Photo of Professionals at Doyle Quane
Photo of Professionals at Doyle Quane
Premier Estate Planning & Family Law Attorneys in Danville, CA

Public vs. confidential marriage license in California

On Behalf of | Dec 18, 2023 | Family Law

When you are ready to marry in California, you have a few options regarding your marriage license. 

One is a public marriage license and the other is a confidential marriage license. Learn about each here

The public marriage license

A public marriage license is California’s most common type of marriage license. Here are some key points to know about it:

  • Public record: A public marriage license is a matter of public record, which means that anyone can access the information related to the marriage. This includes details like the names of the spouses, the date and location of the marriage and the names of the witnesses.
  • Age requirements: Both parties must be at least 18 years old to obtain a public marriage license without parental consent.
  • Waiting period: There is a mandatory waiting period of 90 days from the date the marriage license is issued before the marriage ceremony can take place. 
  • Witnesses: You must have at least one witness present at your ceremony, and that witness must sign the marriage license.

The confidential marriage license

In contrast, a confidential marriage license offers a greater degree of privacy. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Privacy: A confidential marriage license is not a matter of public record, which means that the details of the marriage are kept confidential.
  • Age requirements: To acquire a confidential marriage license without parental consent, both people must be 18 or older. 

          Waiting period: There is no mandatory waiting period for a confidential marriage license. Couples can marry immediately after obtaining it.

  • Witnesses: While having a witness present at the ceremony is not required, the marriage license can be signed by one witness if desired.
  • Purpose: Confidential marriage licenses are often chosen by couples who value privacy and want to keep their marriage details confidential.

The choice between a public and confidential marriage license in California depends on your preference for privacy and the need for a waiting period. Couples should carefully consider their priorities when making this decision.