Marriage License

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What purpose does a marriage license serve? Isn’t our love sufficient proof that we intend to get married and stay married for an indefinite period of time?

That’s the one thing wrong with contemporary society. You need a license for every aspect of human activity. It all starts at a young age. You a need a driver’s license to drive your first car, you need an international driver’s license if you plan on driving in another country for an extended period of time.

Even recreational activities require a license, which no doubt you’ll agree takes half the fun out of pursuing that hobby. You’ll need a fishing license if you’re into trout or salmon, or you’ll need a taxi driver’s license to ferry people about town as a cabbie. If you want to go into business, you’ll need a franchise license or an export-import license . In some cases, you might even need both.

If you want to practice your profession, you need another license to include in your “license and permit inventory.” You need a medical license if you want to tend to the sick, a dental practice license if you like to poke in and around teeth and gums, or a legal license to speak legalese and impress (confuse) your clients.

Then you fall in love and want to commit your life to a special someone. That too requires a license. And if you change your mind about your loved one, you’ll probably need to obtain a license to sever all ties.

That’s the beauty of an over-regulated society. All in the name of peace and order. Fair enough.

Speaking of marriage license, the procedure is fundamentally the same although each state or each province may be a tad different in how these licenses are processed and issued.

Let’s take one American and one Canadian example.

Obtaining a Marriage License in Las Vegas?

In the state of Nevada, requirements for a marriage license are the same whether or not you are an American citizen.

Non-US citizens are advised, however, to check with their own country’s laws for special documents that may be needed for the Las Vegas license to be acceptable and recognized.

You have to be at least 18 years of age to apply for a marriage license and you must not be related to your spouse by blood as a first cousin. Second cousins or cousins of half blood are allowed. None of the applicants must not be married to someone else at the time the license is applied for.

Proof of age will be requested. If you are unable to show proof, the state bureau may refuse to grant you a license. You will not be allowed to present a faxed copy of your birth certificate, use a privately-issued ID, bank cards or damaged IDs.

If you are a citizen of the United States, you will be asked for your Social Security number. For foreign-born citizens, this requirement may be waived.

The fee for a marriage license application is US$55.00. You can download the application but only to fill it in; you cannot apply online. You will have to be physically present at the office to request for a marriage license. Both the future bride and groom must complete this form.

The state of Nevada will accept the following documents as identification: 

  • Driver’s license or ID card issued by the state
  • Original or certified copy of your birth certificate (a foreign birth certificate must be translated and notarized)
  • Passport
  • Identification from the military
  • Resident alien card

Needless to say, all foreign-issued documents must be translated into English. Applicants for a marriage license in Las Vegas will be pleased to learn that there is no blood test or waiting period required.

Your state of Nevada license is valid for one year from date of issue so you must take steps to marry within that time frame if you want to avoid re-applying. Your marriage can take place in a wedding chapel (of which there are hundreds on the Strip, by the way), in a church or in the Commissioner’s Office. These ceremonies are recognized all over the world.

If one of the spouses is divorced, the date of the final divorce must be provided along with any supporting documentation.

If you’re not quite 18 but madly in love and want that marriage license so desperately, you can still apply for one provided you have the consent of one parent or legal guardian. Minors have to present an original or certified birth certificate containing the name(s) of the consenting parent(s) or guardian(s). Parents and guardians must have ample proof that they are the parents or the guardians of the minor-age applicant.

If you were issued a marriage license and two months later you misplaced it, you can request for a copy by writing:

Marriage Bureau
County Clerk's Office
P.O. Box 551603
Las Vegas, Nevada 89155-1603

Obtaining a Marriage Licence in Ontario?

If your wish is to be married in Ontario, you need to fill out a marriage license which you can download heredownload here.

Or you can obtain a copy from the municipal clerk office of your city, town, village or township.

After you have completed the application, you should apply for the marriage licence in person. Make sure you and your spouse are in posession of identification that is acceptable to the Ministry of Ontario: birth certificate (along with any change of name certificates), valid passport, Record of Immigrant Landing or Canadian citizenship card, and a clear photograph. Your marriage licence, once issued, is valid for the entire province of Ontario for three months from issue date (sorry folks, Canadian law wants to ensure you use that licence quickly in case you have a change of heart)!

After you exchange vows, you will receive a document entitled Record of Solemnization of Marriage which will contain your and your spouse’s names, date of the marriage, names of the witnesses and whether the marriage was performed under the authority of a licence or the publication of banns.

Whoever performed your marriage must transmit the Record of Solemnization of Marriage and the marriage licence to the Office of the Registrar General for registration. This is important because your marriage must be registered first before you can apply for a marriage certificate. Bear in mind that a marriage licence and marriage certificate are two separate documents.

Tall and Tan and Loooong!

If you’re thinking of getting married right deep in the rain forests of Brazil, you might be better off going on a leave of absence from work. How does six months strike your fancy?

Apparently, reports are that while it can take anywhere from one to six days to apply for a marriage license in North America, it may take half a year in Brazil.

Why, you ask. It’s not because they need to clear the forest. No, they wouldn’t do that for you. But they’d have to clear you, and see if you have a dark, mysterious past. The state conducts an investigation which can cover (and uncover) past marriages, uncompleted divorce proceedings, and blood tests. They want to make sure that you will be producing healthy, and not diseased, offspring.

Don’t worry, they won’t check if you’ve made any contributions to the preservation of the environment, but at the rate that environmentalists and rain forest enthusiasts have been going, that too could be a requirement soon!

So…lover boy…if you find a tall and young and lovely girl from Ipanema, perhaps it’s a good idea to apply for the marriage licence even before your first date. That is, if you’ve vowed never to lose her and she’s the one you want to spend the rest of your life with.

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