How to Obtain a Marriage License in Jail

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So you've found the person you want to marry and you're ready to take the leap, but it just so happens that your future bride or groom is incarcerated. Now what? Fortunately, you and your future spouse can obtain a marriage license in jail. Although it can be a quite tedious process, with a little bit of research you can be married to the one you love within a few days.

Learn How to Marry a Person in Jail
(Sharron Goodyear)

Things You'll Need

  • Officiant who performs jailhouse weddings
  • Identification
  • Traveling notary
  • Marriage license fee
  • County clerk's contact information
Step 1

Obtain proof of identification from your future spouse. Since he or she will not be allowed to file for a marriage license with you, you will need to bring along his or her ID when you go to apply for your license.

Obtain proof of identification from your future spouse
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Step 2

Find a marriage officiant who performs marriages in jail. To receive your marriage license, your ceremony will have to be performed by an officiant who is legally recognized in your state.

Find a marriage officiant who performs marriages in jail.
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Step 3

Complete an Affidavit of Inability to Appear form. Your officiant should have this form for you, as he is the only one who can receive the form from your county clerk's office.

Complete an Affidavit of Inability to Appear form
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Step 4

Contact a traveling notary service to have the Affidavit of Inability to Appear notarized. By law, the inmate must sign the form in front of the notary, so the notary will need to visit the prisoner.

Step 5

Visit the county clerk's office with your marriage officiant. Make sure you bring the inmate's identification as well as the completed and notarized Inability to Appear form.

Step 6

Pay the required fee to obtain your marriage license. At this time, your marriage officiant will be given the official license to complete after the ceremony has been performed.

Pay the required fee to obtain your marriage license.
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Step 7

Visit the jail or prison where your future spouse is incarcerated. Make sure you ask a guard on duty for a visiting booth where you can pass papers.

Visit the jail or prison where your future spouse is incarcerated.
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Step 8

Sign the marriage license. Your officiant will also have your fiancée sign the license at this time and, after obtaining both signatures, he will then conduct a legal wedding ceremony.

Sign the marriage license.
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Step 9

Have your officiant take the completed marriage license to the county clerk's office. Once the license is received, your marriage will be recorded by the county registrar and you can request a marriage certificate as needed.

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Tips & Warnings

  • From start to finish---including waiting in lines and performing the actual ceremony---it can take up to six hours to complete the process of obtaining your marriage license. Make sure you allow enough time to complete all of the tasks before visiting hours are over.
  • Unlike regular visitors, a notary can legally visit the inmate any time---it does not have to be during visiting hours if the inmate needs to sign legal documents.
  • In order for your marriage license to be valid, the ceremony must occur on the same day that you receive your marriage license. Additionally, the license must then be returned to the clerk's office within three days after the ceremony has been performed.

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