Does a copy of a marriage certificate from the GRO in the UK count as a "certified copy" in the US?

We were married in the UK in 2015 and my wife needs to get her name changed on her passport. The US passport authorities says you need a marriage certificate or “certified copy” (and that a notarized copy does not count as “certified”).

We don’t really want to mail our original marriage certificate and risk it getting lost, so how do we get a “certified” copy of a UK marriage certificate? There doesn’t seem to be any documentation as to what “certified” means in this context. If can get a copy from the UK General Register Office ( would that could as “certified”? Has anyone been able to get “certified” copy of a foreign marriage certificate that the US authorities recognized? If so how?

A certified document means one with a raised, embossed seal.

A minor point perhaps, but the GRO link in your OP only applies if you got married in England or Wales. If you got married in Scotland or Northern Ireland you’ll need to contact the local equivalent.

Thanks. Is that a general definition? Or specific to passports and such?

Yeah it was in England (in my home town)

I don’t know if it’s a “legal” definition, but when I got a certified copy of my birth certificate, it was a photostat copy that was embossed with the registrar’s official seal.

I’ve never had it questioned by any bureaucrat.

The primary record of your marriage is the entry in the register maintained by the General Register Office. That never leaves the office.

A “certificate” is a statement issued by an official of the General Register Office. It’ll be signed by an official of the GRO to certify that it’s a true copy of an entry in the register.

Every such certificate issued by the GRO and signed by one of their officials is an “original certificate”. You can have as many original certificates as you like, and you don’t have to worry about losing them because you can always get more.

A copy of such a certificate would be a copy that you made yourself, by photocopying an original issued by the GRO. Obviously, such a copy is not acceptable to the US passport authorities.

A “certified copy”, in general English usage, would be a copy of a document which some responsible and creditworthy person (such as an attorney) has compared to the original, and on which he has endorsed a certificate saying, e.g., “I certify that I have compared this with the original and I find it to be a true copy”. That’s probably what the US calls a “notarized copy”, and evidently it’s not acceptable for passport purposes either.

Confusion may arise because, while a marriage certificate issued by the GRO is an original certificate, it’s also a certified copy of an entry in the register - the official who signs it does so to certify that it accurately sets out the details contained in the register. So people may loosely talk of it as a “certified copy of a marriage certificate”, even though that’s not strictly correct.

So, apply to the GRO for a copy of your marriage certificate. (You can apply online. There’ ll be a fee to be paid) The document you get will be headed “CERTIFIED COPy of an ENTRY OF MARRIAGE”. It will look something like this. Send that document off to the US passport authorities. You should be fine.

Thanks! Dopers nail it again.