What Is a California Confidential Marriage License?

by Hazel Baker ; Updated September 28, 2017

A California confidential marriage license allows couples in California to marry without a public record of their license, provided that they meet certain requirements.

Wedding Couple Cake Topper image by Faith Ashurst from Fotolia.com

When you are planning to get married in California, you will first need to obtain a marriage license. The requirements, limitations and options vary by county, so it is important to make sure that you do your research, particularly if you are interested in obtaining a California confidential marriage license.


In the state of California, couples who meet certain requirements can obtain a confidential marriage license, which allows them to apply for a marriage license and be married immediately with no witnesses present. The couple can also receive a copy of their marriage certificate immediately instead of having to wait to receive one by mail.

Most significantly, while public marriage licenses are a matter of public record and are accessible to anyone, only the bride and groom can access a confidential marriage license, except by special court decree.


In order to qualify for a California confidential marriage license, the couple must be currently living together as a married couple and must make a statement to that affect to the notary or the county clerk’s office.

The couple must also submit all of the required information for a public marriage license, including identification, proof that they are not currently married to someone else and other documentation as needed.


While a public marriage license issued by the state of California allows a couple to marry anywhere in the state, a confidential marriage license requires the couple to marry in the county in which the license was issued.

It is also important to keep in mind that only a notary that has been specially commissioned can issue a confidential marriage license.


A California confidential marriage license costs about $70, although the cost varies by county.


If you are a celebrity or public figure, the anonymity associated with a California confidential marriage license may make it the best choice for you and your future spouse. Couples who wish to keep their marriage status a secret from the general public, for whatever reason, may also be good candidates for this type of marriage license.

Photo Credits

  • Wedding Couple Cake Topper image by Faith Ashurst from Fotolia.com

About the Author

Hazel Baker has been writing professionally since 2003. She covers e-commerce, technology and legal topics for various online publications. Baker has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a minor in history from Point Loma Nazarene University.