Marriage FAQs

Where is your office located?

We are located in the Bay County Courthouse at 300 East 4th Street Panama City, Florida (32401), Room 101.

If you’re coming from the beach, take Hwy 98 going east until you get to Harrison Avenue. Make a right on Harrison Avenue. Go down to 4th Street and take a left. Once you’re on 4th Street, the courthouse is 3 blocks up on the right.

What are your hours?

Our normal business hours are Monday thru Friday 8:00am until 4:30pm.

How long does it take to apply for a license?

It takes approximately 20 minutes to apply for a Marriage License.

What do we need in order to apply for a Marriage License?

Both parties must be 18 years of age or older. Both parties must have State or Government issued valid photo identification (Driver’s License, State issued ID card, Passport, or Military ID). Both parties must know their social security numbers (you do not need to bring the card with you). And if either party has been previously married you must know the FULL DATE of divorce, annulment, or death of previous spouse (you do not need to bring the divorce decree, annulment papers, or death certificate).

Who can issue a Marriage License?

According to Florida Statute 741.01; every marriage license shall be issued by a County Judge or Clerk of the Circuit Court under his hand and seal.

What is the fee for a Marriage License?

The cost of the license is $86.00. We accept cash, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Checks are not accepted. Note: if you choose to use a credit or debit card you will be charged a convenience fee.

If we decide not to get married after purchasing the Marriage License, can we get a refund?

No, there are no refunds on a Marriage License.

Do both of us have to come in together to apply for the license?

Yes. Both parties must come in person to apply, no exceptions.

How long is the marriage license valid?

The Marriage License is valid for 60 days from the effective date (block 18a on the Marriage License). The license must be used on or before the expiration date (block 19 on the Marriage License). The person performing the ceremony must return the license to the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Office for recording within 10 days after the marriage ceremony is performed.

If I live out of state, can I apply for my Marriage License in the state I live?

If you are planning a wedding in Florida, you must apply for your marriage license in the state of Florida. You may apply in any county as long as the license is obtained in the state of Florida.

Who can perform a Marriage Ceremony in the state of Florida?

As listed in Florida Statute 471.0; all regularly ordained ministers of the gospel or elders in communion with some church, or other ordained clergy, and all judicial officers, clerks of the circuit court, and Florida Notary Publics may solemnize matrimony.

Can the Clerk’s Office perform a Marriage Ceremony?

We no longer perform marriage ceremonies.  You may bring your own clergy or notary and be married on the front steps of the courthouse or on the front lawn. Click here for a local listing.

Is there a waiting period?

Non-Florida Residents do not have a waiting period. Florida Residents have a 3-day waiting period.

Is there a way to waive the 3-day waiting period for Florida Residents?

Yes, if BOTH PARTIES are Florida Residents they may choose to take a pre-marital preparation course. If so, the 3-day waiting period will be waived and the license will be discounted to $61.00.

As Florida Residents, how do we go about taking this pre-marital course?

The pre-marital preparation course is not something you can do through the courthouse. You must take the counseling with a registered course provider. The course must be a minimum of 4 hours. You can contact our office to see if your minister or counselor is registered with our office at 850-763-9061.

Who can provide Pre-Marital Courses?

If you are qualified and wish to be an official provider of the pre-marital preparation course, you must register with the Clerk of the Court’s Office. Your Registration Affidavit must be on file with the Clerk’s Office before we can accept any Certificates of Completion from couples counseled by you. The following is a list of qualifications for the pre-marital preparation course providers:

  • A psychologist licensed under Chapter 490, Florida Statutes
  • A clinical social worker licensed un Chapter 491, Florida Statutes
  • A marriage and family therapist licensed under Chapter 491, Florida Statutes
  • A mental health counselor licensed under Chapter 491, Florida Statutes
  • An official representative of a religious institution which is recognized under Chapter 4963404 (201) Florida Statutes (with relevant training)

Do we have to take this course?

No, the course is not required. However, if you are Florida Residents and you choose not to take the pre-marital preparation course the 3-day waiting period will apply and the license will be $86.00.

Are we required to have a blood test before we apply for our license?

Blood tests are not required in the state of Florida.

Can a Marriage Ceremony be performed without a Marriage License?

No, Florida Statute 741.08 states that the party solemnizing the marriage shall require a properly issued marriage license before performing the ceremony.

Can we, as the couple, return the Marriage License for recording?

No, it is the legal responsibility of the notary public or minister that performed the ceremony to return the license back to the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Office where the license was obtained within 10 days after the ceremony.

How long does it usually take to get a certified copy of our Marriage License?

Once the license is returned to our office, it will be recorded and mailed out to you the same day.

Can we get married by a captain aboard a ship?

Yes, if the captain is a Florida Notary Public and the ship is in Florida waters (with 2 geographic miles of the coastline) at the time of the ceremony.

Do one or both applicants have to be American Citizens?

No. There is no citizenship requirement in the state of Florida. However, you must provide proper identification. (For proper identification, please see question)

Do we need to apply for our Marriage License to renew our vows?

No. Talk to your religious advisor or personal counselor.

Can I legally marry a family member?

No. Although the marriage application does not specifically ask about possible relationship of the parties, Florida law prohibits close blood relations from legally marrying. These include such relationships as parent-child, brother-sister, and uncle-niece. The nearest degree of relations who may legally marry in the state of Florida are first cousins.

What is the fee for a certified copy of a Marriage License?

One certified copy is provided as part of the Marriage License fee. Additional certified copies may be obtained for the following fees:

Marriage Licenses issued during the years of 1913-1971; $3.00 each
Marriage Licenses issued during the years of 1972-Present; $3.00 each

How do I obtain a certified copy of a Marriage License?

If you are local, all you need to do is come to our office (in room 101 at the Bay County Courthouse). Make sure and know both parties names and the time of the marriage and the year of the marriage. You may pay by cash or a Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit or debit card. Note: if you choose to use a credit or debit card you will be charged a convenience fee.

If you are from out of town, you’ll need to send a letter requesting those copies. Be sure to include both names at the time of the marriage and the year of the marriage. Payment must be sent by money order (we do not accept checks) made payable to Bill Kinsaul, Clerk. The day we receive your request we will process it and send your certified copies back out to you. Send your request to the following address:

Bay County Clerk’s Office
ATTN: Marriage License Department
P.O. Box 2269
Panama City, FL 32402

Marriage Licenses issued during the years of 1913-1971; $3.00 each
Marriage Licenses issued during the years of 1972-Present; $3.00 each

Or you may contact the Office of Vital Statistics:

Department of Health
Office of Vital Statistics
P.O. Box 210
Jacksonville, FL 32231
904-359-6900

Who should I notify if my marriage means a name change and/or address change?

If your marriage means a change in name and/or address, remember to make the following important notifications:

  • Your state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles- Division of Driver’s license
  • Your nearest Social Security Office (The Panama City office is located at: 97 West Oak Avenue)
  • Your Supervisor of Elections (The Bay County office is located at 205 Mosley Drive in Lynn Haven)
  • Your Military Reserve Commanding Office (if applicable)
  • Beneficiaries or joint owners on many of these documents: bank accounts, insurance policies, employment benefits, etc.