Vital Records are birth, death, marriage. They are legal documents that contain information about the vital events of people in our society. Certified copies of vital records are used for many purposes, such as to establish proof of age, receive social security benefits, and receive death benefits from life insurance policies.
The fee for a certified copy of a vital record (from state or local registrars) is $20. Additional copies of the same record issued at the same time are $15.00 each. Per Rhode Island General Law, the fee provides for a search of two consecutive calendar years under one name and for issuance of a certified copy of a birth, death, marriage.
The Office of the Town Clerk is the local registrar of vital records for the purpose of recording births, deaths, marriages and civil unions in accordance with RIGL§ 23-3-7. Birth Certificates, Death Certificates
Marriage Certificates are available through this office.
Marriage Licenses can be obtained at the Town Clerk's Office.
Couples marrying in Rhode Island must apply for a license at a city or town clerk's office. The license is valid for three months after the issuance date. The ceremony must take place in the presence of the officiant (the person performing the marriage) and two witnesses age 18 or older.
What You Should Do
Both applicants must: Apply for the marriage license in person
Both people must apply for the license in person and sign the application in the presence of a city or town clerk or his or her assistant. Please be sure to contact the city or town office where you will apply for the license to verify their identification requirements and hours open to the public.
- Rhode Island residents:
- If both applicants live in Rhode Island, apply for the license from the city/town clerk of the residence of either applicant. The marriage license is valid in any city or town in Rhode Island and the couple may be married anywhere in Rhode Island.
- If one applicant lives in Rhode Island the license should be issued from the city/town of residence.
- Non-residents: If neither applicant lives in Rhode Island, the marriage license must be obtained at the city or town clerk’s office where the ceremony will take place. Rhode Island law states that the marriage license is valid only in the city or town in which it was issued. If the ceremony is performed in a city or town other than where it was issued, the validity of the marriage may be in question.
Provide required identification and legal documents
- Proof of Birth Facts and Identification
- A long-form certified copy of a birth certificate is preferred as proof of birth facts. A passport or alien card may be accepted for persons born outside the United States who cannot obtain a birth record.
- Additional requirements may exist in some locations. For example, some offices require a government-issued picture ID in addition to a certified copy of a birth certificate. Some offices will not accept a passport without a certified copy of a birth certificate.
- Contact the city or town office where you will apply for the license to verify the requirements and the hours of operation.
- Permit to Marry for Minors and Persons Under Legal Guardianship
- A Permit to Marry (VS 10) must be completed if either applicant is 16 or 17 years of age or under control of a legal guardian. The permit should be signed and notarized in the presence of the city or town clerk, or any clerk employed in that office. If this is not possible, please contact the Division of Vital Records for instructions.
- Applicants under the age of 16 cannot get a marriage license in the state of Rhode Island without the approval of Family Court.
- Proof That Previous Marriages, Civil Unions or Registered Domestic Partnerships Have Ended
- If either applicant has been previously married, civilly united or in a registered domestic partnership, and the previous marriage, civil union or registered domestic partnership ended in divorce, dissolution or death, that person must present a certified copy of the FINAL decree of divorce or dissolution, or a certified copy of the death certificate to the city or town clerk.
- The couple must give the license to the officiant.
- Accurate information
- Any person who willfully and knowingly supplies false information intending that the information be used in the preparation of a marriage license shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both, pursuant to Section 23-3-28 of the RI General Laws.
Pay for the license: Marriage licenses cost $24.
Please allow 20-30 minutes to process your request. (Therefore please arrive by 3:00 PM)
Vital records are confidential. Only individuals who have what is called a "direct and tangible interest" in the records can access them. This includes:
The person named on the certificate, a member of his/her immediate family, his/her guardian, or an authorized agent of these individuals
Attorneys-at-law, title examiners, or members of legally incorporated genealogical societies conducting their official duties
A person requiring information to determine or protect a personal or property right
A person who has been granted a court order instructing the registrar to provide the document
Firms, agencies, or individuals requesting information for commercial purposes are not considered to have direct and tangible interest.