A marriage certificate and Licenses is a certified document that proves that a marriage was entered into legally between two parties. The marriage certificate is usually issued in the jurisdiction where the marriage took place and is usually required for official state or immigration documents such as passports, birth certificates, etc. Marriage certificates can also be used in legal procedures involving inheritance, property division, or divorce.
The law of most jurisdictions states that once you have a copy of marriage certificate and Licenses, it can be used in a variety of legal processes such as filing for divorce, applying for an absentee ballot, or getting your name changed on your driver’s license or passport, applying for Social Security benefits for the surviving spouse of a deceased person, requesting payment from insurance companies, applying for a certificate of citizenship or non-citizen national status, and establishing parentage.
For any married couple, it is important to have a copy of their marriage certificate as it serves as a proof of the existence of a legally binding marriage, especially when they are looking to travel to countries such as the United States that require foreign couples to have a valid marriage certificate when entering the country. Certified copies of the marriage certificate and Licenses are usually issued by the state’s agency that records marriages. A typical certified copy of a marriage certificate will have the seal and signature of the issuing authority. Some states may also issue an embossed or watermarked copy of the marriage certificate to show that it is indeed a true or certified copy.
Marriage License Vs. Marriage Certificate
While both a Marriage Certificate and Licenses are considered legal proof of the existence of marriage, they serve different functions. A marriage license is a document that allows two parties to marry in a specific jurisdiction, whereas the certified copy of the marriage certificate is given after a valid marriage has taken place and can be used for legal purposes such as divorce, property division, or travel.
Another key difference between a Marriage License Vs. Marriage Certificate is that a marriage license is a legal document obtained by the couple prior to marriage, signed during or after the wedding ceremony, and returned to the county by the officiant for a marriage certificate to be issued. In some jurisdictions, couples must get a marriage license to obtain a certified copy of their marriage certificate. While this may seem redundant, it is done for legal purposes. The state holds on to both the license and certificate until they receive legible documents from another jurisdiction that prove that a marriage has occurred.
In some states, such as Connecticut, when you are looking to get a marriage certificate when getting married, you must first obtain a marriage license from the records office of the town where the marriage is taking place. You will be required to pay a standard fee of $50 for each marriage license, and the payment is to be submitted to the town during the issuing of the marriage license.
How it Works
Knowing how to get a marriage certificate can be quite useful, especially for couples who are planning to have children and need a birth certificate as proof of their marriage or are looking to travel to countries that require couples to produce valid original or copies of their marriage certificate.
Below is a sample procedure on how you can obtain certified copies of a marriage certificate:
Step 1: Decide the date and place of the wedding
Before you can get a certified copy of your marriage certificate, you must first decide on a date to get married and the jurisdiction where you want to get married. The marriage license will be valid for a specific period of time (usually 90 days) and should be used within that time frame. Make sure that the jurisdiction you are going to get married in has a legal authority that can issue certified copies of the marriage certificate. This is important as you want to make certain that your marriage was lawfully recorded and can be used in the right processes.
Step 2: Visit the county clerk for a marriage license
Depending on the jurisdiction you are getting married in, you may be required to get a marriage license. A marriage license is issued by the authority in charge of maintaining the records of marriages in that jurisdiction. The marriage license serves as proof that two parties have entered into a legal contract or agreement to get married and can also be used as a prerequisite to getting certified copies of your marriage certificate.
Make sure to visit the county clerk with:
- The original certificate of citizenship
- Birth certificate
- Proof of identification such as your driver’s license or passport
The county clerk will then issue you a marriage license that looks like a contract and contains all the details regarding the marriage. You will then be required to fill out some personal information such as:
- Your name and that of your spouse
- Phone number
- Social security number
- Information about your parents, i.e., their full name
- Birth dates
- Birth state
- Date of passing, if applicable
- You may also be asked to pay a fee of at least USD 35 to 150, depending on the jurisdiction, to obtain the marriage license.
If it is not your first marriage, you may be required to provide additional details such as:
- Certificates of divorce
- Death certificate if you are widowed
For couples below the legal age, i.e., below 18 years, formal permission from both parents will be required for the couple to be allowed to wed. It is important to note that the marriage license in most states will be valid for 30 days after the date of issue. Some states incorporate a waiting period from the day the license is issued to the day of the actual wedding to provide room for a change of mind. This waiting period, however, can be waived depending on the urgency of the marriage and the situations surrounding the marriage, such as couples being deployed.
Below is a list of the waiting periods in different states:
- Delaware, South Carolina, Illinois: 1 day
- Maryland, New York: 2 days
- Alaska, Indiana, Florida, Maine, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Missouri, Oregon, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, Tennessee, and Texas: 3 days
- Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin: 5 days
Step 3: Get Signatures from officiant and witnesses
After obtaining your marriage license, you need to get signatures from the officiant (who must be qualified by the county) and at least two witnesses who could be your parents, your maid of honor, your best friends, etc., and they must be of legal age. The officiant will generally be a government representative, such as a judge, notary official, or an agent of the county clerk. It is imperative to note that in some states, such as Colorado, Pennsylvania, Colombia, and Wisconsin, you can be allowed to self-unite or self-solemnize your marriage. This means that you will not be required to have the officiant present during your marriage or have them sign your marriage license.
After the marriage has taken place, you may be required to attach the signed certificate with the marriage license and then submit it to the county clerk to request an official certified copy of your marriage certificate. Other fees may be associated with processing the request, and some jurisdictions may require you to fill out additional documents before processing your request.
Step 4: Receive your copy of the marriage certificate
Once the county clerk’s office has processed your request, you will be able to receive your certified copy of the marriage certificate. In some states, you will be handed the marriage certificate immediately, while in others, you may have to wait a few days. The length of time required to process your request will vary depending on the jurisdiction, so make sure you visit the county clerk’s office to check on your request a few days after submitting it.
Official marriage certificates can only be obtained from the jurisdictional authority that maintains the records of marriages. However, if you are looking for a more creative, personal, or unique way of displaying your relationship to the world, you may consider downloading our professionally designed marriage certificate templates and creating a personalized marriage certificate for you. For a more aesthetic appeal, you may also choose to upgrade your document with your own images and or text.
It is crucial to note that these Marriage Certificate and Licenses templates cannot be used as an official marriage certificate.
Why Do You Need a Copy of your Marriage Certificate?
Below is a list of several key reasons you may need to request a certified copy of your marriage certificate:
For name change
If you are looking to change your name after getting married or divorced, you will need to obtain a copy of your marriage certificate. The copy must be certified, which means it must be signed and issued by authorized government officials such as a county clerk. The copy of your marriage certificate can be used to change your name on official documents such as your passport, certificate of citizenship, identification card, driver’s license, and social security record.
When you’re applying for the marriage license at the county clerk, it is recommended that you request a name change. Although the name will not be changed until after the wedding, an early request for the change of name will let the court officially know what your new name will be. You may decide to take your partner’s name, keep your name or use another name entirely. A common option is to replace your middle name with your partner’s maiden name. Immediately when you decide that you would like to change your name, it is recommended that you do so early enough as waiting to change it later may attract additional fees, which may be very costly.
Share health benefits
You will need a certified copy of your marriage certificate if you are looking for ways to share your health benefits with your spouse. If one spouse has health insurance and the other does not, the policyholder can add the spouse’s name to his/her policy by providing a certified copy of their marriage certificate.
If you are looking for ways to file a joint tax return and get the same tax benefits as a married couple, you may need to get a certified copy of your marriage certificate. This will help prove that you were married for at least two years before requesting a joint filing status. You will be required to present a copy of the marriage certificate when filing your taxes electronically or by paper.
Apply for a loan or mortgage
If you are looking for ways to obtain a home loan or a mortgage, you may be required to submit copies of your marriage certificates. This is especially crucial if one person has been married before and the marriage was void or ended in divorce. A copy of your marriage certificate will help prove that you have been legally married for the past two years, which is the waiting period that most lenders require before offering a loan or mortgage.
If you are looking for ways to prove your identity to a government agency when applying for custody changes, arranging property succession to your spouse, opening a new bank account, or applying for a passport, you may need a certified copy of your marriage certificate. The certificate can be used as proof of your citizenship and identity if you do not have an official government-issued identification card such as a social security card or driver’s license.
Frequently Asked Questions
Each state has different procedures for requesting a copy of your marriage certificate. In most jurisdictions, you will need to contact the county clerk’s office directly and request that they provide you with a written statement of the steps necessary to retrieve your certified copy of the marriage certificate.
A copy of your marriage certificate will be provided to you by the county clerk’s office. You may need to provide proof of your identity before they can provide you with a certified copy.
It depends on the jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions may take months to process your request, and others may provide you with a copy of your certificate within a couple of days. For example, you may have to wait up to 24 hours if you are requesting your marriage certificate in Delaware, Illinois, or South Carolina, 48 hours if you are in Maryland or New York, 72 hours if you are in Alaska, Indiana, Florida, Maine, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Tennessee, Oregon, Mississippi, Michigan or Pennsylvania and up to 5 days if you are in Minnesota, Ohio or Wisconsin.
Basically, anyone who is over the age of 18 can request a copy of your marriage certificate. However, some jurisdictions may have specific requirements or limitations in requesting a copy of the certificate. In some states, only the married person can request a copy of the marriage certificate, while in others, you will need to provide proof of your identity before they can issue your certified copy of the marriage certificate.
If you are looking for ways to convert a civil union certificate to a marriage certificate, you will need to contact your local county clerk and request them to convert the copy into a certified copy of the marriage certificate. You may be required to provide verification of your name change before they can issue your new marriage certificate.
It is important to note that only civil union members may request that their civil union certificate be converted to a marriage certificate. For this to happen, the civil union certificate must have been in effect on 1st October 2010, the civil union must not have been dissolved or pending dissolution on 1st October 2010, and it must have been registered in a jurisdiction that recognizes civil unions.