Marriage License vs Marriage Certificate: Difference and Comparison

If you are getting married it is important to learn the difference between a marriage license and a marriage certificate. People tend to get confused between these two as these two documents have similarities in their names. But a marriage license is different from a marriage certificate.

Key Takeaways

  1. A marriage license grants legal permission for couples to get married, while a marriage certificate documents the completed union.
  2. Couples must obtain a marriage license before their wedding ceremony, but they receive a marriage certificate after the event.
  3. Government authorities issue marriage licenses, while a marriage certificate serves as proof of the marriage and requires signatures from the couple, witnesses, and the officiant.

Marriage License vs Marriage Certificate 

A marriage license is a legal document that authorizes a couple to get married. It is obtained from a government office, such as a county clerk’s office or a registrar’s office. A marriage certificate is a legal document that proves that a couple is legally married. It is issued by the government office where the marriage license is obtained after the completed license has been returned and recorded.

Marriage License vs Marriage Certificate
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A marriage license is a legal document of marriage issued by the government. Only a government office can issue a marriage license. This document needs to be completed on the wedding day and returned to the related government office.

The marriage license is like any other legal contract from a bureaucratic viewpoint.

On the other hand, a marriage certificate is the remembrance memento of the wedding, which is intended for displaying or framing. A marriage certificate is a legal document that is a representation of marriage.

Couples sign the marriage certificate alongside the marriage license after the wedding.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMarriage LicenseMarriage Certificate
Definition A marriage license is a legal document of marriage issued by the government. Only a government office can issue a marriage license.A marriage certificate is a remembrance memento of the wedding, which is intended for displaying or framing.
Function A marriage license permits two people to have a legal marriage ceremony within the expiry date of the marriage license.A marriage certificate provides the date, time and location of the marriage ceremony, signature and name of the officiant, title of the officiant (minister, judge, justice of the peace and so on).
Issued byA marriage license is issued by the court.A marriage certificate is issued by government officials.
Representation A marriage license is a representation of the rights of two individuals to get married.A marriage certificate is a representation of the marriage.
TimeA marriage license is a piece of paper that is needed to bring to the wedding ceremony and signed by the couple with their witnesses and officiant.A marriage certificate is a piece of paper that is received by the couple after their marriage ceremony which says they are legally married.

What is Marriage License?

A marriage license is a legal document of marriage issued by the government. A marriage license permits two people to have a legal marriage ceremony within the expiry date of the marriage license. The document is not proof of marriage. It is an application to get married. 

A marriage license is a document that is kept as a public record and issued by the country clerk. A marriage license allows two people to get married legally in the country. A marriage license is entered into the public records to prevent people from marrying multiple times illegally.

The marriage license has a validity time, within which the marriage needs to be completed, varying from state to state. For instance, some states issue marriage licenses valid for only 30 days and on the other hand, some states issue this document valid for up to one year.

A marriage license needs to be filled out and signed by the couple who are planning to get married and the notary public for authentication purposes. The document will be then completed by the officiating minister of the wedding.

The completed marriage license will then be submitted by the officiating minister to the county for verification. 

marriage license

What is Marriage Certificate?

A marriage certificate is the remembrance memento of the wedding, which is intended for displaying or framing.

A marriage certificate provides the date, time and location of the marriage ceremony, the signature and name of the officiant, and the title of the officiant (minister, judge, justice of the peace and so on).

A marriage certificate is an official declaration that provides proof of marriage. The marriage license is the prerequisite document for the marriage certificate.

After the submission of the signed marriage license to the country by the officiating minister, there is a considerable period for the marriage certificate to be ready.

A marriage certificate is a representation of the marriage. A marriage certificate is generated only upon request. The marriage certificate represents that the recipients are part of a social entity that calls for the faithfulness and commitment of the recipients. 

It is important to have two copies of the marriage certificate as it is a very important document. A marriage certificate is required for different types of social and financial transactions. So keeping an extra copy of the marriage certificate is imperative.

If a partner dies, the other partner can show the marriage certificate as proof of their marriage and claim his/her right to possess their partner’s properties.

marriage certificate

Main Differences Between Marriage License and Marriage Certificate 

  1. A marriage license gives authorization for the marriage. On the other hand, a marriage certificate is the remembrance memento of the wedding, which is intended for displaying or framing.
  2. A marriage license permits two people to have a legal marriage ceremony within the expiry date of the marriage license. Whereas, A marriage certificate provides the date, time and location of the marriage ceremony, signature and name of the officiant, and title of the officiant.
  3. A marriage license is a representation of the rights of two individuals to get married. A marriage certificate is a representation of the marriage.
  4. A marriage license is issued by the court and the marriage certificate is issued by government officials.
  5. A marriage license is a piece of paper that is needed to bring to the wedding ceremony and signed by the couple with their witnesses and officiant. On the other hand, A marriage certificate is a piece of paper that is received by the couple after their marriage ceremony, which says they are legally married.
Difference Between Marriage License and Marriage Certificate

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF01006627
  2. https://www.proquest.com/openview/e09050afed9b2eef7879c6c26e45c17b/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750

Last Updated : 11 August, 2023

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