How to Request a Copy of a Marriage Certificate

by Deborah Voorhees

Reasons for requesting a copy of a marriage certificate vary from checking the marital status of a potential spouse to replacing a lost copy. Marital licenses are maintained by the states, so finding marriage licenses can be problematic if you do not know the state and county the individual married in. Numerous online organizations offer private background checks, which include marital status and the state and county that the marriage took place. Some sites appear to offer free records or attempt to appear like a government site, but this is rarely the case. Even links on government sites are typically commercial ventures.

Pick an online background company such as Vital Records, Public Marriage Records, Intelius, U.S. People Search, or Government Marriage Records. This step is only for those who do not know the state or county the individual married in.

Establish the state and county in which the individual married.

Contact the government office that maintains marriage licenses for that state and/or county. Most can be found online. Each state has different names for these offices, but common names to search for include County Clerk Office, County Vital Records Office, Public and Vital Records Office, Public Health and Vital Records Office. Some states such as Maryland require going to the county circuit court.

Download an application, if available online. Otherwise, email, write, or call the appropriate office for an application.

Fill out an application and include a check or money order for the appropriate fee. Often states such as California will only mail certified copies of a marriage license to one of the two people on the license.

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Items you will need

  • Name Background information


  • A local county court and records department can often be helpful in attaining copies of a marriage certificate.


  • Be careful if checking up on a prospective spouse. It could backfire if the person is angered by the lack of trust.

About the Author

Deborah Voorhees has worked as a writer and editor since 1990. Her work has appeared in "The Dallas Morning News," the "Fort Worth Star-Telegram," "Modern Luxury" and "Front Desk." A magna cum laude graduate, Voorhees has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Texas Woman's University.

Photo Credits

  • getting married image by Bettina Baumgartner from Fotolia.com