Town Clerk, Marriage


All people who marry in Massachusetts must have a marriage license issued in Massachusetts. An out-of-state license cannot be used. 

HOW DO WE APPLY FOR A MARRIAGE LICENSE?
You must both apply in person for a marriage license. This requirement is applicable to both residents and non-residents of the Commonwealth. According to Massachusetts law, you must jointly file intentions to marry, and you may do so with the city or town clerk in any community in the state. If a person is in the military, intentions may be filed by either party, provided one is a Massachusetts resident. A marriage license, once obtained, is valid for 60 days from the date intentions are filed and may be used in any Massachusetts city or town. It is not valid outside of the state.

IS THERE A WAITING PERIOD FROM THE DATE OF APPLICATION TO THE DATE THE LICENSE IS ISSUED?
Yes, there is a mandatory three-day waiting period. While Sundays and holidays are included in the three days, the day the application is made is not.

MAY WE MARRY BEFORE THE THREE DAYS FOR GOOD REASON?
Yes, if you can obtain a court waiver after filing intentions.

HOW DO WE OBTAIN A WAIVER?
You should file your intentions first with any city or town clerk. Then an application for a waiver must be filed by both of you at a probate or district court. After a hearing, the court may issue a certificate allowing the marriage license to be issued, and the marriage preformed without delay.

WHAT IS THE COST OF A MARRIAGE LICENSE?
The state statute stipulates a fee of $4.00 for the license, but it allows cities and towns by a vote of their city councils, boards of selectman or town meeting or by a change in the by-laws to set their own fee. The cost of a marriage license in Ashby is $10.00.

AT WHAT AGE MAY A MAN OR WOMAN MARRY?
A Massachusetts resident may marry if he or she is 18 years of age or older. A Birth certificate may be required to show proof of age.

WHAT IF ONE OR BOTH OF US IS UNDER 18?
If either party is under 18, a court order from a probate or district court where the minor resides must be obtained before the marriage intentions can be filed.

WHAT IF ONE OR BOTH OF US HAS BEEN DIVORCED?
You are not required to present a divorce certificate when filing intentions to marry. However, it is extremely important that an individual who has been divorced be certain that his/her divorce is absolute. If you are uncertain as to the absolute date of your divorce, you should contact the court where the divorce was granted. In Massachusetts, a divorce does not become absolute until 90 days after the divorce nisi has been granted, regardless of the grounds for the divorce.

WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE MEMBER OF THE CLERGY OR THE JUSTICE OF THE PEACE?
The member of the clergy or the justice of the peace must complete and sign the original license and return it to the clerk of the city or town where it was issued.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE IF AN OUT-OF STATE MEMBER OF THE CLERGY IS TO PERFORM THE MARRIAGE?
If an out-of -state member of the clergy is to perform the marriage, the clergyman must obtain a Certificate of Authorization from the Massachusetts Secretary of State prior to the ceremony. This certificate, which is issued by the Public Records Division of the Office of the Secretary of State, is to be attached to the original license and returned to the clerk of the town or city where the license was issued.

WHERE CAN WE GO FOR ADDITIONAL ASSISTANCE OR INFORMATION?

Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
Department of Public Health
150 Tremont Street, Room B3
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 727-0036