How to Get a Marriage License in Ohio

Before you walk down the aisle in the Buckeye State, check out Zola’s guide to marriage licenses in Ohio.

By Emily Forrest

How to Get a Marriage License in Ohio
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

  • To legally get married in Ohio, you’ll first need to obtain a marriage license. Ohio couples can do this at the probate court within each county.
  • Most counties allow you to pre-register your application online to save time. Both individuals will need to be present at the court in person to receive the marriage license.
  • Applicants need to bring their social security number and a valid photo ID. The application fee differs between counties, but is generally $40 to $75.
  • There is no waiting period after you receive the license, but it is only valid for 60 days. After the ceremony, the marriage license must be returned within 30 days.

In months or even days, you’ll be making your way down the aisle towards the next wonderful chapter in your life. First of all, congratulations! You’ve probably begun browsing buttercream and bouquets. Your engagement is an exciting time in your life.

There is, however, an often forgotten aspect of the wedding planning process: obtaining a marriage license. You know you have to do it, but you might not know how to do it. That’s why we’ve compiled this complete guide to how to get a marriage license in Ohio. Learn about all the need-to-know Ohio marriage laws and everything else you need to add to your courthouse wedding checklist to make your big day special.

Marriage License Ohio: Application Procedure

Let’s break down how to get a marriage license in Ohio, step-by-step. The first thing to know is that both individuals in a couple must be present to receive their marriage license. What else?

What is a Marriage License?

A marriage license serves as your application to get married. It is a legal document that you need to obtain before marriage. When the license is signed and returned, the county will issue a marriage certificate, which serves as legal proof of marriage.

Where Do We Get Our Marriage License in Ohio?

Ohio has 88 counties, and each of these counties has a probate court. These 88 probate courts are the only state agencies authorized to issue a marriage license. Ohio residents need to apply for their marriage license in the county in which either applicant resides, but they can get married anywhere in Ohio. Out-of-state residents must obtain their license in the county where their ceremony will take place.

What Documents Do We Need to Get Our Marriage License in Ohio?

You will need several forms of documentation to apply for your marriage license. Here’s what you definitely, might, and won’t need:

You definitely need:

  • A valid photo ID, such as a driver’s license, state ID, or visa

  • Social Security numbers (but not social security cards usually)

You might need:

  • An affidavit from your physician stating your physical disability if you are physically incapacitated

  • Proof of residence in the form of a utility bill, lease, pay stub, car registration, etc. if your ID does not have your current Ohio address

  • A copy of a divorce decree or death certificate if you were previously married

You won’t need:

  • Birth certificates

How Much Does a Marriage License Cost in Ohio?

The fee for an Ohio marriage license differs between various counties. Here are the fees for several counties:

  • Montgomery County: $75

  • Miami County: $50

  • Stark County: $42

  • Lucas County: $60

  • Cuyahoga County: $60

  • Hamilton County: $75

  • Franklin County: $65.

Basically, budget between $40 and $80 for your marriage license fee. Is that all? Not quite. Some counties, including Miami County, Stark County, and Lucas County only accept cash. Other counties, such as Franklin county, only accept credit cards. Other counties accept a wider range of payments, including cash, money orders, cashier’s checks, and credit and debit cards. Generally, there is an additional two to three percent service fee for credit cards.

So what’s a couple to do? You can check your county’s website to confirm their fee and payment options or just bring both cash and card so all your bases are covered. You should also know that the marriage license fee is nonrefundable.

Does Ohio Require a Blood Test to Receive a Marriage License?

Some states require premarital blood tests to check for venereal diseases. These tests also sometimes check for serious genetic disorders. In the past, couples might not be able to get married depending on the results or would just have to disclose their results to each other. Ohio, however, doesn’t require blood tests.

Can I Apply for My Marriage License Online?

Most counties will allow you to start your marriage license application online by pre-registering. You’ll provide necessary personal information and receive a confirmation to bring to your in-person appointment. Applying online first will save you a lot of time.

How Long Will It Take to Get My Ohio Marriage License?

According to Miami County in Ohio, if you apply online before, you should expect to wait 20 minutes at the court to receive your marriage license. If you apply in person only, you should expect to wait up to 60 minutes.

What Are The Probate Court Hours?

Ohio probate courts are generally open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Some courts might open 30 minutes later or close earlier on Fridays, so confirm the hours online for your respective county.

Do I Need to Make an Appointment?

Some counties, such as Lucas County, give marriage licenses on a first-come, first-served basis. Other counties like Miami County require an appointment, which can be made online.

What Documents Will I Receive?

After you complete your appointment, you will receive several documents:

  • Two forms for the officiant
  • A decorative, non-legally binding souvenir marriage license
  • General information forms

The two forms for the officiant are the most important. You will give the officiant these forms before the ceremony. The first form confirms you’ve received your marriage license. The second form is for the officiant to fill out to confirm they performed the wedding ceremony. The second form is the one that will be eventually returned. The court will provide a pre-addressed envelope to return the license in.

Is There a Waiting Period Once I Receive My Ohio Marriage License?

In the past, Ohio enforced a five-day waiting period between issuing the marriage license and when the couple could officially get married, but as of 2021, there is no longer a waiting period.

Will My Ohio Marriage License Expire?

Yes, your Ohio marriage license will expire after 60 days. If you don’t get married within 60 days of receiving it, you’ll need to restart the process and get a new license.

How Do I File My Ohio Marriage License?

After the ceremony, the officiant will need to return the marriage license to the court by mail within 30 days of performing the ceremony to verify the marriage was legally performed. Not returning a marriage license is a misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine for officiants.

Once the license is filed, you’re legally married in the eyes of the state of Ohio. Congratulations! You will receive a certified copy of the license by mail. You can also request additional copies.

What Can Invalidate an Ohio Marriage License Application?

As part of the marriage license application process, both individuals will affirm that all the information they provided is true, correct, and complete. If the license is issued based on any false information, the probate court can declare the license void.

Things to Know About the Timing of Your Ohio Marriage License

When it comes to a marriage license, it’s all about the timing. In case your head is spinning with information overload, here is a brief breakdown of the timing to get and file your marriage license in Ohio.

120 Days Before the Ceremony

Your wedding is four months away! Now is the perfect time to make sure you have all of the documents you will need to complete your marriage application. It’s also a good time to start perfecting your save the dates or custom wedding invitations with Zola.

60 Days Before the Ceremony

Since an Ohio marriage license is valid for 60 days, you should obtain it about two months before the ceremony. Since there is no waiting period, you can even get your marriage license the day before or the day of your wedding, but we don’t recommend it.

Give yourself a little buffer room within that 60-day window just in case you’re missing a document or it’s difficult to get an appointment.

30 Days After the Ceremony

Before you sail away into your life as a newlywed, make sure that your officiant returns the signed marriage license within 30 days of the ceremony. Ask them to turn it in as soon as possible after the ceremony to avoid any issues.

Marriage Laws Unique to Ohio

Since every state has different marriage laws and these laws are constantly changing, it’s important to get a refresher, even if you’re confident in your nuptial knowledge.

The Legal Age of Marriage in Ohio

As of 2019, the legal age of marriage in Ohio is 18 years old. Before then, girls could marry at the age of 16, and men could marry at the age of 18. Teenagers even younger could marry with judicial and parental consent.

Now, there is only one exception to the minimum age of marriage. Seventeen-year-olds can marry if they meet the following requirements:

  • The age difference between the couple cannot be more than four years
  • The couple must undertake a 14-day waiting period
  • A juvenile court must consent to the marriage

Who Can’t Get Married in Ohio

Like most states, there are several groups of people who cannot legally be married in Ohio. These categories include:

  • Ohio will not issue a marriage license if either applicant is under the influence of alcohol or narcotics when they appear to obtain the license.

  • Ohio will not issue a marriage license if either applicant is infected with syphilis that is currently communicable or will be so in the future.

  • Ohio will not issue a marriage license if the couple are nearer of kin than second cousins.

  • Ohio will not issue a marriage license if either individual is still legally in a previous marriage.

Who Can Officiate a Wedding in Ohio

The following persons or groups can officiate a marriage in Ohio:

  • An ordained or licensed minister of any religious society or congregation within Ohio who is licensed to solemnize marriages

  • A judge of a county court in accordance with section 1907.18 of the Revised Code

  • A judge of a municipal court in accordance with section 1901.14 of the Revised Code

  • A probate judge in accordance with section 2101.27 of the Revised Code

  • The Mayor of a municipal corporation in any county in which the municipal corporation wholly or partly lies

  • The superintendent of the state school for the deaf

  • Any religious society in accordance with the rules of its church

Ministers can become licensed through the secretary of state by presenting their credentials from their religious society or congregation. It’s important that your officiant is legally authorized. Performing a marriage without a license or authorization is a crime in Ohio.

You can access a list of authorized civil officiants through your county.

Common-Law Marriage in Ohio

A common-law marriage is a union in which a couple has lived together for a certain period of time and considers themselves married without going through the process of a ceremony or obtaining a marriage license.

Ohio stopped recognizing common-law marriage in 1991. Couples can no longer enter into common-law marriage, except under two conditions:

  • If the common-law marriage was validly entered into before October 1991 or

  • If the common-law marriage was validly entered into in another state that allows such unions

Proxy Marriage in Ohio

A proxy marriage is a way to legally become married if either or both individuals aren’t present. These marriages are available if an individual is in the military, out of state, or incarcerated in certain states. Ohio does not allow proxy marriages.

Domestic Partnerships in Ohio

A domestic partnership is another type of legally recognized union for couples who live together but are not married. Domestic partnerships were common before the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. Ohio has no state laws regarding domestic partnerships, but certain cities allow couples to register their domestic partnership.

Frequently Asked Questions About Marriage in Ohio

We know the world of marriage licenses and laws can be confusing. Hopefully, these FAQs will answer anything and everything you want (or need) to know.

Does Ohio Require Witnesses?

No, Ohio does not require witnesses for the marriage ceremony.

Do Both Applicants Need to Visit the Probate Court to Obtain the Marriage License?

Yes, both applicants will need to be present to receive their marriage license. If one of the applicants is sick or disabled, they can apply using an affidavit signed by a practicing physician within the same county where the court is located.

Which County Should We Obtain Our Marriage License In?

Ohio residents need to apply for their marriage license in the county where either or both applicants live. Non-residents need to apply for their marriage license in the county where their wedding will take place.

What if Either Individual Has Been Married Before?

If your previous marriage ended in either a divorce or annulment, you must provide:

  • A certified copy of the most recent divorce/annulment/dissolution decree
  • The case number of all previous marriages
  • The dates of all previous marriages
  • The county, state, and country of all previous marriages
  • The names of previous spouses
  • The names of all current children under the age of 18

If your spouse is deceased, you are not required to provide a copy of the death certificate in some counties. Other counties do require a copy of the death certificate, so confirm with your county.

Where Can I Obtain a Copy of My Divorce Decree?

The Ohio Bureau of Vital Statistics does not keep marriage and divorce records. You should request a copy of your divorce decree from the county clerk in the county where your divorce was finalized.

Where Can I Obtain a Copy of a Death Certificate?

Certified copies of death certificates are available through the Ohio Bureau of Vital Statistics. The cost is $21.50, and these copies are available in person, online, or by mail.

Where Can I Obtain a Copy of My Marriage Certificate?

You can obtain copies of your marriage certificate through the county where you filed your marriage license.

What Happens if My Marriage License is Lost or Damaged?

Ohio will not replace a lost or damaged marriage license, so you will need to restart the application process.

What if We Require an Interpreter?

If you require an interpreter because you are hearing impaired, contact your county’s probate court.

What if We Require a Translator?

If either applicant does not speak English, they will need to bring a translator to acquire their marriage license. This translator must be:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Not related to either applicant
  • Able to provide a valid, government-issued picture ID

What if Any of My Documents Are in a Foreign Language?

If any of your documents are in a foreign language, you will be required to provide a translation on the business letterhead of a professional translator in addition to the original foreign document.

Do We Have to Change Our Surnames?

You are not required to change your name. Either spouse can:

  • Keep their name
  • Assume their spouse’s name
  • Adopt a new surname
  • Combine surnames

How Do I Change My Name?

You should visit your county probate court in person to change your name. You will need to provide a photo ID and pay a filing fee. You will fill out a petition and then publish your name change in a local newspaper at least 30 days before your hearing.

At your hearing, the judge will ask a few questions to determine if they will accept your request. If your petition is accepted, you’ll receive a court order that you can use to notify other government agencies like the DMV or Social Security office.

What If We Don’t Have a Wedding Date Set Yet?

The marriage license application might require that you provide your intended wedding date. If you don’t have an exact date, just provide an approximate date within the 60-day validity window. However, it’s always helpful to book your venue before you apply for your license (Hint: Zola’s wedding venue database offers pre-screened venues in your area so you can find your dream place that’s within your budget).

Do You Have to Be a Citizen to Get Married in Ohio?

No, you don’t have to be a citizen to get married in Ohio. However, you will need to provide your foreign passport and American visa.

Are There Discounts or Waivers for the Marriage License Fee?

No, there are no discounts, waivers, or installment plans for the marriage license fee. You must pay in full immediately.

Can I Get a Refund on an Expired or Unused Marriage License?

No, you cannot get a refund for your marriage license, even if it is expired or unused.

Everything You Need to Plan Your Ohio Wedding

Now that you’ve figured out how to get a marriage license, it’s time to return to the fun part of wedding planning. Have you booked your wedding vendors yet?

Zola makes the process stress-free. Find trustworthy, pre-screened vendors in our easy-to-use online inventory of vendors. Need a venue? We got you. A florist? We got you. A makeup artist? We got you.

Applying for a marriage license may be confusing and even a little boring, but planning your wedding is sure to be a joy with a little help from Zola.

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