Free Marriage Records (New York): How To Find Marriage Records in NY

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | November 23, 2022

Couple standing on the left wonder how to find marriage records, New York state on the right with a magnifying glass over it.

Whether it’s to confirm the marital status of someone or to obtain your own marriage certificate, when looking for marriage records, New York has specific processes to use.

When searching for marriage records in NY, the process will most likely involve going through the NY state vital records office, but can include using local county clerks.

Although New York marriage records are technically public there are a few laws and restrictions that individuals should be aware of before requesting any records.

This complete guide outlines the steps required for finding marriage records. New York residents can also use the free marriage record finder search option right now.

How To Find Marriage Records New York

When looking for marriage records, New York tends to have similar restrictions to the rest of the country when it comes to who can get their hands on official documents.

In the U.S. marriage records are considered vital records and are filed alongside birth records, death records, and divorce records. Each state will have its own vital records office that will maintain all the vital records for that state.

Keep in mind individuals who were born, married, or divorced in another state prior to living in New York will have their vital records in the state where the event occurred. Vital records do not transfer states and will remain in the original state.

Although it is different in each state, marriage, and divorce vital records are normally considered public information. On the other hand birth and death records are often considered confidential and accessible only to the parents of the individual and the individual themselves. However, there are plenty of exceptions to this such as states that make all vital records confidential and other states where all vital records are considered public information.

When it comes to New York specifically, they follow the rules of several other states when it comes to public marriage records. In New York, anyone can request marriage records through the vital records office. However, if the individual making the request is not one of the parties to the marriage and does not have a court order, then only a verification letter can be obtained.

Screenshot of Clerk of the City of New York website page for marriage bureau with yellow arrows pointing to marriage records request in New York.

The office of the City Clerk in New York can issue copies of marriage certificates when visiting in person or online, using the marriage application online form to file a request.

A verification letter is different from the marriage certificates that most individuals are looking for. Marriage certificates will have personal information on it that is considered confidential such as the full names of the individual, as well as the date and location of their wedding. The verification letter will not include any of this information and will only verify that there is a marriage certificate on file that matches the names on the initial request.

Although a verification letter is a great way to confirm whether or not a marriage occurred, it can not be used for anything official such as for insurance purposes or if one of the parties to the marriage is changing their last name. For official purposes, a certified copy of the marriage certificate itself is usually needed.

New York City Marriage Records Online Free

As mentioned, obtaining New York City marriage records online for free is extremely difficult for individuals that are not a party to the marriage. However, for individuals who are simply trying to confirm someone’s marital status, there are a few options available.

Screenshot of New York State Archives website page for research with yellow arrow pointing to birth, marriage, and death records search in New York State.

The New York state archives, like other states, also houses records that are older, usually going back to the 1800’s.

One effective method is to perform a background check on the individual. This can be done in a few different ways such as the search bar at the top of this page which allows users to perform a comprehensive public records search on any individual they choose. This will find tons of different public records which may mention a spouse or find the marriage record itself in some cases.

Other private background check services that offer a 7-day free trial background check are a great option as well. Many of these services will also offer a social media background check which can be another indirect way to confirm if someone is married or not.

Marriage Certificate Database (Marriage Records New York)

The marriage certificate database in New York is maintained by the New York State Vital Records Office.1 Just like most states, the vital records office is part of the New York Health Department and includes all the standard vital records in one place: birth, death, marriage, and divorce.2

Individuals who are asking “how do I get a copy of my divorce decree?” can request records through the vital records office in a number of ways which are outlined further down. In most cases, requests will be handled in less than a week before they are mailed to the requester.

Screenshot of New York State website page for Department of Health with yellow arrows on link to request marriage certificate in New York online.

Using an online platform, residents in New York can obtain marriage certificates for people from as far back as 1880.

Although the vital records office maintains records on all marriages that took place in the state, the marriage records are also available at the county level. The county clerk and recorder’s office in the county where the marriage was filed will also have a record of the marriage.

Individuals who need to obtain a copy of their own marriage certificate for official reasons and still live in the county where the marriage took place, may find it easier to simply contact the local county recorder, rather than going through the state vital records office. In many cases, requests made through the vital records office will simply be forwarded to the county recorder that has the records, so going through the county recorder’s office can speed up the process significantly.

Step by Step: How To Check Marriage Records for Free

Individuals who need to know how to check marriage records for free in New York can follow the steps below. The following steps can be used to obtain a marriage certificate if the marriage took place outside of New York City. New York City-specific steps are outlined further down.

Step 1: Access the New York Vital Records Website (Marriage Records New York)

The first step is to access the website of the New York Vital records office which is part of the New York Health Department website.1 Here individuals will find plenty of useful information regarding vital records, who can request them, as well as information on the various forms and fees that are required.

Step 2: Navigate to the ‘Marriage Certificate’ Section

Since each kind of vital record has its own set of rules when it comes to who can request them, there are specific forms and fees associated with each kind of record. The marriage certificate tab will contain information specific to finding and requesting marriage certificates in New York.3

Step 3: Decide on a Request Method

Currently, individuals have the option to make a request online using Vitalchek, a third-party service that provides vital recordkeeping services to numerous states, or to make a request by mail.

Step 4: Fill Out Forms

Whether the request is made online using a vital check or using the mail-in marriage record request form.4 The information needed is largely the same. Personal information of the requestor will be needed as well as a form of I.D. for verification purposes since only those named in the records are eligible to request them.

Step 5: Provide Payment and Submit the Form

With all the proper forms completed the only thing left to do is to provide payment information to cover the processing and shipping fees associated with the records. In most cases, the certified copy of the records will arrive in less than two weeks.

How To Get a Copy of Marriage Certificate New York City

Since the vital records office only provides marriage records to individuals who were married outside of New York City, many individuals will be left wondering: How to get a copy of my marriage certificate New York City? The process is extremely similar and simply uses a website that is specific to marriages that took place in the five boroughs of New York City.

Step 1: Access the Website of the New York City Clerk

Rather than use the vital records office website, individuals married in NYC will need to access the website of the New York City clerk to request records.5

Step 2: Decide on the Method and Fill Out Provided Forms

New York City allows individuals to make requests online using City Clerk Online, by mail, or in person.6 Each method will require similar forms which are provided on the city clerk’s website.

Step 3: Provide Payment and Submit

With all the proper information filled in the only thing left to do is to submit the request and provide proper payment. The fee for NYC marriage certificates is actually lower than the rest of the state at $15.

Can I Get a Copy of My Marriage Certificate Online in New York?

Individuals wondering: Can I get a copy of my marriage certificate online in New York are in luck. Marriage certificates can be requested online on the New York City Vital records office website for individuals outside of New York City.3 Individuals living in New York City can submit a request through the New York City Clerk Online website.6

New York Vital Records Phone Number

The New York Vital Records Phone number is 855-322-1022. Individuals can also contact the vital records office via email at [email protected]

Marriage Background Check

These days more and more individuals are performing a marriage background check. Some of them are asking what is needed for a background check. This is largely due to the fact that more people are meeting each other online than ever, leading to situations in which individuals can lie about who they are or about their past, but performing a background check on someone is easier than ever.

Although most people think about criminal history checks and sex offender registries when it comes to background checks, they are also useful in other ways. Not only can a background check uncover any criminal charges, but it can also reveal matters that were settled in civil court, as well as tax records for properties owned by the individual. Modern background checks are also capable of finding social media profiles that the individual may be trying to conceal as well.

Learning how to get a background check is important if you want to know what goes on a criminal record not just for yourself but for other people you feel suspicious about.

Premarital Background Check

Individuals looking to perform a premarital background check have several options available. The search bar at the top of this page will likely be the most convenient option available. Individuals can enter the name of the individual and perform a public records search that will include a national criminal history check on the individual which can uncover arrest records, criminal charges, and convictions.

Other private background checks are another great option. Most background check companies will specialize in a certain kind of background check so finding a martial background check can be worthwhile for many individuals as these tend to include a social media check as part of the service offered.

Individuals should avoid any background check that requires the individual to enter the social security number of the person they are checking. Using someone else’s social security number to perform a background check without their knowledge or consent is a violation of the FCRA and constitutes identity fraud.7,8

How Many Marriages Have Prenups?

Individuals considering a prenuptial agreement before getting married might wonder: How many marriages have prenups? Although it can be hard to give an exact number since there is no official database of this information, several studies have been performed on the matter and most estimate that less than 10% of marriages involve a prenup agreement.9

Are Marriage Records Public?

The question: Are marriage records public? is somewhat complicated to answer. Vital records will vary from state to state however most states consider marriage records public.

Unfortunately, this does not make them easy to find or obtain. Many states allow individuals to make their marriage records confidential and many states will only allow the individuals named on the record to request copies. However, there is often a process for individuals not named on the records to verify if the records exist at all.

The issue of records being officially considered public but in reality, being difficult to obtain is a common problem for individuals looking for marriage records New York.

Individuals looking for a marriage certificate search will likely need to contact their state’s vital records office. Every state has a vital records office, which is generally a part of the state health department or a similar agency. However, individuals should be aware that not every state allows for the general public to search for marriage certificates and instead will require the individuals named on the records to file a formal request to obtain copies.

How To Check Marriage Status Online

Although getting a certified copy of a marriage certificate can be fairly difficult, individuals wondering how to check marriage status online may be in luck. Many states will allow individuals not named on the marriage certificate to check the status of the record online. This is often known as a marriage certificate verification request and can be used to verify if a marriage record exists at all.

New York City Marriage Bureau

The New York City Marriage Bureau is in charge of all marriages and domestic partnerships in New York City. Whereas couples in the rest of New York state will need to contact their county recorder for marriage licenses, and other marriage information, the NYC marriage bureau will oversee all of this.

Individuals will need to make an appointment with the NYC marriage bureau in order to obtain a marriage license, register domestic partnerships, and have a wedding ceremony performed in the office of the marriage bureau.10 The marriage bureau does not hold marriage records.

How Do I Get a Copy of My New York Marriage Certificate?

When it comes to: How do I get a copy of my New York marriage certificate? The process is fairly simple. Individuals will have several different methods available to request their records, all of which require a fee of $30 or less, depending on the county and how many copies are required.

Screenshot of Office of the City Clerk website page for forms with yellow arrow pointing to Mail Request for Marriage Records form in New York City.

This official New York marriage records request form can be filled out and submitted online.

Individuals whose marriage was filed in New York state but not in New York City will likely find obtaining the records through the New York Vital Records office to be the easiest method. However, individuals who still live in the same county in which they were married may find the process quicker if they simply request the record from the county recorder’s office in the county where they were married. Both the county clerk and recorder’s office as well as the Vital Records office will have certified copies of the marriage certificate available.

Individuals that were married in New York City will need to go through the New York City clerk’s website or office to obtain the records.5

How To Get a Certified Copy of Marriage Certificate

Those wondering how to get a certified copy of a marriage certificate in NY will have little to worry about. Requests made for a marriage certificate through the vital records office or through the New York City Clerk’s office will be sent a certified copy automatically.

Do I Need a Marriage Certificate Copy?

Some individuals may have misplaced their marriage certificate and will want to know: Do I need a marriage certificate copy? Although it is not a requirement to have the certificate available at all times, it will be required to verify a marriage in certain situations. Name changes, insurance companies, etc. will all require a certified copy of the marriage certificate.

How Long Does It Take To Get Marriage Certificate in NY?

When it comes to How long does it take to get a marriage certificate in NY? The certificate should arrive in the mail less than two weeks after the record request was submitted, assuming everything was filled out properly and the fee has been paid.

Marriage Records New York

Marriage records New York can be somewhat confusing, just like vital records are all over the country. The most important thing to remember for individuals who were married in New York is that the county clerk will always have a copy of the marriage certificate available to the parties of the marriage.

Screenshot of City of New York website page for Department of Health & Information Services with yellow arrows pointing to how much are marriage records in New York City.

Vital records requests are issued using the state’s Department of Records and Information Services, but the only marriage records are from 1790-1949.

For those married outside of NYC, the vital records office is another great resource to obtain these records in a timely fashion.

Are There Public Marriage Records?

Although marriage records are usually considered public, there are several other laws that tend to clash with this law. This means that marriage record information is usually publicly available but the actual marriage records themselves are only available to the couple named on the license.

Screenshot of City of New York website page for records and information services with yellow arrows pointing to how to order vital records in New York City.

Ordering vital records in New York from the records and information service office generally pertains to historical records.

Vital records laws can be extremely confusing, especially in states that technically consider this information public, only for it to be nearly impossible to obtain. However, individuals who are listed on the marriage certificate should have little trouble obtaining marriage records New York as long as they contact the proper agencies.

Frequently Asked Questions About Marriage Records New York

Is There a Free Marriage License Records Search?

The closest thing that individuals will find to a free marriage license records search is an online background check that offers a free trial. All official agencies will require a fee to perform a marriage license record search.

Is There a Marriage Records Search?

The vital records office website for each state will likely have marriage records search available to individuals. However most states will restrict this search to individuals searching for their own marriage records, rather than someone else’s records.

What Is the New York City Marriage License Index 1908-1972?

Individuals looking for historical marriage information can search for these records online. Marriages in NY that are older than 50 years are considered public information and are stored in the state archives. There are several options to search these records electronically.

Can You Find New York Marriage Records Online?

New York marriage records are available online through the local county clerk and recorder’s office as well through the website of the NY Vital records office.

How To Find Harris County Marriage Records?

Individuals looking for marriage records in Harris County, Texas will need to contact either the county clerk and recorder’s office in Harris county or the state vital records office.

How Do I Look Up Marriage Records?

Individuals will find marriage records in each state’s vital records office or in the county clerk and recorder’s office in the county where the marriage occurred. Sometimes it may be found by performing a background check on one of the parties named on the marriage records.


References

1State of New York. (2019, November 14). Birth, Death, Marriage & Divorce Records – New York State Department of Health. New York State Department of Health. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from <https://www.health.ny.gov/vital_records/>

2State of New York. (2022). Home. New York State Department of Health. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from <https://www.health.ny.gov/>

3New York State. (2022). Marriage Certificates. New York State Department of Health. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from <https://www.health.ny.gov/vital_records/marriage.htm>

4New York State. (2022). Form DOH-4382 – Mail-in Application for Copy of Marriage Certificate. New York State Department of Health. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from <https://www.health.ny.gov/forms/doh-4382.pdf>

5The City of New York. (2022). Marriage Records. Office of the City Clerk. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from <https://www.cityclerk.nyc.gov/content/marriage-records>

6The City of New York. (2022). Welcome to City Clerk Online. Office of the City Clerk. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from <https://www1.nyc.gov/cityclerkformsonline/>

7FTC. (2022). Fair Credit Reporting Act. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from <https://www.ftc.gov/legal-library/browse/statutes/fair-credit-reporting-act>

8Federal Trade Commission. (2022). Report identity theft and get a recovery plan. IdentityTheft.gov. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from <https://www.identitytheft.gov/#/>

9Potier, B. (2003, October 16). For many, prenups seem to predict doom. The Harvard Gazette. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from <https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2003/10/for-many-prenups-seem-to-predict-doom/>

10The City of New York. (2022). Marriage Bureau. Office of the City Clerk. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from <https://www.cityclerk.nyc.gov/content/marriage-bureau>

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