Does a Catholic marriage have to be a legal marriage?

can a couple receive the sacrament of marriage, independent of a marriage License?

Code of Canon Law:

Can. 1059 Even if only one party is Catholic, the marriage of Catholics is governed not only by divine law but also by canon law, without prejudice to the competence of civil authority concerning the merely civil effects of the same marriage.

Can. 1071 ยง1, 2. Except in a case of necessity, a person is not to assist without the permission of the local ordinary at a marriage which cannot be recognized or celebrated according to the norm of civil law

Generally speaking, a Catholic marriage *must *conform to civil marriage laws. It would only be way of grave exception that a marriage would be permitted to take place without a civil marriage license or proof of an existing civil marriage.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit