The facts about the new Alabama Marriage Law
Update: As of May 18, 2022, the law specifies that ONLY Notaries Public of Alabama may notarize Alabama Marriage Certificates. This means the Alabama Marriage Certificate can only be validated within the borders of the State of Alabama.
Contrary to the boatload of outdated, inaccurate information you may find through a short search on Google, the State of Alabama's Marriage Law as of August 2019 is NOT INTERESTED in where you have your ceremony. Any requirement to have a marriage ceremony in Alabama has been totally eliminated. You may have the ceremony anywhere in the world.
This is the relevant passage from the most recent Alabama Attorney General ruling on the matter. The entire ruling is archived at the bottom of this page for your information.
Attorney General Opinion 2019-047, Page 8, 1st full paragraph:
"You next ask if the parties must be physically present in the state at the time of execution of the Documents. The language of the act includes no such requirement and no requirements that the parties reside in the United States or that they have ever met each other. In fact, nothing in the act prohibits two citizens of a foreign country from submitting Documents by mail and being considered married under Alabama law, nor does it require them to ever be physically present in the state."
On August 29, 2019, the State of Alabama radically changed its marriage laws. Before that date, the state required couples seeking marriage to physically go to the local Probate Judge’s office together and be issued a marriage license. The cost was about $70 (depending on the county) and the license was good for 30 days from the date it was issued. After the wedding, the couple had to return the marriage license bearing the officiant’s signature to the Probate Judge. At that point, the marriage was legal.
The new marriage laws did away with the marriage license altogether. No longer are couples required (or allowed) to go to the Probate Judge’s office to apply for a marriage license. Instead, couples must fill in, download and print a “Marriage Certificate” online. Once completed, the couple must sign the marriage certificate in the presence of a Notary Public and return (by mail or in person) the certificate to any Alabama Probate Judge with a money order or cashier’s check in the amount specified by the county. It is usually about $70 plus $3 for a required “certified copy” necessary to change names or prove marriage. A “certified copy request form” is required.
The new law in Alabama means the following:
1. Any couple from any U.S. state or foreign country may be married within Alabama. There are NO requirements for residency in Alabama or that a ceremony be held in Alabama.
2. The marriage is legal on the day the last person’s signature is notarized on the Marriage Certificate. Therefore, it is best to ensure your Minister or Officiant is an Alabama Notary Public!
3. The marriage is legal in every U.S. state and, by international law, country in the world.
4. The accuracy (including paper size and text position) of the Marriage Certificate falls on the shoulders of the couple. If it is incorrectly filled out (in form or content) or printed incorrectly it may be rejected. Even minor content corrections require an additional $70 fee by the state.
For Bama Weddings Clients, this means:
It is best to let us handle your paperwork for you. We have extensive experience and guarantee it will not be rejected due to form. (Obviously, we cannot guarantee that the information you provide us is accurate. For example: If you say your mother’s middle name is “Bob”, we take your word for it.)
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