You can't be legally married without a marriage license. ALL you need to be married is a signed marriage license and a simple "I do". Everything else is up to you!
I get so many questions about marriage licenses. I'm a wedding officiant. I don't issue marriage licenses. Your county clerk does. There are state websites and county websites with the information you need. They can be difficult to navigate and understand so I've created this page to help explain everything in a way that I hope will help.
The top of this page is the short version. The bottom of this page goes into detailed explanations of everything.
***** This information is offered to you to be helpful. I know a lot but I don't know everything. I am not a lawyer and I am in no way associated with the clerk's offices so please contact your clerk directly if you have specific questions. Thank you. *****
The sign by the marriage license desk in the Marion County Clerk's office.
Here is my quick guide to obtaining an Indiana Marriage License
Step 1 - Apply for your marriage license.
The first thing you need to do is apply for your marriage license. EVERYONE needs to apply for their marriage license online. You can use your own computer or the computers in the clerk's office. FYI - a phone doesn't usually work as well as a computer.
YOU DO NOT need an appointment in Marion County. In Hamilton County, you need an appointment.
Step 3 - Bring ID with you to the clerk's office.
You need to prove who you are.
You can do that with a valid drivers license, state issued ID, Passport, or Birth Certificate.
You need proof of address.
You can do this with a valid drivers license, lease, or utility bill.
It can be as simple as...
As long as you both have a valid driver's license and one of them has your correct address - the address you used to apply for your marriage license - that's all you need.
You will be asked to present your ID and provide the last for digits of your social security number so they can bring up your application online. You do not have to have your social security card. If you are not a US resident and don't have a social security number, it's OK. You can still get married. They can bring the application up without it.
Step 4 - Bring Money!
The fee for a marriage license in Indiana is $25 for Indiana residents and $65 for non-residents. You will need additional money for certified copies. Some counties require the fees for copies up-front. The Marion County Clerk accepts credit and debit cards but you will pay a small transaction fee. Many counties only accept cash. The price varies by county.
Check with your county clerk for their fees - They are can vary greatly.
Step 5 - Get Married!
Once you have your marriage license you need someone to marry you. If you are looking for an officiant, I'd be happy to marry you!
Step 6- Return your marriage license to the clerk that issued it.
You are not legally married until you file the completed marriage license with the clerk. You will need a certified copy issued by the clerk to prove you are legally married.
Don't take my word for it. I'm just a friendly, knowledgeable wedding officiant that has married thousands of couples. I know the answer to a lot of questions because I've needed answers to them. I have seen mistakes be made and learned how to fix them. I'm a professional wedding officiant. I'm in the Marion County Clerks office every week. BUT, I'm not the clerk. I'm not a lawyer. DON'T take my word for it.
Research yourself. Speak with YOUR County Clerk with specific legal questions.
EVERY county is different. ALWAYS check with your particular county clerk for their policies and procedures.
You change your name through social security after you have filed your completed marriage license with the county clerk. You need an certified copy of your filed marriage license to legally change your name. You sign your marriage license with your name as it appears on the marriage license. Social Security is currently only changing names by mail.
How do I know my completed marriage license has been filed after I return it to the clerk?
Your marriage license is a public record. Here is a link to see if your marriage license has been filed. It's not always accurate. You can call your county clerk for the information as well.
Marriage licenses are public record. Some smaller towns in Indiana publish that a marriage license has been issued. Do your research if you are trying to keep it a real secret. Marion and Hamilton Counties do NOT publish a license to marry has been issued.
Marriage is regulated on the state level in Indiana. Indiana, like every state, has their own, unique marriage laws.
How marriages are regulated and performed in other states has nothing to do with Indiana. In fact, many of the procedures may have changed since you, or someone you know, last got married. How your mom got married then may not be the same as how you will get married now.
Indiana is a very easy state in which to get married. We have no waiting period. That means you can pick up your marriage license and get married all in the same day.
Witnesses are not required to get married in Indiana. That makes Indiana a great place to get married in secret. So if you are looking for a real secret elopement, Indy is great for that. Every state has their own marriage laws but a legal marriage is legal in every state in the US. (And many other countries too!)
If you have been married in another state, don't assume we do the same things here in Indy.
Each county has their own way of interpreting the state marriage laws so each county has their own process for obtaining a marriage license. The basic laws are all the same but there are small things that may be different. I'm very familiar with the procedure in Marion and Hamilton Counties. Always contact YOUR county clerk to clarify anything.
Johnson County require both applicants must bring a picture identification card with a birth date and expiration date; AND a bill for at least one applicant reflecting current Johnson County address.
Some counties will have you pay for your certified copies when you apply for your marriage license and automatically send them to you. Marion County does NOT. You have to actually request and pay for the copies after you file your completed marriage license. Some counties charge $1 per copy, others $2. Most charge $4.
Most counties will issue you a certified copy of your marriage license immediately, the Johnson County Clerk will not. They will only mail it to you.
If you have been divorced, you may need a certified copy of the divorce decree. It depends on how long you have been divorced. Some counties is 60 days, some it's 6 months.
Both of you need to pick up your marriage license in person - but some counties have procedures if one of you can't physically get to the clerk's office. (Most do not.)
Interesting fact: Many county clerk's will not issue a marriage license if one of you is incarcerated - so the prison may approve you to get married but you can't get a licenses because your county won't issue it because you both can't apply in person. If you live in Marion County - they will. Vigo County - for the Federal Prison in Terre Haute might issue it after speaking with the warden. Sullivan County will issue a license for inmates at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. Madison County, serving the prisons in Pendleton will as well. Henry county will not and neither with Hendricks.
You have to apply for your marriage license online.
It's so much easier if you apply before you go to the clerk's office but you can use the computers in the office too. The application doesn't work on your phone. If you are applying Marion County is can be crowded around the computers.
Tip: If you are taking your time while filling out the online application, you can press the button for extra time so the page won't time out.
There is no waiting period! You can get married TODAY in Indiana!
As long as the county clerk is open, you can get married today. In less then an hour, if you time it right. You can apply for your marriage license online in the County Clerk's office, they will issue you the marriage license immediately and you can be married immediately too. Once you are married, you can file the marriage license and obtain your certified marriage license to legally prove your marriage.
Johnson County will not issue you a certified copy of your marriage license immediately. They will only mail it to you. You will still be legally married but it will take time to get the final paperwork in the mail.
You will probably need an appointment with your wedding officiant to make sure they are available when you need them.
Courthouse Weddings in Indiana
You CAN NOT get married in most courthouses in Indiana. You will need to find your own wedding officiant to marry you. You definitely can not get married in the courthouse in Marion, Johnson, or Hendricks counties.
I do offer a quick Civil Ceremony in my office on Monument Circle - just a short walk from the Marion County Clerk - This can help make getting married quick and easy. If you are an Indiana resident, you have to get your marriage license in the county you live in, then you can get married anywhere in the state. You can bring yourselves and your marriage license to my office in Indianapolis and I am happy to marry you!
You BOTH have to pick up your marriage license in person.
Getting married is entering into a legal contract. You both have to appear in person at the county clerk, prove who you are and swear that all the information on your application is true.
Some people think that if they apply online they'll receive a marriage license in the mail. It doesn't work that way.
Only a County Clerk can issue a marriage license.
A wedding officiant can't obtain your marriage license for you. Only you can do that. County Clerk's keep regular business hours so you can not get a marriage license on the weekend in Indiana. Many clerks are very strict about their hours. They may be open until 4:30 but stop issuing marriage licenses at 4. Call to be sure if you plan on leaving work early to get there before they close.
Every county clerk has different hours - including holiday hours. Contact YOUR county clerk to verify.
You MUST obtain your marriage license from YOUR County Clerk.
If you, or the person you are marrying live in Indiana, you go to the county clerk in the county in which you live. You need to be able to prove you live in that county - that is prove the address in that county you are using to apply.
If you and the person you are marrying live in two different counties, you can go to either county clerk.
IF YOU LIVE IN INDIANA - you MUST obtain your marriage license in the county you live in. Then, you can get married anywhere in Indiana.
Only ONE of you needs to prove your address. If you are waiting to change your name and update your drivers license, no worries! There other ways to prove your address.
If you don't live in Indiana you need to pick up your marriage license in the county in which you are being married. If you are from Indiana and your family still lives here but you don't and you no longer have an Indiana drivers license, you will need to apply as an out of state resident in the county in which you are being married. ~~~~~~~~~~
Anyone can return a marriage license.
Your county clerk might tell you that your wedding officiant will return the marriage license for you. This is really up to the wedding officiant. You might want to take responsibility for the license yourself to make sure it's returned in a timely manner. If someone mails it for you that doesn't necessarily mean that the clerk is going to send you a certified copy. You may need to request them separately. It's an important document. Make sure it get's returned and you obtain copies in a timely manner. Things get lost in the mail. Papers get lot in the shuffle.
There are one or two county clerk's that insist that the wedding officiant MUST return the license. The thing is, the wedding officiant can do that by mail. Anyone can put something in the mail. You can deliver that in person yourself too. That's logic. ~~~~~~~~~~
Anyone can request a certified copy of a marriage license.
Your marriage and your marriage license is a public record. It's generally not posted anywhere to let the public know that you got married or that a license was issued but if someone goes looking for the information they can find it. To clarify this: They do not make public announcements in the newspaper that your marriage license has been issued. It's not in the Indy Star. Some very small towns may publish marriage licenses in their very small town newspaper. If you are in Marion or Hamilton County, no worries!! Couples often come from out of state to avoid this happening in their home towns. Some Indiana residents living in the smaller counties get married outside of Indiana in order to keep their secret.
If you want to check if your marriage has been recorded - click here to access the database. Not all counties update the data base so your marriage may not show up. You can contact the County Clerk directly to ask if your marriage license has been filed.
You BOTH have to obtain your marriage license is person but ANYONE can return it for you and get copies.
I suggest getting 2 copies. You can always get more copies but you may as well get 2 from the start. Anyone who needs to see a certified copy will give it back to you. They may make a photo copy but they will give the original back.
The county clerk that recorded the marriage issues certified copies of marriage licenses. If you are trying to obtain a copy of an older marriage license you will need to contact the Indiana State Department of Vital Records. You can call them at (317) 233-2700 or visit their website here for more information on older records.
Can LGBTQ couples get married in Indiana?
Yes! Indiana has been issuing marriage licenses to same gender couples in Indiana since October of 2014. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled on June 26, 2016 that same-gender marriage is legal in all 50 US States.
To my knowledge, no LGBTQ couple has had a bad experience obtaining an marriage license in Indiana - that lady on the news was in Kentucky.
As a wedding officiant, I want to make sure every couple has a positive and inclusive wedding experience. I welcome all couples. Contact me to schedule your wedding today!
The Nitty Gritty Legal Details Explained...
Who can get married in Indy?
Anyone 18 or older can get married in Indiana.
If you are 17, you can get married but your parents or guardians will need to be there. (I've married a 17 year old. Her dad was there. He was OK with it. She had a life plan.)
If you are under 17 you will need a court order to get married.
You can only be married to one person at a time! If you are already legally married, your divorce needs to be final before you can remarry.
For poly-amorous couples: You can only be legally married to one person. (Yes, I've been asked this question!)
If you have been divorced, you might need a certified copy of your divorce decree.
Check with your county clerk about this to be sure about the length of time. In Marion County is only 60 days. It may be different in YOUR county.
A certified copy has a stamp with a raised seal - Not a photo copy. Check with your county clerk to check their policy. If you are traveling in from out of state make sure you have this!
You Can Not marry your cousin! (Or brother or Sister.) Well, wait, you can marry your SECOND cousin. Just not your FIRST - unless you are over the age of 65. Yes, if you are over the age of 65 you can marry your first cousin in Indiana.
BUT - if you are wondering, you can never marry your first cousin in Kentucky! They won't even recognize your first cousin marriage - even if you got married in a state where it is legal! (We love you Kentucky!)
You can be crazy in love, just not legally insane. The legal statement is: "Either applicant has been judged to be of unsound mind, unless the adjudication has been removed."
True story: I once performed a wedding ceremony for a couple that was not getting legally married - they couldn't obtain a marriage license because the groom was legally insane. It's a legal disability!
Along with this particular statement - you have to be able to legally enter into a contract. So, if you have special needs and are a ward of your parents or another person, you are not able get married. You are of sound mind, you just need extra help with your decision making. You can have a ceremony, it's just not legal.
A note about sex offenders and marriage....
This is a quote from the state website: "If either applicant is a lifetime sex or violent offender, unless the individual submits an affidavit stating under the penalties of perjury that the individual has provided written notice of the person's (A) intent to marry, and (B) intended married name; to the local law enforcement authority in the county of conviction and in the person's county of residence."
You can not be drunk or high.
Because getting married is a legal contract, you need to sober when you go to pick up your marriage license. You can not be under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.
You are issued a license by the state that allows you to marry. The act of how you actually get married is up to you. If you are under the influence at your wedding that's between you and the person performing your wedding.
Personally...One of the first question I ask a couple when planning their formal wedding ceremony is "will you be drunk at your wedding?" I don't care if they say yes, I just very strongly suggest choosing a wedding ceremony that matches the mood. We also arrange to sign the license when they are sober
You need to prove who you are in order to be issued a marriage license. This is usually a really easy process. If you have a valid drivers license or state issued ID, that's all you need. Valid - means it's not expired.
Your ID doesn't have to have your current address on it. You will need to prove your address and your driver's license is one way of doing that but not the only way.
Approved forms of ID
A Drivers License or State Issued ID or Passport or Birth Certificate
All forms of ID need to be in English. So, if you don't have a drivers license or passport your birth certificate must be in English or a notarized translation of the original document.
Please note - ONE of these ID's is enough in Marion and Hamilton Counties. If you are obtaining your marriage license in a different county please contact your clerk to make sure you have proper ID. Some counties require 2 forms of ID.
If you may be wondering...I once had a groom that only had a Guatemalan State ID. Thier clerk accepted a legally translated copy and issued him a marriage license. They do not check your residency or visa status when issuing a marriage license. They just charge you more if both of you aren't Indiana residents.
Proof of address
You only have to prove your address is you live in Indiana. You are proving you actually live in the county in which you are applying for your marriage license. You are proving the address you are providing on your application. You may each have a different address when applying for your marriage license. Only one of you needs to prove your Indiana address.
How to prove your address.
You can bring a utility bill, lease, mortgage or bank statement. You can usually bring up an online statement on your phone.
Proof of address is the most common issue when applying for a marriage license.
You will need your social security number.
You don't need the actual social security card. You will need to provide the last 4 digits of your social security number when the clerk brings up your application on the computer. If you don't want to say the numbers out loud, you can write them down.
If you don't have a social security number, no worries! It's not necessary.
Check your information!
The clerk will bring up your application and have you look at it on the computer screen to make sure all of the information is correct. Be sure to check the spelling of your name and all of the other information! There is a process you will need to go through once the license is issued to change any of the information. That process varies by county and may require an additional fee or paperwork. This is a legal document - red tape, paperwork, bureaucracy....
The Paperwork the Clerk will give you. When you leave the clerks office you will have have a stack of papers. The MOST IMPORTANT paper the give you in the actual marriage license. The marriage license has the Official Seal of the State of Indiana on it It has a number, application date and expiration date. It has the clerk's signature and the clerk's official seal. Legally this is the only piece of paper they give you that matters. It's the license that needs to be completed and filed with the clerk. (See the picture below.)
If you look at the pictures below, you will see there is no place for witnesses. Witnesses are not required to get married in Indiana. There is no place for them to sign on the license to marry and no place for their names to appear on the certified marriage license. (This is my way of proving it to people who don't believe me.)
Almost every clerk will also issue you a decorative marriage license. Many of these don't have a place for the married couple to sign, just a place for the witnesses to sign. This does not mean you need witnesses to get married. It's just a decorative tradition. Some copies have a place for the couple and witnesses to sign. Still, they are not legal copies. It's just a memory of your wedding day.
This is what a marriage license that allows you to marry looks like.
This is what a certified copy of a filed marriage license looks like.
Let me explain certified copies..
When you apply for a marriage license they will issue you a license to marry. The marriage license will have an official seal on it. You take that license to marry to a wedding officiant (someone legally qualified to marry you in Indiana) and they will sign it with you and marry you.
AFTER you have the marriage license signed you need to return the license to the same clerk that issued the license within 30 days.
If you don't return the license you are technically not married.
Just because you received a license to marry does not mean you are required to actually get married.
You can change your mind.
If the completed license is never filed with the clerk then you are not technically married in a way where you need to get divorced. You are still technically married, you will just need to complete the paperwork.
Once the completed marriage license is filed with the clerk you will need to get a certified copy of the completed marriage license to prove you are married.
There is a Marriage License and there is a Certified Marriage License. ~~~~~~~~~~
Once you have your marriage license you have 60 days to get married. Your marriage license needs to be signed on or before the expiration date.
Once the marriage license is signed, you need to return the license to the county clerk that issued it within 30 days.
That's the law.
Marion County interprets that law differently. As long as the license is signed before it expires, the Marion County Clerk will always take the marriage license back.
Other counties will still accept the marriage license back after 30 days but there is additional paperwork and fees that may apply. ~~~~~~~~~~
Your Marriage License has an expiration date. Your Indiana marriage license is good for 60 days. If you don't get married within that 60 days you will need to get another one - There is a fee for this.
I LOST MY MARRIAGE LICENSE!
No worries! The county clerk with print out another copy of your marriage license for free.
If you lose the signed copy of the marriage license you are still married, you just need to have your wedding officiant fill out the paperwork again. They will use the same date you were married. The same goes for if you your license is lost in the mail. You just get another copy and sign it again.
How about common law marriage?
There is no common law marriage in Indiana. You have to be legally married with a filed marriage license to be recognized as married.
Why can't we get married at the courthouse?
I do not know. Most likely so the judges can spend their time trying cases.
In Indiana a minister - even an online ordained minister can marry you. That doesn't mean you have to have a religious ceremony. I'm an online ordained minister that performs any type of wedding ceremony. Most of the ceremonies I perform are non-religious.
Call me! (317)403-7379 You can text too. I'm happy to marry you! My simple civil ceremony starts at just $100!
Here is a list of people who can legally perform marriages in Indiana
A member of the clergy of a religious organization (even if the cleric does not perform religious functions for an individual congregation), such as a minister of the gospel, a priest, a bishop, an archbishop, or a rabbi. - This means: You can get ordained online and qualify to perform marriages in Indiana.
A Mayor, within the mayor’s county.
A clerk or a clerk-treasurer of a city or town, within a county in which the city or town is located.
A clerk of the circuit court.
The Friends Church, in accordance with the rules of the Friends Church.
The German Baptists, in accordance with the rules of their society.
The Baha'i faith, in accordance with the rules of the Baha'i faith.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in accordance with the rules of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
An imam of a masjid (mosque), in accordance with the rules of the religion of Islam.
How do I change my name?
You do not change your name on your marriage license. You sign the marriage license exactly as you signed it when you picked it up from the clerk. The clerk did not tell you to sign it with your married name - you misunderstood them.
Who you are is directly related to your social security number. What every name your social security number says is your legal name.
AFTER you are married you:
File your completed marriage license with the clerk that issued it. The clerk with issue you a CERTIFIED COPY OF YOUR MARRIAGE LICENSE Then, you go to the Social Security office with the certified copy of your marriage license and change your name. You can also do this may mail.
Please contact your local Social Security Office for their current COVID-19 procedures. At this time, you can only change your name through the mail.
AFTER you have change your name with social security, wait 24 hours. Then, you can go to the BMV and change your name there. You need the new social security cared and updated drivers license to change your name everywhere else.
Marriage License Prices prices have gone up! Prices differ by county.
Marion County: $25 for in-state residents and $65 for out-of-state residents. Certified copies are extra and are now $4 each and you must request them. They are not automatically mailed to you.
Hamilton County: $25 for Indiana residents and $65 for out-of-state residents. 2 Certified copies are included and automatically sent when your completed marriage license is received after your wedding. You can also pick up your certified copies in real-time. Additional copies are $3 each.
Johnson County: $31 for Indiana residents and $65 for out-of-state residents. 2 Certified copies are included and automatically sent when your completed marriage license is received after your wedding. You cannot pick up certified copies in real time, they will ONLY mail them.
Hancock County: $29 for Indiana residents and $71 for out-of-state residents. Fees include 1 certified copy. Additional copies can be purchased for $4 each.
Hendricks County: $29 for Indiana residents and $69 for out-of-state residents. Fees include 1 certified copy. Additional copies are $3 each.
Boone County: $29 for Indiana residents and $69 for out of state residents. Fees include 1 certified copy. Additional copies can be purchased for $4 each.
Delaware County: $25 for Indiana Residents and $60 for out-of-state residents. Fees include 3 certified copies -You must provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope if you'd like them mailed. Additional copies are $3 each.