North Carolina Marriage Laws

How to apply for a Marriage License in NC

Both parties should appear at the Register of Deeds, if possible (NCGS 51.8.2).  If an applicant for a marriage license is over 18 years of age and is unable to appear in person, the other party to the planned marriage must appear in person on behalf of the applicant and submit a sworn and notarized affidavit in lieu of the absent applicant's personal appearance. Forms are usually available online or in the local Registrer of Deeds office. 
 No blood test or physical is required. 

When to Apply 
Office hours are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday, except legal holidays; however, applications will not be accepted after 4:30 pm to allow for processing. There is no waiting period in North Carolina. The license is good immediately and up to sixty (60) days from date of issue.  There are Offices that have extended hours on certain days during the week.

Cost of License 
The license is $60.00.

  As is local custom a certificate of marriage keepsake may also be available, but only at the time the marriage license is issued - so make sure you ask for one.  Do pay the extra $10 to get them to automatically send you your certified copy - It will be required by the Social Security Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles in order for the bride to change her name.

What to do with the License 
You are responsible for delivering the license to the person who solemnizes your marriage. The officiant must complete the bottom portion of both copies then return both copies to the Register of Deeds office. An envelope is provided to return the license. The license must be returned within ten (10) days after the ceremony (NCGS 51.7). One copy is retained in the Register of Deeds office, and the other copy is sent to the NC Vital Records Division in Raleigh. The license may be used in any county in North Carolina. The license must be returned to the County in which it was issued. 

Ministers and Magistrates
Magistrates are the only judicial officials allowed to perform marriage ceremonies. Civil Magistrates are located in the local  Courthouse.  There is no legal 'officiant' title in North Carolina - only a minister legally ordained by a recognized religious organization can perform a marriage.  Native Americans that are legally designated by their tribe can perform a ceremony.
Social Security Number 

Per North Carolina law, all applicants must provide their Social Security number. If ineligible for a Social Security Number, an affidavit must be completed.  

Proof-of-Age identification 
Identification and proof-of-age is required of ALL persons. The following documents will be accepted: 

Age 18 to 21
*Certified copy of birth certificate and picture identification with name. 

Age 21 and over
Picture identification with name and date of birth. 

Under 18 years of age
Contact the office for Special License requirements and information regarding consenting parents. 

Blood relatives, no closer kin than first cousins, can marry under the laws of the State of North Carolina. State law forbids the marriage of double first cousins. Applicants, male and female, must be at least 18-years-old to marry without parental consent. ALL applications under 18 should contact this office for additional information.

Previously married individuals must know the month and year their last marriage ended. If you are divorced or marriage is annulled on the same day you apply for a marriage license, you must produce a certified copy of the divorce or annulment decree. 

Checklist for Obtaining a Marriage License 
1. Social security number 
2. Proper identification (example: driver's license, state identification, passport) 
3. **Certified copy of birth certificate, if under 21 years old. 
4. If under 18, contact this office 
5. Cost: $60.00 -- check or cash 
6. Include $10.00 for each certified full copy. You can pay with either cash, money order, or check.

Officiant Requirements in NC

According to NC General Statute a marriage ceremony can only be performed "in the presence of an ordained minister of a recognized religious denomination, a minister authorized by a church, or a magistrate;"  Note that even Judges cannot marry in North Carolina without a special temporary law that has to passed by the General Assembly.  More information can be found here in the Statues.

Are Internet Ordinations Legal in NC?

Internet ordinations are not legal in several states including North Carolina for the purposes of performing or solemizing a marriage ceremony.  There is legal precedence that it is considered fraud in this state.  Those laws are still in effect. Performing an unlawful marriage ceremony is punishable by fine and up to 2 years in jail.  

All of our ministers are schooled, vetted and certified to be officially ordained by proper religious associations so that you can be sure of your marriage legal status.  

Our ministers are in active local churches or are retired after many years in church service.

Select A Register of Deeds Office Below:

​​​Pender County
​​​​Carteret County