Procedure when One or Both Applicant(s) Cannot Physically Appear in Person to Apply for a Marriage License

If, for acceptable reason, one or both of the parties to be married are physically unable to appear in person before the County Clerk, a marriage license may be issued by the County Clerk to the person solemnizing the marriage.

Acceptable reason includes proof of hospitalization, incarceration, or any other reason proved to the satisfaction of the County Clerk (FC Sections 426(d) and 502(d)).

Due to Illness/Hospitalization:

A marriage license may be issued by the County Clerk to the person solemnizing the marriage if the following requirements are met:

  1.  The person solemnizing the marriage physically presents an affidavit to the County Clerk explaining the reason for the inability to appear. Affidavit of Inability to Appear
  2. The affidavit is signed under penalty of perjury by the person solemnizing the marriage and by both parties.
  3. The signature of any party to be married who is unable to appear in person before the County Clerk is authenticated by a notary public or a court prior to the County Clerk issuing the marriage license. A notary certification should be attached to the Inability to Appear form.
  4. Sufficient proof of hospitalization, an original doctor’s note written on hospital letterhead indicating why the party(ies) is unable to appear but not necessarily providing medical treatment and history, must be provided.

Forms to submit are (1) Online Application, (2) Affidavit of Inability to Appear and Proof of Hospitalization. After payment of the required fees, the County Clerk will issue the marriage license to the person solemnizing the marriage. 

Due to Incarceration:

To apply for your marriage license, you may visit the San Mateo County Clerk's Office at:

555 County Center, 1st Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday, excluding holidays

Bring a VALID government issued picture identification (passport or driver's license).

Any marriage officiant, minister of a church of your choice or a judge who is legally empowered to perform marriages may officiate your ceremony. The fiancé(e) and/or inmate should contact the officiant for further instructions.

Certain restrictions and requirements are in place for marriage ceremonies of inmates. Please contact the facility's representative for all requirements.

Before the ceremony can take place, both parties must complete the following forms:

  1. Online Application for Marriage License
  2. Verification of Incarceration
  3. Certificate of Intention
  4. Affidavit of Inability to Appear