How To Get A Copy of Your Marriage Certificate: A Comprehensive Guide

By Jim CampbellJim CampbellJim CampbellJim is the owner of A lifelong traveler, Jim's wanderlust has led him to spend months living on the Mayan Rivera, instruct SCUBA diving in Croatia, sail from San Diego to Hawaii, and cruise the Caribbean on a catamaran. Jim launched his honeymoon business while planning his own honeymoon in 2019. Since then, he has helped thousands of honeymooners plan their trips through his honeymoon travel agency.Meet Our Team | Updated on February 14, 2024 | Posted In: Weddings

The wedding day is only the beginning of your married life. Just as you’re keen to ensure that your most-awaited ceremony remains glitch-free, you must also be diligent in ticking off all items on your post-wedding paperwork checklist. Count on this article to be your reliable guide on how to get a copy of your marriage certificate. 

How Do I Get A Copy Of My Marriage Certificate?

Usually, it’s the officiant who handles the marriage certificate application. After they secure all the necessary signatures on the marriage license, they will file it with the county clerk’s office where the wedding took place — either in person or by mail. 

Again, every county has different rules about the filing of the license. Some require three days, while others 10. 

After the county clerk processes the license, it’s now formally acknowledged as your marriage certificate. Depending on where you reside, you can opt to have the certified copies (duplicates of the original marriage certificate) delivered by mail or pick them up yourself. 

In other counties, they request copies to be ordered by the couple and purchased. You can do it by visiting the office or phoning them in. If you can’t get in touch with the county office by phone, you can reach out to the vital records office of the state where you were married for assistance. To find the vital records office you’re looking for, visit OnlineVitals.

In this digital age, you may also wonder: Can I get a copy of my marriage certificate online? The good news is that you can. VitalRecordsOnline allows you to apply for a copy from the comfort of your home. The benefit is that you won’t have to wait or encounter a busy phone line. 

The process only includes filling out an application form, sending your requirements (e.g., photo ID, proof of relationship), and paying a fee. The copies will then be delivered to your preferred address.

What Is It And Why Do You Need A Copy Of Your Marriage Certificate?

So, you’ve found this part after searching “How to get a copy of my marriage certificate?” on the internet. Before diving into the details, you must first understand what a marriage certificate is.

A marriage certificate is a document that serves as proof of your marriage with your spouse. It contains the date, time, and location of your wedding, plus the signatures of everyone involved.

You get this paper after the wedding and can use it for various legal purposes. These include:

  • Changing your name. Want to be legally acknowledged as Mrs. Smith? You need a marriage certificate, birth certificate, and social security card to take your spouse’s surname. 
  • Proving your identity. After you’ve changed your name, you can use your certificate to apply for a passport, open a bank account, or get a driver’s license with your new name. 
  • Getting a loan. Before you get approved for your joint mortgage for your new home or car, you must present your certificate as evidence that you are a married couple. 
  • Claiming health and pension benefits. If you’re claiming benefits on behalf of your spouse or sharing insurance, authorities will require you to show your marriage certificate.
  • Filing taxes. You can enjoy tax savings if you and your spouse file taxes jointly. One of the requirements for that is a copy of your marriage certificate.

Beyond these practical reasons, it’s always a good idea to own a copy of the proof that you’re married to your spouse. It’s a special document you want to preserve — or even display, in the case of heirloom marriage certificates.

Marriage Certificate vs. Marriage License: What’s The Difference?

When planning for your wedding, you will encounter the terms “marriage certificate” and “marriage license.” But how do they differ from one another?

Your marriage license is your permission to marry, while the certificate proves you’re married. You get the license before the ceremony and receive the certificate afterward. Note that the license is state-specific, which means if you’re getting married in California, apply for a marriage license in California.

After deciding on your wedding date, gather the requirements, including:

  • Proof of identity (e.g., driver’s license, state ID card, passport)
  • Proof of age (i.e., birth certificate)
  • Proof of citizenship or residence
  • Social security numbers
  • Parent information (e.g., birth names, birth dates, and birth states)
  • Payment (between $35 and $150)

Depending on which county you’re applying in, you’d also need to bring a witness. If you’re divorced, also present your divorce decree; if widowed, your late spouse’s birth certificate. Be sure to check per-county requirements before heading to the clerk’s office.

It will take at least 24 hours or a few days to release the license. And though each county has different validity periods for marriage licenses, generally, you’ll have 60 to 90 days to use yours. 

The license is the paper you see being signed during the ceremony, though others opt to do it afterward. Apart from your and your spouse’s, it must also bear the signature of the officiant and two witnesses.

How Much Does It Cost To Get A Marriage Certificate?

You need to allocate a budget for your marriage records. The first copy of your marriage certificate costs anywhere from $5 to $30, depending on the state. Each succeeding copy will cost you around $5 to $25.

To get the copies via VitalRecordsOnline, you must prepare $40 to $80. Other clerk offices also ask for expedite service fees (around $20) if you want to fast-track your request. 

Some couples also want to obtain an heirloom marriage certificate for display. Inexpensive ones are available at gift retailers for around $5 to $30. Some states also offer a more elaborate and legally acknowledged heirloom marriage certificate, albeit at a higher price — about $45 to $275.

What To Do If You Lose Your Marriage Certificate?

If you lose a certified copy, you might ask about how to get a copy of your marriage certificate. While the experience of losing an important document is saddening and panic-inducing, it’s actually simple to have it replaced. 

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