Free Marriage License Records Search the Fast (Legal) Way

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | June 20, 2024

Married Couple standing on the left looking at a free marriage license records search being done in a marriage records file cabinet on the right.

There are several ways to conduct a free marriage license records search, but some ways are better than others.

Since marriage records can be somewhat ‘private,’ understanding state law about how a marriage license search can be used is crucial for keeping the search legal.

A marriage is a legal contract that binds two people together, and a marriage record is a document that proves the marriage occurred. Local authorities, religious institutions, or the government preserve this record or document for a variety of reasons.

Older records are usually stored in state archives, while the most recent ones can be found in various states’ Departments of Vital Statistics agencies and other health databases.

In order to find U.S. marriage records legally, anyone can simply use a free, name based background check tool.

This guide explains the free marriage license records search options available that comply with privacy regulations.

Find U.S. Marriage Records Legally

In the US, State laws require that these records be kept and maintained in civil records. In the US and many places over the world, marriage is a public covenant, and the people recording it do it in a variety of ways.

Close up image of two hands wearing wedding rings having their little finger hooked together

(Image: Nick Greaux9)

The clerk of the county, town, or district where the marriage occurred is the one responsible for storing this record.

Marriage records can either show intention to marry or records of the marriage ceremony. Records that indicate intent to marry include:

  • Marriage banns: these are the public announcements of the intention to marry. The parties involved make the intentions and banns a few weeks before the marriage ceremony. The reason for announcing their intention to marry is to give members of the community a chance to raise any objection to the marriage.

Traditionally, banns are announced in front of a congregation, and intentions are the notices that local civil authorities present and post in a public place for a specific period. These records are stored by the town clerk or minister in registers.

  • Marriage bonds: A marriage bond refers to a written guarantee or promise of payment that the groom or another person (bride’s relative) makes the make sure that the marriage coming up is legal. The bond poster is called the bondsman or surety.

This bond is given to the official or minister who will perform the ceremony then it will be presented to the county or town clerk. These documents were standard in the mid-1800s in the Middle-Atlantic and southern states.

  • Licenses and applications are the most common records that indicate the intention to marry. They have gradually replaced bonds, intention, and banns. The parties involved will get the license to marry through proper civil authorities (county or town clerks).

Licenses and applications contain the most information, including but not limited to: residence, ages, and names of the two parties. The parties present the license to the officiant of the marriage, who will then return it to the town or county clerk.

  • Consent papers: are only required if one or both parties wanting to get married are underage. The guardian or parent will give verbal consent or include it in the bond or license.

Public Marriage Records

Several records document a marriage ceremony and these are the records that are used in a marital record check, before marital union background check, and other level 1 and level 2 record checks. It’s most likely that the couple will marry not long after they have announced their intention. A marriage can be conducted by:

  • State officials
  • Ship officer
  • Military officer
  • Justice of peace
  • Minister

Records that document a marriage include:

Close up image of marriage certificate written on an envelope

(Image: Abbey Chapman10)

How Do I Look Up Marriage Records? Free Marriage License Records Search Options

An interested party can get marriage records in three ways: through the CDC, Clerk of Court, or online.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention4(CDC) provides various platforms through which interested parties can access marriage records as well as other vital records.1 The CDC platform is very user-friendly and contains a list of all the states. The interested party only needs to look into the state that they require.

Image screenshot of foreign birth and death certificates on the national center for health statistics website

(Image: CDC4)

The CDC charges a fee ranging from $10 to $25, depending on the type of document you are looking for. Once the interested party has chosen the state, the website will provide a summary of the documents available and the fees involved.

The CDC also provides information on marriages that occur abroad. If an interested party wants to find information on marriage records of citizens of the US that happened outside the country, they should look through the CDC website or submit a request to the address provided.

Clerk of Courts Marriage Records

An interested party can also acquire a certified copy of a divorce decree or marriage license through the Clerk of Court in the county where the divorce or marriage was issued. However, if the party does not know the county where the marriage was conducted, they may perform a different search. For example, in the state of Indiana, the party will search on the following platforms:

  1. Marriage License Public Lookup5 in Indiana Courts
  2. Indiana Marriages Database through 18506 in the Indiana State Library
  3. Indiana Marriages Database: 1958-20217 in the Indiana State Library

If the individual goes to the court where the marriage was issued, they can read the whole marriage records for free. However, the Clerk of Courts will charge a specific fee for certified copies or duplicates of marriage certificates.

Criminal records, arrest warrants, and divorce records are also other records that the clerk of courts will provide.2

Most courthouses have online platforms where an interested party can request marriage records. Some of these platforms are free, while others require a fee to search. Additionally, they will charge a fee for handing out hard copies, and the interested party will be solely responsible for any shipping expenses.

Marriage License Lookup How To Check Marriage Status Online

Besides the CDC and online courthouse platforms, there are several ways through which interested parties can obtain free marriage license records online. These methods include:

1. State Offices for Vital Records

These offices issue marriage license records as well as copies of certified marriage details to anyone authorized by the law. It’s important to note that though most vital records offices perform this service, some offices like the Office of Vital Records in Minnesota do not have records of marriages.

Additionally, each state has a website containing marriage indexes or records available to the public. However, though marriage records are public information, the court will limit the protect the person’s private information.

Several companies out there are willing to obtain vital records from the state for an individual at a certain fee. Some even do it for free. Moreover, a few states outsource the distribution of vital records to third parties as they do not have the resources to accommodate the thousands of document requests they receive regularly.

The advantage of third-party websites is that they do all the leg work, and the interested party will not need to contact or visit state agencies. The search results are determined by the amount of information provided.

How To Check Marriage Records for Free

Anyone who knows the names of the spouses, the date, and the county where the marriage took place can view marriage records for free at the courthouse clerk’s office. Even so, most states do not consider certified marriage records as public records; therefore, this information may not be provided to everyone.

Anyone requesting certified marriage records such as a marriage certificate should either be a party to the marriage or authorized by the law. The authorized people include but are not limited to:

  • The married couple
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Legal Guardian
  • Descendants
  • The attorney that represented the spouses

Certified marriage records are often restricted, but this is not always the case.3 A few state governments do not have any limitations on who can access these records. If the interested party provides enough information to facilitate the marriage license search and pay the appropriate fee, they can get a certified copy of the marriage record.

Why Do You Need Marriage Records?

A certified marriage record is a legal proof that two people are married, and it’s needed for various occasions. Many social and legal benefits come with being married, which require proof of the marriage. They include:

  • Tax remuneration such as marital tax deduction and jointly filed taxes
  • Financial advantages  like social security advantages, prenuptial agreement benefits, and IRA benefits
  • Legal assistance such as inheritance benefits and legal decision-making benefits
  • Employment and health benefits such as health insurance benefits, paternity child benefits, and leave benefits

A certified marriage record is required when a person who just got married wants to alter their last name to the spouse’s name on their social security card, ID cards, banks, and tax documents.

The government will only recognize marriage as legitimate if the parties provide a certificate of marriage. This is even more crucial for financial investigations like purchasing property, filing taxes, and filing for loans.

Image of two hands having a hand shake in front of a marriage contract

(Image: Gerd Altmann11)

When filing immigration documents, a certified marriage certificate is essential. This is especially true for those who want to apply for a green card for marriage in the Citizenship and Immigration Service8 office.

Lastly, parties will need certified marriage records when they apply for letters of administration. These documents grant a spouse individual rights to the property of their deceased partner.

How Do You Change Your Name After Marriage?

In the US, anyone who wants to change their name after marriage should first get a court order or marriage certificate. The next step is to inform the US Department of State and the Social Security Administration of the name change.

The party will then have to apply for updated identification documents such as state-issued identification and driver’s license. Lastly, the party will have to inform all relevant agencies, including financial institutions, places of work, and utility providers.

How Much Do Marriage Records Cost?

Marriage records costs vary according to the information needed, the platform used for the search, and the location where the marriage record is stored. Interested parties will find the fees displayed on the online platforms when requesting these documents.

A few online platforms will ask the interested party to register and pay a subscription fee and then provide any online public record for free. Most states have statistics organizations and departments and centralized marriage records that offer easy access.

The best way to find the cost of procuring a certified or uncertified copy of a marriage record is to contact the state vital records office. In most cases, the certified copies of marriage records are the ones that require the most expense. Any additional copies or uncertified copies are usually very cheap, or sometimes they are even free.

What Information Do You Need To Access a Marriage Record?

An interested party will need to provide some or all of the information below to conduct a free marriage license record search:

    • Full names of the Spouses
    • Maiden Name of the Wife
    • Marriage date
    • The county that issued the marriage license
    • Contact information and signature of the applicant

In several states, requesters must complete request forms and pay the necessary fees to obtain marriage records. The forms vary from state to state, each requiring specific information.

Public Marriage Records and Marriage License Search by State

The following table will provide links to public marriage records across various states and where to conduct marriage license searches.

Where Do I Find Public Marriage RecordsWhere Do I Conduct Marriage License Search
Alabama CDCMarriage Certificates | Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH)
Alaska CDCDivision of Public Health
Arizona CDCArizona Marriage Records Search
Arkansas CDCThe administrative office of the courts 
California CDCSuperior Court
Colorado CDCSearching Vital Records | Department of Public Health & Environment
Connecticut CDCMarriage and Civil Union Certificates
Delaware CDCCertificates – Guides to Services – State of Delaware
Florida CDCMarriage | Florida Department of Health
Georgia CDCGeorgia Marriage Records Search
Hawaii CDCVital Records | Marriage and Civil Union Licenses
Idaho CDCMarriage | The Official Website of the State of Idaho
Illinois CDCMarriage Records
Indiana CDCHealth: Vital Records: Marriages
Iowa CDCVital Records – Home
Kansas CDCKS Courts – Marriage License Application FAQs
Kentucky CDCMarriage and Divorce Certificates – Cabinet for Health and Family Services
Louisiana CDCLouisiana Marriage Records Search
Maine CDCResidents: Getting Married in Maine
Maryland CDCMarriage License Information | Maryland Courts
Massachusetts CDCRegistry of Vital Records and Statistics |
Michigan CDCBirth, Death, Marriage and Divorce Records
Minnesota CDCMarriage certificates and divorce decrees – Minnesota Dept. of Health
Mississippi CDCMarriage Records – Mississippi State Department of Health
Missouri » Marriage & Divorce
Montana CDCMontana contacts
Nebraska CDCMarriage Registration Partners
Nevada CDCRecords NV
New Hampshire CDCNH-SOS – Vital Records Administration
New Jersey CDCDepartment of Health | Vital Statistics | Marriage License
New Mexico CDCNew Mexico Marriage Records Search
New York City CDCMarriage Records – City Clerk
North Carolina CDCMarriage | North Carolina Judicial Branch
North Dakota CDCCertified Copies of Marriage Records | Department of Health
Ohio CDCFranklin County Probate Court – Marriage
Oklahoma CDCMarriage Records Search – Oklahoma County, OK (Marriage Licenses & Certificates)
Oregon CDCOregon Health Authority : How to Register Marriage Records
Pennsylvania CDCVital Records
Rhode Island CDCBirth, Death & Marriage Record Copies: Department of Health
South Carolina CDCMarriage Certificates | SCDHEC
South Dakota CDCOffice of Vital Records – SD Dept. of Health
Tennessee CDCHow do I find marriage records? | Tennessee Secretary of State
Search Marriage Lookup
Texas CDCMarriage License Search | County Clerk
Utah CDCMarriage License Search | Utah County Clerk/Auditor
Vermont CDCVital Records & Population Data | Vermont Department of Health
Virginia CDCBedford Circuit Court: Marriage License Information
Washington CDCOrdering a Marriage or Divorce Record | Washington State Department of Health
West Virginia CDCWest Virginia Marriage Records Search
Wisconsin CDCRequesting a Vital Record | Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Wyoming CDCHow To Get An Official Wyoming Marriage or Divorce Certificate

How To Find Out If Someone Is Married or Divorced Free

The best place to find out if someone is divorced or married free is in the court clerk’s office in the county where the marriage or divorce took place. Additionally, interested parties can search through county libraries that have records of this information. However, the party will have to pay a fee to obtain a copy of this record.

Marriage license records are documents available to the general public in the US. One can use a variety of methods to obtain this information. However, the legal way to get a free marriage license records to search is through the county clerk’s office where the marriage took place, and it’s important to note that you will be charged if you want to leave with a copy of the marriage record.

What Is the Marriage Record Identification/Filing Number?

A marriage record identification/filing number refers to the number used to record the marriage license when filed by the court clerk in the county where the marriage occurred.

How Do You Conduct a Marriage License Search?

You can conduct a marriage license search by visiting the CDC website, going to the specific state where the marriage was performed, filling out the form provided, and paying the fee required. The results will be provided momentarily.

Alternatively, you can visit the office of the clerk of the court where the marriage was issued, provide the necessary information, and you can go through the marriage record.

Where Do I Find Public Marriage Records Free Online California?

You can visit the county clerk’s office (where the marriage occurred) and obtain these records at a small office.

What Are GenWed Marriage Records?

GenWed refers to a genealogical research database that is free and contains an online directory of marriage records in the United States.


1Vital Records, Nd. California Department of Public Health. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from <>

2Are Divorce Records Public? Nd. DivorceNet. Retrieved on August 16, 2022, from <>

3Texas Vital Records. (2022). Texas Vital Records. Retrieved June 03, 2022, from <>

4Where to Write for Vital Records. (2022). Centers for Disease Control And Prevention. Retrieved September 26, 2022, from <>

5Marriage License Public Lookup (beta). (2022). Retrieved September 26, 2022, from <>

6Indiana Marriages Through 1850. (2022). Indiana State Library. Retrieved September 26, 2022, from <>

7Indiana Marriages 1958-2021. (2022). Indiana State Library. Retrieved September 26, 2022, from <>

8United States Government. (2022). Marriage and Marital Union for Naturalization. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Retrieved September 26, 2022, from <>

9Photo by Nick Greaux. Cropped, Resized, Changed Format. Pexels. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from <>

10Photo by Abbey Chapman. Cropped, Resized, Changed Format. Pexels. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from <>

11Photo by Gerd Altmann. Cropped, Resized, Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from <>

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it