As a wedding planner, I get many of marriage-related questions. One surprising topic I am frequently asked about is the name-change process after saying the big “I do.” Your newlywed bliss can quickly come to an end when it comes time to begin the dreaded task of changing your last name. The good news? You’ve made it through planning a wedding — this will be a piece of cake! In this post, I’ve outlined the process in easy step-by-step phases below. Soon enough you’ll be an official “Mrs.”!
Easy Steps to legally change your name after marriage
Photo by Erika Brown Photography
STEP 1: THE BASICS
Take care of the three basics (Marriage Certificate, Social Security card and Driver’s License.) as soon as possible. Once you get these out of the way, changing your name on any other legal documents, accounts, or records will be much easier. The initial process of obtaining these documents can take up to two months to complete so make these your first priority.
(WHAT YOU NEED: Marriage license)
You’re married! Congratulations! Now, the marriage license you signed post-nuptials needs to go to your local courthouse. Your wedding officiant will often take care of this part for you, but you may have to do it yourself. You can get a copy of your marriage certificate at the courthouse (or from them via mail) after they receive your marriage license.
SOCIAL SECURITY CARD
(WHAT YOU NEED: Marriage certificate, your old Social Security card and current form of I.D.)
Unless you feel comfortable mailing in the originals of all of the important documents you need to present, plan on bringing these items to your local Social Security office. You should also be prepared to wait in line for up to an hour or two, depending on the location of your Social Security office. It will come in handy to get a head start on the process by printing Form SS-5 and filling it out before you go in.
DRIVER’S LICENSE OR STATE I.D.
(WHAT YOU NEED: Marriage certificate)
Head to your local BMV to take care of this one; it can’t be done via mail or online. All you need to bring is your marriage certificate to prove that your wedding did in fact happen. Be sure to update your vehicle title while there. Also, if you’re applying for a REAL ID, you’ll need an updated Social Security card (so do that first!), proof of your residency, your old identification card, and your marriage certificate.
STEP 2: VERY IMPORTANT DETAILS
You’ve taken the steps to make your name change official. Now you can get to updating all those very important financial and logistical details.
To inform the US Postal Service of your name change, you can fill out a Change of Address form. You can do this online or stop by your local post office. The USPS website asks that if you are changing your address and receiving mail under more than one name (in this case, your maiden name and your married name) you should fill out two different forms for each name. You will probably have mail coming to you under both your maiden and married name for some time, so it’s best to be sure the post office is aware of any name you currently or used to go by.
BANK ACCOUNTS, CREDIT CARDS, LOANS and INVESTMENTS
Each of your financial institutions and credit card companies may have different policies for proving your legal name change. The easiest way to do this is to go to one of your bank’s branch locations or call the customer service number on your credit card. In addition to changing the name on your accounts you’ll need to ask for new checks and new cards.
When you head to your local license center to update your I.D., do yourself a favor and save an extra trip by updating your vehicle title too. To manage your insurance policy you will need to get in touch with your provider. Every company is different and may require specific forms for you to fill out.
HEALTH (medical, dental, etc.)
You will need to update your name on your medical records. Get in touch with your medical insurance provider and find out what they require for an official name change. Don’t forget your chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, or any other specialist you see regularly.
Be sure to inform HR of your name change. You will need to fill out an updated W-4 form. Also, depending on where you work, you will need to update your name to accommodate your work presence. Are you a teacher? Let your students know you go by a different name now. Wear a name badge? Get a new one! Have business cards or stationary? Get those updated too.
Most companies include a section on their bills for information to be updated. You can opt to fill in your new name and mail in a photo copy of your marriage certificate. Or, you can call the number on your statement. Larger utility companies typically have an area for you to update your information within your account settings.
Be sure you have updated your information with the Social Security Administration before filing your next tax return. They should inform the IRS of your name change within 10 days of updating your Social Security information. However, you can file the IRS 8822 form for free to ensure they know of your new married name. It may be well worth the 5 minutes of effort to avoid any tax and/or tax return snags stemming from having two different names.
To update your U.S. passport there are different forms required, depending on how long ago your passport was issued. Luckily, you don’t have to stand in any long lines for this one; you can just mail everything in! The State Department takes approximately 5 weeks to process and issue new passports. So, time your filing with your scheduled international travel. Also, if you’re sad to lose your previous passport memories, don’t worry. Your old passport with two holes stamped through it will be returned along with your new passport.
It’s a good idea to wait to change your name officially until after the honeymoon. A legal name change can take several weeks, therefore be sure to book your honeymoon flight in your maiden name to avoid travel issues.
Every vote counts, so updating your name after marriage on your voter registration is important. Generally, if you are already registered to vote and have not moved outside of the county you were already registered in, you can provide proof of I.D. and your updated Social Security card to get the job done. If you have moved outside of your formerly registered county, you will need to re-register to vote.
Doctors, nurses, pilots, lawyers, and any other person with a professional license must contact the board that issues the license to request a name change after marriage on their certificate.
STEP 3: PERSONAL DETAILS
Once you have the most important stuff updated, it’s time to tackle the smaller things. Your name appears in more places than you’d think, so you may want to begin a spreadsheet and start creating a list. Here are some details to be begin brainstorming.
- Loyalty programs (airlines, hotels, retail stores, etc.)
- TSA PreCheck
- Memberships (Sam’s Club, Costco)
- Email accounts
- Social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram)
- Other online accounts (PayPal, Venmo, etc.)
- Gyms/fitness studios
- Alumni associations
Whew! You did it! You’ve got a lot going on in your life! There are surely other things that may require you to give an update of your name, but hopefully this list gave you a good idea of just how thorough a process changing your name can be. Congratulations on your new title!
Photo by Wright Photographs