A marriage certificate is a vital record issued by the state government offices stating that two people are married. This document includes information such as complete names for the bride and groom, and the place and date of marriage.
It may also be possible to find in some of these records some additional information on the couple’s age and residence at the time of marriage, birth details for the bride and groom, names and birthplaces of their parents, spouses’ occupations and marital status at the time of the marriage celebration, and the names of the witnesses to the marriage.
For your convenience, you can process online requests through a government-approved resource that CityDirectory.us has partnered with to provide you this service: VitalChek Network, Inc. An additional fee is charged by VitalChek for this service, and all major credit cards are accepted, including American Express®, Discover®, MasterCard® or Visa®.
Learn about the importance of this document, how to register a marriage in the U.S., and what is the procedure to get a copy of this certificate from within the United States or from abroad.
It is important not to confuse the marriage license with the marriage certificate:
For a couple to be able to get married, they will need to request a marriage license. Depending on the state where the marriage license is issued, it will have an expiration ranging from 30 days to a year. If the license expires before the appointed ceremony date, it will be necessary for the couple to apply for a new one.
A marriage certificate may be needed for a number of purposes, such as requesting or providing evidence for the legal change of a person’s name, for legitimacy issues of a child, for divorce proceedings, and for genealogical research. Another very important procedure for which a marriage certificate is required, is for the completion of a green card application process.
When a couple gets married in the United States, during the ceremony, they and their witnesses will be required to sign the marriage license, which will be ultimately also signed by the religious or civil official performing the ceremony. Some marriage recording forms may include a section for the parties to indicate a change in name, if desired.
After the conclusion of the wedding ceremony, the official will need to submit a copy of the marriage license to the local county office. It usually takes the county around a month to issue the marriage certificate and provide a certified copy to the spouses.
If you wish to obtain a copy of a marriage certificate, you will need to contact the vital records office in the state where the couple got married. Alternatively, a marriage record may be obtained from the county clerk, city or town hall, or civil registrar from the relevant place of marriage.
Use the following table to find the office located in the State you are interested in:
The application procedures, fees and processing times depend on the State or place of issuance, and they can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Also, depending on the place where the request is made, i.e. in the State Archives or at a local county office, records may vary widely in date and availability.
To avoid an incomplete or delayed application process, the information you should have at hand when contacting the vital records office per mail or when presenting yourself in person is the following:
In some counties, the applicant will be requested to provide his or her driver’s license number and issuing state.
Since marriage records are in the public domain, they can be ordered or consulted without the need to provide an official proof of family relationship, as is the case for other vital records such as birth and death certificates.
Personnel from U.S. embassies and consulates cannot perform marriages, so it will be necessary for a local religious or civil official to officiate the ceremony. It is very important to find out what are the wedding procedures and requirements of the foreign country where you wish to get married before deciding on getting married overseas, since this may result very expensive and time-consuming.
You may also find difficulties for the subsequent validation of the marriage in the United States, so it is vital to contact the office of the Attorney General of your residence state in the U.S. before doing so.
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Administrative Procedures in other countries: