How to Find Washington D.C. Marriage Records
D.C marriage records provide official documentation that marriages were legally conducted per state laws. Marriage records from 1811 until the present are maintained by the Marriage license Bureau of the D.C Superior Court. Older records may be available by contacting the record custodian at the District of Columbia archives.
Are D.C Marriage Records Public?
Records of D.C marriages older than 100 years fall under the umbrella of public records. Interested parties can view or obtain copies of these public marriage records by submitting a request to the record custodian. However, records of more recent marriages may only be available to eligible persons. Certified copies of a D.C marriage record are typically restricted to only authorized persons, namely:
- The spouses named on the record
- Children, parents, and other immediate family members
- Anyone legally authorized by any of the above such as a representing attorney
Family Court records can include marriage records and divorce records. These records contain personal information of those involved, and their maintenance is critical should anyone involved wish to make changes. Because of this, both marriage and divorce records can be considered more difficult to locate and obtain than other public records, and may not be available through government sources or third-party public record websites.
What are D.C Marriage Records?
D.C marriage records are legal documents that provide proof that two people are married. It contains key details of the union, such as the name of both parties entering into the marriage, the date the marriage occurred, and the location. Couples who intend to get married are required by law to obtain a marriage license. Once this is completed, a marriage certificate is issued to attest to the legitimacy of the union.
Both government websites and organizations may offer divorce and marriage records. Similarly, third-party public record websites can also provide these types of records. But because third-party organizations are not operated or sponsored by the government, record availability may vary. Further, marriage and divorce records are considered highly private and are often sealed, meaning the availability of these types of records cannot be guaranteed.
What is a D.C Marriage License?
D.C marriage licenses are legal documents issued to couples who intend to get married. Signing a marriage license marks the first step towards entering a marriage. Once it’s returned to the Marriage Bureau, the couple is issued a marriage certificate which serves as proof that both parties are officially wed. D.C residents may apply for a marriage license using any of two options:
- Submitting an application online. However, couples may still be required to provide proof of age and their identity at the courthouse
- Visiting the Marriage Bureau and submitting a completed Marriage License application
All applicants are required to provide proof of their identities using any valid-government-issued I.D. Accepted options include
- A U.S passport
- Valid Driver’s license
In addition, the Marriage Bureau requests that all intending couples pay a fixed application fee for the license. In 2021, the Bureau charged $45 per application. Accepted payment options include cash, credit, or a check/money order made out to the “Clerk of the D.C Superior Court:
How to Change Your Name After Marriage in Washington D.C
The first stage of a name change after marriage in Washington DC is submitting the marriage license to the appropriate agencies. A name change after marriage officially begins by filing an SS-5 form with the Social Security Administration (SSA), either by mail or in person. Applicants must attach proof of identity and a certified copy of their marriage certificate. The card will be available for pickups after two to three weeks and display the new name. However, the Social Security Number will remain the same.
Upon completing the name change process with the SSA, interested parties can register the new name with the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles. They must provide their new Social Security card, a copy of their marriage record, and proof of D.C. residency when applying for a name change. A new driver's license in D.C. costs $7.
What are D.C Marriage Certificates?
A D.C marriage certificate is a vital record that attests to the legitimacy of a marital union between two parties. It provides key details of the union, such as the location and date of the event, the names of both parties joined in marriage and the signature of the officiant. Couples may need certified copies of marriage certificates for different applications, such as when showing proof of their marital status for immigration, tax, or insurance purposes.
D.C Formal Marriage Licenses
D.C formal marriages are official licenses issued in line with government regulations. To get a formal marriage license, intending parties must meet the marriage requirements. DC laws do not recognize the validity of marriage licenses issued to:
- Persons who do not have the mental capacity to give valid consent
- Persons under the age of 16 years at the time of the marriage
- Persons tricked or forced into a marriage
- Parties who are related to each other
- Parties who are still in an unterminated marriage
D.C Common Law Marriage Licenses
D.C common-law marriages refer to the civil union between two parties who live together and present themselves to society as married even though they did not complete a civil or religious ceremony. Couples who choose to establish a common-law marriage do not require a marriage license. However, D.C marriage laws mandate that intending parties meet several key requirements, namely:
- Intending spouses must live together
- Intending spouses must have the capacity to get married
- Intending spouses must share an express and mutual agreement to be married to each other
How Do I Get a Marriage License in D.C?
Individuals who intend to apply for a D.C marriage license must ensure that they meet the minimum age requirement. D.C marriage laws do not permit the issuance of marriage certificates to anyone under the age of 16. As a result, both parties must provide documents that attest to their identity and age. Acceptable proof of identity may include passports, driver’s license certified copies of birth certificates, or other government-issued IDs). Applicants who were previously married will also be required to present evidence of marriage dissolution—such as a death certificate or divorce decree.
A D.C marriage license costs $45.00. Intending spouses may make payment using cash, credit card, or money order made out to the Clerk of the D.C Superior Court. In some cases, the county clerk may request a brief interview with both applicants.
Marriage licenses generally take business days to process. However, once issued, a D.C marriage license does not expire. Couples may request to have their marriage marked by a civil wedding ceremony headed by a court official or celebrated at a religious ceremony overseen by a court-appointed authorized official.
How Do I Obtain a Copy of My Marriage Certificate in D.C?
Copies of marriage records for unions that occurred after 1964 can be obtained by contacting the clerk at the District of Columbia Superior Court. Record seekers are required to provide enough information to facilitate the search, some of which include:
- The date the marriage occurred
- A certificate number (if known)
- The full name of both parties named on the record (maiden name included)
- Contact details of the applicant (including a valid email address, phone number)
- Reason for the request
- Relationship with the parties named on the record
Record seekers can obtain copies in person or via mail. Submitted applications should be sent to the:
Clerk of the Superior Court of Washington D.C.
500 Indiana Ave NW, Room 2500
Washington, D.C. 20001
The Marriage Bureau charges $10 for the first copy of a regular certified copy and $10 for each additional copy. In the event that no record is found, the Bureau issues a “No record found” letter, which costs $20. Payments may be made in cash, by credit card or a check or money order made out to the:
District of Columbia Superior Court
Marriage Bureau - JM 690
500 Indiana Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20001