official, and the official will need to sign, seal, and mail the application—along with the payment—to the appropriate Maryland county circuit court office.

Bring Your Documentation 

If you are over the age of 18, Maryland counties such as Baltimore County and Montgomery County do not require you to bring proof of age or identification to your marriage license appointment. However, you will need the following:

  • Social Security Number. If you have a social security number, you will be asked to provide it, but you do not need to provide documentation verifying it.
  • Money. The cost of a marriage license varies from county to county in Maryland, as do the forms of payment accepted, so you’ll want to do your research ahead of the appointment. In Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County, home to the state capital of Annapolis, the rate is $55. In Baltimore City, it’s $85; in Talbot County—home to St. Michaels and other quaint Eastern Shore towns—it’s $35.

If you are divorced or widowed, you may be asked to provide the date your most recent marriage ended, but you most likely will not be required to provide a divorce decree or a certificate of death for your former spouse. You will not be required to provide any information about your parents. Official policies do vary slightly by county, so be sure to check requirements in advance.

Get Married!

Once a marriage license is approved, it cannot be used until 6 a.m. on the second calendar day after the license was issued. For example, if your license is approved on July 6th, it doesn’t legally become valid until 6 a.m. on July 8th. A Maryland marriage license expires six months after the day it becomes effective. 

Self-uniting ceremonies are not legally recognized by Maryland, so you will need an officiant to perform your marriage ceremony. Unlike in neighboring Virginia, an out-of-state officiant does not need to register with the state in order to perform a marriage in Maryland. 

Once you’ve exchanged vows and shared your first kiss, the officiant will have three forms to sign and complete:

  1. A copy of the marriage license for the officiant’s personal records. 
  2. A copy of the marriage license that must be returned to the circuit court from which it was obtained within five days. 
  3. A copy for the couple.

Per Klimas, additional witnesses are not required to sign the marriage license, and the copy the couple keeps is not considered legal proof of marriage. A certified copy of the marriage certificate can be purchased from the county after the county receives the signed marriage license from the officiant. The cost of a certified marriage certificate in Maryland is $5.50. 

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