You purchased a Marriage License prior to the closure of the County Clerk’s office due to the stay-at-home order. You’ve had an intimate legal ceremony so that the license can be signed. But if the Clerk’s office is closed, how can you file your California Marriage License during COVID-19?
Here are some helpful tips for filing your California Marriage License during the current pandemic.
(Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. These suggestions are based on my current experience filing Marriage Licenses with the Sacramento County Clerk-Recorder, Placer County Clerk-Recorder and El Dorado County Clerk-Recorder. If your license was issued in a different county, you should check that county’s website.)
How can I submit the signed Marriage License?
After the original Marriage License has been properly signed by the Officiant and the witnesses, it needs to be sent to the County Clerk’s office to be registered. Usually, the Officiant takes care of this detail.
But if you are filing it yourself, make sure you send it by Priority Mail. That way, you’ll have the tracking information and can confirm when it has been delivered.
(I always keep a photocopy of the signed license and a copy of the transmittal letter, as well as the Post Office receipt with the tracking number.)
Although the Clerk’s office is closed, I believe there is currently staff working “behind the scenes” to register and record documents. You can check the County Clerk’s website to get the latest information.
Will I automatically receive a copy of my license after it’s filed?
No. You need to request a Certified Copy of your Marriage License, and pay the fee, in order to receive a copy. (You need the Certified Copy in order to change your name with Social Security, DMV, etc.)
When you bought your license, the clerk should have given you an Application for Certified Copy. (If you don’t have it, check online. You should be able to find and print the form.)
It’s important – in fact, it’s required – that you sign the document in front of a notary. (Many banks provide notary services for their patrons. I bank at The Golden 1 Credit Union, and they notarize my documents for free.)
Send the signed, notarized original to the Clerk’s Office, along with the fee (approximately $15 per copy; the amount will be listed on the application). One County Clerk recently said that it’s easier if you pay by Money Order rather than check.
As before, send this important document via Priority Mail so you have tracking information.
And wait patiently to receive the Certified Copy – or copies; you can purchase as many copies as you’d like – of your Marriage License.
Is there any way to speed up this process?
I cannot say how quickly the Clerk’s office will be able to register your Marriage License. However, you might want to send the original (signed and notarized) Application for Certified Copy along with the original signed Marriage License. Don’t forget to enclose the fee.
And, as mentioned above, I highly recommend you send these documents by Priority Mail so you have tracking information.
That way the Clerk will have everything he or she needs to register the Marriage License and prepare the Certified Copy.
And if you plan ahead, you can give the signed and notarized Application, along with the fee, to be filed by your Officiant along with the Marriage License.
To Recap: Here’s how to file your California Marriage License during COVID-19
- Send the original signed Marriage License to the County Clerk by Priority Mail.
- Send the signed and notarized Request for Certified Copy of Marriage License to the County Clerk via Priority Mail.
(You can send both of these documents at the same time if they are properly signed and notarized, and you include the appropriate fee.)
- Wait patiently to receive the Certified Copy of your license.
I hope this information is helpful.
Be well, be socially distant and, most of all, be happily married!