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How to Find Pennsylvania Marriage Records
Marriage is a commitment between two people, also commonly known as matrimony. This is a union often based on love and dedication for each other, but it is also a legally binding contract that both consenting parties enter into. This contract is documented as a marriage record, and often will determine the rights both parties have in the marriage, along with their obligations as partners. In Pennsylvania, it may not be possible to access these records as member of the public not involved in the divorce. In these documents, there exists varying levels of authority, and knowing the difference between them can save time when attempting to access them for a certain purpose.
Are Pennsylvania Marriage Records Public?
While Pennsylvania Marriage Records are public, they represent some of the most difficult records to obtain due to the personal nature of the information within. Government organizations often offer marriage verification letters rather than the original marriage records because marriage records must remain intact and unchanged with regard to the people involved in the marriage. If changes need to be made, these records are critical to that procedure.
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.
Where to Find Free Pennsylvania Marriage Records
Pennsylvania Marriage Records are public records, meaning they are to be maintained by government bodies. However, it may be difficult to access free copies of them as members of the public. These records are not maintained by the Pennsylvania Vital Records Office through the Department of Health, rather they are held by the Marriage License Clerk in the courthouse in the county where the marriage was licenced. Prior to September 30, 1885, these records were not maintained by any government body. Make sure that before accessing these records, either a verification or a certificate, that it fulfills the purpose in question.
How Do I Get My Marriage Certificate in Pennsylvania?
It may prove difficult to obtain a real marriage certificate, but easier to obtain a copy of a certificate or a verification letter. Marriage records can be accessed through the Register of Wills office in each county in Pennsylvania. The application and fees for these requests vary, although typically the following information is required:
- Full name, as it appears on the marriage license or other spouses’ identification
- The date or date range that the marriage took place
- The county or city where the marriage license was granted
- The date of birth of both spouses
- The age of the two spouses when the marriage happened
For example, in Delaware county, the requesting party must fill out an order form and mail it into, or bring it to, the Register of Wills Marriage Office at
Mary J. Walk, Esquire
Register of Wills Marriage Records Dept.
1st Floor Government Center
201 West Front Street Media, PA 19063
The requesting party must also provide identification such as:
- Driver's license
- State-issued non-driver photo-ID card
- U.S. Military-issued photo-ID
If paying by a check or a money order, made out to the specific Register of Wills Office, a plain copy of a Marriage Record is $2.00. A certified copy is $25.00, and an exemplified copy is $30.00.
What are Pennsylvania Marriage Records?
A Pennsylvania marriage record is the full record of a marriage including the marriage licence and marriage certificate, including the names, ages, address, occupations, dates and places of births of both parties, along with all agreements made. It is the most complete and authoritative record that states a marriage has taken place between two people. The documents that are held in these records can be utilized for varying purposes and it is important to know the function of each one if it is needed for legal use.
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 availability of these types of records cannot be guaranteed.
What are Pennsylvania Marriage Licenses?
A marriage license is what a couple must acquire in order to get married. In Pennsylvania, both parties must appear together to apply and the licence, if granted, is only valid for 60 days. If 60 days pass and the couple has not gotten married, they must reapply and repeat the application project completely. The specific fees and laws required to obtain a marriage licence in Pennsylvania vary in most counties. For example, in Philadelphia the fee to obtain a marriage license is $90.00, which can be paid by Visa, MasterCards, or certified check or money order. Cash and personal checks will not be accepted in purchasing a marriage licence in Pennsylvania. The marriage licence cannot be used out of state, but can be used in any county within the state. If one or both of the applicants were previously married, it is necessary to provide proof of the divorce, or dissolution of marriage. This must be at the same time as application for a license. Necessary information includes:
- Current, valid, photo identification, including:
- State driver’s license
- State license
- International driver’s license
- Military I.D.
- Resident card or consulate card AND a Social Security card or any other form of I.D. issued by an official entity which reflects the applicant’s Social Security number (this can include social security printout, a pay stub from employer, W-2 form, tax return, etc).
Because marriage laws differ county to county, please see each county’s Marriage Law Requirements for Pennsylvania.
How to Change Your Name After Marriage in Pennsylvania
A newly married person can legally take on their spouse's name by changing their name after marriage in Pennsylvania. To do so, parties must first get their marriage license, the primary authorizing document. Intending couples in Pennsylvania may apply and pay for their marriage license at their county office. After their wedding day, they will receive the license and may also apply to get certified copies of the license from the county Orphans' or Family Court. Requests for certified copies of marriage licenses should include:
- Both spouses' full names at the time of marriage
- The exact date of the marriage
- Place of marriage (city or town, county, and state)
- The purpose for which copy of marriage certificate is needed
- Relationship to persons whose marriage certificate is being requested
- Daytime telephone number (include area code)
With certified copies of their marriage license in hand, the person looking to get a name change after marriage needs to apply to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for a new social security card. They may complete an application for a new Social Security card and send it to their local social security office. Applications must come with a valid photo ID, their current social security card, and a certified copy of their marriage certificate. The SSA will give them a new social security card within two weeks.
A new social security card allows the newlyweds to move forward with changing their name after marriage and apply for a new driver's license. The person must make an appointment at their local DMV for a replacement. On the day of the appointment, they must bring their current driver's license, their new social security card, and a certified copy of their marriage certificate.
What are Pennsylvania Marriage Certificates?
A Pennsylvania Marriage Certificate is a document different from that of a complete Marriage Record. It is the document that is given to two people after a marriage has been performed, and typically acts as legal proof that the marriage has happened.
How Do I Obtain a Copy of My Marriage Certificate in Pennsylvania
To obtain a copy of a certified marriage certificate, interested parties must visit the Register of Wills office in the specific county in Pennsylvania where the marriage certificate was issued. There is no state-based solution for finding certified marriage certificates. Prices and availability will vary depending on the county.