Civil Union Licenses

Before formalizing a union in Chicago or suburban Cook County, a couple must obtain a civil union license from the Cook County Clerk's office.



As of June 1, 2011, under Illinois law, eligible persons can be united in a legally recognized relationship (Public Act 96-1513) . Both partners must:

  • be 18 years of age or older
  • not be blood relatives

Partners of same or opposite sex may enter into a civil union.

Applying for a Civil Union License

All couples must appear together at one of the Clerk’s locations for civil union licenses

They may fill out the entire application at the Clerk’s office, or begin the process online and finish it at the Clerk’s office. Couples who begin the application online must still appear at one of the Clerk’s offices to finish filling out and sign the application.

  • Appear together at one of the Clerk’s Vital Records locations.

  • Present valid identification with proof of age.

  • Fill out and sign the civil license application.

  • Pay the civil union license fee of $60.

Couples applying for a civil union license ONLINE must:
Couples applying for a civil union license IN PERSON must:

Timelines and restrictions

Civil union licenses are:

  • Issued while you wait.
  • Valid only for ceremonies performed in Chicago and suburban Cook County.
  • Effective 1 day after issuance.
  • Valid for 60 days from the date of issuance.
  • Must be returned to the Cook County Clerk's Office with 10 DAYS after the ceremony, by mail or in person.
  • Note: a civil union ceremony taking place after the expiration date is not valid.

As of June 1, 2011, all county clerks in Illinois issue civil union licenses. Licenses should be obtained in the county where the ceremony is to occur.

Getting Married

If you do not have your own officiant, you can be joined in marriage or a civil union by a Cook County judge at the Marriage and Civil Union Court, in the lower level of 119 W. Randolph St. (the City Hall/County Building). Marriages and civil unions are performed there six days a week. You should check the court’s website or call to confirm its hours. Marriages and civil unions are also performed at the suburban municipal district courthouses.  Times and restrictions vary, and some are by appointment only, so call in advance. 

Wedding Officiants Requirements

Wedding officiants in Illinois are not required to register with any government office prior to performing a marriage.  The Illinois State Government has no laws requiring officiant registration or office dedicated to the registration, certification, or licensing of wedding officiants.

After the civil union ceremony occurs

The officiant performing the ceremony must complete the bottom portion of the civil union license and mail or deliver it to the Clerk's office.

You may obtain a copy of your civil union certificate upon request.

If you’re changing your address or your name, register to vote. Go here to check your voter registration and register online.