2020 Guide to Getting Married in St. Thomas – The Marriage License
This is the most thorough guide to getting the marriage license in St. Thomas or St. John Virgin Islands.
In this new guide you’ll learn how to get legally married in paradise!
And it turns out, the whole application process can take less than 15 minutes and is entirely painless if…
…you follow this step-by-step guide.
In this post I’ve got:
- the marriage application forms,
- where to mail the forms and
- everything I can think of to get you married quickly and easily in the Virgin Islands.
Right now you might be thinking…
How the heck do we even start the process?
So you start asking yourself questions like:
Are marriages in the Virgin Islands legal in the United States?
Yes, marriages in St. Thomas and St. John, Virgin Islands are legal in all US states and territories.
I don’t know anyone on the island, how can I be sure the courthouse knows what they’re doing?
The Virgin Islands is a US Territory, therefore all of its courts are governed by US Federal Law and the US Constitution. And they process thousands of marriages each year. So yes, they know what they’re doing!
Is it safe to send money and documents thousands of miles away to a place I’ve never been?
Our courthouse does an excellent job. They haven’t lost a license yet! 🙂
Did I just make a horrible decision?
No way! Marriage is awesome…and its even better when you start your marriage on a beach.
Believe it or not, our little rock is pretty experienced at weddings. We host around 5,000 weddings and vow renewals each year between St. Thomas and St. John.
So trust me when I tell you that you are in good hands. 🙂
(You may also want to check out: 13 Things You Must Know Before Having a Wedding in St. Thomas after you finish this post.)
In this step-by-step guide for 2020, I’ll answer all of your questions about the marriage license process in St. Thomas and St. John but I’m going to read your mind and answer a few questions that you may be thinking right now:
- As mentioned earlier, St. Thomas and St. John are part of the Virgin Islands, which is a US territory. So your marriage license will be recognized in every jurisdiction of the United States.
- There are no residency requirements to get a marriage license.
- There is no waiting period to get your marriage license after you file the application. The marriage application must be received by the courthouse 8 days prior to your arrival.
- There are no blood tests required.
- Same-sex marriages are legal in the Virgin Islands.
- Most foreign countries also recognize a marriage performed in the Virgin Islands through an additional document called an Apostille (see below under “Additional Items”).
- And lastly…the process is actually very simple, so don’t worry this post is so long. I just want to give you every possible bit of information you’ll need.
So Here are the Steps for How to Get Married in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (I explain in detail each step below):
- Prepare Marriage Application and License & Certificate documents
- If applicable, include certified death certificate and/or Certified Divorce Decree
- Prepare Cover Letter with Date of Arrival on St. Thomas
- Include a certified check or money order for $200 made out to “Virgin Islands Superior Court”
- Mail documents to:
Alexander A. Farrelly Justice Center
Family Division – Marriage Licenses
Post Office Box 70
St. Thomas, VI 00804
- Pick up marriage license at Virgin Islands Superior Court when you arrive on St. Thomas
- Get married by license officiant or minister
- Return signed marriage license to Virgin Islands Superior Court
Step 1 – Preparing your marriage license application
There are 2 separate forms to fill out for your marriage application:
1. The 2020 Marriage License Application and
2. License and Certificate.
Here it is the marriage license application in all its glory:
And the license and certificate:
*The two forms above have fields to fill in so you can print and sign. If you are old-school and want to fill them in by hand please write legibly! Use black ink and write in print, not cursive.
**The forms can be buggy so if for some reason you aren’t able to type in the requested information, you can hand write it in.
Admittedly, the forms have a few confusing parts:
1. On the License & Certificate please put your mailing address on lines 3a and 10a. It should look something like this:
359 Lover’s Lane, Sexytown
2. You’ll both want to sign on line 15 & 16. Leave lines 17 -26 blank.
3. You must fill in 27-30 at the bottom of the page.
4. On the Marriage Application, you must fill in the section on Parents/Guardians. For the line “Parents:”, it should look like this:
Present Name: Benjamin Affleck (this is your father’s name)
Maiden Name: Jennifer Garner (this is your mother’s maiden name)
Place of Birth: Massachusetts(Father)/New York(Mother) – put the state of birth for each parent (if USA) or country (if foreign born).
The court requires this information for identification purposes. So you’ll need to enter the information even if one or both of your parents are deceased. Or, even if you are estranged from one or both of your parents. If you don’t know one or both of your parents or guardians, put “Unknown”.
5. “Previous Marital Status” refers to you and your groom/bride. So if you were never married, enter “Single”. If you’ve been married previously, enter “Divorced”. If your husband or wife is deceased, you would enter “Widowed”.
6. “Related to Other Applicant” is asking whether you and your bride/groom are related by blood or marriage. If so, enter the degree of relation such as, “3rd Cousin, once removed”. If you are not related, enter “None” or “Not Applicable”.
7. “Permanent Residence” at the top of the form is your Mailing Address. “Usual Residence” is your state.
FINAL NOTE: Don’t abbreviate on either form. So write out Street, Road, North, South, Ohio, New York etc. Also, don’t use initials for first or middle names, instead write out the full name.
FINAL FINAL NOTE: If a particular line calls for information that doesn’t apply to you, enter “N/A”. You don’t want to leave any of the lines blank.
STEP 2 – If you were married before…
If you have been divorced, you must include a certified copy (must have raised seal or other indications of being a certified original) of the divorce decree. The vast majority of courts issue certified copies with a raised seal. So somewhere on the document you should feel where they stamped it as certified. This document must be obtained from the Clerk of Courts where your divorce was finalized because they are the only office that can issue a certified copy.
A few courts use a wet signature (meaning the court clerk actually certified the document by signing his or her name in ink). They will almost assuredly use blue or some color ink other than black so that you can tell it’s a wet signature and not a copy.
If the divorce decree you have does not have a raised seal or wet signature, you’ll need to contact the clerk of courts where the divorce was finalized. If you still live close to the courthouse you may want to go to the clerk of courts to get the copy. It’s the quickest route.
Otherwise, you can call the clerk of courts and request a certified copy. They will be happy to mail one to you.
Been divorced multiple times? You only need to provide a divorce decree from your most recent divorce.
If your spouse is deceased, you’ll need to provide a certified copy of the death certificate.
NOTE – The Virgin Islands Superior Court will retain the copy of your divorce decree or death certificate along with your marriage application.
ANOTHER NOTE – As far as I know, my team has a perfect track record here in the islands, so a happy marriage is virtually guaranteed. 🙂
Step 3 – Write a Cover Letter
With your application, include a short cover letter with your contact information along with the date of your anticipated appearance at the courthouse (I’ll further explain the courthouse visit below).
In the cover letter, it can be hand written or typed, address it to the Clerk and include the following information:
- Anticipated arrival at courthouse
- If divorced, let them know you’ve included a certified copy of your divorce decree
- Your minister’s contact information: Name – Michael Motylinski, Phone Number – 340-201-6069
- Your address, emails and cell phone numbers
- If you plan on visiting the courthouse on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, you must mention this in your cover letter.
By putting my information on the document, the court will contact me if they have any questions instead of bothering you!
Step 4 – St. Thomas Superior Court Filing Fee
The 2020 filing fee for the marriage application and license is $200. They accept a certified check or money order. Make the check payable to “Virgin Islands Superior Court”.
BONUS MATERIAL: If you are planning on picking up the license on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, you want to make the check out for $350. The courthouse is only open from 9:30 am – 11:30 am on Saturdays, Sundays and most holidays. They require the additional fee of $150 for the weekend/holiday appointment.
INTERESTING FACT: If you live in the great state of Texas, you can actually bring a marriage license from your local courthouse and I can perform the ceremony. (Please confirm this with your local Texas County Courthouse before coming down as laws do change.)
SCARY FACT: If you’re already booked with a cruise ship or resort, make sure they aren’t trying to tack on any extra fees for the marriage license. I won’t name names but many of the ships like to tack on a “processing fee” just by them giving you the application forms. It’s an absolute scam.
If you want to see how the big cruise companies are charging insane amounts just because they can, check out How to Save on a Cruise Ship Wedding.
Step 5 – Filing the marriage license application in St. Thomas (for weddings on St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island)
After completing Steps 1 – 4, you’ll need to mail the documents to (if you are getting married on St. John or Water Island, you still send your application to the address below):
Alexander A. Farrelly Justice Center
Family Division – Marriage Licenses
Post Office Box 70
St. Thomas, VI 00804
So a quick review of what to include in your application package:
-marriage license application
-license and certificate of marriage
–certified check or money order in the amount of $200 made payable to “Virgin Islands Superior Court”
-divorce decree(s) and/or death certificate(s) if applicable
-cover letter with your contact information and expected date of arrival at the courthouse
I suggest mailing the application at least 14 days prior to your wedding date to allow for mail delivery, processing, etc. I further strongly suggest using USPS Priority Mail. You can track your package and confirm it’s arrived.
Also, USPS is much cheaper than FedEx, DHL or UPS.
Once you’ve confirmed the courthouse received your application package via tracking, and if you are OCD, you can call the courthouse to be doubly, extra, super-duper sure everything was received. But please wait 3-4 days after they’ve received it before calling.
The court number is (340) 774-6680, ask for “Family Division”. It is not an international call, so feel free to chat it up with the courthouse personnel. 🙂
And please don’t be discouraged if the courthouse doesn’t answer on your first, second or third call. They can get pretty busy over there.
Step 6 – Pick up your marriage license at the courthouse
After you arrive on St. Thomas, you will need to visit the courthouse to pick up your marriage license. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Dress modestly. Just outside the courthouse entrance you will find the following sign:
You may notice there is some ambiguity in the dress code, so my recommendation is for the men to wear pants or khaki shorts with a polo or button down shirt. For the ladies, wear a dress or blouse and pants/skirt that goes AT LEAST to the knees. I’ve had couples go to the courthouse only to be sent away due to improper dress. Not fun!
2. Bring a valid, government-issued ID. Either a driver’s license or passport works.
3. When you walk in you’ll have to go through security. Be polite (saying “Good morning” is a big deal down here!) and remember it’s a courthouse so court might be in session.
4. At the clerk’s desk you’ll first need to present your IDs (driver’s license or passport).
5. You’ll sign in and then review your paperwork for potential errors.
4. Get sworn in by the clerk – you will have to attest that the information provided is true and accurate.
5. Wait about 5 minutes for your paperwork to be completed and walk out of the court with your license.
Getting to the courthouse:
If you are driving, the courthouse is on the waterfront in downtown Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. There is a parking lot right across the street from the courthouse. It is called Fort Christian Parking Lot. The picture below is taken from the parking lot.
The cost to park is $1 per hour. So, you can make a day of exploring the shops and building of the historic district before or after going to the courthouse.
If you are taking a taxi, the cost from most locations to the courthouse is about $12 per person each way. You may want to ask the taxi beforehand if they will wait while you get your marriage license.
Head to the family division by either entering on the ground floor and taking an elevator to the 2nd floor. Or, walk up the steps to the second floor and hang a right. The entrance is 2 glass doors towards the end of the walkway.
Hours of the Court:
8 am to 5 pm Monday – Friday
Saturday 9:30 am – 11:30 am (by appointment only and $150 fee)
Sunday 9:30 am to 11:30 am (by appointment only and $150 fee)
*Try to avoid showing up right before closing time on a Friday afternoon as you probably won’t get the warmest reception.
*If you wish to arrive on a Saturday or Sunday, there is an additional fee of $150. It is by appointment only, so you must notify the court in advance if you wish to schedule an appointment.
Because the Virgin Islands are a US Territory, they observe all of the federal holidays on the same dates as the US. In addition, the islands observe several local holidays. A full list of holidays can be found here.
An additional fee of $150 is required to arrange for the courthouse visit on one of the listed holidays. Definitely call the court to ensure they can accommodate you.
***ALERT*** Some holidays the courthouse does not open at all. The days change but some examples from 2020 – Good Friday, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Christmas.
If you’re staying in St. John
I would definitely recommend stopping at the courthouse straight from the airport. (You may also want to read: A St. John Wedding Guide.)
If your airplane arrives on the weekend or after courthouse hours, you’ll need to plan on a trip over to St. Thomas at some point. To give you an idea, you could do something like this:
8:00 am – ferry to St. Thomas
8:20 am – arrive in St. Thomas
8:25 am – leave ferry terminal in taxi to the courthouse
8:45 am – arrive at courthouse
9:00 am – leave courthouse with license in hand
9:25 am – arrive back in Red Hook at ferry dock
9:30 am – have breakfast
11:00 am – take ferry back to St. John
11:20 am – arrive in Cruz Bay
Step 7 – Get married
Not much to say here. But yeah, you have to actually do this part.
Step 8 – The aftermath
Holy crap! You did it! You said your heart felt vows and suffered through the rest of the ceremony and got to have the magical kiss!
When you wake up the next day you are officially hitched. It’s done. No more talk. It’s a reality. You are married.
To make it all legal, we’ll fill out the remainder of the marriage license and it has to be filed at the courthouse.
Either you can go back to the courthouse and file it and get copies ($3/copy), or we can do it. I highly recommend letting us do it. The only reason you should spend valuable vacation/honeymoon time is if you need the document immediately.
If you don’t need it immediately, we’ll file it for you and mail it out, which can take up to 30 days. If you require the license sooner than that, you can pay $50 to have the license expedited and have it within 2 weeks. Please let us know the day of the wedding and I’ll take care of it.
MISCELLANEOUS STUFF FOR 2019
Same-sex marriages are legal in the Virgin Islands, as set forth in the 2015 US Supreme Court decision. For same-sex couples wishing to get married in St. Thomas or St. John, you simply follow the steps set forth above.
Non-US Citizens/Foreign marriages
I perform quite a few marriages for couples from Europe, South East Asia and South America.
You do not have to be a United States citizen to get legally married here. The entire process is exactly the same for citizens and non-citizens.
Some countries recognize US marriages without any additional documents other than your marriage license (Canada, for one). But many countries do require an additional document called an Apostille.
Every member country of the Hague Apostille Convention recognize every other country’s marriages if you get the Apostille. Here is a list of the member countries.
It’s super easy and I take care of it after the ceremony. It can take up to 30 days after the wedding to receive it.
And that is all I have to say about that!
I hope you found this little guide enlightening. The idea behind having this guide is so that the entire process of getting married here in the islands is easy…and dare I say fun?
If you are stressing or worried, you’re missing the whole point of having your wedding in paradise.
So just let us know how we can make everything easy and care free.
If you’re looking for the simplest option, the officiant only package is $295 ($395 for St. John).
I can also help with chairs, decor, arches, cake and rum!
If you want the full-service, all-inclusive wedding planning experience, you’ll want to reach out to a wedding planner. Check out this little beauty – Amber at Blue Sky Ceremony.
To reserve your wedding date with my team, there’s a $100 non-refundable deposit is required and can be paid via credit card or check.
And if you want to kill some time, check out this video:
Your friendly St. Thomas Wedding Officiant