Marriage FAQ's

Marriage Licenses (By appointment only)

Where do I obtain my marriage license?
You can obtain your license in any of the 100 counties in North Carolina.

What are the times to obtain a marriage license?

A marriage license can be issued between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. No marriage license applications will be accepted after 4:30 p.m. to allow time for processing.

Who has to be present to obtain the license?
The two applicants applying for a marriage license must appear at the same time at the Register of Deeds office.

What identification is necessary?

One current form of photo identification, with picture and date of birth shown, is required. A current North Carolina Driver's License is preferred. If unavailable, a current driver's license from any state, passport, North Carolina ID card, military ID can be used if it shows a picture and date of birth. Also, you will need to know your Social Security Number.  If you don't have a Social Security Number, please contact our office 919-989-5161 for the types of documentation that we accept.

If picture identification is not presented and the applicant is 21 years of age or younger, the Register of Deeds Office may require the applicant to present a certified copy of their birth certificate.

Applicants under the age of 18 must have a certified copy of their birth certificate, in addition to the other forms of identification required.

What if the applicant does not have a social security number?
Each applicant for a marriage license shall provide on the application the applicant's social security number. If an applicant does not have a social security number and is ineligible to obtain one, the applicant shall present a statement to that effect, sworn to or affirmed before an officer authorized to administer oaths. Upon presentation of a sworn or affirmed statement, the register of deeds shall issue the license, provided all other requirements are met, and retain the statement with the register's copy of the license. G.S. 51-8. (Affidavit forms are available from the Register of Deeds office).

Is a physical required?
The premarital physical is no longer required.

Can I be married without a license?
No minister or officer shall perform a ceremony of marriage between two people, or shall declare them to be married, until there is delivered to him a license for the marriage of the said persons, signed by the register of deeds of the county in which the marriage is intended to take place or by his lawful deputy or assistant. There must be at least 2 witnesses to the marriage ceremony. G.S. 51-6. 8.

What is the penalty for solemnizing without a license?
Every minister or officer who marries any couple without a license being first delivered to him, as required by law, or after the expiration of such license, or who fails to return such license to the register of deeds within 10 days after any marriage, with the certificate completed in full and signed, shall forfeit and pay $200 to any person who sues, and shall also be guilty of a Class I misdemeanor. G.S. 51-7.

What if one or both of the parties are divorced?
You must know the month and year of the divorce decree for an absolute divorce. If the divorce was finalized within 30 days of applying for a marriage license, the party must present a copy of the divorce decree.

Where can the marriage license be purchased?
The marriage license can be purchased at any Register of Deeds office in North Carolina.

What is the effective date for the marriage license?
The marriage license is valid immediately upon issuance and is valid for 60 days from the date of issuance. On the 61st day, the license expires.

What forms must be completed?
A marriage license application worksheet and affidavit of eligibility to marry must be completed. The forms may be completed prior to arrival but must be signed in the presence of the register of deeds, assistant or deputy.

How old do I have to be to apply for a marriage license?
All unmarried persons of 18 years, or older, may lawfully marry, except as forbidden and set out in the General Statutes of North Carolina.

What if the applicant is under 18 years of age? 
Pursuant to N.C.G.S. 51-2:

(a) Persons over 16 years of age and under 18 years of age may marry, and the register of deeds may issue a license for such marriage, only after there shall have been filed with the register of deeds a written consent to such marriage, said consent having been signed by the appropriate person as follows:

(1) By the father if the male or female child applying to marry resides with his or her father, but not with his or her mother;
(2) By the mother if the male or female child applying to marry resides with his or her mother, but not with his or her father;
(3) By either the mother or father, without preference, if the male or female child applying to marry resides with his or her mother and father;
(4) By a person, agency, or institution having legal custody, standing in leau of parents, or serving as guardian of such male or female child applying to marry.

Such written consent shall not be required for an emancipated minor if a certificate of emancipation issued pursuant to Article 35 of Chapter 7B of the General Statutes or a certified copy of a final decree or certificate of emancipation from this or any other jurisdiction is filed with the register of deeds.

(b) When a minor is more than 14 years old, but less than 16 years old, they may be issued a marriage license only if (1) he or she is the mother or father of a child, whether born or unborn; and (2) he or she and the other parent of the child have agreed to marry; and (3) a certified copy of an order issued by a district court judge authorizing the marriage is filed with the register of deeds. Minors under the age 14 years old are prohibited to marry in the state of North Carolina. For more information about an order by the court to marry, please contact the Clerk of Courts Office at (919) 934-3191.

What is the cost?
The fee for a marriage license is $60.00. Of this expense, $5.00 of each license fee goes to the state treasurer for deposit in the Children's Trust Fund; $30.00 to the Department of Administration for the Domestic Violence Center Fund and the county retains $25.00 of each license for deposit to the general fund of the county.

Who can perform the marriage ceremony?
Pursuant to N.C.G.S 51-1, an ordained minister of any religious denomination, minister authorized by his church, or a magistrate may perform the ceremony.

How do I contact a magistrate?
Magistrates are the only judicial officials allowed to perform marriage ceremonies. The Magistrate performs ceremonies BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. For more information about a magistrate performing your marriage ceremony or to schedult an appointment, please contact the magistrates office. Civil Magistrate (919) 209-5460 or Criminal Magistrate (919) 209-5462.

How many witnesses do I need?
At least two witnesses to the marriage ceremony are required.

How do I obtain a certified copy of my marriage license?
If you obtained your license in Johnston County, you may stop by our office and purchase a certified copy for $10.00. You may also request your certified copy by mail. Give the names of the bride and groom at the time of the marriage and date of marriage. Enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope and a copy of your photo identification.

Who may apply for a certified copy of my marriage license?
Certified copies may be obtained by those listed in G.S. 130A-A-93. Those include oneself, spouse, brother, sister, child, stepchild, parents, step-parents, grandparents, great-grandparents; identification is required. Also an authorized agent, attorney or legal representative of the person or a person seeking legal determination of personal or property rights; proof is required.

Why do I need a copy of my marriage license?
Take a certified copy to the Drivers License Bureau to obtain a new license reflecting your new married name. Take a certified copy to the Social Security office to get a new social security card.

How do I file separation papers?
See an attorney. The recording fee is $26.00 for the first 15 pages and $4.00 for each additional page thereafter.

How do I obtain a copy of my divorce?
If the divorce was obtained in Johnston County, you may obtain a copy from the office of the Clerk of Court located on the first floor of the Johnston County Courthouse.

Are marriages between persons of the same gender valid in North Carolina? Yes, as of 10/10/2014 they are valid.


Office Hours
Monday-Friday: 8am-5pm


Marriage Licenses (By appointment only)
Appointment Times:
Monday-Friday: 8am-4:30pm

Vital Records Phone #

Real Estate Phone #

Passports (By appointment only)
Appointment Times:
Monday-Friday: 8:30am-4pm
We are located at:
207 East Johnston St. Suite 209
Smithfield, NC 27577