Marriage: General Information

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Link

Processing hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

San Francisco County Clerk
City Hall, Room 168
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102-4678
Phone: (415) 554-4950

General information about marriage in the State of California: 

  • California residency and US citizenship are not requirements for marriage in California

  • Only two unmarried persons over the age of 18 years of age with valid legal identification may apply for a marriage license in California. Anyone under 18 must obtain a court order through the Juvenile Court system.

  • At the time of applying for a California marriage license, one or both parties may elect to change the middle and/or last names by which each party wishes to go by after marriage. *See Name Changes for more information

  • A ceremony must occur within 90 days from the date the license is issued. *A ceremony may take place anywhere within the State of California

  • Marriage ceremony must be performed by authorized person defined in CA Family Code Section 400 Please visit California Legislative Information for the full Family Code sections.

  • Marriage by proxy is not allowed in California

 

What is the difference between a Public and a Confidential marriage license?

For a public license, the ceremony may take place anywhere in the State of California, at least one witness must be present at the ceremony, and the record of marriage is made available to the public.  For a confidential license, the ceremony may take place anywhere in the State of California, parties of marriage must be living together, no witness(es) are required, and the marriage record is only available to the parties on the marriage license. 

 

Civil Marriage Ceremonies at City Hall

Civil marriage ceremonies at City Hall are optional. They are performed by a Deputy Marriage Commissioner from the San Francisco County Clerk's office, Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (except legal holidays) by prepaid confirmed reservation only.  Other marriage ceremonies not conducted by the San Francisco County Clerk's office are considered private events. Couples bringing more than 6 guests, or guests who are creating a nuisance, impeding official government business, or impeding the enjoyment of the building by others may be removed by the Sheriff’s Department.  A reservation may be made and paid for through our online reservation system. It is highly recommended that you check for reservation availability of your preferred ceremony date and time prior to making your marriage license reservation in the event you want both reservations scheduled on the same day.  *** If you do not have a ceremony at City Hall, you must still have a ceremony within 90 days from the date the license was issued. Ceremony may take place anywhere within the State of California.

 

Marriage: General Information

Requirements for a Public and a Confidential Marriage License

Marriage License

*Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from issuance date for a ceremony anywhere in the State of California. A marriage license is only a permit to get married and you are not married until a ceremony is performed by an authorized person.

By appointment only. Appointments are available Monday-Friday beginning 8:15 a.m. and every half hour between 8:30 a.m. through 3:30 p.m.

Appointments may be scheduled and paid for through the online appointment system, or in person at our office Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Make a marriage license appointment here: https://sfgov.org/countyclerk/marriage-license-and-civilcommitment-ceremony-online-reservations

Age Requirement

Both parties must be at least age 18 and unmarried. Person(s) under age 18 is eligible only for a public marriage license would need a written consent of at least one parent (or legal guardian) and written permission from a San Francisco Juvenile Court Judge .

*Applicants for a confidential marriage license must be living together and attest to the fact on the marriage license. The law does not specify a minimum duration of time living together. Documented proof is not required.

Attendance

Both parties must be present to file the application for and be issued a marriage license.

Legal Photo I.D.

Both parties must present valid authentic legal photo identification card containing photograph, full legal name, date of birth, date of issue, and date of expiration (Examples: passport, driver's license, naturalization certificate, resident alien card, military I.D.) If the legal picture I.D. card does not contain your full legal name you must also present a certified copy of birth certificate or social security card, showing your full legal name.

Name Changes

The Name Equality Act of 2007  (AB 102, Chapter 567, Statutes of 2007 amended by AB 1143, Chapter 512,Statutes of 2009) allows one or both applicants for a California marriage license to elect to change the middle and/or last names by which each party wishes to go by after marriage.

The new law pertains to marriage licenses issued on or after January 1, 2009. It does not apply to marriage licenses issued prior to January 1, 2009.

For your protection, if you have any questions regarding whether you should or should not list your new name on the marriage license application, and/or how the Name Equality Act of 2007 may affect you, please contact local, state, federal and private agencies to verify their requirements or consult an attorney prior to applying for your marriage license.It is unlawful for our employees to answer questions of a legal nature. County Clerk staff cannot advise you how to complete the marriage license application as it relates to your entry of a new name or retention of your former name on the marriage license application.

Additional Information: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CHSI/Pages/Correcting-or-Amending-Vital-Records.aspx

California Department of Public Health (https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/CDPHHome.aspx) policy prohibits the registration of marriage licenses containing erasures, white-outs, or alterations.

 

Previous Marriages or State Registered Domestic Partnerships

You will need to know the exact date your last marriage or State Registered Domestic Partnership (SRDP) legally ended. If your last marriage/SRDP ended within 90 days of your marriage license reservation date, a "certified" copy of divorce, annulment, termination, or death record must be presented at the time of your appointment.

Note: The “certified” copy must have an original court seal and a signature (or signature stamp) of the court clerk. It is the original seal and court clerk signature (certification) that make this a “certified” copy.

The “CONFORMED / FILED / ENDORSED” stamp in the top right corner of the copy of the court order (usually issued by your attorney) is NOT the court clerk’s certification and will NOT be accepted.

Certified Copies in a foreign language must be translated into English by a Court certified translator or American Translators Association (ATA) certified translator and must be presented along with the translation. http://atanet.org/

Validity

Confidential marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from issuance date for a ceremony anywhere in the State of California.  A marriage license is only a permit to get married and you are not married until a ceremony is performed by an authorized person.

License Fee

$104.00* - collected at the time of scheduling. Cash, money order, credit card or debit card in person (*price subject to change). Online reservations - credit card only.

 

Civil Marriage Ceremony: Fee, witnesses, hours, and other details:

Civil Marriage Ceremony

By appointment only.  Ceremony appointments are available every half hour between 9 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday.

You may schedule and pay for an appointment through the online reservation system, or in person at our office Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Make a civil marriage ceremony appointment here: https://sfgov.org/countyclerk/marriage-license-and-civilcommitment-ceremony-online-reservations

A civil marriage ceremony may only be performed for two unmarried persons who present a valid original California marriage license prior to the ceremony.

Please note: A certified copy of your marriage record ($15 each) will NOT be available for purchase on the same day after the ceremony. Expedited services for certified copies are NOT available. Please plan accordingly.

Ceremony Fee

Ceremony fee is $83.00* collected at the time of scheduling. Cash, money order, or debit card only in person (*price subject to change). Visa/Mastercard online only.

Witnesses

One witness* is required to be present during your ceremony on a public marriage license.

No witness is required during the ceremony on a confidential marriage license.

Up to 6 guests total, may attend the ceremony (guest count includes photographer, children, videographer, etc...)  Couples bringing more than 6 guests, or guests who are creating a nuisance, impeding official government business, or impeding the enjoyment of the building by others may be removed by the Sheriff’s Department.

*County Clerk staff cannot serve as a witness for marriage ceremonies.  You are responsible for providing your own witness.