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Virginia Marriage Records

Virginia marriage records are official records containing information relating to the union of couples. Some of these details include:

  • Names of the spouses
  • Date of marriage
  • Location of the marriage ceremony
  • Names of the parents of the husband and wife
  • Resident address
  • Occupations of both parties
  • Place of birth of the couple 
  • Name of the marriage officiant.

Keeping marriage records in the Virginia Commonwealth is the responsibility of the Office of Vital Records in the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). Copies of marriage licenses are also available at the various County Clerk Offices across the state.

What Types of Marriage Records are available in Virginia

In Virginia, available marriage records include:

  • Marriage license records
  • Marriage certificate records and
  • Marriage register records.

Marriage Certificate:

A marriage certificate is an official document that legalizes the union between two partners. Marriage certificates show that a marriage is legal. To be eligible for a marriage certificate in Virginia, couple:

  • Must obtain a marriage license from the Circuit Court Clerk's Office at the location where the marriage will take place
  • Conduct a marriage by a legally sanctioned officiant
  • Complete the marriage license and return it to the Circuit Court Clerk's Office for recording within five after the marriage ceremony is over
  • Provide valid indentations.

Marriage License:

A marriage license is an official document that authorizes couples to marry. In Virginia, a marriage license is a legal requirement for marriage. Individuals can not be officially married without obtaining and filling out a marriage license.

Obtaining a marriage license in Virginia comes with the following eligibility criteria:

  • Intending spouses must not be close relatives.
  • Each partner in the marriage must be at the age of 18. However, the following exceptions are applicable for juveniles between 16 and 18. 
  • There must be parental consent from the parents or guardian
  • An order from a juvenile court may be required. 
  • The intending marriage must not be under duress.
  • Marriage licenses are typically valid for 60 days after issuance, and the marriage ceremony must occur within this timeframe.
  • After marriage, the couple and officiant must sign the marriage license and return it to the licensing officials for recording.

Marriage Register:

Marriage registers are official records at the County or City level, they contain details of marriage within a specific jurisdiction. In Virginia, marriage registers provide historical records of marriages within the state. Marriage records can be used for legal and genealogical purposes. Access to Virginia marriage records is through the local county Clerk's office or the Vital Records Office of the Virginia Department of Health.

Are Virginia Marriage Records Public?

Yes, Virginia Marriage Records are public. The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOI) governs public access to marriage records in the state. Access to marriage records in Virginia may be subject to restrictions. To obtain marriage records in Virginia, interested parties must:

  • Show valid identification documents
  • Obtain and fill out a request form
  • Show a relationship to the record owners or eligibility to access the information on the records.
  • State the purpose or use of the marriage records
  • Pay applicable fees for accessing the records.

Note that requirements may vary across different counties. For the latest information on requirements for accessing marriage records in Virginia, contact the local Circuit Court Clerk's Office at the marriage location.

How to Find Marriage Records in Virginia

Virginia marriage records between 1853 and 1935 are available in microfilms at the Library of Virginia through interlibrary loan. Interested individuals can obtain pre-1935 marriage records using the following indexes:

Records for post-1935 marriages in Virginia are available through the Virginia Department of Health and are obtainable through their website or those of the relevant local clerks' offices. 

To access Virginia marriage records, apply the following steps:

  • Visit the VDH website to identify the county where the marriage ceremony is held.
  • Check the website of the relevant office or contact them directly for information on how to obtain copies of marriage records. There might be specific requirements and forms to fill out.
  • Provide valid identification (driver's license, passport, military identification, or a Virginia state-issued ID will suffice)
  • Send a complete request form along with the necessary documents to the appropriate office.
  • Pay the applicable fees (certified copies of Virginia marriage records come at a fee)
  • There may be a waiting period for the office to process the application.

Note: The waiting period and cost of obtaining certified copies of marriage records vary across different jurisdictions. For updates on the cost of obtaining marriage records in Virginia and waiting periods, contact the local Circuit Court Clerk's Office or the Virginia Department of Health.

How to Get a Marriage License in Virginia

In Virginia, a marriage is not legally valid if the couple does not have a marriage license before getting married. To get a marriage license, both parties should:

  • Visit the local Circuit Court Clerk's Office at the location where the marriage ceremony will take place
  • Fill out a marriage license application form
  • Provide valid identification
  • Pay the required fee to obtain a marriage license
  • Obtain a marriage license once it is approved.

Note that a Virginia marriage license has a validity of 60 days from the date of issuance. Marriage ceremonies must be within the validity period, or else the marriage license becomes invalid.

Also, marriage licenses should be filled out by both parties and the officiant and returned to the Circuit Court Clerk's Office for official recording after the marriage.

To be eligible for a marriage license, couples must provide:

  • Proof of age: Intending spouses must be 18 years or older. 
  • Valid photo IDs for both parties 
  • Social Security Numbers of both individuals 
  • Parental consent or show a court order If either couple is 16 or 17 years old, Virginia law requires juveniles to get a court order, or parents/guardians must accompany them to the Circuit Court Clerk's Office.
  • Provide evidence of divorce or death of partner if previously married. 
  • Pay the applicable fees for processing the marriage records.

Also, intending spouses must not be close blood relatives (they should not be nearer than second cousins), and the marriage must not be under constraint (the marriage must be of free will).

Who can obtain Marriage Records in Virginia?

Virginia marriage records are public. However, there are eligibility requirements to access certified marriage records in Virginia. To obtain marriage records in Virginia, a requester must:

  • Either of the individuals that owns the marriage record
  • Family members of the marriage records owners (this includes parents, children, and siblings)
  • Legal representatives of the involved parties
  • Authorized government officials ( for instance, law enforcement officers or authorized individuals)
  • Genealogists and researchers for scholarly works.

Legal and procedural requirements exist to obtain certified copies of marriage records in Virginia. To access marriage records in Virginia, the requester ls must

  • Provide valid identification as proof of identity (this may be a driver's license, passport, state-issued ID, or military ID)
  • Show eligibility by demonstrating that they are among the ones with the right to access the records. 
  • Fill out a request form with the necessary details (this includes names of the record owners, date and location of the marriage ceremony)
  • Pay the required fees for certified copies of marriage records (the amount may vary across Virginia counties)
  • Submit the completed request form along with the fee payment and any required document to the County Clerk's Office. 
  • Wait for the request to be approved or rejected. Typically, there is a processing waiting period, and it varies across the different jurisdictions.

Can You Lookup Online Marriage Records For Free in Virginia?

Yes, Virginia marriage records are available online for free. The Virginia State provides free online access to marriage records through the VDH website and Circuit Courts County Clerk Offices. Also, online access to marriage records is available through third-party online databases. Most third-party websites offer user-friendly interfaces and tools that make it easy to search for records.

In addition, some third-party sites collect data from different sources and aggregate them in one place, making it easy to locate records. However, accessing marriage records online through third-party websites also has disadvantages. Free online data and information from non-government sources may be inaccurate and limited in details. Detailed copies of records may come with fee payments. For certified copies of Virginia marriage records, interested persons should contact the relevant government agency.

Is Virginia a Common Law State for Marriage?

Virginia prohibits the creation of common-law marriages. However, it accepts common law marriages from other states if such marriages meet the statutory legal requirements of those states. Common law marriage is a legally recognized union of two people living together and considering themselves married without obtaining a marriage license or conducting a marriage ceremony.

To dissolve a common law marriage from other states in Virginia, couples must get a divorce, and the court will decide on how properties will be shared between the parties like in conventional marriages. Also, Virginia does not recognize cohabitation as a marriage or civil partnership.

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