How to Get Married in North Carolina

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In North Carolina, you can apply for a marriage license through the county's register of deeds office. It's best to do this about a month before your wedding date so the legal formalities are taken care of. When you're ready to get your license, there are a few requirements that you'll need to follow.

Residency and ID Requirements

You do not have to be a resident of North Carolina to get married in the state. You can have the wedding ceremony anywhere within the state, no matter where you applied for the license.

You must show proof of age in North Carolina. This can be accomplished by providing your driver's license, military or state-issued ID, passport, or a certified birth certificate. If you're between 18 and 21 years of age, a birth certificate is required along with another form of identification.

You will also need to show proof of your Social Security number. You can do this with the actual card or a W-2 form, payroll stub, or any official document with your Social Security number on it. If you've never been issued one, there is an affidavit you can sign when applying for the license.

Some counties allow you to begin the application online. This can speed up the process once you get to the office and help ensure you have all the information needed.

Previous Marriages

If either of you was previously married, you must provide the date (month and year) of the divorce or your previous spouse's death. If the divorce was within the last 30 days, a signed copy of the divorce decree will need to be shown as well.

Covenant Marriage

A covenant marriage option is not allowed in North Carolina

Waiting Period

North Carolina does not have a waiting period. As soon as you receive the license, you can have the ceremony.

Fees

The fee for a marriage license can vary from one county to another. Generally, it is around $60, but you will want to check with the recorder's office. Also, ask about what types of payment they accept because some only allow cash payment.

Other Tests

North Carolina does not require you to have any blood tests or physical exams.

Proxy Marriages

Proxy marriages are not allowed in North Carolina, so you both must be present at the ceremony. However, only one of you can apply for the marriage license if a sworn and notarized affidavit from your absent partner is presented.

Cousin Marriages 

In North Carolina, you can marry a first cousin. However, if the two of you have a closer relationship than that, you may not marry in North Carolina.

Common Law Marriages 

Common-law marriages are not recognized in North Carolina.

Same-Sex Marriages

Same-sex marriages are legal in North Carolina. This is a result of the June 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Obergefell vs. Hodges. In that decision, the Justices stated that it is unconstitutional to ban gay marriage, effectively legalizing it throughout the country.

As of 2018, North Carolina law continues to have a provision (G.S. 51-2.1) that states: "Marriages between persons of the same gender are not valid." This piece of legislation was enacted in 1996.

Under 18

If you are between 16 and 17 years old, you will have to show parental consent of at least one parent or legal guardian. They must be present when applying, have proper identification, and give written consent. A birth certificate and Social Security card are required as well.

The exception is for emancipated minors, but you must provide legal proof of emancipation.

In addition to that, those who are 14- or 15-years-old, cannot get a marriage license without a court order. Anyone under 14 years of age cannot get married in the state.

Officiants

Any ordained or licensed clergymen and magistrates may perform a wedding ceremony.

Miscellaneous

Once received, your marriage license is valid for 60 days. You will need to have the wedding ceremony within that time frame. After the wedding, your officiate must return the license to the register of deeds office within 10 days to be recorded in order to receive an official marriage certificate.

Marriage Certificate Copies

To obtain a copy of your marriage certificate, contact the register of deeds office in the county where your license was issued. Not every county will automatically send you one after your wedding. Typically, you can submit your request in person or by mail, and some counties offer online order forms. Expect to pay a small fee of about $10 for each copy.

Please Note

Before making your wedding plans, check with the specific county where you'll apply for your license to verify all the information you need. State and county marriage license requirements do change often and the information given here is for guidance only. Additionally, it should not be regarded as legal advice and you should contact an attorney with any questions.