Justice of the Peace & Interfaith Minister
Specializing in Customized Ceremonies & Interfaith Marriage

Nelson Goldin

Advice & Information

Marriage Licenses in Massachusetts

All people who marry in Massachusetts must have a marriage license issued in Massachusetts. An out-of-state license cannot be used. This outlines the procedures you must follow to obtain the license.

How to Apply

You must both apply in person for your marriage license. According to Massachusetts law, you must jointly file the intentions to marry, and you may do so with the city or town clerk in any community in the state. If a person is in the military, intentions may be filed by either party, providing one is a Massachusetts resident. If a person is incarcerated in a county house of correction or state correctional facility, intentions may be filed by either party. A marriage license, once obtained, is valid for 60 days from the date intentions are filed and may be used in any Massachusetts city or town. It is not valid outside the state.

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Waiting Period

There is a mandatory three-day waiting period. While Sundays and holidays are included in the three days, the day the application is made is not. For example, if you apply on a Friday, your license will be issued on or after Monday. Check with your town clerk to determine whether you must pick it up in person, or if it can be mailed.

Waiver of the Waiting Period

You can obtain a court waiver after filing intentions. According to MGL Ch. 207:30, if both parties are residents, or non-residents, or one of each, and they need to dispense with the three days, they may do so by applying to the judge of a probate or district court to have the license issued without delay, after filing intentions with the clerk. Under extraordinary or emergency circumstances, such as if the death of either party is imminent or if the female is nearing the end of her pregnancy, an authorized request by a minister or clergyperson or an attending physician shall suffice and the clerk can issue the certificate without delay.

How to Obtain a Waiver

You should file your intentions first with any city or town clerk. Then an application for a waiver must be filed by both of you at a probate or district court. After a hearing, the court may issue a certificate allowing the marriage license to be issued, and the marriage may be performed without delay.

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Cost of License

Fees in most communities range between $10 and $50. The state statute stipulates a fee of $4 for the license but it allows cities and towns by a vote of their city councils, boards of selectmen or town meeting, or by a change in teh by-laws, to set their own fee.

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Age Requirement

A Massachusetts resident may marry if he or she is 18 years of age or older. A birth certificate may be required to show proof of age.

If either party is under 18, a court order from a probate or a district court where the minor resides must be obtained before the marriage intentions can be filed.

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Medical Certificates

Effective 28 January, 2005 blood test/medical certificates are no longer required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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Active Duty Military Applicants

When one party is in the military and cannot apply in person to file intentions, the other party may file intentions alone as long as he/she can provide proof that the other party is ona ctive duty in the military.

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Divorced and Widowed Applicants

You are not required to present a divorce certificate when filing intentions to marry. However, it is extremely important that an individual who has been divorced be certain that his/her divorce is absolute. If you are uncertain as to the absolute date of your divorce, you should contact the court where the divorce was granted. In Massachusetts, a divorce does not become absolute until 90days after the divorce has been granted, regardless of the grounds for divorce.

There are no special requirements for a widow or widower who is remarrying.

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Same Sex Applicants

There are no special requirements for same-sex marriages. The process is the same. However, out-of-state same-sex couples are legally prohibited from obtaining a marriage license in Massachusetts if their marriage would not be recognized in their home states.

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Justices of the Peace Responsibilities

The Justice of the Peace must complete and sign the original license and return it to the clerk of the city or town where the license was issued.

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