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The Difference Between a Marriage License and a Marriage Certificate

1: Get started with online marriage license services.

2: Go to a Clerk of Court office in person

The main difference between a Certified Marriage License and a Certified Marriage Certificate is that the license must be obtained before the wedding, while the certificate is issued after the marriage has taken place.


  • A marriage license is a legal document that entitles a couple to marry. A marriage certificate is an official document proving you are legally married.

Getting your New York Marriage License

  • A couple who intends to be married in New York State must apply in person for a marriage license to any town or city clerk in the state. The application for a license must be signed by both parties in the presence of the town or city clerk. A representative cannot apply for the license on behalf of either party. This applies even if the representative has been given the Power of Attorney. Notarized marriage license affidavits signed by either party cannot be substituted for their personal appearance.

Getting your New York Marriage Certificate

  • A marriage certificate will be sent to the married couple after the ceremony.

To learn more, download the new Marriage License Packet to assist you with the New York marriage license process, as well as offer you helpful information on popular marriage topics.

Featured Resources
- Get the Marriage License Packet for a comprehensive guide to getting your marriage license!
- Detailed information about each Clerk of Court for all New York Counties
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