The most essential thing you need for your wedding day is the document to make it official! We’ve compiled the specifics to help you figure out when and where and how to get your marriage license, whether you live in Pennsylvania or New Jersey.
Questions to answer
The first question: Where is your ceremony taking place? You need a license from that state, whatever the answer, regardless of where you live currently.
If Pennsylvania, you can apply for a license in any county and use that license in any county in the state. If New Jersey, there’s a second question: Do either of you live in New Jersey? If yes, you must apply for a license in the municipality in which you live (if you both live in different places in NJ, you can pick one of the two). If no, the only place you can apply for a license is the municipality in which your ceremony will be held.
In PA, everything is done at the county level (through their Register of Wills), but in NJ, it’s at the municipal level, so you have to go to the Registrar of Vital Statistics in that township or borough or the like (e.g. Sea Isle City, Ocean City, Cape May).
Want to make this process as smooth as possible?
Don’t go at the last minute! There’s a three-day waiting period for licenses in both states, but even that isn’t always treated the same. In New Jersey and some PA counties, you’ll have to pick the license up three days after you apply. In other PA counties, you can take it with you and don’t need to go back – it still won’t be valid for three days, but it saves you some effort.
Judges may hear petitions to be exempt from the three-day waiting period, but don’t expect “I forgot!” to work – these are for emergency situations, like serious illness or immediate military deployment. So – plan to go early, as licenses in PA are valid for sixty days and licenses in NJ for six months – and make sure you’re both able to be there.
When in doubt, call ahead to confirm whether you’ll need an appointment. You should definitely make an appointment in NJ, but some PA counties suggest them, as well. Even if you don’t need one, if the office closes at 4pm, showing up at 3:45 may not end well.
Also ask about county holidays when the office will be closed – you may not celebrate Flag Day, but you don’t want to find out the hard way that they do!
Make sure you have all of the documentation you’ll need – an official photo ID, at a minimum. If either of you is widowed or divorced, you’ll need that documentation, as well (see below for county specifics), and you may need a certified copy or even the original.
In New Jersey, you’ll need an adult witness to come with you, as well, so arrange for this ahead of time.
Pennsylvania marriage license requirements, by county
Counties are reasonably consistent on the basics – $50+ fee, photo ID – but the specifics vary quite a bit.
You can apply for a license at multiple locations in Bucks County: the courthouse in Doylestown ($60, cash), the offsite office in Levittown ($60, cash), or a District Justice’s office ($62, money order). Some DJ offices require you to be a resident of the jurisdiction, and not all issue licenses – check out the list here.
55 East Court Street
3rd Floor, Admin. Building
Doylestown, PA 18901
Hours: M-F, 8am-4:30pm
1st and 3rd Wed., 8-7:30pm
Lower Bucks Gov’t Service Center
7321 New Falls Road
Levittown, PA 19055
Hours: M-F 8:30-12pm, 1-4pm
- Requires copy of divorce decree / original death certificate
- You can fill out the application online before you arrive.
For more information: Bucks County Register of Wills
Fee: $75, cash
Marriage License Department
Chester County Justice Center
201 W. Market Street, Suite 2200
PO Box 2746
West Chester, PA 19380-0989
Hours: M-F, 8:30-4pm
- Requires certified copy of divorce decree / date of death of spouse
- Applications made Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday will not be valid until Monday!
For more information: Chester County Register of Wills
Fee: $60, cash (will take credit cards for an additional $1.80 fee)
201 W. Front Street
Media, PA 19063
Hours: 8:30-4pm, M-F
- Requires certified copy of divorce decree / original death certificate
For more information: Delaware County Register of Wills
Fee: $50, cash
One Montgomery Plaza
425 Swede Street, 4th Floor
Norristown, PA 19404-0311
Hours: M-F, 8:30am-4:15pm
- Requires copy of divorce decree / date of death of spouse
For more information: Montgomery County Register of Wills
Fee: $80, cash or money order
Marriage License Bureau
Room 415 City Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19107
M, T, R, F 8-4, W 8:30-7:30pm
- For applications, you’re supposed to start at Room 413
- Must provide either your social security card or proof of your SSN (e.g. W-2)
For more information: Philadelphia County Register of Wills
Other counties in PA
If a further-afield county is convenient for you both, you might consider going there (particularly if the license is cheaper). Here are a few links:
New Jersey marriage license requirements
Fee: $28, check with municipality for method of payment
Here are a few links to municipal instructions:
Where did you (or will you) end up applying for your marriage license? Share your memories of the day in the comments, or tell us if you’re planning anything special!