If you or your spouse discovers your marriage license is damaged or missing, don’t worry–-you’re still hitched. You’ll want to get a duplicate copy because your marriage license is legal documentation of your marital status, which you may need someday. For example, you need a copy of your marriage license to get a new Social Security card or driver's license if you change your name when you get married.
When you were married, you needed a marriage license so your union would be legally recognized. The marriage license you were given--probably at your county courthouse--was a copy. The original was sent to the state office of vital records for safekeeping. Bear in mind that your original marriage license is in the state where you applied for it, even if the marriage ceremony occurred across the country or in a foreign country.
Where to Look
You must request a duplicate marriage license from the office of vital records in the state or U.S. territory where it was issued. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains an online listing of all offices of vital records. The list includes links, addresses and phone numbers. In the event you were married in a foreign country, you may need to contact the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs to obtain a confirmation that the marriage took place.
An office of vital records needs a written request and specific information to provide a duplicate marriage certificate. A request letter must include the full names of both spouses. If the surname (last name) of a spouse was changed when the marriage took place, the birth surname should be stated, along with the date and county where the marriage license was issued. If the request is made by a person other than one of the spouses, that person’s name and the reason for the request should be included.
A request for a duplicate marriage license should be mailed to the address provided by the office of vital records. The person making the request should include a photocopy of a valid ID such as a driver’s license. A certified check or money order to cover the processing fee must accompany the written request for a copy of the license. In some states, a self-addressed stamped envelope is also required so the duplicate license can be sent via return mail.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, W D Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about business, personal finance and careers. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.