How to Find Free Marriage Records Online

by Teo Spengler

Marriage records are usually kept in an office at the county level. This can be a court or a recorder/registrar. Many marriage records are public, and these can be accessed by members of the public in a variety of ways, including online with free searching. While some counties maintain online searchable databases of public marriage records, some do not. A variety of private online businesses offer to locate public marriage records online as well.

Public vs. Private Marriage Records

Most official records are public, including court cases, death records, divorce records and marriage records. Marriage records are much more concise than divorce records, usually only including the marriage license application and the marriage certificate.

In most states, if a couple doesn't request that their marriage records be kept confidential, they are considered public. In some places, like Los Angeles County, a couple can obtain a confidential marriage license rather than a public one. This means that the personal information on the marriage license is protected from public view. This can be used by any couple desiring privacy, including celebrities.

In a few states, like Georgia, the marriage license application is private anyway, even without an application for a confidential marriage license. Only a Georgia marriage certificate is public.

Finding Marriage Records

Where to look for marriage records? The National Center for Health Statistics has put together an online list of who to contact about different vital records in each state. Navigate to the state you're interested in, then look for the "marriage records" tab. The information tells you where the records are kept and how to contact the offices involved. It mentions how to order copies of public documents, but does not specify if a county offers online. You can call the court or registrar's office to find out.

Counties that do offer online databases, like Volusia County in Florida, usually have a document describing how to use the searches. These are your best bet for finding marriage records for free online. While you'll pay a fee if you want to order a copy of a marriage record, online county searches are normally free and allow you to search by name, document name, document number and/or marriage date.

Don't exclude the possibility of using private online records websites. If you run a few searches on the internet for marriage records, you'll find many of these businesses offering to help you. These are for-profit businesses and, sooner or later, will ask you to pay a fee. If you have reason to believe that a company is reputable and you don't mind paying, you can use the service. It's always a good idea not to provide an online company with more private information about yourself than absolutely necessary to get the transaction accomplished.

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About the Author

Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Spengler splits her time between French Basque Country and California.