Free Marriage Certificate Search: How To Check Marriage Records for Free

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | June 7, 2024

Married couple on the left standing next to a marriage records certificate on the right with a magnifying glass showing a marriage certificate search process for how to find marriage records for free.

Individuals looking for a marriage certificate search may be confused by all the different options available and will want to know how to check marriage records for free.

Although they are often considered public records, marriage records can be tricky to find because they aren’t always located in the same place.

Various state laws will come into play and make it difficult for individuals to get their hands on the records in many cases, luckily, there are a few dependable options that individuals can use to obtain a marriage certificate.

In fact, anyone can perform a free marriage certificate search using the search option on this page.

This guide also explains how to perform a marriage certificate search in any state, by following a few simple steps.

How To Check Marriage Records for Free

Individuals asking how to check marriage records generally ask are marriage records available to the public? Vital records are notoriously difficult for the general public to get their hands on because they are protected by privacy laws.

Many people simply assume that vital records are considered public information in the same way that criminal and civil court records can be searched and obtained by any average citizen.

However, this is not always the case. Not only are there plenty of states that consider certain or all vital record information to be confidential, but even in states where the records are technically public, they can still be difficult to find and even harder to get official copies.

Those who are simply trying to confirm if a marriage took place at all will have a few options available to learn this information, however, individuals should be aware that there is no foolproof method that will work in every state.

Each state has its own set of laws when it comes to obtaining vital record information and what information is considered public, as well as where this information will be kept.

Using a Background Check Service

The best thing to do is to perform a background check on the individual who would have been a party to the marriage. There are plenty of options to perform this background check option, one of the easiest and quickest options available is the search bar at the top of this page. The search bar will allow individuals to perform a free public records search which could find marriage certificate information on any individual whose name is entered.

There are also plenty of other online background check options available that individuals can take advantage of. Be aware that most of these services rely on a subscription model so individuals may have to pay for a monthly subscription in order to perform the search. However, there is a 7-day free trial background screening option available for many of these services.

No matter which option individuals decide to go with, it’s important that the service perform public records search as opposed to only performing a criminal history check. Most criminal history checks will rely on searching criminal court databases, which means that any potential marriage certificate information will not be included in the report as these records are only kept with the county clerk and recorder or with the state vital records office.

Basically, the more databases that the background check searches, the better the chance of finding marriage-related information.

Marriage Certificate Search Using the Vital Records Office

The vital records office can be another place to check that is slightly more direct compared to going with a private background check service. However, going through official agencies will have its own set of obstacles.

When it comes to performing a marriage certificate search through the state vital records office, the state laws surrounding vital records will be the biggest issue that individuals are likely to encounter. As mentioned, every state has different laws regarding vital records, and some states, such as Colorado,1 consider all vital record information to be confidential therefore only the individuals named on the records will be able to obtain copies of the records. On the other hand, there are plenty of states, such as Georgia,2 where certain vital records are public and other records are confidential.

The best thing to do is to simply access the website of your state’s vital records office and look into the records request process. Most states will have detailed steps available that will explain who can request what records in the state.

Finally, there is also the possibility that anyone can request a record confirmation but not be able to obtain a copy of the record. This is especially common for marriage and divorce records; individuals can contact the vital records office which will confirm if the records exist or not, but only the individuals who the records belong will be able to obtain certified copies.

This can be frustrating to individuals trying to obtain copies but for someone who is just trying to find out if a specific person got married or divorced, it will be the most reliable option available.

Detailed information on how to make a marriage certificate request with the vital records office is outlined further down.

Marriage License Application

Many individuals who are trying to figure out if someone got married may have heard that getting their hands on a marriage license is the best way to confirm this information but might wonder: What is a marriage license?

When it comes time to get married, individuals will first need to obtain a marriage license application from the county they plan to get married. This document is usually obtained through the county clerk and recorder and essentially allows the couple to get married. Although this may seem like a strange step it is simply to confirm that both parties are eligible to be married and ensure they are citizens, of legal age, etc.

Individuals applying for a marriage license should first make sure they have all the necessary documentation such as an ID and a birth certificate. It is also required in most states that individuals have their names, birthdates, and the state in which their parents were born, so individuals should make sure to learn this information if possible. A fee that varies from county to county is also required to obtain the marriage license.

Once the couple is married, they will then return the marriage license to the county clerk and recorder. Each state will have its own laws when it comes to how long after the license was issued that it must be returned, as well as what information and signatures are required to be on the license. In most states, licenses will require the signatures of both couples, the signature of the wedding officiant, and at least one witness.

With the marriage license submitted to the county clerk, a marriage certificate will then be sent to the couple. This is simply a document that confirms that the couple is married. This is also the document that will be kept by the local government as proof that the couple is married, as a marriage license only proves that they were planning to get married.

The marriage certificate is the more important document generally speaking. A marriage certificate will be needed for various reasons such as insurance, or if one of the individuals wants to get their name changed.

When it comes to how to check marriage status online, there are a few different methods available depending on what kind of information is needed, as well as what state the couple was married in.

As mentioned, one of the best methods is to simply perform a background check on one of the parties in the marriage. This will return all public records on the individual which could include records relating to their marriage. There is also the possibility of finding the online profiles of one of the individuals using a social media background check which can be an effective albeit indirect way to simply confirm if someone got married.

The other method will be to contact the vital records office in the state where the wedding would have taken place. Detailed steps to obtain marriage certificate information from the state vital records office are outlined below.

Step 1: Access the website of the state vital records office.

Every state vital records office will have its own website that contains information on laws surrounding vital records as well as a way to request them online in most cases. In most states, the vital records office will be a part of the Department of Health and Safety, or a similar agency. For example, individuals looking for vital records in California will need to go through the California Department of Public Health.3

Step 2: Find the type of records needed.

In many states, different information individuals will need to submit different information for different kinds of records. As mentioned, state laws might make certain records accessible to anyone whereas other records will only be available to the individual on the record.

For example: On the vital records website, individuals should look for information pertaining to the specific records they need. The California Vital Records website has an entire page related to marriage certificates.4

In California, anyone can request a public marriage record and receive a copy of the marriage certificate. However, California also allows couples to keep their marriage out of the public record and have a confidential marriage. Confidential marriage certificates can not be requested.

Step 3: Submit a request.

Every state will have several options available to request records. In most cases ordering the records online will be the easiest method and is often the fastest. However, individuals will also have the option to request records by mail, by phone, or in person if they happen to live near the vital records office.

In the case of marriage records, it is also possible to request the records directly with the county clerk and recorder. Many states that allow individuals to make vital record requests online will simply forward the request to the proper county recorder, so the process can be slightly sped up by going directly to the recorder.

For example, in California individuals can request a public marriage license by submitting a request through the vital records office or by going directly to the county recorder where the marriage occurred.5

How Do I Look Up Marriage Records?

The question of: How do I look up marriage records? Is fairly common since it can be confusing to know where to even begin a search. Unlike criminal or divorce records, marriage records are not held in a courthouse and instead are held by a few different agencies.

Both the county clerk and recorder of the country where the marriage took place and the state vital records office will have marriage certificates on record. Individuals who want to look up marriage records in a database will likely have better luck with the vital records office, especially if the county the marriage took place in is unknown.

What Documents Are Considered Marriage Records?

Individuals trying to track down marriage records might wonder: What documents are considered marriage records?

The marriage certificate is the only marriage record that individuals will have access to and one of only two official marriage records of any kind. The marriage certificate is the official record that the marriage is official and both the married couple and the state vital records office will have copies of this record.

The only other marriage record would be the marriage license. However, this record technically only indicates that the couple was likely planning on getting married and were licensed to do so. It does not indicate if the wedding ever actually took place and if the couple is actually married.

Once the license is returned to the recorder’s office, the certificate becomes the only official record of the marriage.

Where To Find Public Marriage Records

Those trying to figure out where to find public marriage records will likely be disappointed to learn that the only official search is through the Vital Records office which usually requires a fee to perform the search.

Unfortunately, the closest thing that exists to a free marriage certificate search is a background check service that offers a free trial.

Marriage Background Check

More and more people are meeting each other online these days which has led many individuals to conduct marriage background checks on their partners.

A marriage background check is simply a background check that an individual performs on their partner to ensure that they are who they say they are and are not hiding any serious criminal history information from their past.

Premarital Background Check

Performing a background check before marriage is extremely easy. Individuals can use the search bar at the top of this page to perform a background check on any individual without the individual being notified. Many people may have heard that performing such checks is illegal but this is not the case.

Anyone can perform a public records search on another individual at any time. This kind of check is only illegal if the individual performing the search is pretending to be the person they are searching for, such as by using their social security number to perform the check. This would constitute identity fraud which is a federal offense.6

Screenshot of IdentityTheft.Gov website page with yellow arrows on link to start identity theft report process.

Using someone else’s social security number to find vital records can be a criminal act.

However, private background searches will rarely require a social security number and are capable of finding social media profiles, sex offender information, criminal history information, some tax records, and other information depending on the service used.

How Many Marriages Have Prenups?

Prenups are often discussed when it comes to marriages where one individual has significantly greater assets than their partner, but many people considering getting a prenup want to know: What percentage of marriages include prenuptial agreements?

It can be hard to verify exactly how many marriages have prenups since there is no database of this information. However several studies have been performed on this matter and most arrive at the conclusion that less than 10% of all marriages have a prenup agreement.7 However, individuals should speak to a lawyer to get a better idea of when a prenup might be a good idea.

Are Divorce Records Public?

Just like with marriage records, plenty of people want to know: Are divorce records available to the public? Once again the answer will largely depend on state law but in general, most states will consider divorce records to be public. Unfortunately, this does not mean that divorce records are easy to obtain.

Finding a new partner can be challenging, therefore it’s crucial to learn how to know if someone is divorced. Unlike marriage records, divorce records are often held by the civil court where the divorce was filed. Since civil court information is considered public information, the record of the divorce will therefore be public.

However, there is an important caveat; divorce records are very often sealed as soon as the divorce is finalized. Despite this, you should still try to learn how obtain divorce records because this may be helpful to you later on.

Although the information is supposed to be public, divorce records from the civil court will almost always have a certain amount of private information included in the records. Since divorce records are rarely seen as a record that the public can benefit from, they will often be sealed by the judge to help protect the privacy of the divorced parties.

With all that being said, individuals can still use a background check service or vital records office to search for these records to see what comes up. Keep in mind that just because the record was sealed does not mean that it is completely invisible. For example, in Georgia, individuals can submit a form to confirm if a divorce record exists, even if they can’t actually request a copy of the record.8

Performing a marriage certificate search can be a little bit overwhelming for many individuals. Although the laws do vary from state to state, the vast majority of states will consider marriage certificates to be public information. This allows individuals to easily perform a search of the record from their computer.

Vital record offices will be the most direct option available for individuals who want to request a copy of the marriage certificate, whether it is their own marriage or a complete stranger’s. Individuals interested in simply determining if a marriage occurred can use a variety of other marriage certificate search methods such as background checks to find out.

Individuals can check someone’s marriage status by searching for marriage and divorce records through the state vital records office. Some are even asking about how to get a copy of their divorce decree.

Obtaining vital records can be far more difficult than many people expect it to be due to various state laws that block certain records from being acquired by the public. However, there are still plenty of options to perform a marriage certificate search and at the very least confirm if a marriage occurred.

Is There a Marriage Certificate Search Florida?

The Florida Department of Health is in charge of maintaining vital records in the state including marriage records which can be requested on their website.9

Is There a National Marriage Records Search?

Marriage records are only kept at the state level, usually by the vital records office and by the county recorder in the county where the marriage took place.

Is There a Free Marriage License Records Search?

Official marriage licenses can be obtained through the state vital records office but usually require a fee. A private background check might be able to perform a free marriage license check.

Where Can I Search For Harris County Marriage Records?

Search for marriage records through the Harris County recorder or through the state vital records office.

Are Marriage Records Public?

Marriage records are usually considered public but many states allow for confidential marriage certificates.

What Are the Methods To Learn How To Find Out If Someone Is Married o Divorced Free?

It’s natural for individuals who are currently dating to be interested in learning if their dates have already been married or not. The best way to find out if someone is married or divorced for free is to perform a background check on the individual using an online background check service.


1State of Colorado. (2022). Birth, Death and Other Vital Records. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Retrieved November 26, 2022, from <> (2022, June 17). Request Vital Records. Georgia Department of Public Health. Retrieved November 26, 2022, from <>

3California Department of Public Health. (2022, November 05). Vital Records. California Department of Public Health. Retrieved November 26, 2022, from <>

4California Department of Public Health. (2022, September 19). Obtaining Certified Copies of Marriage Certificates. California Department of Public Health. Retrieved November 26, 2022, from <>

5California Department of Public Health. (2022, September 28). Request a Copy of a Vital Record Online. California Department of Public Health. Retrieved November 26, 2022, from <>

6Federal Trade Commission. (2022). Home Page. Retrieved November 26, 2022, from <>

7Portier, B. (2003, October 16). For Many, Prenups Seem To Predict Doom. The Harvard Gazette. Retrieved November 26, 2022, from <> (2022). Vital Records COVID-19 Information. Georgia Department of Public Health. Retrieved November 26, 2022, from <>

9Florida Department of Health. (2022, March 16). How To Order a Florida Marriage Certificate. Florida Health. Retrieved November 26, 2022, from <>

10Florida Department of Health. (2022). Certificates. Florida Health in Miami-Dade County. Retrieved November 26, 2022, from <>

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