A marriage certificate (sometimes: marriage lines) is an official statement that two people are married. In most jurisdictions, a marriage certificate is issued by a government official only after the civil registration of the marriage.
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In some jurisdictions, especially in the United States, a marriage certificate is the official record that two people have undertaken a marriage ceremony. This includes jurisdictions where marriage licenses do not exist. In other jurisdictions, a marriage license serves a dual purpose of granting permission for a marriage to take place and then endorsing the same document to record the fact that the marriage has been performed.
A marriage certificate may be required for a number of reasons. It may be required as evidence of change of a party's name, on issues of legitimacy of a child, during divorce proceedings, or as part of a genealogical history, besides other purposes.