Marriage records, as the name suggests, are documents that report the marriage of a couple. These official documents are kept by governmental or religious authorities as legal evidence of marriage. They’re also used to keep track of local populations.
Marriage records (or licenses) are important because they help ensure eligibility for marriage. They do so by taking factors such as age, parental consent, and relatedness into consideration.
Vital records, such as birth, death, marriage, and divorce records, are kept in archives in the vital records office of each respective state, and they’re available to the public.
What Are the Types of Marriage Records?
There are two types of marriage records that are considered of value in the US, namely marriage licenses and marriage certificates. If you’re searching for marriage records, chances are you’re searching for one of these two documents.
It’s important to underline the fact that while both documents pertain to marriage, they’re quite different in terms of the purposes they serve.
A marriage license is a document issued by a local authority in order to confirm the marriage of two individuals, legally speaking. The local authority that’s responsible for issuing this official document is usually the country clerk’s office.
Note: The marriage license is typically issued before the marriage ceremony takes place. It’s then signed by the couple and their witnesses.
A marriage certificate serves the purpose of confirming that a marriage ceremony has taken place. For this confirmation to happen, the couple and the witnesses are required to sign the marriage license (not the certificate).
The signed marriage license is then filed and registered at the county clerk’s office by the officiant. Then, the marriage certificate is issued and mailed to the couple.
Are Marriage Records Accessible to the Public?
Yes, marriage records are public and easily accessible. If you know the names of the couple, their date of marriage, and the country in which they were married, you can access their marriage records.
Note, however, that in some states, marriage certificates can only be requested by authorized parties. This includes the married couple as well as their parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, siblings, domestic partners, and legal guardians. Those who aren’t authorized can only receive an informational copy.
In other states, access to marriage records isn’t limited whatsoever. As long as you can provide enough information to conduct a search and are able to pay the required fee, you can access any marriage records.
How to Find Marriage Records?
There are many ways you can find marriage records. The easiest way is online through our website. All you have to do is enter a first name, last name, state, and city, and all related marriage records will appear.
Alternatively, you can find marriage records through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if the marriage occurred abroad or at the state’s vital records office. It’s also possible to access free marriage records through the state’s online marriage index.
The state’s vital records office, or its equivalent in your state, can provide access to marriage records and licenses, as well as issue certified copies of marriage documents as long as you’re an authorized individual.
Note: The vital records offices in the state of Minnesota don’t record marriages.
Sometimes, access to marriage records can be limited to certain pieces of information, including the names of the couple, date of marriage, place of marriage, file reference number, and the types of documents available.
What Can Marriage Records Be Used For?
Marriage certificates are essential when it comes to changing your legal name. If you just got married and you want to change your last name to your marital name, you’ll need to provide a certified marriage certificate.
Marriage certificates are also important when trying to apply for a loan, file taxes, or buy a property. They prove to the government that the marriage was legitimate.
What’s more, when filing for immigration while married, you’ll need to provide a marriage certificate. This document is also important when applying for a marriage green card as well as for letters of administration.
On top of all of that, vital records, which include marriage records, are used for statistical purposes. They’re typically filed with the state’s office of vital statistics and used by different organizations in statistical research and analysis.
Some of the stats in which vital records are used include population growth, population decline, stability of family life, patterns of living, and market forecasts.
What Information Is Needed to Access Marriage Records?
It depends on where you’re trying to obtain the marriage records from. In most cases, however, you’ll be required to provide some or all of the following pieces of information:
- Names of the couple
- Date of marriage
- Marriage license county
- Wife’s maiden name
- Applicant’s name
- Applicant’s phone number
- Applicant’s signature
Bear in mind that, in some states, you might be required to fill out an entire request form and pay a certain fee. So, before filling out such a form, make sure you have all of the information required to fill the form’s fields.
Find Your Marriage Records Online
At Background Hawk, we help you find your marriage records with absolute ease. All you have to do is enter a few key pieces of information, hit the search button, and all related records that are accessible to the public will be revealed.