Making it Legal

While we’d like to think it’s all romance and lace that brings a couple together in matrimony – the long arm of the law actually calls them husband and wife. That means every couple must be armed with a license before saying their vows, and must register that license after the big day has occurred.

In North Carolina, marriage licenses are obtained at the register of deeds in each county. Current fees are $60, and payment is required in cash or credit only. No blood tests are necessary in North Carolina, however, both parties must be present and all applicants must provide their Social Security card (or documentary proof, i.e. W-2 form, payroll stub) along with proper identification (certified copy of birth certificate accompanied by a driver’s license or picture ID, a passport or military ID). All applicants under 18 should contact the register of deeds before applying.

     Applicants divorced or widowed within six months preceding the application date must present a filed copy of their final divorce decree or a copy of the death certificate. Prior to completing the marriage license application, parties will need to know their parents' full names including mother's maiden name, state of birth and current address (if possible). Marriage licenses are good for 60 days and there is no waiting period after issuance.

After the ceremony, the license must be signed by the officiant and returned to the register of deeds office to be filed with the state. Certified copies of the document can be purchased for around $10, and will be needed for the bride to officially change her name.

    For additional information:

  •     Carteret County – 302 Courthouse Square, Beaufort, 252-728-8474
  •     Craven County – 406 Craven St., New Bern, 252-636-6617
  •     Onslow County – 4024 Richlands Hwy, Jacksonville, 910-347-3451

    With a certified copy of the marriage license in hand, brides may take on the task of legally changing their surname if they choose to do so. The place to start is with the Social Security Administration. Our local office is located at 1420 McCarthy Blvd., New Bern and is open from 9am-4pm Monday through Friday. Since it can take several days for the agency to enter your new information, it may be best to wait a day or two before visiting the driver’s license and automobile registration offices.

    From there, with a new driver’s license in hand, brides should have no trouble changing their name on their passport or with their employer. It’s also a good idea to get in touch with your insurance provider, financial institutions, creditors, utility companies, physicians, post office, professional licensing boards, voter registration board, alumni associations and other professional organizations.  

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