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
- 18 years of age or older
- 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 locations. The clerk’s office locations are in downtown Chicago, and the courthouse buildings in Skokie, Maywood, 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 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 card
- 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.