Categories :: Family Law > Marriage

Applying for a Marriage License

Prior to any marriage ceremony

  • A license must be obtained from the clerk of Circuit Court for the county, or Baltimore City, where the marriage will be performed. 
  • Either party may apply for a license in person at the clerk’s office, except in Cecil County where both must apply together. (The Cecil County exception will no longer apply beginning October 1, 2016).
  • If the parties are not living in the county where the marriage ceremony is to take place, the clerk must accept an affidavit (written statement confirmed by oath or affirmation) instead of an application, from one of the parties to be married, with the same information required by the application, and sworn under oath by a clerk or other official in the county where the party lives.
  • If either party has been married previously, the clerk must be told the date (day, month, year) and place of the former spouse’s death or of any annulment or divorce decree.

From the time of the application

An applicant must wait until 6 a.m. on the second day following the day of the application to pick up the license. There is a license fee that varies depending on the county.  Affixed to the license will be a certificate of marriage to be completed by the person performing the ceremony.

During the waiting period

During the waiting period, no marriage ceremony may be held unless special permission is given by a judge (usually for reasons of military service or pregnancy).  A license is valid for six months. A license merely authorizes the performance of the marriage.  It does not determine the manner in which a ceremony is to be conducted nor interfere with the rules and customs of any religious group.

Depending on the county, the marriage license fee may be discounted if the couple getting married completes a premarital preparation course. The course must meet certain requirements and be completed within one year before the marriage license application date. Read the Law: MD Code Family Law § 2-404.1

In Maryland, there is no legal requirement for a blood test or other medical examination.Read the Law : MD Code Family Law §§ 2-401 thru 2-410

Who can perform the ceremony?

Upon presentation of a license, a marriage ceremony may be performed by any of the following:

  • An official of a religious group, authorized by the rules and customs of the group;
  • A court clerk;
  • A deputy clerk designated by the county administrative judge of the circuit court for the county; OR
  • A judge.

After the ceremony

After the ceremony, the person who performed the ceremony returns the certificate of marriage, signed with the  title of the authorized official who performs the marriage, to the clerk of the court issuing the license within 5 days to be recorded in the county or city records.  Copies of the certificate are available from the clerk’s office.Read the Law: MD Code Family Law §§ 2–406, 2-409

A marriage that does not comply with the rules listed above is considered unlawful. The fact that a marriage is considered unlawful does not automatically mean that the marriage is invalid (or “void”).  For example, although a person who performs a marriage ceremony for a couple without a license may be fined, the marriage itself is valid. 

Escape Now Button: 

Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – © Maryland State Law Library, 2017.”

Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view, download Adobe Acrobat Reader.