How to get a copy of a marriage certificate

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How to get a copy of a marriage certificate

Whether you just had a marriage ceremony or you’re doing your homework in advance, it’s helpful to learn how to get a copy of marriage certificate documents before you start filling out the mountain of paperwork that comes along after the big day. (Note: For LGBTQ couples, find out if your state recognizes marriage or civil union.)

You have three options when seeking a copy of your marriage certificate—applying in person, by mail, or online. In the following sections, we’ll explore all three and discuss when you might need a copy of your important marriage documents.

Note: There’s a difference between a marriage license vs. certificate. The former is needed for someone officiating the marriage ceremony whereas the latter is for the couple to signify their marital status.

If you’re wondering, “How do I get a copy of my marriage certificate,” you’ve come to the right place.

Methods for requesting a copy of your marriage certificate

Getting a copy of your marriage certificate is pretty easy, but some methods are more time-consuming than others. Let’s take a look at your three options for getting your hands on this vital record.

Request documents in person

While the entire process can be done online (see below), many individuals still apply in person. Each jurisdiction has different requirements, but the general process is as follows:

  1. Travel to your local courthouse and find the vital records department.
  2. Stand in line, speak with a clerk, and fill out a vital records request form.
  3. Pay a fee for processing the request.
  4. Wait for the clerk to make a certified copy or return to the courthouse at a later date.

While this is generally what you should expect when applying in person, there are some things to consider before taking this route:

    Your vital records department and courthouse may be in separate facilities—confirm the best location for processing your request before you arrive. Instead of taking walk-in visitors, some offices or courthouses operate by appointment only. Check your jurisdiction’s website for more information.Some jurisdictions may ask you to print out a form yourself and submit it in person at the courthouse or vital records office. Check your United States local regulations to determine if you need to pre-print and fill out the form before filing the request. Fees for certified copies vary by state but expect to pay a small fee per certified copy requested. While some courthouses will be slow enough to make a certified copy on demand, more populous jurisdictions may have a waiting period for processing. The courthouse will either offer to mail your documents or set up a pickup time in the latter case.

Request documents by mail

Instead of filing paperwork in person, your jurisdiction likely allows you to file a vital record request by mail. The process won’t be all that different from applying in person:

  1. Print and complete the appropriate form for your jurisdiction.
  2. Mail the required number of copies and any mandatory supporting documents.
  3. Await confirmation of the request receipt and your mailed certified copies.

While this might sound like a convenient way to request documents from home, you’ll have to pack your patience due to the processing time. Requesting a copy of a marriage certificate by mail will likely take much longer than applying in person, and the fees will likely be the same.

Request documents online

Neither applying in person nor applying by mail seem like very convenient options. Luckily, there’s an online solution to long lines or confusing documentation. Using our GOV+ platform, you can request certified copies of numerous documents like your marriage license, marriage certificate, birth certificate, and more without leaving home. Plus, you can complete your requests in three simple steps:

  1. Complete our quick, easy online application.
  2. Take a picture of your photo ID for verification.
  3. Await hard and digital copies of your vital records.

When will you need a marriage certificate?

A marriage certificate has one crucial function—proving your marital status after you say “I do.”

But who needs this proof? After you get married, you’ll have to report your marital status to a variety of agencies, any of whom could ask for a certified copy of your marriage certificate:

  • The local court system – While the courthouse will have a copy of your marriage certificate, you’ll have to report your change of name (if you choose to take your spouse’s last name). If you change your last name, you’ll have to report the change (and send your marriage certificate) to the following agencies:
  • The Social Security Administration
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Your lenders, if you have any loans
  • Your banks and credit card companies
    The Internal Revenue Service – After you file your income tax return as a married couple for the first time, the IRS may request a copy of your marriage certificate to verify the change.Your insurance companies – If you add your spouse to an existing insurance policy (or vice versa), the company will likely ask you to prove your marital status if you claim eligibility for any policies that stipulate it.

If you are remarrying after a divorce, you would also need to know how to get a divorce certificate. There are plenty of other reasons for getting a copy of your marriage certificate, such as applying for a joint credit card or filing the birth record of your newborn child. Or maybe you need to get the marriage certificate of your parents. For example, one parent died, and the surviving spouse is registered as the beneficiary of the deceased. This is when a marriage certificate is necessary aside from providing the death records of the deceased.

Get a marriage certificate online

While you can stand in line at the courthouse or wait for eons for the vital records office to process a mailed application, why not take an easier, simpler route?

With Gov+, you can submit a request for a marriage certificate within minutes. Plus, after you get the copies you need, we can help you complete a variety of other government tasks, too, like:

  • Applying for a passport
  • Changing your address
  • Applying for TSA PreCheck
  • Getting copies of your birth certificate

It’s the digital age—we can help you complete government requests online even if your jurisdiction is still lagging behind.


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