A marriage certificate is vital for identification before settlement.

How a lost marriage certificate can cost a seller thousands

A recent settlement case has underscored the importance of having the appropriate identification documents ready before settlement. In this case, a lost marriage certificate has threatened to cost a seller thousands in penalty interest.

Eva Spritz (name changed) bought property before marrying overseas and changing her name to Eva Lancaster. Since marrying, she obtained a British passport in her married name, Lancaster.

Between her marriage date and now, however, Eva’s marriage certificate was accidentally destroyed, leaving her with only a photocopy.

Now that Eva is selling her property, she must satisfy Landgate’s identification requirements, which require that sellers provide all documentation listed in one of their five categories. But because the Certificate of Title and her passport are in different names, she’s required to provide a marriage certificate or change of name document.

Without the marriage certificate, Eva can’t satisfy the identification requirements – and can’t proceed to settlement.

To remedy the situation, we’ve applied to the region she was married in to have the certificate re-issued, which could take as long as six weeks. Each day, this delay will cost her over $200 in penalty interest, adding up to thousands over the course of the six weeks.

In the meantime, we’ve taken other measures, such as suggesting that Eva take her identification to Landgate and ask them in person to certify the marriage certificate photocopy. But if these measures fail, she will still face a six-week delay.

This situation could have been avoided if her real estate agent, when they identified Eva, had noted that her driver’s license and passport were in different names, and asked her if she had the documentation to support the name change. Had it been found that she did not, the offer could have been made conditional upon her obtaining the necessary documentation – potentially saving her thousands in penalty interest.

To avoid a similar situation: be aware of the identification requirements you need to fulfill in order to satisfy Landgate and to proceed to settlement.