TRENTON – Legislation aimed at boosting New Jersey’s tourism and hospitality industry by updating the state’s marriage license requirements to eliminate a three-day waiting period and streamline residency requirements was approved Monday by both houses of the Legislature.
“New Jersey is home to scores of premier wedding venues and first-class small businesses offering wedding-related services,” said state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), a sponsor of the bill. “By modernizing the process of filing for a license, we will make our state even more attractive to out-of-state consumers. Ultimately, this will help to create jobs at our small businesses and to boost our local economy.”
The legislation, S-3190/A-4366, would eliminate the current mandatory 72-hour waiting period for issuance of a marriage or civil union license after an application is made. The current waiting period, established in 1934, makes it cumbersome for out-of-state consumers to plan weddings at New Jersey’s many tourism destinations.
In addition, the bill streamlines residency requirements for New Jerseyans applying for marriage and civil union licenses. Under current law, residents must apply for a marriage or civil union license in the municipality where either applicant resides, making it less convenient for residents to wed at one of the state’s over 50 destination wedding facilities and other premier accommodations. The legislation would allow residents to apply for licenses in the municipality where the wedding ceremony is to be performed as well.
“Our state is operating under marriage license requirements that go back decades,” said Scutari. “It’s well past time that we updated these archaic laws to make the process more convenient for our residents and for tourists who are interested in exchanging vows here in New Jersey.”
By eliminating the waiting period, the measure also makes New Jersey more competitive with neighboring states, including Pennsylvania (72 hour waiting period), New York (24 hours), Delaware (24 hours), and Maryland (48 hours). Under the legislation, New Jersey would join Connecticut and Rhode Island as the only states in the Northeast with no waiting period. Twenty seven other states do not require a minimum waiting period for issuing a marriage or civil union license.
The bill was approved in the Senate by a vote of 21-13. The Assembly approved it 47-21-7. It now heads to the desk of Governor Chris Christie.
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