American Foundation for Equal Rights

FAQ: Getting Married in Virginia

The following information can be found online at the Virginia Department of Health.

When can my partner and I get married?

On Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 8 a.m., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will issue a mandate making official its ruling that Virginia’s marriage ban is unconstitutional. At that time, clerks will begin issuing marriage licenses.

I was married to my partner in another state or country that recognizes marriage equality. Do I need to remarry in Virginia in order to be recognized by the state?

Virginia will recognize your marriage lawfully performed in another jurisdiction. You do not need to get married again in Virginia. Marriages performed outside of Virginia are filed in the state or country in which the marriage was performed. To get information regarding your marriage, you may contact the state or country you were married in to obtain a copy of the marriage record.

I live in North Carolina/South Carolina/West Virginia. Does this mean I can marry my partner in our home state?

Not yet. The court’s decision only directly impacts Virginia’s marriage ban. Court cases challenging the constitutionality of your state’s marriage ban will likely use this court decision in hopes of quickly striking down the state’s marriage ban.

Will legally married gay and lesbian couples have access to federal benefits?

Yes. On June 26, 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act. Check out this fact sheet for more information >

How do I get married?

  • Go to a Clerk of Court’s office to apply for and obtain a marriage license.  A marriage license may be obtained from any county in Virginia. You are not required to get married in the county where you purchase the public marriage license; however, you must be married in Virginia. You must file the license after the marriage ceremony in the county where it was purchased. Find the closest County Clerk’s office >
  • Get your marriage solemnized by a marriage officiate. An individual who is eligible to officiate a marriage under Virginia law must solemnize your marriage. Both parties to the marriage must be present for the solemnization of your marriage.
  • Return your marriage license to the Clerk of Court’s office within 5 days of the solemnization of your marriage.  After your marriage has been solemnized, the marriage officiate must return your marriage license to the same Clerk of Court from whom you purchased your marriage license, otherwise your marriage will have no record in the state.

Where do I get a marriage license?

The clerk or his/her deputy clerk of a circuit court in any county or city in the Commonwealth of Virginia issues a license for marriage in Virginia. Most of the offices of the clerks of court are closed on Saturdays.

Are blood tests required?

No. There is no blood test requirement for marriage in Virginia.

Do I need to bring photo identification?

Yes. You will need to present valid photo identification such as your driver’s license, military ID, state ID, or passport and a certified copy of your birth certificate.

I have previously been married.  Does that matter?

For divorced persons, there is no statutory waiting period before marriage after the divorce is granted unless a court specifically prohibits remarriage. In some cases, clerks may require documentary proof of age or termination of previous marriage.

Do I need to be a Virginia resident to marry in Virginia?


Where can my partner and I get married?

The ceremony may be performed anywhere in the State. The marriage license issued in Virginia is for marriages to be performed only in Virginia.

Must both parties to a marriage be present in order to marry in Virginia?

 Yes. Proxy marriages are not legal in Virginia.

Who may officiate a marriage?

  • A minister of any religious denomination must be authorized by a circuit court to celebrate the rites of matrimony. To obtain such authorization, the minister must produce proof of his ordination and regular communion with the religious society of which he is a reputed member. A list of clergy who will be performing weddings for same-sex couples can be found here.
  • Marriage commissioners eligible to perform civil marriage ceremonies appointed by a court
  • Justices of the peace and judges

Do my partner and I need a witness to be present at our marriage ceremony?

There is no statutory requirement that witnesses be present at the marriage ceremony.

I have obtained a marriage license from a County Clerk but have yet to have my marriage solemnized.  How long is my marriage license valid?

Marriage licenses issued in Virginia expire after 60 days. If you do not get married within 60 days, the license will no longer be valid, and you must purchase a new one.

Are there legal disadvantages to getting married?

Before making a decision, it is essential that you consult an attorney for individualized legal advice. People must make careful decisions when and where to marry, even as we work together to end this on a federal level injustice.

Where else can gay and lesbian couples get married?

The following states and U.S. jurisdictions allow same-sex couples to marry within their boundaries: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington D.C., New York, Maine, Washington, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, California, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.

The following countries recognize marriage for same-sex couples: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Mexico (limited), Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, England, Wales, Uruguay, Luxembourg, and Scotland.