A marriage certificate is a document proving that a marriage took place, typically used for a variety of legal as well as records-keeping purposes. While every married couple is issued an original certified marriage certificate within one month of legally marrying (with a marriage license at an officiate or registered church), not everyone retains a copy of their marriage certificate or keeps enough copies. Unfortunately, marriage certificates are often vital for handling affairs, travelling internationally, and handling some legal and financial concerns and you may need a copy.
In most cases, married couples are recommended to have at least two copies of their marriage certificate at all times, one in a safe place such as a bank for personal documentation, and one for proof of marriage.
The following include some of the reasons you will need your marriage certificate:
Changing Your Name
If either spouse wishes to change his or her name to that of the spouse, a marriage certificate is needed. You must bring a certified marriage certificate to the local social security office, as well as your original birth certificate and social security card. You may also be asked to show photo ID as proof of identity.
Once you’ve updated your social security card, you’ll have to follow through with updating bank accounts, property leases and titles, work contracts, leases, mortgage, and other contracts of ownership or responsibility.
Sharing Health Benefits
If you wish to share insurance, health benefits, or claim pension or insurance in the future, you will have to show your marriage certificate. For example, if you wish to take advantage of the added coverage of a marital coverage plan, you will have to send your insurance company a photocopy or certified copy of your marriage certificate.
Filing taxes jointly can be greatly beneficial for married couples, but you need a copy of your marriage certificate to do so. You also have to go through the process of changing names and IDs because the name filed on taxes must match that on the social security card.
Applying for a Loan or Mortgage
If you are applying for a joint loan or mortgage, you may have to provide your marriage certificate as proof of marriage and to allow the lender to check your credit history separately. You do not typically need a certified marriage certificate for this and can generally submit a photocopy or fax instead.
You will have to submit a copy of your marriage certificate when:
- Applying for a passport with your new name
- Opening a bank account with your new name
- Arranging property succession to a spouse
- Giving tax-free gifts to a spouse
- Custody changes
How to Obtain a Marriage Certificate Online
If you’re already married and signed a marriage certificate, you can likely order marriage certificates online at VitalRecordsOnline. In most cases, the process is fairly simple, providing you have your photo ID and proof of relationship.
Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Marriage Certificate?
To order a replacement marriage certificate, you will have to prove your identity as family or a spouse. To do so, you have to provide:
- Full names of the married couple (maiden name)
- Full date of the marriage
- Location of marriage
- Marriage certification need
- Relationship to the married couple (sometimes with proof such as a birth certificate)
- Phone number
How long does it take to get a marriage certificate? If you’re just getting married, you’ll have to wait 2-4 weeks before your county clerk will send you the original certified marriage certificate. If you’re ordering at VitalRecordsOnline, you can receive a certified marriage certificate via mail within 24-48 hours of filing a request with Vital Records Online. You can then use it to apply for a passport, bank account, or other need.