In Quebec, there are two types of documents that prove and make official a couple’s marriage: the copy of an act of marriage and the marriage certificate. Although these two documents are linked to marriage, there are differences between them.
These two official documents, both issued by the Directeur de l’état civil du Québec, are often confused, but the main difference lies in the amount of information on the document.
The certificate contains an extract of the information contained in the act entered in the register.
A copy of an act is a complete reproduction of the information contained in the act entered in the register.
Information on the marriage certificate:
Surname, usual first name, other first names of the spouses, date, and place of birth of both spouse, date and place of marriage, registration number, document number (since March 29, 2005), date of issue and, if applicable, the mention entered on the record since it was drawn up.
Some information may be missing if the event took place before 1994.
Information on the copy of an act of marriage:
As a copy of an act of marriage is a faithful and complete reproduction of the couple’s original act of marriage, as recorded at the time of the celebration of their union, the document contains more information than the marriage certificate. Note that this document may contain information relating to several civil status events. Some information may be missing if one of the events took place before 1994.
Thus, the copy of an act of marriage, in addition to the information included in the marriage certificate, includes information such as the date of birth of both spouses, the names of their parents, the names of the persons who signed as witnesses during the celebration of the matrimonial union and the name of the civil registrar who performed the marriage.
Certificate or copy of an act: which document do you need?
On its website, the Directeur de l’état civil du Québec asks: “Do you really need a copy of an act of marriage?”
The certificate contains the main information from the record in the register that is required by the majority of organisations to which it is submitted. It is issued at a lower cost when normal processing is required. If you are asked for a copy of an act, the certificate may be sufficient. Find out more.
It also points out:
“There are inherent risks in holding multiple certificates or copies of an act in circulation. Consequently, when a large number of certificates or copies of an act are requested, or when these documents are the subject of repeated requests, the Directeur de l’état civil du Québec may require additional information or documents justifying these requests.
Furthermore, in order to avoid having to submit several requests for certificates or copies of acts to the Directeur de l’état civil, the applicant may ask the organisation to which he or she gives a certificate or copy of act to return the document to him or her so that he or she can use it again”.
For more information, consult your notary, who may have performed your civil marriage.Contact us now!