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New York Marriage Records

New York marriage records are vital records that provide information on married couples and couples who intend to wed within the Empire State. Such records are typically maintained by the state vital record office or the city clerk's office in the location where the license was obtained.

Some of the information that may contained in a record include:

  • The full name of the bride
  • Full name of the groom
  • Name of parents
  • Couples address as at time of marriage
  • Place of birth for both couples

Marriage records are necessary for various reasons. Genealogical researchers rely on marriage records when tracking family lines. In addition, certified copies of a marriage record are vital for establishing proof of marriage and identity during official processes, such as name changes, applying for a passport, or handling joint financial concerns. 

What Types of Marriage Records are available in New York

New York maintains different types of marriage records, from documents created during the license application state to those filed after the wedding ceremony.

New York Marriage License

A New York marriage license is a mandated legal document required for any marriage within the Empire State. Unlike marriage certificates, which are created after a wedding ceremony, licenses are issued by the town or city clerk before the ceremony. To obtain a license, both parties must submit an application, provide documents that confirm their identity and age, and pay the appropriate fee. Depending on their marital status, previously married applicants may also need documentation showing they are single and free to marry, such as a divorce decree or evidence of annulment.

Note: In compliance with the Marriage Equality Act, same-sex couples can also obtain marriage licenses in New York.

New York Marriage Certificate:

A New York marriage certificate is an official document that is created after a wedding ceremony. Wedding certificates provide documented proof that a wedding ceremony occured and the named parties were married by a legal officiant. Wedding certificates are used when claiming tax and Medicaid benefits or making name changes after the wedding. 

Are New York Marriage Records Public?

Access to public marriage records in the Empire state will depend on the creation date. Any New York marriage record older than 50 falls under the public umbrella and is available to the general public. Record seekers can obtain such public information by contacting official record custodians or searching through marriage indexes and city archives.

In contrast, more recently created records remain confidential and can only be accessed by eligible parties, such as the spouses named on the document and any closed family members. To obtain public New York Marriage records, you'll need to provide details about the marriage, such as the full name of one or both spouses, the year the license was filed, and the date and location where the marriage occured. 

How to Find Marriage Records in New York

Individuals seeking marriage records in New York can do so by following several general steps.

Step 1. Identify Where the Marriage Occured

The oversight of marriage records in New York falls under different agencies, depending on where the marriage occurred. While the Department of Health maintains all records of licenses issued in the state since 1880, it does not maintain any record of licenses issued in New York City. Instead, the oversight of all licenses granted in Queens, Bronx, Manhattan, Kings, or Staten Island falls under the purview of the New York City Clerk’s Office.

Step 2. Collect Necessary Information

To obtain copies of a marriage record, you'll need to fill out an application form, providing some related details linked with the record.

Record seekers may also need a government-issued ID to prove their identity. Some acceptable forms of identification include a driver's license, IDNYC card, valid passport, or a naturalization certificate.

Step 3. Submit Application 

Applicants can submit requests for records in person or via mail. In-person requests for records created between 1950 and 1995 in New York City are processed at the Manhattan City Clerk's Office, Record Room Division, located at 141 Worth Street. However, records created from 1996 can be obtained at any City Clerk borough office.

Alternatively, requesters can mail in their application (along with the applicable fee and any required documentation) to the following:

City Clerk of New York

141 Worth Street

New York, NY 10013

Attn: Record Room

How to Get a Marriage License in New York

Under New York laws, intending couples must obtain a marriage license from the clerk at any borough office before holding a legal wedding. While the rules for obtaining a license may vary in different cities or towns, the process is generally similar.

Step 1. Meet the New York Marriage License Requirements

Almost anyone can obtain a marriage license in New York if they meet the state requirements. Unlike some states, New York does not require applicants to be state residents or submit to a blood test. But both parties must be at least 18 or, when a party is 17 years old, provide written consent signed by a judge and both parents. Applicants must also be single and unrelated.

Step 2. Prepare Necessary Information 

When applying for a marriage license, both parties must provide some information that will be added to the affidavit and become part of the record. Some of the details include the following:

  • Full name of applicants (first, middle, and last)
  • Current address (city, state, zip code)
  • Place of birth
  • Age and gender
  • Social security number
  • Marital history

Both parties will also need to provide documentation to prove their age. Some acceptable options include a passport, driver's license, certified copy of a birth record, certification of birth, life insurance policy, or a naturalization record.

Step 3. Submit Application and Pay

Applications for a marriage license must be made in person at the office of the town or city clerk. Both parties will also need to sign for the license. While the cost generally varies across towns and counties, marriage licenses cost $40 on average. Payments made via a debit card or credit include a convenience fee.

Once issued, licenses must be used anywhere within the state before expiration. However, licenses have a 24-hour waiting period, meaning the applicant must wait a day before getting married. Marriages do not have to be done immediately. A New York marriage license remains valid for sixty days, the only exception being licenses issued to active military personnel, which remain valid for 180 days.

Who can obtain Marriage Records in New York?

Anyone may obtain copies of New York marriage records created before 1950. Such documents can be viewed or obtained by searching, browsing, or submitting applications to custodial agencies, such as municipal archives. However, to obtain marriage records created after 1950 in New York, applicants must show a direct, tangible interest. Such documents are only issued to eligible parties such as spouses or legally authorized persons. To ensure compliance, applicants must provide a valid government-issued ID, such as a U.S. Military-issued photo ID. Requests that do not include proper identification may be declined. 

Can You Lookup Online Marriage Records For Free in New York

Older marriage records may be available by searching online indexes maintained by New York municipal archives. Such records typically provide publicly accessible information, such as the name of the married parties and the marriage date. Record seekers may also be able to look up some marriage records for free using third-party platforms. Operating as private entities independent of the New York state government or any official agency, such sites provide access to records compiled from multiple jurisdictions across New York. Access to some records may require essential information, such as the subject's name or marriage location. 

Is New York a Common Law State for Marriage?

New York does not allow the creation of common law marriages within its borders. However, it recognizes the validity of any common-law marriage created in states that recognize this type of union. As of 2024, common law marriages are fully or partially recognized in over a dozen US states, including Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Texas.

Under a common law marriage, two parties are legally accepted as married without a marriage license or a wedding ceremony. Although the rules vary across supporting states, the general requirement for creating this type of union is that couples must behave as a married couple. This means:

  • Both parties must hold themselves out as married to friends, family, and the community
  • Both parties must live together for a fixed period
  • Both parties must be unrelated and old enough to marry (under state laws)

Couples in an established common-law marriage are entitled to all the rights of a formal marriage, including the right to spousal support, inheritance, and property division (in the event of a separation).

Domestic Partnership in New York City

Unmarried parties who wish to establish a relationship can do so via a Domestic Partnership. Such agreements are recognized and legally binding in New York City. Some of the general requirements for registering a domestic partnership in New York City include:

  • Both parties must be residents of the city.
  • Both parties must be single, unrelated by blood, and at least 18 years 
  • Both parties must complete, sign, and submit a notarized agreement form
  • Both parties must have been cohabiting for an extended period
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