How Do I Apply For A Marriage License in Florida | Tampa Officiant Weddings by Bonnie

Expert Advice: How Do I Apply For A Marriage License in Florida?

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One of the most important details to take care of prior to wedding day, is procurement  of the marriage license. Bonnie Sanchez, wedding officiant and owner of Weddings by Bonnie, provides guidelines for couples getting married in Florida.

Where Can I Get a Marriage License?

The marriage license may be obtained from any Clerk of the Circuit Court office in Florida. It does not have to be purchased in the same county in which the couple’s wedding is taking place. 

Can I Apply for a Marriage License Online In Florida?

Some counties now offer the option of obtaining the marriage license virtually through an online video call. Ask your marriage official (minister/notary/officiant), for the details of the Clerk’s office nearest where you live or, will be getting married (for destination couples).

For Hillsborough County:

Fill out the marriage license application online. The Clerk will review it and send an email confirming receipt of your application, and a link to schedule a video conference call using Zoom. During your online appointment, the Clerk will validate your identification, review your application, collect payment, and have you electronically sign your marriage license. You will then receive a link to securely download the license, officiant instructions, and payment receipt. After you get married, you’ll need to mail in the hard copy of your completed license, and you will receive a certified copy of your completed license via mail.

What Do I Need to Get a Marriage License?

To apply for the marriage license, the couple must be at least 18 years of age (with few exceptions). Some Clerks of Court allow the couple to fill out an online pre-registration application; others must complete the application at the Clerk’s office. 

Regardless of the location you choose to obtain your license, both individuals must be present at the time the marriage license is issued. The marriage license cannot be obtained by someone else on your behalf.

Government issued photo identification will be required at the time you obtain your marriage license. International couples must provide a passport or other legal documentation. 

All applicants will be required to read the Family Law Handbook which will be provided at the time of application.

A fee of $86 will be required when the license is issued. The couple will sign their marriage license after taking an oath of truthfulness before the County Clerk. They will not be required to provide any additional signatures on their marriage license. 

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Is There a Waiting Period to Get a Marriage License?

For non-Florida residents, there is no waiting period for the marriage license to become effective. It is valid on the day of purchase and the couple may be married the same day.

If one party is a Florida resident (hold a Florida state-issued identification), and the other party is a non-Florida resident, a three-day waiting period will apply.

The couple’s state residency is determined by the address on their photo identification cards. For example, if the couple has moved to Florida, but they have not yet changed their driver’s licenses from their previous location of residence, the Clerk will issue the license based on the residency listed on their driver’s licenses.

Florida residents must wait three days

Florida residents are required to wait a minimum of three days after the issuance of the marriage license. The date the marriage license is issued does not count as the first day. For example, if you obtain your marriage license on a Monday, the first day you will be eligible to be married is the Thursday following the issuance of the marriage license.

The date the marriage license is issued does not count as the first day.

For example, if you obtain your marriage license on a Monday, the first day you will be eligible to be married is the Thursday following the issuance of the marriage license.

What If We Don’t Wait the Full Three Days to Have A Ceremony?

The eligibility dates showing the validity of the marriage license and when it becomes effective, are listed on the actual document.

Residents of Florida are required to comply with the state’s mandatory three (3) day waiting period after applying. If one or both have the State of Florida-issued identification, both are considered to be Florida residents.

The three (3) day waiting period can be waived if both parties attend and complete a premarital course from a state-approved, registered provider. Approved providers are listed on each Clerk of the Court website. Proof of the completed pre-marital course certificate must be presented at the time the license is obtained. Documentation showing the pre-marital course was completed, also reduces the cost of the marriage license.

Without a valid marriage license and/or certificate of completion of a pre-marital course, the couple can still have a non-legal commitment ceremony, but the officiant cannot use the words “husband and/or wife,” “marriage,” or “pronounce you husband and/or wife.”

What is the Cost to Get a Marriage License?

The fee to obtain the marriage license in the State of Florida is currently $86, plus processing fees, which may vary depending on the county in which the license is issued.

Once the completed marriage license is returned to the Clerk of Court’s office for processing and has been recorded, certified copies can be obtained for $3 each.

What If I’ve Been Married Before?

If either party has been married previously, the date the last marriage ended must be provided to the Clerk of Court. Legal documentation (divorce decree or death certificate) is not necessary; only the date is required.

Are Witnesses Required in the State of Florida?

The state of Florida does not require a witness to sign the marriage license. There is, however, a space for up to two witnesses to sign the marriage license if you would like to designate one or two persons. Witnesses can be friends or family of any age but must be able to understand the importance of the proceedings and be able to understand English.

How Long is the Marriage License Valid?

The marriage license is valid for 60 days from the date of issuance. The effective dates are listed on the actual document.

Who Completes and Returns The Marriage License?

The marriage license must be given to the person officiating the wedding prior to the start of the ceremony being performed. The official performing the marriage will be required to complete the marriage license after the ceremony has been performed.  

It is the responsibility of the couple, or the official completing the license, to ensure the completed marriage license is filed (returned) to the issuing Clerk of Court’s office within ten calendar days after the couple’s wedding has taken place. Once the marriage license is filed and recorded, a certified copy will be issued, and your marriage is official!

What If We Forget to Bring the Marriage License On the Day of the Wedding?

Simply put, when a marriage license is not presented to the officiant scheduled to solemnize the marriage prior to the start of their ceremony, the couple cannot be legally married by the person performing their ceremony at that time.

The law states that “the official shall require of the parties, to present a marriage license before the solemnization of the marriage can take place.” 

The officiant performing the ceremony must advise the couple that their “marriage ceremony” will now become a symbolic “commitment ceremony.”

Without a valid marriage license, the couple will not be legally married. The ceremony will no longer contain the words “husband and/or wife,” there will be no reference of “marriage” and the couple will not be pronounced, “husband and wife.” Instead, they may be pronounced, “joined in love as partners for life” (or something similar).

The couple will then need to schedule an appointment to have the actual document signed (for an additional fee). Also, the document cannot be backdated. The date on the marriage license will reflect the date the couple is “legally married,” and the document is completed by their officiant. 

Can We Use a Marriage License from Our Home State?

Unfortunately, no. Florida is quite strict on this rule. 

Florida law states that a Florida Notary/Wedding Official may not marry a couple who has obtained a marriage license from another state. Additionally, Florida issued marriage licenses are not valid outside of Florida.

Texas and Tennessee (and possibly other states), do allow their marriage licenses to be taken and executed outside the state. Those states allow couples to be legally married anywhere in the world using their respective state-issued licenses. The marriage license must be filed (returned) to the county office where it was issued, regardless of where the couple is married. That said, the Florida state ruling still applies whereby Florida Notary/Wedding Officials may not marry a couple with an out-of-state marriage license.

What If We Decided to Get Married in Our Home State Prior to Our “Real Wedding” and Don’t Have a Florida Marriage License?

Congratulations! It’s wonderful that you have taken care of the “legal” aspect of getting married prior to your day of celebration.

However, in order for the ceremony to have any reference to “marriage” or “husband and/or wife,” a recorded marriage license will be required and must be presented to your Official prior to the start of the ceremony.

Otherwise, the ceremony will become a symbolic “Commitment Ceremony,” even if you are legally married.

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Bonnie Sanchez, wedding officiant and owner of Weddings by Bonnie, is a non-denominational, ordained minister serving weddings since 2014. She thrives on originality, creativity, and highly personalized ceremony designs.

The ceremony format and tone are determined based on each couple’s feedback and preference, whether formal and elegant or relaxed and light-hearted with a touch of humor.

Bonnie’s ceremonies tell a story. Her ceremony style is very modern, personalized, heartfelt, and anything but “cookie cutter.” Bonnie believes that your day should not be a rehearsed script but rather a personalized reflection of your unique love story.

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About the Author

Anna Coats

Marry Me Tampa Bay editor Anna Coats created Marry Me Tampa Bay in 2012 to showcase the area’s best local weddings and vendors. She has been featured as a wedding expert on the national talk show Daytime, Fox13, ABC Action News, Great Day Tampa Bay, and Bay News 9 (now Spectrum).

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