Can First Cousins Marry In Rhode Island? (Explained)

It is currently legal for first cousins to marry in Rhode Island.

The state laws prohibit closer relationships such as siblings.

Couples must apply for a marriage license. The Clerk may ask if the couple are related. However, a first cousin relationship is not an impediment.

This article looks in-depth at what you need to know about first cousin marriages in Rhode Island.

Types Of Cousins That Can Marry In Rhode Island

These types of cousins can get married in Rhode Island:

It’s important to be sure that your partner is your cousin and not a half-sibling.

Half siblings aren’t allowed to marry in Rhode Island. If you’re unsure about the difference, we have an explanation in this article on what half siblings mean.

Marrying in Rhode Island

What You Should Know About First Cousin Marriages

Rhode Island requires that you apply for a marriage license.

If you aren’t a resident of the state, then you should apply for the license in the area in which you intend to marry.

Residents can apply to their local town clerk and marry anywhere in the state.

Applicants must also complete a pre-marriage worksheet.

The application form must be completed in the presence of a Clerk.

Are you a resident?

You don’t have to be a resident in Rhode Island.

But be aware that some other states in the U.S. don’t recognize your marriage if they prohibit first cousin unions.

Does the application process ask if you’re related?

Some states have a section in their license application forms where you must state a relationship e.g. first cousin.

You can see an example in our article on first cousin marriage in Wisconsin.

We reviewed the pre-marriage worksheet from the RI Department Of Health in 2022. It does not ask for this information.

But be prepared for the possibility that the Clerk may ask you whether you are related.  Don’t worry. Just explain that you are first cousins (or further out).

Who Can’t Get Married?

The Rhode Island marriage laws have a simple list of prohibited relationships.

No person shall marry his or her sibling, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, stepparent, grandparents’ spouse, spouse’s child, spouse’s grandchild, sibling’s child or parent’s sibling.

Rhode Island Marriage Laws

Why first cousins are legal

You’ve probably noticed that first cousins aren’t included in prohibited relationships.

The laws don’t say explicitly that first cousins can marry. They simply don’t mention the relationship in their restrictions.

That means you are good to go!

Do Cousins Travel To The State To Get Married?

Rhode Island is bordered by Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. All three states allow first cousin marriages.

You will sometimes hear griping from legislators in states that share borders with neighbors prohibiting cousin marriages.

They complain that hordes of out-of-state cousins descend upon their state to get legally married.

I don’t find any such concerns expressed in Rhode Island. That may be because neighboring residents aren’t blocked in their own state.

Our general article on first cousin marriage in America gives a full list of states and their regulations.

If you are thinking of traveling to RI to get married, be sure to check the laws of the state you are resident within. Some do not recognize first cousin marriages conducted elsewhere.

Roman Catholic Marriages In Rhode Island

If you want to celebrate your Rhode Island wedding in a Roman Catholic church, you will face a separate hurdle.

Historically, the Catholic Church has frowned upon first cousin marriages. However, the church laws have been relaxed somewhat in recent years.

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

Here’s a link to our detailed explanation of Catholic first cousin marriages.

What about second cousins?

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some quick answers to common questions.

Does Rhode Island allow relatives to marry?

Rhode Island does not allow close relatives to marry.

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

Can you marry a sibling in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island?

Marriage between second cousins is legal in Rhode Island.

Other cousin relationships, such as first and third cousins, are also allowed to marry in the state.


The codes and laws referenced in this article may not be the most recent version. The state 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.

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