North Carolina General Assembly - Marriage License
* 51-6. Solemnization without license unlawful.
No minister, officer, or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage under the laws of
this State shall perform a ceremony of marriage between a man and woman, or shall declare them
to be husband and wife, until there is delivered to that person a license for the marriage of the said
persons, signed by the register of deeds of the county in which the marriage license was issued or
by a lawful deputy or assistant. There must be at least two witnesses to the marriage ceremony.
Whenever a man and woman have been lawfully married in accordance with the laws of the
state in which the marriage ceremony took place, and said marriage was performed by a magistrate
or some other civil official duly authorized to perform such ceremony, and the parties thereafter
wish to confirm their marriage vows before an ordained minister or minister authorized by a
church, or in a ceremony recognized by any religious denomination, federally or State recognized
Indian Nation or Tribe, nothing herein shall be deemed to prohibit such confirmation ceremony;
provided, however, that such confirmation ceremony shall not be deemed in law to be a marriage
ceremony, such confirmation ceremony shall in no way affect the validity or invalidity of the prior
NC General Statutes - Chapter 51 6
marriage ceremony performed by a civil official, no license for such confirmation ceremony shall
be issued by a register of deeds, and no record of such confirmation ceremony may be kept by a
register of deeds. (1871-2, c. 193, s. 4; Code, s. 1813; Rev., s. 2086; C.S., s. 2498; 1957, c. 1261;
1959, c. 338; 1967, c. 957, ss. 6, 9; 1977, c. 592, s. 2; 2001-62, s. 6.)
* 51-7. Penalty for solemnizing without license
Every minister, officer, or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage under the laws
of this State, who marries any couple without a license being first delivered to that person, as
required by law, or after the expiration of such license, or who fails to return such license to the
register of deeds within 10 days after any marriage celebrated by virtue thereof, with the certificate
appended thereto duly filled up and signed, shall forfeit and pay two hundred dollars ($200.00) to
any person who sues therefore, and shall also be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (R.C., c. 68, ss.
6, 13; 1871-2, c. 193, s. 8; Code, s. 1817; Rev., ss. 2087, 3372; C.S., s. 2499; 1953, c. 638, s. 1;
1967, c. 957, s. 5; 1993, c. 539, s. 415; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 2001-62, s. 7.)
* 51-8. License issued by register of deeds.
Every register of deeds shall, upon proper application, issue a license for the marriage of any
two persons who are able to answer the questions regarding age, marital status, and intention to
marry, and, based on the answers, the register of deeds determines the persons are authorized to
be married in accordance with the laws of this State. In making a determination as to whether or
not the parties are authorized to be married under the laws of this State, the register of deeds may
require the applicants for the license to marry to present certified copies of birth certificates or
such other evidence as the register of deeds deems necessary to the determination. The register of
deeds may administer an oath to any person presenting evidence relating to whether or not parties
applying for a marriage license are eligible to be married pursuant to the laws of this State. Each
applicant for a marriage license shall provide on the application the applicant's social security
number. If an applicant does not have a social security number and is ineligible to obtain one, the
applicant shall present a statement to that effect, sworn to or affirmed before an officer authorized
to administer oaths. Upon presentation of a sworn or affirmed statement, the register of deeds shall
issue the license, provided all other requirements are met, and retain the statement with the
register's copy of the license. The register of deeds shall not issue a marriage license unless all of
the requirements of this section have been met. (1871-2, c. 193, s. 5; Code, s. 1814; 1887, c. 331;
Rev., s. 2088; C.S., s. 2500; 1957, c. 506, s. 1; 1967, c. 957, s. 2; 1997-433, s. 4.5; 1998-17, s. 1;
1999-375, s. 1; 2001-62, s. 8; 2002-159, s. 14.)
* 51-8.1. Repealed by Session Laws 1967, c. 53.
* 51-8.2. Issuance of marriage license when applicant is unable to appear.
If an applicant for a marriage license is over 18 years of age and is unable to appear in person
at the register of deeds' office, the other party to the planned marriage must appear in person on
behalf of the applicant and submit a sworn and notarized affidavit in lieu of the absent applicant's
The affidavit shall be in the following or some equivalent form:
__________, [applicant] appearing before the undersigned notary and being duly sworn, says
NC General Statutes - Chapter 51 7
1. I, __________, [applicant's name] am applying for a license in _______ County, North
Carolina, to marry _______ [name of other applicant] in North Carolina within the next 60
days and I am authorized under G.S. 51-8.2 to complete this Affidavit in Lieu of Personal
Appearance for Marriage License Application.
I attach: (1) documentation that I am over 18 years of age as required in county of issuance;
and (2) documentation of divorce as required by county of issuance.
2. I submit the following information in applying for a marriage license:
First Middle Last
State County City or Town
* 51-15. Obtaining license by false representation misdemeanor
If any person shall obtain, or aid and abet in obtaining, a marriage license by misrepresentation
or false pretenses, that person shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (1885, c. 346; Rev., s.
3371; C.S., s. 2501; 1967, c. 957, s. 4; 1993, c. 539, s. 417; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 2001-62,
* 51-16. Form of license.
License shall be in the following or some equivalent form:
To any ordained minister of any religious denomination, minister authorized by a church, any
magistrate, or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage under the laws of this State:
A.B. having applied to me for a license for the marriage of C.D. (the name of the man to be written
in full) of (here state his residence), aged ____ years (race, as the case may be), the son of (here
state the father and mother, if known; state whether they are living or dead, and their residence, if
known; if any of these facts are not known, so state), and E.F. (write the name of the woman in
full) of (here state her residence), aged ____ years (race, as the case may be), the daughter of (here
state names and residences of the parents, if known, as is required above with respect to the man).
(If either of the parties is under 18 years of age, the license shall here contain the following:) And
the written consent of G.H., father (or mother, etc., as the case may be) to the proposed marriage
having been filed with me, and there being no legal impediment to such marriage known to me,
you are hereby authorized, at any time within 60 days from the date hereof, to celebrate the
proposed marriage at any place within the State. You are required within 10 days after you shall
have celebrated such marriage, to return this license to me at my office with your signature
subscribed to the certificate under this license, and with the blanks therein filled according to the
facts, under penalty of forfeiting two hundred dollars ($200.00) to the use of any person who shall
sue for the same.
Issued this ____ day of ____, ____
Register of Deeds of ____ County
Every register of deeds shall, at the request of an applicant, designate in a marriage license
issued the race of the persons proposing to marry by inserting in the blank after the word "race"
the words "white," "black," "African-American," "American Indian," "Alaska Native," "Asian
Indian," "Chinese," "Filipino," "Japanese," "Korean," "Vietnamese," "Other Asian," "Native
Hawaiian," "Guamarian," "Chamorro," "Samoan," "Other Pacific Islander," "Mexican,"
"Mexican-American," "Chicano," "Puerto Rican," "Cuban," "Other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino," or
"other," as the case may be. The certificate shall be filled out and signed by the minister, officer,
or other authorized individual celebrating the marriage, and also be signed by two witnesses
present at the marriage, who shall add to their names their place of residence, as follows:
NC General Statutes - Chapter 51 9
I, N.O., an ordained or authorized minister or other authorized individual of (here state to what
religious denomination, or magistrate, as the case may be), united in matrimony (here name the
parties), the parties licensed above, on the ___ day of ______, ___, at the house of P.R., in (here
name the town, if any, the township and county), according to law.
Witness present at the marriage:
S.T., of (here give residence).
(1871-2, c. 193, s. 6; Code, s. 1815; 1899, c. 541, ss. 1, 2; Rev., s. 2089; 1909, c. 704, s. 3; 1917,
c. 38; C.S., s. 2502; 1953, c. 638,
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