The Superior Court of the District of Columbia Marriage Bureau offers several options for applying for a marriage license, so it’s very important to understand the Washington DC marriage license requirements.
If you live in the greater DC area and have the time to apply for a marriage license yourself, you can do so by visiting the DC Marriage Bureau to apply in person. If you live outside the greater DC area, or don’t have the time, desire, or ability to apply in person, we offer a DC Marriage Application by Proxy Service and can submit your marriage license application for you.
There are many reasons couples choose to have us apply for their marriage license instead of doing it themselves, but primarily it’s because of the time required to apply for a marriage license.
Depending on how busy the court is on a given day, it can take upwards of an hour just to get through the security line to enter the courthouse, and several more hours to apply and pay for a marriage license. Since the court is only open on weekdays, it can be very difficult for couples to carve out the amount of time needed to apply in person, even if they live in the DC area. If you’re interested in using our services to apply for a DC marriage license on your behalf, or to learn more about the other services we offer, please visit our DC Elopement Packages page.
How to Apply for a DC Marriage License
For couples who are not using our DC Marriage Application by Proxy Service, applications for marriage licenses in DC must be submitted in person, either by you or by someone else on your behalf, at the DC Superior Court. The DC Marriage Bureau is open from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays and is located on the 4th floor of the Moultrie Courthouse:
DC Marriage Bureau – Moultrie Courthouse
500 Indiana Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Applying in person can take several hours, so plan accordingly. Keep in mind that the Moultrie Courthouse is a multi-use facility, handling everything from traffic violations and landlord/tenant disputes to domestic violence and murder trials. There is typically a long line to get through security to enter the courthouse, especially in the morning. It can take up to an hour or more to get through the security line depending on how many cases are being heard at the court that day.
Everyone entering the DC Superior Court is subject to search by the US Marshals Service and/or Court Security. You will be required to empty your pockets, pass through a metal detector, and have your bags, coats, and other items scanned in an x-ray machine. Do not bring weapons of any kind to the court, even small pocket knives on a keychain. Cameras and recording devices are also prohibited (because of court cases) so it’s best to only bring a phone with a camera so you don’t get your camera confiscated.
Once you make it through security, head to the 4th floor and look for signs for the Marriage Bureau – it’s tucked back in the northeast corner of the building. The person applying for the license (the applicant) must sign in at the desk and wait for their name to be called. There is often a long wait time in the office due to the high volume of licenses being processed, so bring a book with you.
If you have booked a DC Elopement Package or DC Legal Marriage Package with us but are applying for your own marriage license, we strongly recommend arriving at the courthouse at least 4 hours before your scheduled service time. This will ensure that you have enough time to get through security and obtain your license before your appointment. For instance, if you are planning to arrive at the court when it opens at 8:30am, we do not recommend scheduling your service prior to 1pm the same day.
If either party to the marriage is not present when submitting the application, the applicant must have a photocopy of that person’s government-issued photo ID. If the applicant is filing for both parties as an Application by Proxy, then they will need photocopies of both parties’ ID cards. Neither party needs to be a DC resident in order to get married in DC. If one party is nor a U.S. citizen, the office will accept a valid passport. Passports can be used for identification purposes in person, or a copy of a passport can also be used, provided that the copy is in color and has been notarized with a raised seal.
Unlike many other jurisdictions, Washington, DC only allows marriages to be performed by an officiant authorized by the court – you can not have someone perform your ceremony who isn’t authorized by the DC Court Marriage Bureau office. You will need to give the full name of the authorized officiant who will be performing your ceremony on the application itself when you apply, so it is critical that you hire an officiant before applying for your license.
The Marriage Bureau staff will look up the officiant in their database to ensure that they are authorized before they will put their name on your marriage license. If the officiant’s name isn’t in the database, they will not print your marriage license and you’ll have to leave and come back another time when you have the name of an authorized officiant. Once you have the marriage license in hand, only that specific officiant named on your license may perform your marriage – licenses are not transferable.
It is possible to get married at the courthouse for free, but you must sign up on the waitlist at the office. Depending on the time of year, the wait for a courthouse wedding can be rather lengthy. According to the Marriage Bureau website, the waitlist averages 2-3 weeks. Currently, the wait time for a courthouse wedding is over 5 weeks.
For couples who don’t want to wait for an appointment for a courthouse wedding, DC Elopements offers multiple services for wedding ceremonies, but we do not perform ceremonies in the courthouse itself.
The fee to apply for a marriage license in DC is $45.00 total ($35.00 for the Marriage Application Fee plus $10.00 for the “Certificate of Marriage” (printing the license)). Fees must be paid by credit card, money order, or cash. The court does not accept personal checks.
Once the license has been issued, you can take as long as you would like to actually get married – there is no expiration date on wedding licenses in DC. All that is required to finalize the marriage is a signature by the authorized officiant named on the license.
There are 3 carbon copies of the license, one for the court, one for the officiant, and one for you to keep. The copy you are given by the officiant is not an official license – in order to obtain a certified copy for legal purposes you must wait until 10 days after the Marriage Bureau office has received the copy from the officiant and then request one, or use our Expedited Certified Copy Service. The Marriage Bureau will not send you a certified copy of the license unless you specifically request one.
Hire Us to Get Your DC Marriage License by Proxy
For couples who don’t have the time or desire to apply in person for a DC Marriage License, our DC Marriage Application by Proxy service is a great fit. We’ve successfully helped over 1,000 couples get a marriage license in DC and our secure online booking system makes submitting your marriage license information easy and convenient!
In addition to offering this service on its own, it is also included in a number of our DC Elopement Packages. For a full schedule of packages and services, click the button below.