How to Get Married In New York (Updated!)

Now that same-sex marriage has been legalized in New York state (YAY!), you're probably wondering how to get married.  Here are some Frequently Asked Questions:

When does gay marriage go into effect in New York?
The law goes into effect on July 24 but that date is a Sunday.  The New York City marriage bureau will be open on Sunday to accept applications and judges will be on hand to waive the 24 hour waiting period to marry, and also to officiate ceremonies on that same day, July 24.  Binghamton and Syracuse city halls will also be open on the 24th.  It is unclear whether those cities will have judges on hand to waive the 24 hour wait and perform ceremonies.  

To the best of our knowledge, only New York City is making it possible for couples to legally marry on July 24. Couples looking to marry in other parts of the state can begin having marriage ceremonies on July 26, 2011.  

Do I have to live in New York to get married there?

No, anyone can apply for a marriage license in New York State.  There is no residency requirement but you must be unmarried and 18 years or older.

Where can I apply for a marriage license?
You can apply at any city or town clerk's office in the state of New York.  Both partners must be present.  Couples can apply online through the City of New York as early as July 5.  Couples who apply in person can apply beginning Monday, July 25.

Is a blood test required?
No.

Is there a waiting period to get the marriage license?
There is not a waiting period to get the license - you receive it right away.  

How soon after applying for a license can I get legally married?
24 hours or more.

Are there witnesses required in order to get legally married?
One witness 18 or older is required.

How much is the marriage license application fee?
Outside of New York City, the fee is $40.  In NYC, the fee is $35.

How long is the marriage license valid for?
60 days

Can I apply online for a marriage license?
Yes, you can, in New York City, but both partners must still go in person to pick up the marriage license.

What paperwork is required when I apply for my marriage license?

This varies by the city or town in which you apply.  In New York City, you can bring a driver's license or passport and be fine.  Elsewhere you may be asked for two things: Either a birth certificate OR a baptismal record OR a naturalization record OR a Census record AND a driver's license OR a passport OR a work ID with photo OR an immigration record. 

Who can officiate the marriage ceremony?
The mayor of a city or village; the former mayor, city clerk, or deputy city clerk of a city with 1 million+ residents; a marriage officer appointed by the town or village board; a justice or judge; a village, town or county justice; a member of the clergy authorized to perform marriage ceremonies.


If I don't live in New York, will my marriage be recognized by my home state?
It depends on where you live, but in most cases, probably not.  It will be recognized in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Iowa, California, New Mexico, Maryland and D.C.

Is my New York gay marriage recognized by the U.S. federal government?
Unfortunately, no it is not.

If I get legally married in New York, will I still need special legal paperwork to protect my family?
Yes, if you plan to travel with your partner beyond New York state, it will be necessary for you to hire an attorney to draw up paperwork to protect your family in case something happens in a state where your marriage is not recognized.  You will need a Health Care Proxy, a Durable Power of Attorney and a will or trust.

How do I change my name?
You'll be asked your new last name on the marriage application.  Once you receive your official copy of your marriage license, you can use that document to change your name on social security card, driver's license etc, if you live in the state of New York.  If you live out of state, and in a state where your marriage is not legally recognized, it's much harder and will, in most cases, require a judge's order.
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