How to Obtain Marriage Licenses and Certificates?
You just got engaged, excitement is running high, and planning begins for your wedding. Now you need to pick a date, vendors need to be reserved and paperwork processed. Where does the marriage certificate fall into the mix?
What is a Marriage License?
In the US, you must have a marriage license to be married legally. You, your spouse and an offi-ciating witness must all sign the certificate for it to be legal. Once completed, you must file it with the county courthouse or vital records office in your city of residence.
A marriage license is a legal record documenting your union. The vital records department keeps records of births, deaths, and marriages for each town in each state, and they are public records.
Information Required To File For a Marriage Certificate
You will need to have the following information available when applying for your wedding cer-tificate.
- Parent’s Names & Birthdates
- Previous Marriage Information
- Social Security Information
- Blood Types (you may need a blood test before the wedding - based on state law)
- Marriage Location
- Ceremony Officiant Signature
- Witness Signature
This is a general list. The law for marriage certificates vary by state, so you will need to contact your local courthouse for specific details of what information you will need before you head down there to apply.
The Process of Obtaining a Marriage Certificate
The first step in getting a marriage license is to find out what your state law requires. Each state imposes specific restrictions on things such as age, gender, familial relationship, and other limitations. Call your city clerk’s office or town hall to find out exactly what requirements you need to meet before applying.
Next, you will need to visit your vital records office and provide proof of identity for both parties. You and your spouse-to-be both need to be present at the time of application, with a few exceptions for military or other extenuating circumstances.
You can verify your identity by the following type of documents:
- Birth Certificate
- Driver’s License
- Social Security Card
- Government Issued Photo ID
Other documents may also be allowed, based on state law. You will be required to provide “original copies” not photocopies when you apply.
If you have been married previously, you will need to provide proof of your divorce or an-nulment.
Be sure to come prepared with all the necessary documentation. You don’t want your special day being held up by a minor paperwork issue.
There is usually a waiting period before the marriage license is valid so build in enough time to apply and receive your marriage certificate before the wedding day.
Bring your checkbook too; there is usually a documentation fee when you apply. The cost may range from $25-$100.
The marriage license is usually good for a given period. Plan your wedding date within that time limit, or you may risk the marriage not being legal.
After your marriage ceremony and the license is signed by all parties, including your officiating agent, you must file the license with the courthouse to have it made a permanent record. Then you can request a formal copy for your records once it is received and filed.
How Is a Marriage License Used?
After the nuptials, your marriage certificate can be used to validate your name change, proof of identity or for employment or insurance purposes.
The social security administration, DMV or other government agencies often require a mar-riage license for verification of identity.
Consult Your State For All The Details
Contact your state office to obtain the full details and requirements for obtaining a marriage certificate in your area.
The rules can vary quite extensively so be sure you have all the information you need to plan and make your big day as carefree as possible!
How to Obtain Marriage Licenses and Certificates in Your State?
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia