How to Obtain a Marriage License in Jail

by Jessica Saras ; Updated September 28, 2017

So you've found the person you want to marry and you're ready to take the leap, but it just so happens that your future bride or groom is incarcerated. Now what? Fortunately, you and your future spouse can obtain a marriage license in jail. Although it can be a quite tedious process, with a little bit of research you can be married to the one you love within a few days.

Obtain proof of identification from your future spouse. Since he or she will not be allowed to file for a marriage license with you, you will need to bring along his or her ID when you go to apply for your license.

Find a marriage officiant who performs marriages in jail. To receive your marriage license, your ceremony will have to be performed by an officiant who is legally recognized in your state.

Complete an Affidavit of Inability to Appear form. Your officiant should have this form for you, as he is the only one who can receive the form from your county clerk's office.

Contact a traveling notary service to have the Affidavit of Inability to Appear notarized. By law, the inmate must sign the form in front of the notary, so the notary will need to visit the prisoner.

Visit the county clerk's office with your marriage officiant. Make sure you bring the inmate's identification as well as the completed and notarized Inability to Appear form.

Pay the required fee to obtain your marriage license. At this time, your marriage officiant will be given the official license to complete after the ceremony has been performed.

Visit the jail or prison where your future spouse is incarcerated. Make sure you ask a guard on duty for a visiting booth where you can pass papers.

Sign the marriage license. Your officiant will also have your fiancée sign the license at this time and, after obtaining both signatures, he will then conduct a legal wedding ceremony.

Have your officiant take the completed marriage license to the county clerk's office. Once the license is received, your marriage will be recorded by the county registrar and you can request a marriage certificate as needed.


  • From start to finish---including waiting in lines and performing the actual ceremony---it can take up to six hours to complete the process of obtaining your marriage license. Make sure you allow enough time to complete all of the tasks before visiting hours are over. Unlike regular visitors, a notary can legally visit the inmate any time---it does not have to be during visiting hours if the inmate needs to sign legal documents.


Photo Credits

  • Sharron Goodyear

About the Author

Jessica Saras is a professional editor and copywriter. After earning an English degree from Reinhardt College, Saras completed the summer writing program at Sarah Lawrence College. A natural-born writer, she has more than six years of experience in web content development. In addition to being a full-time copywriter, she writes articles for Demand Studios, wiseGEEK.com, Examiner.com, and Suite101.com.