A marriage certificate is a document certifying that two individuals were married and is always signed by the officiating individual and filed with the local county office such as city hall or courthouse. This document functions as proof that the marriage took place and you and your partner are legally spouses. While the marriage certificate should be issued automatically after a legal marriage, there are circumstances in which you may need it but not have retained a copy or may need a replacement marriage certificate after loss, theft, or natural disaster.
No matter what the situation, this guide will walk you through how to get a marriage certificate.
Issuance After Marriage
In most cases, your certified marriage certificate will be automatically issued after you are married. The officiating individual will sign the marriage certificate, swearing that he married you, and then will fill the document out using the information from your marriage license and file it with the local authority such as the county clerk, registrar, or courthouse. How long does it take to get a marriage certificate? In most cases, you will receive your certified marriage certificate by mail within 2-4 weeks of the ceremony.
In most cases, you will be required to sign the marriage certificate after the ceremony, in the presence of the officiate. In others, you will have to visit the local courthouse or town clerk to sign in front of them. The marriage certificate is not valid unless signed by both married individuals.
What’s the Difference Between a Marriage Certificate and a Marriage License?
While marriage certificates are often confused with marriage licenses, the two documents are not the same. A marriage license enables you to marry another individual, which you must acquire yourself from the local office, including the town hall, registrar, or courthouse. While you can begin applying for marriage licenses online, you must always pick them up and sign them in person, typically with an officiating individual and proof of identity and age from both parties including photo ID and birth certificates. In some cases, you may also have to provide proof that you are not previously married and may have to undergo a blood test.
A marriage certificate is a signed proof of marriage, which is submitted and indexed with the local office. This is then used to show that you are legally married and can be used as proof of change of name, marital status, claiming benefits, and so on. You should always receive an original certified marriage certificate within one month of a legal marriage.
How to Obtain a Marriage Certificate Online
If you have lost or otherwise no longer retain a copy, you can order replacement marriage certificates online. VitalRecordsOnline makes it easy to get a replacement marriage certificate without having to return to the original church or officiate who handled your marriage.
You can also choose to contact the vital records office in the state you were married, where you can request a copy based on their instructions. This isn’t always possible, especially if you married in another state, or had a destination wedding.
You will need:
- Full names of each spouse at the time of marriage
- Month, day, and year the marriage took place
- Place of marriage (City, country, state or area)
- Purpose the marriage certificate is needed for
- Relationship to the married couple (with proof of relationship)
- Phone number
Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Marriage Certificate?
If you’re wondering who can get a copy of a marriage certificate, the answer is usually, just family. In most cases, marriage certificates are not public records, which means that you must either be related to the married individuals, be one of the spouses, or have legal or government authority to request the document. Be prepared to show your certified vital records such as your own birth certificate, marriage license, or court order when requesting a certified marriage certificate.