All couples who marry in Massachusetts must have a marriage license issued in Massachusetts. An out-of-state license cannot be used. You may apply for the license at any town or city hall in the Commonwealth, though hours and prices may differ.
How to Apply for a License
You must both apply in person at the Town Clerk's Office for a marriage license, each presenting proper identifcation, such as a driver's license or passport. This requirement is applicable to both residents and non-residents of the Commonwealth. According to Massachusetts law, you must in-person jointly file intentions to marry, and you may do so with the city or town clerk in any community in the state. There is a three-day waiting period until the license is available for use (see below for details). If a person is in the military, intentions may be filed by either party, providing one is a Massachusetts resident. If a person is incarcerated in a county house of correction or a state correctional facility, intentions may be filed by either party. 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 the state. The Town Clerk's Office is located in the Belmont Town Hall, 455 Concord Avenue.
When filing intention to marry, we will ask for the name and contact phone of the person who will perform the marriage.
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. For example, if you apply on Friday, your license will be issued on or after Monday. One party must pick up the valid license at the Town Clerk's office prior to the wedding; a review of the license for errors is required before it will be issued.
Obtaining a Waiver of the Waiting Period
May we marry before the three days for good reason?
Yes, you can obtain a court waiver after filing intentions. According to MGL Ch. 207:30, if both parties are residents, or non-residents, or one of each, and they need to dispense with the three days, they may do so by applying to the judge of a probate or district court to have the license issued without delay, after filing intentions with the Town Clerk. Under extraordinary or emergency circumstances, such as if the death of either party is imminent or the female is nearing the end of her pregnancy, an authorized request by a minister or clergyperson or an attending physician shall suffice and the clerk can issue the license without delay.
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 performed without delay.
Cost of License
The filing fee in Belmont is $30.00. This fee is payable at the time the intention is filed; check or cash are acceptable forms of payment.
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 party is under the age of 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.
Divorced and Widowed Applicants
What if one or both of us had 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 divorce.
Is there a special requirement for a person who is widowed to remarry?
Witnesses to Ceremony
Do we need any witnesses present at the ceremony?
Massachusetts statute does not require that witnesses be present at your ceremony. However, if a member of the clergy performs the ceremony, you should ensure that you are in conformity with the appropriate religious tenets.
Clergy, Justice of the Peace and One- Day Solemnizers
What are the responsibilities of the member of the clergy or the justice of the peace?
The member of the clergy or justice of the peace must complete and sign the original license and return it to the clerk of the city or town where the license was issued.
The current Belmont Town Clerk is a Justice of the Peace for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Call the Town Clerk's office if in need of this service. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has set the rate for Jp services at $100
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 clergyperson must obtain a Certificate of Authorization from the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth prior to the ceremony. This certificate, which is issued by the Public Records Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, is to be attached to the original license and returned to the clerk of the city or town where the license was issued. For further information, contact:
Division of Public Records
Secretary of the Commonwealth
One Ashburton Place, Room 1719
Boston, MA 02108
Is it possible for a layperson to solemnize a wedding?
Yes. A person who is not a recognized member of the clergy in Massachusetts or a Justice of the Peace (such as a relative or family friend) may obtain one-day special permission from the Governor to perform a marriage.
For instructions and application to be deesignated as a one day solemnizer for a marriage, go to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Website: http://www.mass.gov
search for: one day marriage designation
or call the Governor's office at (617) 727-5787.
A $25 fee is paid to the Commissions Division of the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth and a one day solemnizer certificate is sent to the approved solemnizer. The certificate must be submitted with the signed marriage license after the ceremony.
Are there any special requirements if one applicant is an immigrant?
If either of the parties has arrived as an immigrant from a foreign country at least five days before filing the intention application, the application may be filed at any time before the marriage, and the certificate shall be issued at any time after the filing.
Obtaining Certified Copies of the Marriage Certificate
How do we obtain certified copies of our marriage certificate for use with Social Security or insurance purposes?
After the marriage is performed, and the solemnizer (JP, Priest, Rabbi, etc) has returned the signed marriage license to the Office of the Town Clerk, the marriage is recorded. Only then can a certified copy of the marriage certificate be issued. Usually this process takes approximately ten (10) days after the marriage. Parties are welcome to telephone the Town Clerk's Office at 617-993-2600 to check on availability of the marriage certificate if time is an issue. Each certified copy is $20.00 and usable for all legal purposes.
Where can we go for additional assistance
Belmont Town Clerk at 617-993-2600
Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
Department of Public Health
150 Mt. Vernon Street
Boston, MA 02125-3105