If you're getting married in New Jersey, be sure that your marriage license is on your to-do list. You will need to go to your local Registrar of Vital Statistics office to apply for one and have certain documents with you. There is a waiting period and the license is valid for one month, so be sure to plan properly for your wedding date.
Residency and ID Requirements
Marriage and civil union licenses in New Jersey are handled at the local level by the Registrar of Vital Statistics. The department's website has a directory of local offices. Some locales will require an appointment or additional requirements, so it's best to check with your local office ahead of time.
To apply for a marriage license, you must go to the office in the municipality where one of you resides. It is valid anywhere within the state.
You do not have to be a resident of New Jersey, either. If both of you are out-of-state residents, you will need to apply in the county where the ceremony will take place. For marriage license purposes, anyone in the military is a resident of the posts where they are stationed.
When applying for the license, you will need to show proof of your identity. This may be a valid driver's license, state or federal ID, or a passport. Residents must also prove residency with documents such as a utility bill, apartment lease, or tax bill. You will also need to provide your Social Security number and a certified English translation of any foreign documents.
Additionally, a witness over the age of 18 needs to accompany you. You must also know your parents' birth name and place.
If you and your future spouse cannot make it to the office at the same time, one of you may begin the application (with your witness) and initiate the waiting period time frame. The other person must also appear at the office with the witness to complete the application. Your application—not the license itself—is valid for six months before it needs to be completed, so you have plenty of time.
If either of you has previously been married, it's best to be prepared to show documentation that your previous marriage has been dissolved if you're asked for it. This may be with a certified copy of the final decree of divorce or death certificate for your former spouse. In the least, you must have the date and place of the event as it is required on the application.
Renewal of Vows
Remarriage licenses are available in New Jersey. There is no waiting period if you wish to remarry your current spouse. It is required that proof of the previous marriage or civil union be submitted.
New Jersey does not have a covenant marriage option.
In 2018, New Jersey passed a law regarding the ability of minors to marry in the state. It is no longer legal for anyone under the age of 18 to get a marriage license.
The marriage license fee is $28. It is cash only in some locales.
The marriage of first cousins is allowed in New Jersey.
Common Law Marriages
Common-law marriages are no longer allowed in the state. However, those contracted prior to 1939 are recognized in New Jersey.
New Jersey has a three-day waiting period. For weekend weddings, you will need to apply the Tuesday before the ceremony in order to receive the license by Friday.
If you have special circumstances such as an emergency, illness, military leave, etc., a Superior Court Judge can sign a waiver that would waive the waiting period.
Proxy marriages are not allowed in New Jersey. Both of you must be present at the wedding ceremony.
Domestic Partnership Registration
Although couples have more rights in a civil union in New Jersey, you have the option to register a domestic partnership as well. This can also be done at a Local Registrar of Vital Statistics in any municipality.
In order to apply for this, you can be either same-sex or opposite-sex couples, though both of you must be 62 years of age or older. You will need to show proof of residence and joint financial responsibility.
As of October 21, 2013, a court ruling allowed gay couples to marry in New Jersey. This was backed up in June 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell vs. Hodges that it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.
On February 19, 2007, same-sex couples could apply for a civil union. Civil unions in New Jersey grant most of the benefits of marriage to gay couples. These include adoption, medical decisions, inheritance, health insurance opportunities, hospital visitation, and the ability to not testify against a partner. The rights are not extended to federal benefits or courts.
Any number of officials may perform a wedding ceremony in New Jersey. These include a member of the clergy, judges of the various courts, mayors, township chairmen, village presidents, and county clerks.
The marriage application will also ask you for the intended date and location of the ceremony as well as the name and contact information of your officiant.
Once you receive the marriage license, it is valid for 30 days. You will need to have the ceremony within that time frame. Failing to do so means you need to reapply for a license and pay the fee again.
If you are going to have both a religious and civil ceremony, only a single license is required. However, when you want two religious ceremonies to be on the record, you will need two separate marriage licenses. Apply for the first ceremony and after that license is filed, you can apply for a license that recognizes the second ceremony.
Copy of Certificate of Marriage
After your ceremony, the officiant needs to register your license in the municipality where the ceremony took place. You can then request a certified copy of your marriage certificate through that registrar's office.
Alternatively, you can order a marriage certificate copy from the New Jersey Department of Health Vital Statistics Office. You have the option of a marriage record for genealogical reasons or nongenealogical records, which includes certified copies with a raised seal. There will be fees for each copy and the service itself.
This article is intended to provide you with general information regarding marriage licenses in New Jersey. It should not be regarded as legal advice, for which you should consult an attorney. Before making any wedding plans, check with the local registrar's office to verify all the information you need because marriage laws and requirements change often.