A marriage certificate is a document certifying that two individuals are legally spouses. The officiating individual signs and files it with the local county office. This document functions as proof that the marriage took place and you and your partner are legally spouses. The certificate should be issued automatically after a legal marriage. However, there are times you may need a copy or a replacement marriage certificate. For example, after loss, theft, or natural disaster. No matter what the situation, this guide will walk you through how to get a marriage certificate. It will also answer questions like how long does it take to get a marriage certificate. It will give you more details about marriage certificates online too.

Issuance After Marriage

Typically, the officiating individual will issue your marriage certificate after the wedding. They will sign the document, swearing that they performed your wedding. Then they will fill the document out using the information from your marriage license and file it with the local authority. The local authority can include the county clerk, registrar, or courthouse. How long does it take to get a marriage certificate? Usually, it takes 2-4 weeks after the ceremony for you to get your certificate by mail.

You need to sign the certificate after the ceremony, in the presence of the officiate. Otherwise, you might have to visit the local courthouse or town clerk to sign in front of them. The document is not valid unless signed by both married individuals.

What Is the Difference Between a Marriage Certificate and a Marriage License?

People often confuse marriage certificates with marriage licenses. But, the two documents are not the same. With a marriage license you can marry another individual. You must get a license from the local office, including the town hall, registrar, or courthouse. You can apply for marriage licenses online. However, you must always pick them up and sign them in person. Typically, this happens with an officiating individual and proof of identity and age from both parties including photo ID and birth certificates. You may also have to provide proof that you have not married previously. You may have to take a blood test too.

A marriage certificate is a signed proof of marriage, which is submitted and indexed with the local office. This shows you are legally married. You can use it as proof of change of name, marital status or when claiming benefits. You should always get an original certified marriage certificate within one month of a legal marriage.

How to Get a Marriage Certificate Online

If you no longer have a copy, you can order replacement marriage certificates online via Vital Records Online. That way you do not have to return to the church or officiate who performed your wedding.

You can also get in touch with the vital records office in the state you performed your wedding to ask for a copy. You will have to follow their instructions. This is not 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 you need the document for
  • Relationship to the married couple (with proof of relationship)
  • Phone number

Can Anyone Get a Copy?

If you are wondering who can get a copy of a marriage certificate, the answer is usually, just family. That is because these certificates are not public records. To ask for the document you must be related to the married individuals or be one of the spouses. Otherwise, you must have legal or government authority. You will also need to show your certified vital records during this process. These include your birth certificate, marriage license, or court order.

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