This page was updated on April 26, 2020.
The national, state and local response to COVID-19 is drastic. The message: stay home. If there was any doubt at the seriousness of the direction, it was made abundantly clear when municipal offices started shuttering. Some for just a couple of days. Others indefinitely. Because marriage licenses are issued at Town Clerk’s offices, and completed forms documenting solemnized marriages are returned there, this poses new challenges for officiants and couples alike. Many town offices have created “drop boxes” outside of their buildings so documents can be safely delivered and retrieved by employees.
JPus is working with the Secretary of State/Vital Records/Governor’s office in each of the states where we are active to provide the latest guidance to answer your questions. This information will be updated as new information is received.
Questions to the SOTS
Following are some of the questions we posed to the Secretary of State’s offices. When we receive replies they will be posted in the state-by-state section below.
- How can couples access marriage license applications online? Will the state establish an online portal?
- Will the marriage license’s validity date be extended for couples?
- Will filing deadlines be waived for officiants?
- How shall officiants process paperwork for completed marriages?
- Will officiants be allowed to tele-officiate, similar to healthcare providers being able to practice telemedicine?
The Stay Home Stay Safe plan went into effect on Monday, March 23, 2020, and non-essential public community gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events) should be postponed. The next day Governor Lamont signed an executive order that temporarily loosens marriage license application procedures. The implication is that officiant-couple social distanced marriages may take place. As of March 27, 2020, the gathering may not have more than five people.
- If a town office is closed, couples may obtain their marriage license from any other town within the State, and that they may marry in any town in the state.
- Marriage licenses’ sixty-five day validity will be extended for an additional sixty (60) days for any marriage license that is obtained or that will expire during the declared public health and civil preparedness emergency.
- After a solemnized ceremony, JPs should mail the completed license to the clerk’s office where the ceremony took place. It will be processed as soon as possible.
- Some town clerks have office hours. Call or email to inquire.
- Connecticut General Statutes (Sec.46b-24d) state that “a marriage ceremony shall be conducted by and in the physical presence of a person who is authorized to solemnize marriages.”
- On March 20, 2020 the Governor issued an executive order allowing virtual town meetings, but this did not pertain to individual town services. Check with your local municipal body (website, email or phone) for its practices.
- Marriage license applications are available here. Once the couple has completed the intentions and signatures notarized, they may mail in the completed intentions and $40 issuing fee to DRVS (or resident municipality) and the marriage license will be issued. Parties may also scan and e-mail the notarized intentions to us. Once reviewed and approved, payment may be made over the phone by credit card. DRVS will send the marriage license via e-mail (e-mails provided on the intention form) or by mail for those that do not have a printer. DRVS also has a drop off/pick up area before entering the lobby. The license’s 90-day deadline remains in effect.
- Officiants have 7-10 days after the marriage is performed to mail the marriage license back to the issuing official. A letter was created, addressed to officiants, with instructions. The clerks who are issuing licenses via mail were asked to share it.
- Tele-officiating is not currently an option.
- During the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order, town offices are closed to the public. Some offices are providing limited services by email and telephone. The following town offices are issuing marriage licenses:
- The Worcester City Clerk will go to a couple’s car, by appointment, to process marriage license applications for emergencies only. They are assessed on a case by case basis.
- In Boston, marriage intention applications are received by appointment only on Tuesdays and Fridays. All requests are honored, so couples don’t need to demonstrate that the marriage is essential.
- JPus is advocating to the office of the Governor’s Council to establish improved communication and procedures to facilitate essential marriages. Read more about our advocacy efforts in the state here.
- Internal discussions taking place on a state level. For now, check your town’s website, or call or email the town clerk’s office for individualized instructions on how each town is structured to manage the situation.
- No tele-officiating at this time.
A stay-at-home order was issued by the Governor on March 24th. Routine marriages are not being supported. But, if an urgent marriage is needed (health insurance benefits, end-of-life matter, etc.), the municipal clerks are available to process licenses.
- The Vermont marriage application is available online here, with instructions for obtaining a marriage license.
- A Vermont town office may be closed for entry by the public, but they are still operating. Check the local town office website or call/email regarding hours of operation and marriage license information.
- Officiants may drop off paperwork in drop boxes (if the town has one) or mail the paperwork to the town that issued the license.
- No tele-officiating.
- More officiant related support on JPus’ coronavirus landing page
- Be a part of the coronavirus-management conversation with fellow officiants in JPus’ members-only Facebook group
- Follow JPus’ Facebook page for related news and updates
- Additional professional development articles in Member Support
- More education and training for marriage officiants