How To Apply
Identification: Government issued photo ID or passport
Witness: 1 person over the age of 18 (with photo ID) who personally knows both parties
Checks Made Payable To: Johnson County Recorder
Processing Time: 3-day waiting period before license is valid
Application: Completed in office or downloaded from link above (if completed off-site, all 3 parties need to have their signatures notarized by a Notary Public.)
If the application is received on Monday, the license will be valid on Friday
If the application is received on Tuesday, the license will be valid on Saturday
If the application is received on Wednesday, the license will be valid on Sunday
If the application is received on Thursday, the license will be valid on Monday
If the application is received on Friday, the license will be valid on Tuesday
Local Magistrates and Judges
Clerk of Court 319-356-6060 x 3228 to leave a message to schedule a wedding with a Magistrate Judge at the Courthouse – call on the Monday morning of the week you plan to get married.
If you are unable to come to the office in person to apply for a marriage license, the application can be downloaded (using the link at the top of this page) and mailed to us. The application must be signed by all 3 parties and notarized. Please complete the form in its entirety.
Please also include your phone number, address, and indicate if you would like the application kept here in the office (for pickup) or mailed back. Cost to file is $35.
Checks made payable to the Johnson County Recorder and the mailing address is:
Johnson County Recorder,
913 S Dubuque St,
Iowa City, IA 52240
Common errors and missing information we often find:
Last Name Prior to ANY Marriage is not completed (both parties)
Father & Mother's FULL name (be sure to include middle names)
Social Security numbers are missing (bottom back of application)
Witness information is missing (back side of application)
Civil wedding ceremonies
If you are considering being married in a civil (non-religious) wedding ceremony to be performed by a Judge or Judicial Magistrate, the following may assist you in making arrangements.
You must first obtain a Marriage Certificate (license) from the Johnson County Recorder's Office. You will find the Recorder's Office in the Johnson County Administration Building at 913 S Dubuque St, Iowa City. You will be required to complete an application form and pay an application fee of $35 at the time you make your application. The Marriage Certificate (license) will not become valid until the expiration of 3 days after the date of application.
The 3-day waiting period may be waived upon application to a District Court Judge under conditions of emergency or extraordinary circumstances. You must first apply for the Marriage Certificate (license) and obtain the waiver form from the Recorder. There is an additional fee of $5 for a waiver application.
Once you have completed the application and obtained the waiver form, you may then proceed to present the application to a District Court Judge for consideration. You must come to the 3rd floor of the Courthouse and request to see a Judge. Order hours are daily 1:30 pm until 2:30 pm. (please note that this is only for the 3 day waiver; not for a marriage ceremony). Judges are not usually otherwise available on a walk-in basis at other times due to the Court docket.
If you wish to be married at the Johnson County Courthouse during normal business hours, you may contact the Johnson County Magistrates at 319-356-6060 x 3228. You should call on the Monday morning of the week that you want to get married and leave a message. The Magistrate Judge on duty that week will call you back, and if the Court’s schedule allows for it, the Magistrate Judge will schedule a date and time with you. Wedding ceremonies will be performed only when the regular Court Docket permits; there is no guarantee that your wedding will be scheduled. There will be no fee for wedding ceremonies performed during normal business hours at the Courthouse.
For the weddings at the Courthouse, you will need to bring the Marriage Certificate and license and have TWO (2) witnesses of legal age with you. At this time, due to Covid protocols, attendance at the ceremony will be limited solely to the couple and the two witnesses; properly worn masks for all present will be required, regardless of vaccination status; and the ceremony may be limited to a simple verification of your intention to be married and signing the Marriage Certificate.
Judges and Judicial Magistrates also perform wedding ceremonies outside of normal business hours and/or away from the Courthouse upon prior arrangements. There will normally be a fee charged for wedding ceremonies performed at the convenience of the parties. You must contact the Judge or Judicial Magistrate directly to make these arrangements.
- Q: I have been married before, do I need to show/bring divorce papers?
A: No. Divorce papers are not required.
- Q: Do we need social security cards?
A: No. Only government issued photo ID's or passports.
- Q: Does Iowa require a blood test?
A: Iowa no longer requires blood tests.
- Q: Can the 3-day waiting period be 'bypassed'?
A: Yes. A 3-DAY WAIVER form can be obtained from our office. The waiver must be approved/signed by a judge at the courthouse between the hours of 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. There is an additional $5 cost to file the waiver.
- Q: Can people under the age of 18 get married?
A: Yes. A CONSENT TO MARRY A MINOR form can be obtained through our office (or through link below). Parents of both parties must sign the form, in addition to a judge at the courthouse. There is no additional cost for filing this form.
Consent to marry a minor
Persons 16 years & 17 years of age may be legally married with the consent of the parents of the underage party. This must be approved by a Judge prior to obtaining the marriage license.
Common law marriage
For Income Tax Purposes
Under Iowa Code for Revenue and Financial, common law marriage in Iowa is legal for the purposes of filing income taxes (Administrative Rule, Chapter 39 ) and property tax exemptions (Administrative Rule, Chapter 73 ).
Iowans may claim common law marriage status if:
- A present intent of both parties freely given to become married exists
- Both parties publicly declare themselves as common law married
- The parties have lived together continuously and consummated the marriage (no special time limit, however)
- Both parties are legally capable of entering into a marriage relationship; that is, both are of legal age and neither is legally married to someone else at the time.
For marriage certificate purposes:
Only legally solemnized marriage ceremonies per the Code of Iowa, chapter 595, are registered as an Iowa vital event. Such marriages permit the parties to legally change their surname through the marriage certificate. Common law marriages are not registered in the Iowa vital records system.
1 Adm. Rule 701—73.25 (425) Common law marriage
A common law marriage is a social relationship that meets all the necessary requisites of a marriage except that it was not solemnized, performed or witnessed by an official authorized to perform marriages. The necessary elements of a common law marriage are: (a) a present intent of both parties freely given to become married, (b) a public declaration by the parties or a holding out to the public that they are husband and wife, (c) continuous cohabitation together as husband and wife (this means consummation of the marriage), and (d) both parties must be capable of entering into the marriage relationship. No special time limit is necessary to establish a common law marriage. This rule is intended to implement Iowa Code section 425.17 [Homestead Tax Credits and Reimbursement: Definitions].