The planning may be over, but the name-change? Where to start! Those forms? That line – ugh! But just remember, you’re married, and you’re happy, and this is all part of starting your new life together. Though figuring out how to change your last name after marriage can be time consuming, it won’t feel as daunting if you study-up and know what you’re in for. So if you’re assuming your spouse’s last name, hyphenating, or moving your maiden name to the middle, worry not! This step-by-step guide will set your fears aside and will make the process as easy as possible.
How Common is it to Change Your Name After Marriage?
While the numbers have fluctuated the past few decades, most women will change their name after they get married. According to Professor Deborah Carr of the Center for Innovation in Social Science at Boston University, “20% to 30% of women retain their name” in the United States.
While it’s still more common to change your name than not, it’s important to remember the decision is up to you. If you’re having second thoughts (or know that you don’t want to change your name in the first place) sit down with your partner and talk about how you’re feeling.
There are several options available to couples might wish to take different approach to the whole “changing your last name” tradition. The husband can choose to take his wife’s last name, or both partners can choose a hyphenated last name, or a new one altogether.
Another thing to consider is how you want your last name change to take effect. For instance I decided to drop the middle name I was born with, and I made my maiden name my middle name, and my husband’s name became mine. I really liked the idea of keeping a part of “me,” and that was the right decision for my situation.
No matter what you decide, just know that there’s no wrong answer!
Need wedding planning help? Our wedding e-book will teach you everything you need to know!
How to Change Your Last Name After Marriage
If you do decide you want to change your last name after you get married, there are a few steps you’ll need to take in order to make that happen. While the process might be slightly different in the state you live in, these steps below are typically the same if you want to make a legal name change. Just know this: There will be paperwork. But don’t worry, it’s not a ton! And in the end you’ll have a new last name.
Before you start the process, consider these tips from Genevieve Davis, founder of Easy Name Change.
There’s no time frame to get your name changed over, so it’s ok to enjoy that newlywed buzz a little longer and shelve the paperwork till you’re ready! However when you do decide to change names, make an effort to get everything changed at the same time or it can cause difficulties when changing jobs, banking checks or applying for finance.
Changing your name starts with a thorough checklist of companies to be notified. Use a quality name change service to get the checklist created for you. If doing it yourself allocate 6 hours over a few days to get all the research done first, then allocate time to get all the paperwork done at once. This will save you from a feeling of never-ending paperwork.
Practice that signature! Don’t get caught inventing one at the DMV with 20 people waiting impatiently behind you! You can get all your paperwork done before you go to the DMV, so you’ve had plenty of practice.
Step 1: Obtain a Social Security Card with Your New Name
The entire name change process starts with the social security office. You can start your application online on the Social Security website where you’ll answer a few basic questions such as date of birth, where you were born, and your social security number. Once you submit your request online, you must visit your local Social Security Office within 45 days of your request.
They’ll provide you a list of what you’ll need to bring to your appointment, however the two most important items will be:
This is what you receive after you’re legally wed. Typically your officiant will file for a certified marriage certificate, and will have a certain number of days to do that depending on the rules of your state. One important thing to note is you’ll want to obtain certified copies of your marriage certificate. You can purchase them through your county clerk’s office, or through a site like Vital Records.
Proof of identity/citizenship
You’ll need to bring a U.S. Driver’s License, U.S. Passport, or state-issued non-driver identification card. Remember that you can’t bring a copy of this, it needs to be the original. You may also be required to bring in your birth certificate, so have that on hand as well.
After you fill out the request online and make your in-person appointment, you will be issued a new social security card with your new name within 14 days typically. Remember that your social security number will stay the same, only the name on your card will change.
WGM Says: When booking your appointment, opt for mid-morning time slots if possible. It tends to get busy around lunch time and there can be longer waits.
Step 2: Update Your Driver’s License and Passport
Once you have your new social security card, you’ll be able to forge ahead with changing everything else that has your old name on it…most importantly your drivers’ license and passport. The reason why we recommend waiting to start the name change process on these forms of ID until after your honeymoon is because the process of getting a new license or passport can take a big longer. If it did take longer than expected, you might get stuck not being able to fly or travel internationally because your ID’s no longer match you new name. So, keep that in mind!
How to Change Your Name on Your Driver’s License:
While requirements vary state-by-state, most DMV’s will require you to update a name change in person. Once there, you’ll have to present documents to prove your identity as well as name change. (For instance, your marriage certificate.) However, if you get your passport changed first (more on that below) then you do not need additional name change documents. Plan on bringing:
1. Primary Identification:
- U.S. birth certificate, including some U.S. territories and District of Columbia (birth certificates from Puerto Rico must have an issue date after July 1, 2010);
- Valid U.S. passport or passport card;
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad;
- Certificate of Naturalization, form N-550 or form N-570; or
- Certificate of Citizenship, form N-560 or form N-561.
2. Proof of Social Security:
- Social Security card (with your new name);
- W-2 form (not handwritten);
- SSA-1099; or
- Any 1099 (not handwritten)
3. Proof of Residential Address:
Note that you cannot use your current driver’s license as proof of your address. Instead, you’ll need two from a list of possible choices, such as:
- Deed, mortgaged, or lease agreement
- Utility bill
- Voter registration card
- Florida vehicle registration
WGM Says: As soon as your driver’s license name is updated in the system, any vehicle registration with your name in that state will automatically update.
How to Change Your Name on Your Passport:
Depending on when your passport was first issued, you may be able to request a name change by mail. You can find the full instructions via the passport office, however documents you may be asked to mail might include:
- Form DS-82
- Your most recent U.S. passport
- Your original or certified name change document, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order
- One color passport photo
- Fees, which are different depending on your age
Step 3: Change Your Name on Your Bank Account and Credit Cards
Once you’ve got your updated ID’s, you can begin to start the name change process on everything else.
Most banks will still require that you visit them in person at your local branch. There, you might be asked to bring your marriage certificate, along with updated photo id (like that new driver’s license or passport you just received!).
You’ll also want to make sure you update any other financial institutions you keep money with, be they an investment fund that handles your 401k’s and IRA’s as well as any other savings accounts or stock portfolios.
This process can typically be done online, but every credit card company is different. Expect to have to provide scans or mail copies of your new photo id’s as well as marriage certificate.
Step 4: Contact Your Employer/Update Your Payroll
Let your employer know about your official name change, so they can help guide you through any changes or documentation they’ll need for your payroll.
Step 5: Update Your Insurance/Utilities
You’ll also need to notify your health insurance company as well as auto insurance and life insurance as well if you have it. This process. is typically pretty easy and can be amended online, but be sure to find out what the specific policies are for your insurance companies.
Next, don’t forget your utilities such as your electric, gas, and cable, which typically allow you to easily change your name online.
Step 6: Change Your Social Media Accounts
It’s around this time that you’ll want to decide how you want to be known professionally and personally. For instance if you’re a writer who wants to keep their byline their maiden name, then you would keep that name the same on your LinkedIn profile. You might also choose to do the same on your Instagram and Facebook. This part is completely up to you!
On a personal note, I will say that it’s easier if you stay consistent in your choice, whatever that might be. For instance, I initially thought I would just keep my maiden name professionally as well as some social media accounts. Because of that I ended up getting confused which was which. For instance, I was somehow using my maiden name on my Resy account and married name on my OpenTable account, so when I would make restaurant reservations I would forget which name it was under. I eventually ended up using my full married name on all social accounts as well as professionally/personally just to make things easier.
Not sure if you want to change your name after marriage? Read what these brides did here!