If you are freshly married, it’s time to think about your formal duties, such as obtaining that important piece of paper- your marriage license or certificate.

Below, we’ve included some information if you’re wondering how to get the original marriage certificates or copies.

If you already obtained a copy and lost it, we can help with obtaining any copies, too!

How do I get the original Marriage License?

The officiant (the person who marries couples) signs the marriage certificates (or a marriage license), along with witnesses they have, and files them within the county where the marriage occurred.

Usually, the county office will mail back marriage certificates. But, in case you don’t get the mail, you will need to contact the office. Maybe you just gave the wrong address, but not so often, they will not send it immediately.

Who Must Provide a Copy of Their Marriage Certificate?

All couples (where a U.S citizen or a green card holder and a foreign person entered into marriage) must submit a copy of their marriage certificates with Form I-130, or “Petition for Alien Relative.”

When attending the green card interview, you need to bring with you the original certificate, certified copy, or official replacement.

What does the marriage certificate confirm?

The marriage certificates will prove the following information:

  • Names of spouses
  • The place marriage happened
  • The exact date of marriage

How to Get a Certified Copy of My Marriage Certificate?

A marriage certificate is a special form that you will need in some cases, so it is good to think about preserving it. Obtained certified copies will allow you to use making sure that your original example stays with you.

Vital Records

Generally, it is good to know that a marriage certificate is considered a vital record, such as birth, death, marriage certificate. This means that, usually, the first place to request your certificate is the Department of Vital Records for your area, but the process varies a bit by the state.

For example, in Minnesota (and Montana), you can get the requested certified copy of your marriage certificate through online services typically operated by the state’s public health division.

This allows you to get the certificate even if you live in another state simply by filling out an online application and pay a nominal fee. The fee to search for a certificate is around $10 to 15, and for each additional document of the certificate ordered at the same time, the fee is around $6.00.

On the other hand, some states don’t provide an online option, so you will probably need to visit the county office in the county you were married, or you can call them first and see if they could help you somehow.

Where to Find Contacts?

On the official page of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can find the names and addresses of each vital records office, as well as the current fees. You will have to provide the proper vital records fees paid for the service by credit card, check, or money order.

However, when considering where to obtain the copies of your marriage certificate, think about requesting the document from a county clerk, town or city hall, or a civil registrar in the state where you were married.

Where to Get Copies if You Got Married Abroad?

If you were married abroad, you would need to find the issuing authority, not of your birth country, the country where your marriage took place. You can search your country in the menu on the left side of the page.

On the U.S. Department of State’s web page, you can see the names and the current fees for the service and procedures.

What if I Lost the Original?

If you lost your marriage certificate or you can’t get an official copy, you have to submit:

A notarized personal affidavit: this will describe the facts of your marriage and why you can’t obtain official copies of the marriage certificate
A statement from the government agency: this document has to explain why your marriage certificate is not available.

And What if I Can’t get an Official Copy?

If you cannot get a certified statement from an appropriate government agency, you have to provide at least two additional notarized personal affidavits. Those affidavits need to be from other people, such as your parents or a close relative.

Common Concerns Before Getting Married

What About Past Marriages?

In case that you have been married before, to prove the validity of your current marriage, you will need to submit a copy of your divorce papers. If you had more than one marriage in the past, you have to get a divorce decree for each previous marriage.

A Marriage Certificate is Written in a Foreign Language

If marriage certificates are written in any other language, you will have to get help from a certified translator.

My name is different on other documents

If your name changed due to your most recent marriage, then after you obtain a marriage certificate, it will be enough proof to harmonize it with all other documents.

If your name changes are the result of other events such as divorce or adoption, you must submit evidence of a legal name change. In these cases, you will need an adoption decree or a court order.

I don’t have a marriage certificate because I had a religious or traditional wedding ceremony

You need to consult the specific instructions from the country where you got married.

Your spouse would just need to provide alternative documents. The requirements for alternative documents depend on the country.

How an Immigration Attorney Can Help?

Some countries do not legally recognize religious or traditional weddings, but they may still ask for alternative documents. If there’s no such guidance from the State Department and government, it will be best to consult an immigration attorney who provides such service and who can check the marriage laws in the state the marriage took place and help you obtain the marriage certificate from vital records offices.

Herman Legal Group has more than 25 years of experience in providing services to many clients in immigration-related cases. We are clients’ first choice because we have an individual approach and go above and beyond to help them search and access the documents and copies such as birth, death, and marriage certificates, especially, when vital records offices and information they need.

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