A Certified Marriage Certificate Copy from Harris County, like your other vital records are used as important forms of identification both domestically and internationally. Texas marriage certificates provide proof of your identity, history and people related to you. Throughout your life, there are times when you must show a certified copy of your marriage certificate or original marriage certificate. Here are a few examples:
- Applying for a visa
- Changing your name
- Making Social Security Changes
- Accessing financial accounts of a deceased spouse
- Enrolling in health insurance coverage for your family
- Nominating a next of kin on legal documents
- Applying for a mortgage
In some religions, you may even be required to provide proof of your marriage status before your child can be baptized. You will also need to provide a certified marriage license or certified marriage certificate along with a marriage certificate certified translation when getting married abroad. But what if you have lost your marriage certificate or it has been destroyed? That’s no problem. We explain how to get a copy of a marriage certificate in Houston or Harris County.
What is the Difference Between A Marriage License and Marriage Certificate?
In recent years, a Texas marriage certificate is printed with the marriage license on the backside. A certified copy of a marriage certificate is usually one-sided. Often, people are confused about the purpose of the two. A marriage certificate serves a different function than a marriage license. A Marriage certificate is an official declaration that you and your spouse are legally married. A marriage license is a document that you receive prior to getting married that states that you and your spouse are eligible to marry. In Texas, a marriage license expires within 30 days. If you need to replace your marriage license before you get married, you must apply for a new license. The good news is that is isn’t difficult and it’s cheap to get a certified copy of a marriage certificate in Houston.
So, You’ve Lost Your Certified Marriage Documents?
Thousands of people in the Houston area lose their marriage licenses and need a certified copy of their marriage certificate each year. When Hurricane Harvey reached land, parts of Houston reported more than 2.5 feet of rain. Some areas north of Houston, including areas near Beaumont and Port Arthur received as much as five feet of rain. In total, Hurricane Harvey caused Hurricane Harvey caused $125 billion in damages by destroyed 15,500 homes and damaging 273,276 homes. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, flooding destroyed another 15,528 homes of which 835 were in Harris County. As you might imagine, countless numbers of marriage certificates, birth certificates and other vital records were lost or destroyed. The challenge for Teneshia Hudspeth, Harris County Clerk, was developing a solution to make it easy to purchase a certified copy of marriage certificate quickly and efficiently.
Ramone Garcia, a homeowner in Northeast Houston was one of the affected by Hurricane Harvey. In August 2017, he had only been married for a week. Being already familiar with Hurricane destruction, he and his new wife evacuated their home prior to the storm’s landfall. Prior to Hurricane Harvey, Garcia had made extensive repairs from Tropical Storm Allison and Hurricane Ike. But Harvey caused significantly more damage than previous storms.
When Garcia was finally able to return home, he was not surprised to see vital records, family heirlooms and other artifacts destroyed. But having just gotten married, Garcia needed to enroll his wife in his healthcare plan which meant submitting an original copy of his Marriage Certificate to his employer’s benefits advisor. Luckily, Garcia and his wife had been married in the Houston area. It was a straightforward process to purchase an official copy and pick it up within 24 hours.
Ordering A Replacement Marriage License or Certificate in Houston
We all hate having to explain that we have lost something important. Usually, our explanation comes with a degree of guilt or embarrassment. But like Ramone Garcia, thousands of people in the Houston area lose their marriage certificates each year. Even if you did not lose your marriage certificate or marriage license, there are times when you need a recently certified copy of your marriage certificate. For example, the visa application process for some countries requires the submission of a certified and notarized marriage certificate translation along with an original marriage certificate with an apostille. For more information on getting a certified translation, see our article on purchasing certified translations in Houston.
Order In-Person – Certified Copy of Marriage Certificate
In addition to ordering online, you can also purchase a certified copy of your Marriage Certificate in-person at the Harris County Clerk’s office.
Harris County Clerk
201 Caroline St 3rd floor, Houston, TX 77002
Floor 3 – Harris County Civil Courthouse.
Frequently Asked Questions
Getting a Certified Harris County Clerk copy of your marriage certificate is easy. Because Harris County considers Marriage Certificates to be public records, they can be accessed and acquired by anyone. It is not necessary to show identification. You only need the last names of the married couple. Additional details such as the date of the marriage may be helpful.
The Harris County Clerk Office provides marriage certificate replacements online. To order online, visit their website and complete the registration form. Once your registration is complete, you can easily locate your marriage certificate by simply entering the last names of the bride and groom. In some instances, you may be prompted to enter the wedding date. Once located, you have the option of purchasing a certified copy of a marriage license.
The Harris County Clerk provides free access to marriage records online dating back to January 9, 1944. These are unofficial copies and viewing requires a simple on-line registration process. Unofficial copies are provided in high resolution pdf format that can be downloaded. One logged-in, you also have the option of purchasing an official certified copy.
Marriage certificates are considered vital records. Other types of vital records include birth certificates and marriage certificates. In many states you would contact the Department of Vital Records in your city or county. However, in Harris County, you need to order a replacement marriage certificate from the County Clerk. Whether you live in Pasadena, La Porte, Bellaire, or South Houston, you can either complete an online form to get an original marriage certificate and pay a small fee and one will be sent to you. The same applies to people who were married in Fort Bend County and Montgomery County. If you have an immediate need for an authentic copy of your marriage certificate, you can also visit the clerk’s office in-person.
The Harris County Clerk charges $6 for a certified copy of their marriage certificate. A certified copy is an official copy of the original marriage document that is kept on file. The copy is then certified by the County Clerk as being a part of their archived files. The County Clerk certifies a document by applying and official stamp, called the Clerk’s certificate.
For any official use, including any use where a certified legal translation must be submitted for official purposes, you will need a certified copy of your marriage certificate.
If you don’t want to order a certified copy of your marriage certificate online, you can purchase an official copy in-person at any annex location. Annex locations are in Houston at 201 Caroline S, 1001 Preston St, and 11525 Todd Street.