License Information


The Alameda County Clerk/Recorder Office is located at 1106 Madison Street, Oakland, CA 94607. Phone number: 510-272-6363 or, toll-free: 1-888-280-7708. Website:

To be legally married, a couple must obtain a "License and Certificate of Marriage," have a marriage ceremony performed by an authorized Officiant who must complete and mail the document back to the county of issuance within ten days.

Two kinds of licenses are available. The first is a license that is recorded in the public record and requires at least one witness. The second is a "Confidential" license that is not made available to the public and does not require a witness.

Both license applicants are required to show up in person between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. with Government issued photo ID - driver's license, State of California ID card, etc. Their busy time is between noon and 2 p.m. - try to avoid those hours.

The license/certificate can be used anywhere in the State of California but not outside of the state. Exception: A "Confidential License and Certificate of Marriage" must be used in the county where it was issued. You have 90 days from the date of issue to use the license. After 90 days, another license will need to be purchased.

No physical examination or blood test is required but applicants must be unmarried, at least 18 years old and may be citizens of another U.S. state or foreign country.

The license/certificate fee is $96 which includes one certified copy that can be used to establish a name change for the bride...useful for the Social Security Administration, DMV and other agencies requiring name proof.

Your name can be changed on the Marriage License and Certificate if you plan to use another last name other than your current one. Go to this website for information about

The Name Equity Act of 2007.

The clerk's office accepts cash, check or debit (ATM) cards but not credit cards.

Applicants will be asked to identify the names of both parents and their place of birth (U.S. state or foreign country).

You must give your license to the wedding minister or ceremony celebrant before the wedding. He or she will complete the license with witness signatures and add the celebrant's name and other information before mailing the certificate back to the clerk's office.

Ask the celebrant to give you a copy of the completed license before he or she mails it to the County Clerk. Certified Marriage Certificates are available approximately 2 weeks after the license is filed/recorded.

The following information is needed for ordering certified copies of marriage certificates by mail:

  • Party A / Groom's first and last name
  • Party B / Bride's first and maiden last name
  • Date of marriage
  • Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope & mail to the clerk's office at the address shown above.


The Contra Costa County Clerk/Recorder Office is located at 555 Escobar Street, Martinez, CA 94553. Phone number: 925-335-7904, Website:

The same basic information shown above for Alameda County is applicable to Contra Costa County except for the follwing:

  • The fee is $75 but does NOT include a certified copy
  • The office encourages license applicants to use cash
  • To obtain a Certified Marriage License and Certificate, obtain this form online:
Certified Marriage Certficate Application

Fill out the form, print it and take it to the clerk's office in person or, have the form notarized and mail it to the clerk's address shown above with a self-addressed, stamped envelope enclosed. The fee for a certified copy is $17 either, check or money-order.



I have recently been asked about a bride and groom having a simple civil wedding at a venue like the ones in Lake Tahoe or, at a County Clerk's office, prior to a full-blown wedding ceremony with family and friends.

That is certainly doable and seems to be more and more common. I have personally performed wedding ceremonies after the bride and groom have been married in a civil ceremony AND even before a legal civil ceremony is performed.

As a ministerial celebrant, I cannot state that the wedding is legally binding upon the bride and groom if no license is produced. I can state that the wedding is a spiritual union without declaring it legal. The usual ceremonial facets can apply and the bride and groom can be pronounced "married." The ommision of the word, "legal," is a subtle distinction not noticed by friends and family.

If a proper civil license is produced indicating the couple has, if fact, been legally married, that fact can be included in the traditional ceremony.

Anyone who has questions about the legality or propriety of ceremonies like those described above, can send me an email at:

for clarification and a discussion about the alternatives.

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