How to Get a Copy of a Marriage License or Certificate in California if You Lost Yours

I can prepare your application for $100 or you can do it yourself with extensive research.

PLEASE DON’T CALL ME to ask how…too many people do.

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Or read below to find out how.

This has to be done through the County that your marriage license was issued from. Okay, you’re married. Your life gets hectic. You didn’t realize that your certified copy of marriage license and certificate would be necessary for many legal or financial transactions. It didn’t seem important at the time of your wedding, right? It’s okay, there’s a way to get it. But it takes knowing what to do in the quagmire that is our government. Don’t worry, just read below. And if you don’t have time for this, one option is to have Chris take care of the big part.

copy of marriage license California
Order a copy of your California marriage certificate (which is a filed marriage license) at the time of your wedding, preferably several copies in case you lose one. If you don’t, there are more steps and time involved.

The 2 Types of California Marriage Licenses

  • Public Marriage Licenses – This type of marriage license is common, but it is available for the public to see all the private information on it. Companies often use these marriage licenses to market to the general public. They are fully available to anyone.
  • Confidential Marriage Licenses – These are unique to California and completely private. Nobody can see them without proper authorization or court order. They are completely legal and acknowledged as such by all governments and governmental agencies. No telemarketers, no crooks, no stalkers can get their hands on the information unless you want them to do so. Why would you want that?

Do you know which one you received? If not, it might be a good idea to fill out both applications.

How to get a certified copy of a marriage certificate from any California County.

Request a Copy of a Marriage Record In Person

Confidential marriage records may only be obtained by the parties to the marriage or by court order. If you are not a party to the marriage, you cannot obtain any copy of a confidential marriage record.

To request a copy of a confidential marriage record in person, bring Valid photo ID’s.

Where to go to request a certified copy of your marriage certificate

You or your spouse can go in person to one of several County Clerk’s offices to purchase certified copies of your marriage license and certificate on a walk-in basis. This must be done during working hours. Please check ahead on their websites for the specific hours and days. Marriage License offices are open to the public only on specific days and times. For instructions from LA County go to LA County Clerk Recorder’s website and scroll to the bottom of the page for the locations of the various offices you can walk into with your request. You can do this as well from other California County Website.

Requesting a Marriage Certificate via Mail

If you do not have the time or inclination to spend several hours during the workweek driving to, finding parking, and standing in line at the County Clerk Recorder or Office (each county is different) you can mail a request for your certified copies. This must be mailed to the main County Clerk ‘s Office where your marriage license was issued. If you do not reside in Southern California, of course, this is the way to go for you. You can mail your request by following these steps:

  • If you were married with a PUBLIC MARRIAGE LICENSE complete an Application to Request a Public Marriage Record and a Certificate of Identity
  • If you were married with a CONFIDENTIAL MARRIAGE LICENSE complete an Application to Request a Confidential Marriage Record and a Certificate of Identity for Confidential Marriages
  • Whether you or your spouse will be signing and mailing your request, the signor must have their signature notarized on the Certificate of Identity.
  • Send your completed forms with a check payable to the Registrar Recorder/County Clerk or RR/CC
  • Please note that confidential marriage records may only be obtained by the parties to the marriage or by court order. If you are not a party to the marriage, you CANNOT obtain any copy of a confidential marriage record.
  • If you do not live in California, please have the notary strike out “California” on the Certificate of Identity and put the state in which the form is notarized. It will be accepted with the change.
  • Those who are not authorized or do not wish to submit the notarized Certificate of Identity may receive an Informational Certified Copy of Public Marriage Licenses only. They are not available for the Confidential Marriage License. Informational Certified Copies have the word “INFORMATIONAL, NOT A VALID DOCUMENT TO ESTABLISH IDENTITY” imprinted across the face of the copy. Chris does not assist with this.
  • Most mail requests are processed within 20 working days from the date the request is received by this office. The processing time does not include the delivery time to and from the office, weekends or holidays.

What you’ll need to fill out.

There are two documents that must be included with your request for Certified Copies of a Marriage License and certificate:

  1. Application for Marriage Record – This document identifies the two spouses who were married and the date of their marriage. This Application permits the County representatives to confirm the specific marriage license that you are requesting.
  2. Certificate of Identity – This document specifically identifies the individual who is requesting the Marriage Record and requires that the requesting individual’s signature be notarized. If you appear in person, then you don’t need this document, but you must bring proper government-issued ID. However, if you go in person, it may be a 5-hour ordeal during working hours.

Please be aware that California has 58 different counties and some counties combine the Application and the Certificate of Identity into a single application. However, whether there are one or two required documents, the same information must be provided to complete your request.

Find a Notary

You can find a notary here to notarize your Certificate of Identity. Many notaries offer mobile services and for an extra fee will come to you to make it convenient for you.

You don’t need a notary if you go in person to the County Clerk’s Office with your photo ID’s, but that can be a hardship considering that the hours and days are often not accessible to someone who works regular office hours or is living in another


Officiant Guy’s Advice

  • We highly recommend that you order at least two copies of the California marriage license and certificate at the time of your wedding because, if you don’t, a subsequent request requires a bit of a long process.
  • Be careful to determine whether your marriage license is public or confidential because each type of marriage license requires different request forms.
  • If you have it, it’s always a good idea to bring two non-expired government ID’s for proof in case one is rejected.


What Records Are Available?

Records are available for marriages where the license was issued in Los Angeles County since 1852.


Cost of a Certified Copy of your marriage certificate

  • The cost for each certified copy of your Los Angeles County Marriage Certificate is $15 (as of 2019). We recommend that you request at least 2 copies.



Why was my application for a marriage certificate sent back?

Importantly, if you request for certified copies after your wedding day you should wait until at least eight weeks after your wedding day to submit your request because it can take as long as eight weeks for the County Clerk’s office to complete the recording of your marriage license and certificate. Until the recording process is completed, the County Clerk will have no record of your marriage and they will simply mail your request back to you.

If you are not one of the spouses listed on the original confidential marriage license, it will be returned.

For a public marriage license, it will be returned if you are not one of the parties entitled to receive it. You must be a Parent, Child, Legal guardian/custodian,Grandparent, Grandchild, Sibling, Spouse/Domestic partner, Attorney for the individual named on the certificate, Attorney for the estate of the individual named on the certificate.

How can Officiant Guy do this for me without this headache?

Chris is an attorney in good standing with the California Bar, a legal document assistant, a specialized notary, an officiant, a husband, and most importantly, a great dad of 3 kids. He has been dealing with the various California County Clerk offices and their extensive rules and practices for over 15 years. He has a very unique legal brain. He knows how to make it easy for people who just don’t want the hassle of learning how to navigate the bureaucracy of marriage licenses and the government. Plus, he is very respected by the people in the Marriage License division of the Los Angeles County Clerks. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea. But It is second-nature for him to understand the rules of the legal system. He makes things EASY for everybody.

Scroll down to fill out a quick form to start the process of Chris helping you.

Counties in California

There are 58 counties in California. I can prepare the paperwork for you to submit to each County to get your Certified Copies. Just fill out the form above. I can help you obtain your Certified Copies of your California Marriage License, officially known as a California Marriage Certificate, whether it’s a Public Marriage License or a Confidential Marriage License from these California Counties:


Alameda County, California
Alpine County, California
Amador County, California
Butte County, California
Calaveras County, California
Colusa County, California
Contra Costa County, California
Del Norte County, California
El Dorado County, California
Fresno County, California
Glenn County, California
Humboldt County, California
Imperial County, California
Inyo County, California
Kern County, California
Kings County, California
Lake County, California
Lassen County, California
Los Angeles County, California
Madera County, California
Marin County, California
Mariposa County, California
Mendocino County, California
Merced County, California
Modoc County, California
Mono County, California
Monterey County, California
Napa County, California
Nevada County, California
Orange County, California
Placer County, California
Plumas County, California
Riverside County, California
Sacramento County, California
San Benito County, California
San Bernardino County, California
San Diego County, California
San Francisco County, California
San Joaquin County, California
San Luis Obispo County, California
San Mateo County, California
Santa Barbara County, California
Santa Clara County, California
Santa Cruz County, California
Shasta County, California
Sierra County, California
Siskiyou County, California
Solano County, California
Sonoma County, California
Stanislaus County, California
Sutter County, California
Tehama County, California
Trinity County, California
Tulare County, California
Tuolumne County, California
Ventura County, California
Yolo County, California
Yuba County, California

THE EASY WAY: Fill out this form to have Chris deal with it for you.

You will receive an email with the paperwork filled out that you can download and instructions on what to do next.

Click below to find more information about getting a marriage license in California:
California Marriage License Information
Can I Get a Marriage License After Our Wedding Ceremony?
Confidential Marriage License California
Confidential Marriage License vs Public Marriage License
Do You Get a Marriage License Before Or After The Wedding?
Getting a Copy of the Marriage Certificate
How Much Does a Marriage License Cost in Los Angeles, California
Marriage License and Marriage Certificate Precision
Marriage Requirements in California
Orange County Marriage License
Submit Your Los Angeles County Marriage License Information
The Wedding Laws California
What Happens After You Sign Your Marriage License?
What is a Confidential Marriage License in California?
When You Forgot to Get a Marriage License Before Your Wedding