If you’re recently married, you’re probably still basking in the glorious glow of your recent wedding day. Now that the thank-you cards have been sent and that honeymoon tan is beginning to fade a bit, it’s time to turn your attention to a new and super-important piece of paper in your life—your marriage certificate. You’ll need it in order to change your name, if you’ve opted to do so, but it can also come in handy when it’s time to merge your health insurance policies, nominate a next of kin on legal documents and if you’ll be applying for a mortgage together. And in some religions, you’ll even need to produce it before you baptize your future children—we know, that’s a lot to take in right now!
The bottom line, you’re embarking on a new chapter in life, so don’t leave your marriage certificate behind! Below, we’ve included some information, along with helpful links by state, if you’re wondering how do I get my original marriage certificate? And don’t worry, if you’ve obtained a copy and lost it (easy to do with all those boxes of gifts you’ve probably still got laying around), we can help with that, too.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to get a copy of your marriage certificate.
A quick note
Your marriage certificate is the document you receive after your wedding that states you’re now a married couple; it’s not the same thing as your marriage license. Your marriage license is what you received before your wedding from the county clerk’s office. If you’re not yet married and you’ve misplaced your marriage license, there’s a good chance you’ll have to appear in person to replace it. The information in this article pertains to a marriage certificate rather than a marriage license.
How do I get my original marriage certificate?
If you’re wondering how to get your original marriage certificate, we’ve got good news for you; you likely won’t have to do a thing. That’s because your officiant (the person who married you) usually handles this for you. He or she will sign your marriage certificate, along with any witnesses you have, then file it with the county clerk in the county where you got married. Then, in most cases, the county clerk will send it to you by mail. It’s important to note that this doesn’t always happen; be sure to double-check with your officiant on this. If your marriage certificate is mailed, though, the amount of time this takes can vary, but most married couples can expect their marriage certificate within a few days to a few weeks.
How do I get certified copies of my marriage certificate?
Your marriage certificate is a special document, so you might want to preserve it. That’s why it’s a good idea to request a few certified copies of your marriage certificate so you can use it for your name change and the other things we mentioned above. Looking for help with changing your name? Check out HitchSwitch, a service that does most of the paperwork for you.
The process of obtaining a certified copy of your marriage certificate varies a bit by state. But in general, it’s helpful to know that a marriage certificate is considered a vital record, just like a birth or death certificate. Therefore, you’ve probably guessed by now that in most states, the first place to turn to if you’re wondering “how do I get my original marriage certificate” is the Department of Vital Records for your area.
With very few exceptions (looking at you, Minnesota and Montana), you can obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate online using the links we’ve provided below. These online services are typically operated by the state’s public health division or the county clerk. They’ve created these online services to expedite the process of obtaining or replacing vital records, no matter where you’re currently living. So don’t worry if you married in your hometown of Philadelphia but you’ve made a home for yourself in San Jose. You won’t need to plan a cross-country trip to get your marriage license. In most cases, you’ll simply fill out an online application and pay a nominal fee (around $10 to 15 in many states), then a certified copy of your marriage certificate will be on its way to your mailbox.
If the state where you got married doesn’t provide an online option, your next best option will be to visit the county clerk in the county in which you were married. Again, many times they can help you over the phone as well as in person. So if you do live far away, definitely call first to see if anything can be done.
What should I do if I lose my marriage certificate?
Don’t freak out! While losing your marriage certificate can feel a bit disconcerting, it’s not anything to panic over. The process for replacing a lost or damaged marriage certificate is the same as getting one for the first time. That’s thanks to these helpful online resources (like VitalChek) that make obtaining vital records easier than ever. So whether you’ve just stepped off the plane from your honeymoon or you simply can’t remember what you did with your marriage certificate in all the post-wedding craziness, start by checking out these links by state we’ve provided below. If your state doesn’t have an option to get your marriage certificate online, you should still find a phone number or a link to the county clerk who can help you.
Links by State:
- Nevada: varies by county
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico: varies by county
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Oklahoma: varies by county
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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