How to Replace a Lost Marriage License

by Jayne Thompson

A marriage license is a legal document that you can use to prove your marital status. For example, you might need your marriage license to change your name on your passport after you are married. Over time, you might lose or misplace this important document. Don’t worry – it’s easy to replace a lost marriage license at the court that issued your original license.

Tips

  • Simply write or visit the court that issued your original license and request a certified copy.

Head Over to the CDC Website

Marriage records are handled at either the state or, more often, the county level. The National Center for Health Statistics, a branch of the CDC, has made it easy to find information about ordering a replacement license by compiling each state’s guidelines. From the NCHS website, simply click on the name of your state and read the information listed under the heading “marriage.” In most cases, you’ll visit the court that issued the original license; however, some states let you apply online.

Visit the County Courthouse

Visit the county courthouse where the marriage license was issued. Tell the clerk that you would like to replace a lost marriage license. Give the full names of the bride and groom, date of the marriage and place of the marriage. Show some photo ID such as a driver’s license or military ID card, and pay the fee. Fees vary by county, but you can expect to pay between $3 and $10 per certified copy. The clerk will usually issue a certified copy license on the same day as your visit.

Order a Copy Through VitalChek

Some states give you the option of ordering a copy of your marriage license online from a website such as VitalChek. Read your state’s guidelines on the NCHS website to see if this is service is available in your state. If it is, click through to the VitalChek search bar and follow the instructions on screen. Generally, it takes around 60 days from the marriage ceremony for VitalChek to receive a copy of your marriage license. If you married only recently, or you haven’t even had the ceremony, then you will need to contact the county clerk of the court where the marriage license was issued.

Request a Copy by Mail

Some county courts allow you to order a marriage license by mail. Simply write to the court, explaining that you have lost your license and need one or more certified copies. Include the name of the bride, including her name prior to the marriage, the name of the groom, and the date of the marriage. Enclose a self-addressed, stamped return envelope and cash, a money order or certified check for the fee.

If You Haven’t Had the Ceremony Yet

If you haven’t got married yet, head back to the clerk’s office where you got your license and ask for a duplicate copy. Each county has its own requirements. Some clerks, for example, will have both of you return to the courthouse in person at the same time, while others will let one of you pick up the copy as long as the court verified your identities when you applied for your original license. You also might have to file an affidavit. Call the clerk before you visit so you know what documents to bring.

If you haven't got married yet, head back to the clerk's office where you got your license and ask for a duplicate copy. Each county has its own requirements. Some clerks, for example, will have you both return to the courthouse in person at the same time, while others will let one of you pick up the copy as long as the court verified your identities when you applied for your original license. You might also have to file an affidavit. Call the clerk before you visit so you know what documents to bring.

About the Author

A former real estate lawyer, Jayne Thompson writes about law, business and corporate communications, drawing on 17 years’ experience in the legal sector. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Birmingham and a Masters in International Law from the University of East London.