Guide: Getting Married in NYC for Foreigners & Non-US Citizens
It’s easy for foreigners and non-US citizens to get married in New York City. Whether you’re from the UK, Ireland, Australia or elsewhere abroad, getting married in NYC with a New York elopement or NYC City Hall wedding is a memorable (and easy!) way for foreigners to get married. Here’s a 4-step guide to getting married in New York for foreigners, from getting your marriage license to getting an extended marriage certificate, to a variety of New York weddings and elopement location options.
Let’s get started!
[Note: If you’re a U.S. citizen, check out this guide to getting married in NYC for Americans.]
Getting Married in NYC for Foreigners
1. Call your consulate.
First, check to make sure your home country will recognize your marriage if you are married in the U.S. If you are already in America, you can ask your country’s consulate in the U.S.
2. Get a New York Marriage License
[Covid-19 update: As of March 2020, all NYC Marriage Bureaus are closed until further notice. There is no announced re-opening date. You can now obtain your wedding license online via Project Cupid; see here for more information.]
Online application: All couples looking to get married must first go about getting a New York marriage license. Couples can begin the application process online. After submitting an application, you will receive a confirmation number and further information on what documentation to bring with you to the New York City Clerk’s Office. Note that online applications are only valid for 21 days, so couples should apply for one no sooner than 2.5 weeks before you arrive in NYC, lest the application expire.
Getting a Marriage License in NYC: Once you have applied online and are physically in New York, it’s time to make the trip to the City Clerk’s Office. The Manhattan branch is located at 141 Worth St., but each borough has a location (see here for addresses). The Manhattan branch is open Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 3:45pm, so plan accordingly.
Both parties must provide government-issued photo IDs that show your photo, name, date of birth (you must be 18 or older to get married in the U.S.) and address, such as a passport. A list of accepted IDs can be found here.
Cost: Marriage licenses cost $35, and can be paid via credit card or money order payable to the City Clerk. Please note that the City Clerk does not accept cash.
Expiration: Marriage licenses expire after 60 days, so you must get married before then in order to use the license. However, note that you must also wait at minimum a full 24 hours after the marriage license is issued to get married.
3. Have Your NYC Marriage Ceremony
New York City Hall ceremony: The swiftest way to get married in New York is have an NYC City Hall wedding (click to see more information plus photos from real City Hall weddings!).
If you decide a City Hall wedding is for you, all you need to do is show up at the Marriage Bureau with your documentation and be prepared to queue up; there are no reservations. Bring your wedding license, your government-issued photo ID, and a credit card to pay for the ceremony ($25). You will also need at least one witness — and yes, if you hire me as your photographer, I am more than happy to act as your witness. The ceremony itself lasts about one minute long, but you are left in the room for another minute or so to take photos. And besides, you probably didn’t travel all the way to NYC to take photos in a room — the city outside awaits!
New York elopement: If getting married inside a government building isn’t what you pictured, no problem. As long as you have a New York-ordained officiant to perform the ceremony and complete the paperwork, you can get married anywhere in NYC. I frequently photograph New York elopements with internationals who’ve flown in just for their marriage, be it a Central Park wedding, Brooklyn Bridge wedding, Top of the Rock wedding — you name it, I’m game. Some of the more popular locations are Central Park elopements, or somewhere with a distinctly iconic New York view.
Here’s more information on how to plan a New York elopement.
4. Get an Extended Marriage Certificate from the New York Marriage Bureau
There are two types of marriage certificates: a “short” certificate and “extended” certificate. The short certificate is the basic form. However, if you’re getting married in NYC as a foreigner, an extended certificate is an extended version of the Certificate of Marriage Registration, which includes additional information like the names of both parents and their countries of birth, the name and title of the Marriage Officiant, and the name and location of the place where the ceremony was conducted. For some foreigners, an extended certificate will be needed in order for it to be valid outside the United States. To confirm, you can phone your consulate and ask if you need an extended license.
See here for a detailed step-by-step on how to get an extended marriage certificate in NYC. The short version:
- Take the document to the nearest County Clerk’s Office (see locations here) to authenticate the City Clerk’s hand signature, for a fee of $3.
- Take the document to the New York State Department of State for the authentication of the County Clerk’s signature and the attachment of an “Apostille,” for a fee of $10.
The Department of State is located at:
123 William Street
New York, NY 10038
Note that this will require you to visit several different buildings, so while you’re welcome to complete this right after your ceremony, you can also come back and do it any day after the wedding as well.
And that’s it! Congratulations, you’re married! New York will always be a part of you.