How to Get a Marriage License in Alameda County

License Allows You to Marry Anywhere in California

Newlywed couple dancing at reception
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Getting married if you're having a wedding means a lot of planning, coordination, and spending. But getting the actual legal license you need to get married is a piece of (wedding) cake. If you want to get married in Alameda County or anywhere in California, you must have a marriage license.

As long as you’re both 18 or over and neither of you has been previously married, applying is easy. The Alameda County Clerk-Recorder’s office is conveniently located in downtown Oakland, just a few blocks from the 12th Street City Center BART Station and very close to Lake Merritt.

You can get married in any county in California after you have the license and are not required to marry in the county where you obtained the license, but the marriage must be recorded in the county where you got the license. There is no waiting period; couples can be married in the county clerk-recorder's office by a county deputy marriage commissioner immediately after they apply for the license as long as they arrive at the office by 3:45 p.m. and bring at least one witness.

Applying for a Marriage License

Both people who intend to get married must appear at the county clerk-recorder's office in person when applying for the license. You must show up before 4 p.m. Monday through Friday even though the office is open until 4:30 p.m.; marriage licenses are not issued after 4 p.m. The office suggests you avoid going between noon and 2 p.m. since this is when the office is busiest.

What's Required

  • Both of you must present government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. This identification needs to be valid; an expired piece of ID doesn’t qualify.
  • You will be charged a fee for the marriage license and one certified copy of your marriage certificate. Check the clerk's website to find out what the most current fee is before you go to the office to get the license. 
  • California does not require you or your partner to undergo a blood test before you receive a marriage license or get married.
  • California residency is not required.

Timing

Your marriage license is good for 90 days from the date it was issued. If your wedding is delayed longer than this, you will need to apply for a new license, which involves paying the fee again.

Complications

If you were previously married, be prepared to provide the exact date your previous marriage ended. This applies regardless of how the previous marriage ended -- such as by death, divorce, or nullification. If you were divorced within the past year, bring a copy of your divorce decree. You may not need it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If either person is under 18 years old, the process is more complicated. At least one of the underage person’s parents or guardians must appear at the County Clerk-Recorder’s office at the time of the application for the marriage license. You will also need to bring certified copies of birth certificates and get permission to marry from a California superior court judge.