How to Get Married in Washington

Washington Marriage License Information

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Washington state has many beautiful locales where you can get married. The laws of the state are similar to other states but Washington does have a three-day waiting period. Beyond that, there are a few more details that you'll want to know before you apply for a marriage license.

ID and Residency Requirement

You do not have to be a resident of Washington in order to get married in the state. Additionally, you can apply for a license anywhere within the state, no matter where you live or where the ceremony will take place. If you plan on getting married on a boat, the ceremony itself must take place in Washington waters.

Most counties in Washington state require a picture ID, such as a driver's license, state-issued ID, passport, or military ID. You should know your Social Security numbers as well. If you do not have one, you will need to sign a declaration stating so on the application.

In some counties, you may be able to start your marriage license application online. For example, the King County Recorder's Office allows you to apply online or download and print the application. This can save you some time in the office.

Additionally, you may be able to apply by mail, though it does need to be notarized. The catch is that they will not mail your license. In King County, you will have to pick it up at the downtown Seattle office, for instance.

Washington also protects the privacy of anyone in the state's Address Confidentiality Program. Contact the county recorder's office to set up the proper arrangements prior to applying for your license.

Previous Marriages

A divorce must be final and filed before applicants can apply for a license, though there is no waiting period. In most cases, you do not have to provide the divorce decree.

Covenant Marriage

Washington does not have a covenant marriage option.

Waiting Period

Washington state has a three-day waiting period and it cannot be waived under any circumstances.

Fees

The cost of applying for a marriage license in Washington state varies from county to county. The application fee is typically around $67.

Many counties will not accept personal checks; some will take credit cards and most prefer cash. It's recommended that you call to verify how the county requires payment before applying for your marriage license.

Same-Sex Marriages

Same-sex marriages are legal in Washington State. Not only has it been legalized on the state level, but the U.S. Supreme Court also ruled that it is unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriage in June 2015. This legalized it throughout the country. Prior to that, Washington had a long history on this issue.

The 2012 legislative session passed a bill that allowed all couples, regardless of gender, to marry. After Referendum 74, which opposed the bill, was certified by the Office of the Secretary of State, the issue was placed on the November 2012 ballot. This measure passed and went into effect on December 6, 2012.

Previously, on July 22, 2007, gays, lesbians, and unmarried seniors in domestic partnerships had rights that included hospital visitation, inheriting property without a will, emergency health care, funeral arrangements, adoption, child custody, community property, and disposition of remains. Washington's "everything-but-marriage" law was approved by Washington state voters in November 2009. To qualify for these rights, couples had to register with the Office of the Secretary of State.

Proxy Marriage

Washington does not allow for proxy marriages. However, if both of you cannot apply for your marriage license application at the same time, you may be able to apply through an Absentee Marriage Application or use an online or mail-in form if the county has the option.

Cousin Marriage

Marrying a first cousin, or any relative closer than that, is not allowed by Washington law.

Common-Law Marriage

Common-law marriages are not recognized in Washington.

Under 18

If you wish to get married at 17, you will need to meet a few conditions. These include a notarized statement of consent from a parent or legal guardian. You will need to prove that they have the legal authority to give consent, so a certified birth certificate or guardianship document is required. If you've been emancipated, you must show legal proof of that.

For anyone under 17, you must get approval from a superior court judge in your county.

Officiants

Your wedding ceremony can be solemnized by a variety of people in Washington. This includes any ordained or licensed members of the clergy, justices of the Supreme Court, judges, and superior court commissioners. Most counties have a list of eligible officiants for civil ceremonies

Ship captains cannot perform a ceremony unless they meet one of the other criteria. Also, even if one person of the couple is eligible to perform marriage ceremonies, they cannot officiate their own.

Miscellaneous

The Washington state marriage license is valid only in the state of Washington. You cannot use the marriage license to get married in other states or countries.

The marriage license is valid for 60 days. You will need to have the ceremony within that time and your officiant must return the license to be officially recorded within 30 days of the wedding. Failing to do so means that you need to reapply and pay the license fee again.

Copy of Certificate of Marriage

After the ceremony and your license has been filed, you can request a certified copy of your marriage license. It needs to be done through the county that filed it and typically requires a minimal fee. You will not automatically be sent one and some counties have online resources to help you check on your status.

You can also order marriage certificates directly from the Washington State Department of Health. The Center for Health Statistics handles all vital records in the state.

Please Note

State and county marriage license requirements change often. It is important that you verify all information with your local marriage license office before making any wedding or travel plans. The above information is for guidance only and should not be regarded as legal advice.