In short, if birth parents of either spouse, or both, were not married at the time of the spouse's birth, or, if an adoption took place and the name changed, the original birth record is restricted. This in turn causes the marriage certificate of that person to be restricted. Some agencies or city clerks also refer to these as impounded marriage records.
These records are restricted to the individuals named on the record, the birth parent(s) named on the record or a legal guardian.
Certificates can still be obtained directly by the subject or the birth parent named on the record, or legal guardian, but these marriage records are not open to the public.
Read more about Massachusetts restricted marriage records.
In two words, it depends.
It's not difficult though, it just depends on why you need the record and, where you currently live, as some states and government agencies will only accept state certified copies and not city or town copies.
If you need the certificate for any official purpose, such as obtaining passports, processing "REAL ID" applications, providing proof of age, United States citizenship or dual citizenship, filing for divorce, or obtaining social security benefits, you most likely need a state certified marriage certificate.
You can obtain a state certified copy of your marriage certificate here or at the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.
Either one is identical as they come from the exact same source.
A state certified copy is the most official copy one can obtain. Read further down for more information about security and detailed information recorded on state certified records.
If you only need a copy for your own records, say for general information, but still want a certified copy, a city or town marriage certificate should fill the need perfectly.
City or town certified marriage certificates are obtained by contacting the town or city clerk's office in Massachusetts in the town or city where the couple registered to get married.
Some of the larger cities, such as Worcester and Boston, have online marriage order forms on their websites, but many of the smaller towns, such as Granby, still only accept mail in or walk in applications.
The biggest plus of city/town certificates - they are generally less expensive than state certified copies. The biggest minus - they can take longer to obtain and are obviously less offical appearing than state copies.
Most importantly, they are not acceptable by some state agencies or for applying for drivers license and passports, especially if you live in Colorado or California or if you live outside of the country.
If you don't even need a certified town or city copy, and just want the information for a family history project, we also offer transcribed birth records for genealogical purposes.
These are not certified, are sent by email as PDF's, and are available at a reasonable fee of $20 each.
Transcriptions are recorded directly from the state marriage certificates at the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics in Boston. All genealogical related information is recorded and checked and rechecked, for both spelling and accuracy.
Order a transcribed marriage copy today for your Massachusetts family history project!