Do you need a marriage license to get married in Iowa?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

In order to get married in Iowa, you will need a marriage license. This is a legal requirement that ensures the marriage is recognized by the state. Let me provide you with some detailed information about obtaining a marriage license in Iowa.

Firstly, it is important to note that marriages in Iowa can only take place between two individuals who meet certain eligibility criteria. These criteria include:

1. Age Requirement: Both individuals must be 18 years of age or older. If either party is under 18, they may still be able to marry with parental consent or a court order.

2. Marital Status: Neither party should be currently married to someone else. If either person was previously married, they must provide legal documentation of the termination of that marriage, such as a divorce decree or death certificate.

3. Blood Relation: The couple should not be closely related by blood. In Iowa, first cousins are not allowed to marry, although there are some exceptions for individuals over a certain age or those who cannot bear children.

4. Legal Competency: Both parties must be legally competent to enter into a civil contract. This means they must have the mental capacity to understand the nature of the marriage contract and willingly consent to it.

Once you have ensured that you meet these eligibility criteria, you can proceed to apply for a marriage license. The process typically involves the following steps:

1. Visit the County Recorder’s Office: You and your partner need to visit the County Recorder’s Office in any county in Iowa to apply for a marriage license. It is recommended to apply in the county where either one of you resides.

2. Provide Required Information: You will be required to provide certain information, such as your full names, dates and places of birth, social security numbers, and current addresses. You may also need to provide information about your parents, such as their full names and places of birth.

3. Pay the Fee: There is a fee associated with obtaining a marriage license in Iowa, which varies by county. The fee typically ranges from $30 to $40. It is advisable to contact the County Recorder’s Office beforehand to confirm the exact fee amount and acceptable methods of payment.

4. Waiting Period: After submitting your application and paying the fee, there is a mandatory three-day waiting period before the marriage license is issued. This waiting period allows time for any objections to be raised.

5. Pick Up the License: Once the waiting period has passed, you can return to the County Recorder’s Office to pick up your marriage license. The license is typically valid for six months from the date of issuance.

It is important to note that the marriage license is different from the marriage ceremony itself. The license grants you legal permission to marry, but you will still need to arrange and conduct a ceremony, which can be done by a qualified officiant.

Obtaining a marriage license is a necessary step to legally marry in Iowa. By meeting the eligibility criteria and completing the application process, you can obtain a marriage license from the County Recorder’s Office. Remember to check the specific requirements and fees of the county you plan to apply in.