Every couple who has ever gotten married in California has an official marriage license on record to serve as proof of their marital union. Couples who need to prove their marriage for the purpose of changing one's name, applying for insurance benefits or another need must obtain a copy of their marriage license from California through the Office of Vital Records or the County Recorder's Office.
Go to the California Department of Public Health's website and click on the "Certificates and Licenses" tab at the top of the page. Click on the first link listed on the Certificates and Licenses page titled "Birth, Death, Fetal Death, Still Birth, & Marriage Certificates."
Click on the highlighted link that reads "marriages and divorces" on the top half of the page. This will take you to the application and necessary filing procedure to obtain a copy of your marriage license in California.
Determine whether you'll be requesting an authorized or an informational copy of the marriage license. Both licenses contain the same information, but the authorized copy can be used to validate identity--the informational copy cannot. To request an authorized copy of a marriage license, the request must be made by one of the individuals listed on the marriage license or a member of their immediate family such as their parents, grandparents, grandchildren, children, brothers or sisters. A request for an authorized marriage license may also be made by a member of law enforcement or another government agency for the purpose of conducting official business.
Print out the "Application for Certified Copy of Marriage or Divorce Record," which is located on the "Marriage and Divorce Record" web page as a PDF document.
Read the directions to determine if the Office of Vital Records can process your request for a marriage license based on the year of your marriage. Because of the volume of marriage certificates in the state, the OVR only handles requests for marriages that occurred between 1949 and 1986 and between 1998 and 1999. All other requests must be made through the County Recorder's office in the county in which you were married.
Fill out the necessary information on the OVR application so your request can be processed. If you are filing your request through the County Recorder's Office, locate the phone number or website of the office in the county you were married in to obtain an application. Links to contact information and websites for all of California's County Recorder's Offices can be found on the lower half of the "Birth, Death, Fetal Death, Still Birth & Marriage Certificates" web page.
Make out a check or money order to either the Office of Vital Records or the County Recorder's Office to pay for the marriage license fee. As of January 2010, the fee per license was $14.
Mail the application and the check or money order to the Office of Vital Records--MS 5103, P.O. Box 997410, Sacramento, CA 95899-7410. Once your request has been processed, your California marriage license will be mailed to you via the U.S. Postal Service.
- Due to the large volume of requests for birth certificates handled by the Office of Vital Records, the office recommends that requests for marriage licenses be made through the County Recorder's Office in the county where you were married. Requests through the Office of Vital Records could take up to six months to process.
Lynn Burbeck is a professional writer with over five years of experience writing for the Web. She has published numerous articles for print and online media including "Grit" Magazine. Burbeck holds a B.A. in journalism and political science.