How Long Does It Take to Get a Marriage Certificate?

By Mary Jane Freeman ; Updated April 13, 2017
Marriage certificate

Natalia Bratslavsky/iStock/Getty Images

A marriage certificate is the legal document that proves you are married. Generally, you can obtain a copy from the clerk's office in the county where your marriage took place or from the office of the recorder or registrar in some states. Submit an application, proof of your identity and pay the required fee. Although processing times can vary among states and even different municipalities, you can usually receive a copy within minutes if you submit your request in person and up to a few days or weeks if you order by mail, phone or online.

Getting Certificate After Wedding

Your original marriage certificate will be mailed to you shortly after your wedding. The time period can vary from county to county. The officiant is responsible for filing the marriage license within 10 days after the wedding, after which the county clerk will send out the finalized marriage certificate. In Clark County, Nevada, for example, certificates are available one day after the marriage is recorded, with copies usually being received within seven to 10 business days.

Certified vs. Uncertified Marriage Certificates

Some states give you the choice of ordering either a certified or an uncertified copy of your marriage certificate. Certified copies are available to authorized persons, such as the named spouses or their relatives. They contain a government seal or stamp and the clerk's signature, and they’re printed on security paper. Uncertified copies lack these official markings and are available to anyone who requests them.

How to Order a Certificate

You can request a copy of your marriage certificate in person at the clerk or registrar's office or by mail. In-person requests typically are the fastest means. For example, in Wisconsin, you can receive a copy of your certificate within two hours if you submit your request in person by 2 p.m. In Boston, you also can receive a copy the same day you request it. When it comes to mailing in your request, the wait time is a bit longer. In Kansas, for instance, you can expect to receive it three to five days after your request is received, the same for orders placed online, by phone or fax. In Michigan, online orders take two weeks to process plus mail time, but only a day or two plus mail time if you expedite the order.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.