Marriage certificates are often used interchangeably with marriage licenses. Both are basically a piece of paper that allows a regulatory authority, either church or state or both to certify that two people have gotten married. Some people often wonder why a marriage certificate is even important if they are blissfully cohabiting or just living with one another. They feel it is not worth the hassle of getting a marriage certificate as it is just a legal formality.
However, there are several cases where by getting married and having a marriage certificate to prove it you can help your partner or your children if the case may be. Insurance policies may require a marriage certificate if you want your significant other to be a beneficiary on your policy. In case something happens to you, if there is a legal document like a marriage certificate that shows she is married to you, she and your children can cash the policy and pay off bills or just live more comfortably. Without marriage certificates, doing such paperwork can be very cumbersome.
Marriage certificates can also come in handy when you travel as some countries require visitors insurance and you and your spouse can be son the same family policy if you have a marriage license. Even for health insurance policies within the US, it is always cheaper to get a family plan rather than individual policies for each member unless it is provided by the employer for no charge.
If you get married in a foreign country and come back to the US, you may need to get the marriage certificate translated if it is in a different language. If your husband, for instance is a US citizen and he marries you in Romania or India, you need to get the marriage certificate translated into English in order to apply for a US visa so that you can accompany him to the States.
Like birth certificates, marriage documents too can make a big difference in home ownership paperwork, insurance and health matters and life and death as well. Just as you would take care of your social security card, passport, birth certificates and the deed to your home, you should handle the marriage certificate with great care too. Ideally keep such papers in a fire proof box at home or in a bank safe so that you need not go through the hassle of replacing them if in case there is a natural disaster like a flood or fire or a burglary.