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Justices of the Peace are responsible for complying with the laws applicable to their position. Each applicant should be familiar with the relevant regulations set forth in the Massachusetts General Laws.
If you want to become a Justice of the Peace with the power to solemnize marriages, please check to make sure there are vacancies in your community by contacting the Secretary of the Commonwealth at 617-727-2836. If there are, submit an application for the Governor's consideration. Applications are available online.
In addition to your completed application, you will need to present a resume, four signatures from references in the city or town in which you live, and one letter of recommendation, not exceeding one page, written on your behalf.
Completed applications can be mailed to:
Executive Council State House
Boston, MA 02133
A Justice of the Peace is classified as a judicial officer under Chapter III of the Massachusetts Constitution. Pursuant to Chapter II, Article IX of the Constitution, Justices of the Peace are appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Executive Council. The Constitution sets the term for a Justice of the Peace at seven years.
Most individuals seek a commission in order to solemize marriages. The Governor must specifically designate Justices of the Peace with this power. For more information, please see the Summary of Duties.
There is a limit on the number of Justices of the Peace whom the governor can specifically designate to perform marriages. The limit is 1 per municipality plus 1 for every 5,000 residents. Town Clerks who are also Justices of the Peace do not count towards this limit.
Justices of the Peace are sworn to uphold the Constitution of the Commonwealth and therefore cannot refuse to perform a marriage ceremony based on a couple's sexual orientation, race, or other protected status.
Those looking for a one-day marriage designation do not need to be a Justice of the Peace. Learn more about One Day Designations.
Nonresident clergy may also apply to perform marriages in Massachusetts. Learn more about Out of State Nonresident Clergy Petition to Solemnize Marriage.
The Secretary of the Commonwealth maintains the Justice of the Peace records and can tell you whether there is a vacancy in your city or town. You may contact them at 617-727-2836.
Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.