After a marriage in DC is performed, couples receive an official copy from their officiant. This copy is normally sufficient for proving that the marriage occurred, but typically couples will need to obtain an official certified copy of their marriage license as well. This can be for a number of reasons – needing official proof for a court to do a name change, immigration and international travel, federal or private sector benefits, medical and insurance reasons, and the like.
A certified copy of a DC marriage license is oriented vertically, and includes an official seal from the court and a separate notarized page affirming that the license is a true and valid copy of the marriage certificate. There are two different kinds of certified copies which can be ordered from the Marriage Bureau at the DC Superior Court:
- Regular Certified Copies – These are used for most domestic (US) purposes such as a name change, motor vehicles, Social Security, benefits, insurance, military, and divorce.
- Triple Seal Certified Copies – These are used for international purposes such as immigration and naturalization, foreign embassies, State Department, and anything dealing with a court or government in another country. These have an additional level of certification and take an additional 2 days to produce.
The typical way that couples request sealed certified copies of their marriage license from the DC Court is by mail with a money order. This process takes anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks, sometimes longer, and there are often issues with the court either receiving or processing these requests. The alternative is to go to the DC Marriage Bureau in person, which isn’t always an option for couples who don’t live in the DC area. As a result, we often get asked by couples to handle their request for a DC marriage license certified copy in person at the court.
Through our Expedited Certified Copies service, we can obtain certified copies for couples in person at the DC Marriage Bureau for a $160.00 fee, which includes the cost of one “regular” certified copy and expedited shipping with a tracking number. Additional copies are available for $15 per “Regular” certified copy and $25 per “Triple Seal” certified copy. You may order as many additional certified copies as you would like for a single $160 fee.
In summary, there are three options for your marriage license to be filed with the courts and to obtain certified copies:
- Standard Procedure** (included in all of our ceremony packages): Officiant will mail the “Officiant’s Return Copy” to the court by US Mail within 10 days as required by law. Certified copies can be requested by mail to the DC Court by the client by mail with a money order. Please be aware it often takes over 6 weeks once they receive the officiant return copy to open the mail and record it in the system. It usually takes another 6-8 weeks for the court to receive and process the request for certified copies by mail.
- Hand Delivery by Client (free): If you prefer to obtain certified copies yourself, your officiant will give the “Officiant’s Return Copy” directly to you following your ceremony or signing, which you would need to personally hand-deliver to the DC Superior Court. In order for you to be legally married, you MUST take this to the DC Marriage Bureau within 10 days of the marriage. You can then request Regular Certified Copies in person at the same time and leave with them that day (Triple Seal Certified Copies require a 2 day wait). If you select this option, please be advised this means your officiant is giving you the only legal record of your marriage – if you do not return this copy to the court within 10 days you are not legally married!
- Expedited Certified Copy Service ($160 plus the cost of any additional copies): The cost of the service itself includes us hand-delivering the Officiant’s Return Copy of your marriage license to the Marriage Bureau, obtaining one “regular” certified copy of your marriage license, and expedited shipping to anywhere in the US with a tracking number. The cost of the service is $160.00 PLUS the cost for any additional certified copies you would like to order in addition to the one “regular” copy included with the service. We normally recommend getting two Regular Certified Copies (one for DMV and one for Social Security) for most US-based couples. However, if you need copies for immigration or anything related to foreign countries, then you will need Triple Seal Certified Copies which are $25 each. International customers may also be interested in our DC Marriage License Apostille Service if their country requires it.
With our Expedited Certified Copy Service, we are typically able to obtain certified copies for couples in a much shorter amount of time than ordering them by mail, always less than 30 days but often in as little as two weeks. If you need certified copies more quickly, rush service is available for an additional $150 plus the cost of overnight shipping. If you are interested in having us provide this service for you, contact us today!
**Not everyone has the best experience with the court’s standard procedure. Here is a quote from one of our clients who tried “Option 1” first:
“I highly recommend using DC Elopements’ Expedited Copy Service to obtain your official marriage certificate. It is a few extra dollars but it’s so easy to do and saves the aggravation. We originally opted to file on our own and send a money order but after waiting 4 months for it to arrive and attempting to track the money order we still have no certificate. We then contacted DC Elopements and within 10 days had the certificate in hand. It was so simple and the folks at DC Elopements were very helpful and have always responded quickly to our emails. We should have had them get our certificate from the start!” – Kari & Melissa