Obtaining a Virginia marriage license and marriage certificate is an important part of the wedding process. However, each of these marriage documents serves different purposes. Marriage licenses, for instance, are a requirement prior to the wedding ceremony, as they grant couples permission to become married in the state. A marriage certificate, however, acknowledges a couple’s union and is often a requirement when completing tasks such as opening a joint bank account, performing a legal name change or filing joint taxes. Therefore, couples must order replacement marriage certificate documents whenever the original copies sustain damage or go missing. To order a marriage certificate in VA, residents may submit a request in person, by mail or online here. To learn more about wedding records and how to order a copy of marriage certificate documents, review the information below.
The Importance of Virginia Marriage Registration Documents
Virginia marriage records include the license and certificate. Since these two marriage documents serve different purposes, it is important to know the ways in which they differ. For instance, a license for marriage is issued by the Clerk or Deputy Clerk under the Circuit Court in any city or county throughout Virginia. Applicants may obtain a VA marriage license as early as 60 days prior to the wedding ceremony. Alternatively, the VA certificate of marriage is prepared by wedding officiants on the actual wedding day. The wedding officiant must sign and forward all certified copy of marriage certificate documents to the Clerk of Court within five days of the ceremony date. These certified marriage documents include the Marriage Register and Marriage Return. After the Clerk of Court receives the marriage records, he or she forwards the documentation to the State Division of Vital Records under the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). After the Office of Vital Records receives the wedding documents, customers may request additional copies online.
How to Use Virginia Marriage Certificate Documents
Not only are Virginia marriage records a legal requirement before residents can become married in the state, but couples need to submit wedding records whenever they need to prove their legal union. For instance, certified marriage documents are often required to complete the following transactions:
- To perform name changes through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Social Security Administration (SSA)
- To open a joint bank account
- To file taxes jointly
- To add a spouse to an existing health insurance plan
- To gain immigration benefits
Since VA marriage certificates are a requirement when completing various life events, registrants must apply for a duplicate marriage certificate as soon as possible if their original document is lost, stolen or damaged. To replace a lost marriage certificate quickly and conveniently, applicants may order a marriage record online here.
How to Complete a Marriage Record Search in Virginia
Residents may search for Virginia marriage license records online before they submit a request for a marriage certificate copy in the state. Completing a marriage certificate search helps applicants determine which department they need to contact to obtain duplicates. To perform a marriage license search, customers may complete the process online through the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, the VDH or they may search for public marriage records online here. After residents complete a marriage license lookup in Virginia, they can order a marriage certificate online, in person or by mail.
Note: Applicants can find marriage records using the VDH index for unions as early as 1936 and later. Additionally, VA marriage records become public information 25 years after the date of the event.
How to Order Duplicate Marriage Records in Virginia
In most cases, wedding officiants issue Virginia marriage certificates on the day of the wedding before they forward a copy to the Clerk of Court. If customers misplace their wedding records, however, they must replace a lost marriage certificate as soon as possible. To obtain a copy of a marriage certificate, customers may make a request in person, by mail or online.
Residents may obtain duplicate certificates of marriage in person through the Division of Vital Records or through the Clerk of Court who issued the original license prior to the wedding date. However, only immediate family members, such as current spouses, parents, children, siblings or grandparents, may request marriage registration documents. To request a Virginia marriage certificate copies in person, customers must complete an Application for Certification of a Vital Record and submit it with proof of valid identification and payment for the replacement fee. Customers who wish to apply for a marriage certificate copy must visit the main office in Richmond and submit an application along with the registrants’ full names (including maiden name), wedding date and location and the name of the Circuit Court that issued the original marriage record.
Note: Using the in-person method, applicants can access VA marriage certificates as early as 1853 and later.
Residents may also request a copy of Virginia marriage certificates by mail. To replace a marriage certificate by mail, customers must complete the same application and mail it to the Office of Vital Records P.O. box. Additionally, marriage certificate applicants must submit proof of identification, payment for the replacement marriage document and the following information:
- Relationship to registrants
- A reason for the replacement
- A daytime phone number
When applicants request a replacement VA marriage certificate by mail, they must often wait two to four weeks from the date the office receives the application. However, marriage documents with amendments may take as long as 12 weeks to process.
Customers may replace VA marriage certificates if they lose or damage their original copy or if they wish to obtain additional copies for future use. To obtain a duplicate marriage document quickly and conveniently without needing to visit the Clerk of Court or Office of Vital Records, customers may request a marriage certificate online from the comfort of their own home. The process of obtaining marriage documents online is quick and easy, as applicants simply need to input the required information, submit payment and wait for their documents to arrive in the mail. To get started, customers can order a copy of marriage records here.