Can First Cousins Marry In Minnesota? (Explained)

It is currently illegal for first cousins to marry in Minnesota. There is an exception within the laws that relate to aboriginal cultures.

Half first cousins are also not allowed marry.

First cousins once removed and other more distant relationships are allowed.

This article reviews the important aspects of cousin marriage within the North Star State.

What Do The Minnesota Marriage Laws Say About First Cousins?

This is the relevant section of the marriage laws pertaining to first cousins. The section states that civil marriages are prohibited between:

…an uncle or aunt and a niece or nephew, or between first cousins, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood, except as to civil marriages permitted by the established customs of aboriginal cultures;.

Minnesota marriage laws

You probably understand what first cousins are. If you’re not exactly clear, check out our article that explains first cousins.

How half first cousins are prohibited

Let’s quickly explain half and whole blood. When two siblings share the same parents, they are whole blood relatives. We would say “full siblings” now.

When the siblings only share one parent, we call them half-siblings. This is also known as a half blood relationship.

So, what does half blood mean in relation to cousins? Well, if your cousin’s parent is a half sibling of your parent, then you are half first cousins.

If that seems confusing, then it’s much clearer to understand with a diagram. We’ve got one in this section that answers “what is a half cousin”.

Are there any exceptions to the laws?

The exception to the law relates to “established customs of aboriginal cultures”.

I can’t find examples where Minnesota residents have used this clause. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

Marrying in Minnesota

Types Of Cousins That Can Get Married In Minnesota

Relationships that are further out than first cousins are allowed.

For example, marriages between first cousins once removed are permitted.

Of course, more distant cousins are also permitted. If you’re not sure what the difference is between the various relationships, the links below will give you diagrams and clear explanations.

Attempts To Change The Laws

There has been at least one attempt to amend the marriage laws in the 21st century.

Back in 2003, a bill was introduced into the House that would legalize first cousin marriages in the state.

The proposers noted that several cultures living in Minnesota had difficulties with the laws as they stand. That includes the Somalia culture and the Hmong culture.

However, the state laws have not changed yet in this regard.

Does The Minnesota Marriage Application Form Ask If You’re Related?

Many of the marriage license forms in other states don’t ask if the two applicants are actually related to each other.

We reviewed the online form for Hennepin County in 2022. There is a section that asks if the parties are related by blood or adoption.

Here’s a screenshot (we’ve removed some sections to make the picture a bit smaller):

If you are second cousins, then you should tick yes on this question. The clerk may ask you to explain the relationship further.

But there will not be an impediment – as long as you are not first cousins!

Do Nearby States Allow First Cousins To Marry?

Minnesota is bordered by Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. None of these allow first cousins to marry.

The nearest option is probably the Centennial State. You can check out our article on first cousin marriage in Colorado.

Looking for a destination wedding spot?

Do you live in a state or country where first cousin marriage is legal and you simply wanted to visit Minnesota as a destination wedding spot?

Consider Colorado as an alternative destination for your ceremony!

Looking to relocate?

Some first cousins choose to relocate permanently to a state where their marriage will be legal.

Review your options and future plans carefully. You may wish to sit down with an attorney to consider all the implications.

Some states in the U.S. will not recognize legal marriages from other states.

Roman Catholic Marriages

Even if close cousins move to another state that allows their civil marriage, they will face separate hurdles if they want a wedding in a Roman Catholic church.

Historically, the Catholic Church hasn’t encouraged first cousin marriages. However, the church laws have been relaxed somewhat in recent years.

There is a process that first cousins need to go through with the hierarchy in order to get permission to marry in a church ceremony. This is known as a dispensation.

You can read a more detailed explanation here on how first cousins can have a Catholic wedding.

What about other cousins?

Second cousins (and further out) don’t need to get special permission for a Catholic Church marriage.

We suggest that you mention to your priest that you are second cousins before the service. This means he won’t get uneasy if he hears mention of “cousins” from other people.

If you’re not sure about whether you are first or second cousins, check out our article that explains what second cousins are. The pictures should make it easily understandable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some quick answers to common questions.

Does Minnesota allow relatives to marry?

Minnesota does not allow close relatives to marry.

More distant relatives such as second cousins are allowed to marry in the state.

Can you marry a sibling in Minnesota?

Minnesota does not allow siblings to marry. Half-siblings are also not allowed to marry in the state.

Is it legal to marry your second cousin in Minnesota?

Marriage between second cousins is legal in Minnesota.


The codes and laws referenced in this article may not be the most recent version. Minnesota may have more current or accurate information.

We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on other sites. Please check official sources.

Margaret created a family tree on a genealogy website in 2012. She purchased her first DNA kit in 2017. She created this website to share insights and how-to guides on DNA, genealogy, and family research.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.