In an attempt to stop the illegal use of vital records, and as part of statewide efforts to reduce identity theft, a California law (effective January 1, 2010) changed the way certified copies of marriage certificates are issued.
Certified copies to establish identity can be issued only to authorized individuals, as defined in Health and Safety Code103526(c).
All others will be issued Certified Informational Copies that are not valid to establish identity, and contain a legend on the face of the document that states, "Informational, Not a Valid Document to Establish Identity."
In the case of public marriage records, the law describes an authorized person as:
- A parent, legal guardian, child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner of the registrant
- A party entitled to receive the record as a result of a court order (a certified copy of the court order must be included with request)
- A member of a law enforcement agency or a representative of another governmental agency, as provided by law, who is conducting official business
- An attorney representing the registrant or the registrant's estate, or any person or agency empowered by statute or appointed by a court to act on behalf of the registrant or the registrant's estate (if by power of attorney, the power of attorney must be included with request
Confidential marriage records:
- Only a party to the marriage, (or a party entitled to receive a copy as a result of a court order) may receive a certified copy of a confidential marriage license.
- The existence of a confidential marriage may be verified by the County Clerk to any other party upon completion of an application and payment of a $15.00 research fee.