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Are Marriage Records Public in Texas?

Sophia Merton
April 25, 2024

Vital records, including birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage records, are all considered public records in Texas. You might wonder why they make marriage records public in the Lone Star State, as some might assume that this information should be kept private.

There are a number of reasons, however, that vital records like marriage records are public in Texas. These include the promotion of government transparency and accountability, helping to serve essential legal purposes, allowing for the monitoring of public health over time, and more.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what you need to know about acquiring a certified copy of your marriage license, receiving a verification letter regarding a marriage or divorce, and much more.

Are Texas Marriage Records Public?

Yes, marriage records are considered public records in Texas.

A public record is any document, information, or data that is created, collected, maintained, or stored by a government agency in the course of its official duties and is considered accessible to the public. 

What this means is that anyone can access them, so long as they follow the proper procedures and meet any of the necessary requirements. Marriage records in Texas are maintained by the county clerk's office in the county where the marriage license was issued.

woman looking at vows at wedding public marriage record texas

However, certain details within marriage records, such as personal identification numbers and Social Security numbers, may be redacted to protect individuals' privacy. It's always a good idea to check with the specific county clerk's office for their procedures for accessing marriage records, as there can be different systems and processes in different counties.

How Can I Get a Copy of My Marriage License?

One common misconception is that you can receive a copy of your marriage license from the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Texas. In actuality, though, this office isn’t able to issue certified copies of either marriage licenses or divorce decrees.

If you’re looking for a certified copy of your marriage license, you’ll want to contact the county clerk’s office in the same county where the marriage license was initially issued.

How Can I Find Out Where and When a Marriage Took Place?

If you are trying to determine the time and date of marriage (for genealogical research, legal issues, or other reasons), you can take a look at the Public Indexes maintained by the Texas Vital Statistics Bureau.

It’s worth noting that marriage verifications can only be issued for unions that occurred in 1966 or later, while divorce verifications can only be issued for marriage dissolutions that occurred in 1968 or later.

What Are Marriage and Divorce Indexes?

When marriages and divorces occur in Texas, county and district clerks will send records to the Vital Statistics Bureau. These records are then compiled into indexes, which can then be downloaded based on the year.

husband and wife with public marriage record texas

Vital Statistics is very clear about the fact that there might be misreported info or data entry errors in the marriage and divorce indexes. You, therefore, shouldn’t be shocked if you come across missing data, incorrect dates, or misspelled named. Since the original record is something that can be continually corrected, it’s possible that the indexes you are looking at don’t actually have the most up-to-date info.

  • If you are worried that there is an error on the actual, original marriage license itself, you’ll want to talk to the county clerk in the location where the license was first obtained.

It’s worth noting that these marriage and divorce indexes aren’t technically legal documents. Instead, they are simply meant to be helpful tools to help people track down where a marriage license or divorce decree was initially filed.

Looking for more info on marriage and divorce in Texas? Check out some of our guides:

What Do These Indexes Contain?

Quite a bit of useful info can be found in the marriage and divorce indexes provided by Vital Statistics.

wedding rings on dictionary owned by couple public marriage record texas

For the marriage indexes, the following information will be available:

  • File number
  • The names of both involved parties
  • The ages of both involved parties
  • The date of marriage
  • The place of marriage

For divorce indexes, the place of marriage won’t be listed, but the following information will be listed:

  • The number of children under eighteen
  • The county name and code where the divorce decree was initially filed
  • The date of the marriage dissolution

What Are Marriage Verification Letters?

Marriage verification letters confirm the occurrence of a marriage and provide details such as the full names of the spouses, date of marriage, place of marriage, and any other relevant information.

Marriage verification letters are not the same thing as a certified copy of a marriage certificate.

How Can I Get a Marriage or Divorce Verification Letter?

If you’re looking for a certified copy of a marriage license or a divorce decree, you’ll need to contact the district clerk where the marriage or divorce was filed initially. However, you can receive a verification letter from the Vital Statistics Bureau for a marriage or a divorce so long as it occurred in 1966 or later for marriages and in 1968 or later for divorces.

There are several different methods you can use to receive a verification letter:

  • Order online
  • Order by mail
  • Order In-Person

Looking for more info on marriage and divorce in Texas? Check out some of our guides:

Ordering Verification Letters Online

The easiest way is to order them online through the Texas.gov website. You can learn more about ordering verification letters here.

Ordering Verification Letters Through the Mail

If you want to order a verification letter by mail, you’ll need to make sure you select the correct address before sticking it in the mailbox. You can choose either standard/regular processing or you can pay for expedited processing.

Here is the address you’ll use for regular processing:

Texas Vital Statistics

Department of State Health Services

P.O. Box 12040

Austin, TX 78711-2040

Here is the address you’ll use for expedited processing (you must use an overnight mail service to receive expedited processing):

Texas Vital Statistics

MC 2096

Department of State Health Services

1100 W. 49th Street

Austin, TX 78756

Ordering Verification Letters in Person

There are two different ways you can order verification letters in person. The first is to visit your local office (typically the clerk’s office) in order to request a verification letter. You can find a list of local offices organized by county and city here.

You may also choose to visit the Vital Statistics headquarters in Austin during their office hours. You can receive the following services in person at Vital Statistics HQ:

  • Birth, death, marriage, and divorce record verifications
  • Certified copies of birth and death records

Why Are Marriage Records Public in Texas?

Marriage records in Texas, like in many other states in the U.S., are considered public records.

groom and bride with public marriage record texas

There are several reasons for this:

  • Government transparency: Making marriage records public ensures transparency within the government– allowing public access to these records allows for accountability and oversight.
  • Genealogical research: People researching family histories and lineage can trace and understand their family roots, thanks to these types of records being made public.
  • Public interest: Marriages are a big deal– significant life events that often have implications beyond the individuals involved. Making marriage records public acknowledges that there is a public interest in these types of events.
  • Historical and legal documentation: Marriage records, importantly, serve as legal documentation of the marriage contract. Keeping these records public allows for verification of legal status, which can be necessary for various purposes such as inheritance, property rights, and legal proceedings.

It’s worth understanding that, while marriage records are generally public in Texas, there may be certain restrictions or limitations on accessing specific details within these records. In particular, these types of records will be made private in order to protect sensitive personal info such as addresses, social security numbers, or other information that could present privacy concerns.

Individuals can also request that their marriage license be made private if they have safety concerns.

Navigating Family Law in Texas

It’s useful to know that marriage records are public in Texas, whether you’re wondering whether your information will be available to the general public after marriage or you’re trying to track down a record of a marriage for genealogical purposes. Furthermore, you can use the info in this article to track down a certified copy of your marriage certificate, which can be useful in a number of instances, such as:

  • A name change
  • Insurance claims
  • Claiming Spousal benefits
  • Legal proceedings
  • Adoption
  • Claiming Spousal Social Security benefits
  • Beneficiary designations

Whether you’re starting a marriage or ending one, navigating the world of family law can be a bit overwhelming. If you’re searching for more resources about marriage, divorce, custody, child support, alimony, or any other family law topic, you’re in the right place– make sure you check out the rest of our Texas Divorce Laws blog.


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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is a researcher and writer that aims to help make the complexities of the legal system understandable to the layperson. Believing that people can be empowered by understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law, Sophia aims to offer accurate and well-researched information in straightforward and easy-to-digest legal articles.

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