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Marriage Equality FAQs

Marriage Equality has been the law in Cook County since February 21, 2014. It took effect throughout all of Illinois on June 1, 2014.

Who is eligible to get a marriage license?

Under Illinois law, only eligible persons can marry. Two people are eligible to marry if they are:

  • 18 years of age or older
         - Exception: Applicants who are 16 or 17 may marry with parental
           consent and proof of birthdate
  • Not blood relatives (with minor exceptions)
  • Not already legally married to someone else or each other

Where do we get our marriage license?

Couples planning to marry in Cook County can apply for a marriage license at any of the Cook County Clerk’s six locations. The clerk’s office locations are in downtown Chicago, and the courthouse buildings in Skokie, Maywood, Rolling Meadows, Bridgeview and Markham.

Can we apply for our marriage license online or by mail?

Couples must appear together in person to apply for a marriage license at one of the Cook County Clerk's six locations. Couples must present valid identification with proof of age and pay a fee (if applicable). The marriage license will be issued while you wait.

How much does a marriage license cost?

A marriage license costs $60. Couples in civil unions will have the fee waived.

What paperwork do we need to get our marriage license?

Each applicant must provide the following ID(s) when applying for a marriage license.

One form of ID if submitting one of the following:

  • State driver’s license 
  • State identification 
  • U.S. passport 
  • U.S. Armed Forces identification card

- OR -

Any combination of two of these forms of ID:

  • Certified copy of Birth Certificate (English translations required for foreign certificates must be notarized)  
  • U.S. naturalization certificate 
  • U.S. resident alien card 
  • Life insurance policy (at least 1 year old) 
  • Foreign passport 
  • Baptismal record (date of birth must appear) 
  • Consulate identification card (matricula)

Can we get married as soon as we get our marriage license?

No. Marriage licenses are valid from the calendar day after they are issued, for a period of 60 days. For example, if you get your marriage license on June 1, you can get married on June 2.

If a previous marriage or civil union was dissolved by divorce, what information must I provide?

Applicants who have divorced from a marriage or civil union must provide the date the divorce was finalized upon applying for a marriage license. Applicants who have divorced within the last six months must also provide a certified copy of their divorce decree.

What happens to civil unions? Do they have to be converted to a marriages or can we keep our civil union?

Civil unions will continue to be offered to all couples in Illinois. No couples – same-sex or opposite-sex – in a civil union are required to convert it to a marriage. You can either keep your civil union or convert it to a marriage. Civil unions will not automatically dissolve because of the marriage equality law nor do you need to take any action prior to applying for a marriage license, if you choose to do so. Your civil union is still legal and valid.

How do we convert our civil union to a marriage? 

Couples who wish to convert their civil unions to marriages can do so by applying for a marriage license and having a marriage ceremony within 60 days of application. The $60 marriage license fee will be waived.

If we live in a different state, can we get a marriage license in Cook County?

If you get a marriage license in Cook County, the marriage ceremony must occur in Cook County within 60 days.

When can we get a copy of our marriage certificate?

Marriage certificates are not automatically sent to couples. If you have a marriage ceremony, your officiant completes and signs the marriage license and returns it to the Clerk’s office. The Clerk's office then records your marriage and can issue a certified copy of your marriage certificate. The turnaround typically takes about a week. If you convert your civil union to a marriage, marriage certificates should be available immediately.

What types of marriage certificates are available?

There are three types of marriage certificates.

  • A standard marriage certificate costs $15 for the first copy and $4 for each additional copy. 
  • A set of two wallet-sized certificates are $15. Wallet-sized certificates are certified legal copies. 
  • Commemorative art-quality certificates are printed on canvas and available in nine designs for $65, including a certified legal copy.

Who can officiate a marriage?

An officiant can be a judge, a religious leader, or an individual who is ordained by a non-denominational organization.

What do we need to do to get married by a judge?

Judges officiate same-sex marriages in Marriage Court at City Hall, 119 W. Randolph St., Lower Level, Chicago. The hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to Noon and 2 to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to Noon. No appointment is required. There is a $10 fee. Judges at the suburban Cook County courthouses also perform marriages, but procedures vary by location. Please contact the specific courthouse.

Can we get married in a church, synagogue or other house of worship?

According to the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness law, places of worship and any facility operated by a religious group or denomination have the discretion on whether or not to solemnize same-sex marriages.

What if we want to change our names after we’re married?

Newlyweds are entitled to a one-time change of their last name after they are married. You will need copies of your marriage certificate when seeking a name change with Social Security, the Illinois Secretary of State (for driver’s licenses), your employer, banks, credit cards, etc.

Commemorative Certificates for marriages and civil unions

Wallet Certificates