How Long Does It Take to Get a Marriage Certificate?

By Mary Jane Freeman
You, a copy, your marriage certificate, person
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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.

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 3 to 5 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.