357 Comments

Congratulations on getting married! Congratulations on getting through the ceremony and dealing with all of the details that that sort of thing entails! Congratulations on joining your lives and starting off on this new adventure! Congratulations on all of the other cliché things that people are saying are happening to you right now! You're probably sick of hearing them, but they are still true. In fact, at this moment it is likely that you are so sick of wedding stuff that you don't ever want to hear the words "wedding", "ceremony" "bride" "groom" "decision" or "but what about… " ever again.

You probably just want it to all be done.

You've probably (hopefully) had a fantastic time on your honeymoon and now you are ready to just settle into the business of your regular routine again. Sure you've got some thank you notes to write but that has to be it, right? And really, you can do those in the evenings after work.

Not so fast!

Before you toss your tired body on to your couch, kick up your feet and declare yourself done, are you sure that you've taken care of all of the details that go into getting married? After all, the wedding and the thank you notes are just a part of it. There are also some legal things that need to be taken care of. For one thing, if you didn't keep your name, you have to make sure that you have your name legally changed on… well, as exhausting as it sounds, everything.

How Exactly Do I Change My Name?

First things first: you need to get a certified copy of your marriage certificate. This can usually be done by visiting your local records office and requesting a certified copy. It shouldn't take long for them to get it printed out and stamped for you. You might order a couple of them, just to keep your bases covered. They aren't usually expensive to have printed out for you.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The fancy looking certificate that you signed at your wedding doesn't actually count as your marriage certificate. That is just for you to put up at home. The legal document you signed and turned in when you applied for your marriage license and that your officiant had to sign and turn in after the ceremony are what make your marriage legal and will result in the production of a marriage certificate. You probably already know that, but it seemed like a good idea to include that here, just in case.

The good news is that, in most states, all you have to do to change your name is decide what your name will be after you get married and include that on your marriage license. This isn't always the case, though. In some states you are still going to need to go in to the courthouse, with your certified marriage certificate, and meet with a judge to get the process finalized.

Once you've gotten your name legally changed and you have official and certified proof of the change you are ready to get rolling.

Changing Your Name: The Steps

There are three major steps involved in changing your name.

Step One: The List

First you need to make a list of everything that you have under your non-married name. This is going to get overwhelming and quickly. It is possible that you have things listed under your name that you've forgotten about. That's okay. For now, let's start with what you can remember.

Typically your list will include things like:

  • Your ID/Driver's License
  • Your Social Security Card
  • Your Passport
  • Your HR Information at Work
  • Your Bank Account
  • Credit Card Accounts
  • Your rental agreement/Mortgage agreement
  • The title and registration for your vehicle (if you have one)
  • Your Library Card
  • Your Gym Membership
  • Store Discount Cards
  • Magazine Subscriptions
  • Online Profiles
  • Any other thing you can think of

Step Two: Prioritize

Obviously it is going to be more important to change some of these things than others. Your legal identification (driver's license or ID card), and your social security card should be at the top of that list.

This is usually because, to have your name changed on other documents and accounts, you will need these things to display your new name as proof of your new "identity." In some instances the marriage certificate itself is good enough because it will contain your pre-marriage name. In other cases, however, like with gym memberships, prescriptions, etc—you will need a new legal photo ID to get that done.

Step Three: Take Action

While you are waiting to receive your new social security cards and photo IDs (this can take longer in some states than in others. In New York it can take a month. In Oregon it takes about a week), you can get the ball rolling with your employer and at places like your bank. These typically will accept the temporary ID issued to you by the DMV as well as your marriage certificate as proof of the name change.

When you have your new photo ID and social security card, you can start to change things like the name on your library card, your gym membership and the name on your credit cards.

How Long Does This All Take, Anyway?

This is going to take some time to complete, especially if you try to do it all by yourself. You can probably get to the DMV and the Social Security Administration in a day, depending on where you live and how busy these offices are.

It might also be worth it to change the name on your vehicle registration and title while you are at the DMV changing your name on your license.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You are allowed to mail in your marriage certificate and other information to the Social Security Administration to get a new social security card, it is just a longer waiting process for the new card when you do it this way.

From there it is mostly about how much time you have each day to devote to changing your name. You are going to have to pay a visit to your bank to have your name changed on your accounts and, potentially to order new checks (though this can be done at any time online). The same is true if you have a mortgage or auto loan—you'll have to pay a visit to those lenders to change your name with them.

Other things, like changing your name on your credit cards will need to be done through the mail or by faxing in a copy of your marriage certificate. You can do a few of these things each day so that it doesn't seem overwhelming.

Wow! That's a Lot of Work

It truly is a lot of work to change your name. Like planning a wedding, making sure you get it all done means being organized and making sure that you've got everything written down and a centralized location in which you can track your progress on each place in which you need to change your name.

The Good News

The good news is that changing your name doesn't have to be a completely overwhelming process. It's really just a matter of getting all of your ducks in a row and then just going down your list.

The Better News

There are some really great online tools that will help you streamline this process. This very website you're reading, for one, offers you a centralized online portal through which to track every thing you do not need to do live and in person. It offers you a simple step-by-step form in which to input your information and then you can print out the forms you need for each type of name change. It can even help you get through the submission process.

Hey That Sounds Like a Sales Pitch

It isn't. It is up to you to figure out how to do the work of getting your name changed. If you prefer to take care of all of the details yourself and feel more comfortable that way (type A's, we're looking at you), that's fine. It is definitely an option. If you don't have the time or inclination to do every little part yourself and in person, tools like our online name change service can be of major assistance in guiding you through the name change procedure.

To Sum Up

Changing your name is a huge process. Don't let anybody lie to you and tell you that it is easy. It is one of those things that, just when you think you've got everything done, you find a new account or a new piece of mail arrives that is still in your old name. It can be frustrating.

What matters is that you will get through it. Much like planning and carrying out your wedding, changing your name is something that you are more than capable of doing. It might not seem like it now but you had moments when you were sure you'd never get your wedding planned, right? You got through that! You can definitely get through this.

After all, what matters now is that you are married and you are starting a brand new adventure (stop gagging; it is true, you know that it is true and you love that it is true. It's okay to admit it)!

357 Comments

  1. Maureen Wilkinson

    Hi again, I just found this comment on another website, "I know how confusing that Social Security name change can be. Some forms say that you need to have your new name on your marriage license/certificate in order to change your name. I thought that meant that the marriage license had to show my name with both my maiden name and the married name I’d like to have. What it really means is that your marriage license just has to have the name you want to change yours to on it. So as long as your husband’s last name is on the cert. and that’s what you want to change it to, then you’re all set."
    Is this true? Or do I still have to petition the court? I live in Georgia.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maureen. This is true for some states and not others. Some states have a slot for the new name, some don't. If the application has a name after marriage area that you don't intend to abide by, there's a higher likelihood you may face difficulty with state agencies (such as the driver's license office) getting your name changed to something other than what was originally specified. Some applications directly state this "may" be a possibility, so it's not written in stone.

      Reply
  2. Jill

    We got married several years ago. Our certificate has my maiden name. I don't see a space where I could have indicated my preferred new name. I live in Florida. I'm concerned that I may run into a problem when I attempt to change my maiden name to my married name. What do you think? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jill. You should be fine. Not every state provides a space to specify a name change on the marriage license, which would subsequently be reflected on the certificate.

      Reply
  3. diane milner

    Diane 11 july 17
    Please help I was divorced from my first husbands in uk and then married to my second husband in Navada on our marriage licence I put my first husbands name as my maiden name does this mean we are not married? Can I change it to my maiden/ birth name

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Diane. You're fine. You don't need to do anything, but if it's bothering you, you can contact the Nevada county recorder's office to request an amendment to your certificate. But those aren't usually granted unless there's a mistake on the part of the clerk.

      Reply
  4. Christina

    I have my mom's maiden name as my middle name if I get married and decide to change my name to his. Do I still gonna have my mom's maiden name on ss, bmv. I would just like to have my future husband name and remove my mom's name

    Reply
  5. wendy

    Hi,
    I just got married in NY and have changed my name to my husband's last name on the certificate. Will I need to change it to my new surname with the social security office before change it with the NY DMV or will they just accept the marriage certificate as proof of change?

    Separately, once I change my name with social security, will that affect my passport? I have a few years left on my passport and would rather not change that just yet because my travel and frequent flier accounts all have my maiden name and we are traveling abroad for our honeymoon at the end of the year.

    Thank you for your help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will I need to change it to my new surname with the social security office before change it with the NY DMV or will they just accept the marriage certificate as proof of change?

      You'll need to do your social first.

      Separately, once I change my name with social security, will that affect my passport?

      No, you can continue to use your current passport. Carry the original or certified copy of your marriage certificate with you when traveling to answer questions about name inconsistencies between your driver's license and passport.

      Reply
      1. wendy

        Thank you Valera – I actually just returned from the DMV and they let me change my name without the SSN change! very strange, but glad that it saves me a trip back! Appreciate the response!

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Great news Wendy. Thanks for coming back to share your experience.

          Reply
  6. Kacie

    Hi Valera!

    I know many ppl asked practically the same question, but I'm still not 100% comprehending….

    On my marriage certificate I had my maiden name moved to my middle and switched his last name to my last name. FIRST, MAIDEN, HIS

    I do not plan on changing any of my documents to reflect the marriage certificate with his last name (SS, drivers license, bank, passport, etc.)

    What will my "legal" name be then, aka the name I sign legal documents? Will it be first middle maiden? First maiden his?

    If my legal name is still my previous First Middle Maiden, then what would the name on the certificate matter/be used for?

    Thanks soooooo much!!!! So glad I found this thread. :)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I do not plan on changing any of my documents to reflect the marriage certificate with his last name (SS, drivers license, bank, passport, etc.)

      What will my "legal" name be then, aka the name I sign legal documents? Will it be first middle maiden? First maiden his?

      It'll still be first middle maiden.

      If my legal name is still my previous First Middle Maiden, then what would the name on the certificate matter/be used for?

      It won't be used for anything.

      Reply
  7. tracy smith

    I have kept my married name for years now even after my divorce. I am getting married next month and want to change my name back to my maiden name and hyphenate it with my new married name. How can I do that?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tracy. It can depend on the state. While all allow hyphenation, only some will allow hyphenation with a previous name. If you're not certain, you can contact the office which issues marriage licenses to determine what your options are.

      Reply
  8. Debbie

    If I use both my current ;last name ( which is my divorced name I kept because of children) and my new married name on the marriage license do I have to change all my legal documentation? ( SS#, driver license ( Calif), bank accts, credit cards, etc). I have been divorced for over 25 years and have had my divorced last name longer than my maiden name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      do I have to change all my legal documentation? ( SS#, driver license ( Calif), bank accts, credit cards, etc)

      No, you don't have to make any change. You can keep your name as-is and unchanged.

      Reply
      1. Debbie

        Thank you, but I can use his name for informal situations, not legal ones, correct?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          but I can use his name for informal situations, not legal ones, correct?

          Certainly.

          Reply
  9. Stefanie

    Hello,
    I recently got married back in July and I had originally hyphenated my name. I'm now wanting to take just his name but I got married in Hawaii and we are stationed in California. We're both active duty military and I have to change my uniform to my legal name. How can I go about getting my name changed to just his? Will I have to file a petition?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Stefanie. Did you already change your name with the SSA and driver's license office? If so, you'll have to petition the court.

      Reply
  10. NANCY

    On my marriage license I signed it husband last name then mine. my question is when I go to change my last name do I have to change as that or can I do it mine then his? I was just gonna take his but last minute I ended up signing my maiden name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nancy. You mentioned "signature", but name change goes by the printed portion of the application. For the printed portion, it can vary by state and how flexible the various agencies (especially the driver's license office) are in allowing you to change the sequence. Some states require the name change to be as it was originally spelled out.

      Reply
  11. Renee

    Hi Valera,
    I have a double last name (so my maiden name, then my husband's last name, with no hyphen). I've already changed my SS card, driver's license, etc. We're planning on going to the Caribbean for our one year anniversary very shortly. Do I need to apply for the new passport for a name change to take the trip, or will my current passport with just my maiden name on it suffice?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Renee. Your current passport will suffice as long as you make sure it matches the name on your tickets. You can change your name on your passport after your trip.

      Reply
  12. Q

    Me & my wife got married in Philadelphia but we moved right after to South Carolina, she didn't change her name but would like too can she still change it even though we moved to another state?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      she didn't change her name but would like too can she still change it even though we moved to another state?

      Yes, residency doesn't impact whether or not she can change her name.

      Reply
      1. Mike

        I have a similar situation. We live in California, but plan to get married in DC (with small official ceremony) and then have larger ceremony a few days later in Virginia. Both my fiance and I plan on changing our names (bride change last name, groom change middle name). Can we change our names in California, or do we need to do this in DC (where we got married)? I ask, because California is easier to change names for males.

        Reply
  13. Alex

    Hi,
    So I have a kind of complicated situation. My wife and I are residents of Alaska, but we got married in Arkansas a month ago. She has changed her social security card. We need to get her name changed on her Drivers License. The problem is that I am in the military, and she will not be able to get up to Alaska for quite some time. So we are in Arkansas, and wondering how she can change her name on her Alaska Drivers license. Really worried she will have to just get her drivers license in Arkansas, but we want her to maintain her residency in Alaska. Anything will help. Thanks.

    Reply
  14. Alexandra

    Hello,

    We filled out our marriage certificate with me taking my now fiance's last name. How long after the wedding ceremony do I have to go through all the legal steps (social security, etc) to change my last name? We are taking our honeymoon a little later after the wedding, about 2 months, so I would like to wait until then so I dont have to deal with getting a new passport, ID, and changing the airline tickets.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      We are taking our honeymoon a little later after the wedding, about 2 months, so I would like to wait until then so I dont have to deal with getting a new passport, ID, and changing the airline tickets.

      You can wait until later to change it, when it's more convenient.

      Reply
  15. Karen

    We got married in California in 2004. Traveled and lived abroad and this year we've just moved to my husband's home state. To change my name now can I do this from Ohio BMV, Ohio SS office etc..as long as I have the CA marriage license in hand? I'm making a trip to CA soon and wonder if there's a benefit to starting the process in CA? Would it be beneficial to do the name change before I apply for an Ohio drivers license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Karen. With a certified copy of your CA marriage certificate, do Ohio SS then BMV.

      Reply
  16. Bri Schleining

    Hello, my husband and I have been married over a year and I have changed my last name on every document except SSC there was a misspelling of my first name (by one letter) on our marriage license and I was not able to change it on my social. Will everything be ok as long as I use my maiden name for jobs and such?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Bri. Well, that would be the name to use as it matches the name on your SS card. You're in a situation where the choice has been made for you due to a lack of options. For your workplace, they'll want your legal name. For payroll, taxes, they'll want the name they use to match what's attached to your SSN.

      If the name misspelling on your marriage certificate was an error on the clerk's part, have you tried to get it corrected? You can typically get such documents amended after the fact, if clerk's office is the one who erred.

      Reply
  17. Tsveta

    Hello Valera,

    My husband and I have been married for two years. I have been putting off changing my name, but it is time. We are from Atlanta, GA and got married in Cobb County.
    My marriage license has my maiden name. I have the original, and an extra copy with the seal.
    Where do I go from now? I keep reading something about petitioning the court and having to run something in our local newspaper? Or needing a marriage license with the new last name.
    Please help.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tsveta. Just make sure your marriage certificate is the original or certified copy. Take it to the SS office to change your name, then to the GA DDS.

      Reply
  18. Jeff

    Hi – we could really use some help. My wife and I were married in Indiana a little over 10 years ago. We she took my last name but we never changed it with Social Security. Until 8/13/16 she had a valid drivers license in her new married name (Mine) here in Colorado. Her driver license expired and when we went renew, the CO DMV said that her name doesn't match. She now doesn't have an identifying document (UNEXPIRED Drivers LIcense) and doesn't seem to have anything else that qualifies. Seems like we are in unresolvable situation. Any help greatly appreciated!
    Jeff

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jeff. If your wife were to petition the court for a name change, the resulting court order would satisfy the Colorado DMV.

      Reply
  19. Katherine

    Hi,
    I recently got married and want to mail all my documents to the ss office (in IL). Its says it needs me drivers license, can I send a photocopy of it in? Thank you!
    From, Katherine

    Reply
  20. Jem

    Hello Valera,

    I married 5 years ago in Hawaii and on my marriage certificate I claimed my maiden name. Now I would like to take my husband's last name for all legal documents. My question is do I need to file a petition for a name change or am I able show my marriage certificate to the SS office to legally change my last name?

    Thank you so much!

    Reply
  21. Nicole

    This is probably the dumbest question ever, but I have to ask beforehand. I just got married on Saturday and we received our marriage certificate in the mail today. I opted to change my name so I am filling out the paperwork for DMV and Social Security before I take the trip to the offices. I got all of the papers filled out and then got to the signature line. Do I sign my new married name or is it not official until I go through the Social Security change? I just don't know which name to sign on the social security paperwork.

    Reply
  22. Diana Delacruz

    I got married last week and on the marriage lisence I put my husband's name as my new surname. Can I ise a hyphenated version even if its not on the certificate. I live in NYC

    Reply
  23. Bernard

    We are both American Citizens and plan to get into a same-sex marriage in California. We want to create our new Middle Name by combining our pen names. Will it be allowed on the marriage license application?

    Reply
      1. Bernard

        If that's the case,
        Before we get married in California, is it okay to Petition Name Change (our Middle Names) at the Court and that We BOTH put the the new Middle Name we would like to use together? What's the best route just so we can have a new middle name that we can share as a couple?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Bernard. Yes, that would work. The court order would be sufficient for you to change your name before marriage.

          Reply
  24. Kelsey Thomas.

    I got married on January 20th, of this year. I would like to know if, I go to change my name right now, will the Virginia DMV change my name to my married name, with me using my marriage certificate? I wanted to get a Photo ID, because I wanted to go hunting with my husband. I can't go hunting with him, because I need a photo ID showing my married name. They've changed that. Now, I have my social security card, that still shows my maiden name. So, how could I go about changing my social security card and my name and get a photo ID? I believe I would need a photo ID of some sort to be able to change my social security card name. But, I would need my maiden name put on the photo ID to have my name changed to my married name wouldn't I? I'm very confused and I need some help figuring this stuff out. Please help me?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kelsey. Change your name with the SSA first, then DMV. Bring your marriage certificate to both. If you don't have any ID when going to SSA, they can accept alternative documents, such as military/school/employer/insurance card. Something that'll help identify you.

      Reply
  25. Hope

    Hi I have been divorced before and remarried but when I remarried I never changed my previous name on my license, with the IRS etc.. I have been filing taxes and using my previous husband's name it's even still on my social security card. I got married to the other husband after him and never used his last name on anything. Now I am a bout to divorce this current husband. My problem is I don't know what name to put on my divorce petition. Do I need to put whats on my driver's license which is the first husband or do I put my current's husband's name I'm about to divorce? Due to the fact they will want to see my Id and ask about the previous last name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need to put whats on my driver's license which is the first husband or do I put my current's husband's name I'm about to divorce?

      First husband's.

      Reply
  26. Alicia

    Hello, I recently applied for a marriage license, and got married on Saturday. I would like to change my first name at the same time I change my last name. Do you know what my first step would be to do this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Alicia. First name changes aren't possible through marriage. You'll have to petition the court for that.

      Reply
  27. Monae Alvarado

    Hello, me and my fiance just applied for a marriage license in pottsville pa. We are from Philadelphia pa. When i applied i ask the clerk i want my last name on my license to be my fiance last name. She told me it won't be necessary because once I'm married i can bring the certified marriage certificate to the dmv and ssa to get a name change. I want to know will my name on the certificate have my fiance surname on it? Will it matter if it have my surname, and will i be able to use it to change it when i go to the dmv and ssa? Im very confused here. Please help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to know will my name on the certificate have my fiance surname on it?

      No.

      Will it matter if it have my surname

      No, it's not important.

      and will i be able to use it to change it when i go to the dmv and ssa?

      Yes.

      Reply
  28. Krys

    Hi,

    My marriage licence has a hyphenated name but I wanted to have 2 last names and not keep the hyphen. Is this possible? I was married in Ca 9-4-16 and was told I was not able to have 2 last names but I know people who have 2 last names.

    Licence has Molina-Hurlburt but I wanted Molina Hurlburt

    Thanks!!!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Krys. You can have a combined last name or hyphen, but not space. That would require a court petitioned name change.

      Reply
  29. Rose

    Hello I want to keep my last name as well as adding my husband last name but I did not put my last name when I applied for my marriage license..how can I get my last name as well as his last name on my marriage certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rose. You can contact your town/county recorder's office to request an amendment, but they don't typically allow changes unless they're errors.

      Reply
  30. Gen

    Hi,

    My husband and I married in Colorado 5 years ago, at the time I kept & signed as my maiden name. I am finally looking into the process of changing my last name to his. Is the marriage certificate all that I need to begin that process? Also I need to change this on my green-card as well, I am not an American citizen.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Gen. Correct. A certified copy of your marriage certificate is all you need.

      Reply
  31. Cynthia

    Hello,I live in California, got married in Las Vegas 9 years ago I am trying to take my husbands last name.At the court house when we filled out our marriage license application I didn't put my name as it would be with his,it's still under my maiden name.Would there be a problem changing it here in California or would our marriage license would be good enough?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Cynthia. It'll be good enough. Make sure you get a certified copy of your certificate, not license.

      Reply
  32. Jennifer Szewczyk-Hapeman

    I've read some previous replies but I'm still not sure what to do. I hyphenated my last-his last name. I haven't changed any documents with my hyphenated name. Now I want to take his last name only. What route do I go from here? Our certificate says I want the hyphen. Now I don't. Just want his. Just repeated that. Sorry. What now??

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jennifer. In many cases, you'll be able to still use your marriage certificate as-is to change it to the non-hyphenated version. Some states (or some state DMV's) might be more stringent, and may only change it to what's specified on the certificate. It can vary by office or the clerk's interpretation.

      Reply
  33. Kylee

    I just got married in UT and I am starting this process. After having my certified copy of my marriage license, I know I need to go to the Social Security Administration first. Once I have provided them with what they need and it is being processed, can I go to the Driver's License Division to get my Driver's License changed or do I need to wait to receive my new SS Card with my married name before I can move forward? Will a certified copy of the marriage license with my original SS card and ID suffice for changing my name with the DLD?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kylee. It's a good idea to wait about 24 hours between SSN and DLD to allow time for the prior's database to refresh, assuming the DLD will query it for a name match/mismatch.

      Reply
  34. Alina

    Hi I got married 2 years back and didn't change my name then. I want to change it now starting first with SSN. My marriage certificate has my maiden name on it. I want to know if that would be enough to change my name legally or do I need additional proof stating my new and old name like it's mentioned on social security website. I reside in Illinois.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Crystal. I don't believe Illinois has a spot on the license to specify a new name, so you should be able to use your marriage certificate as-is.

      Reply
  35. Crystal

    Hello í got married last month and í didnt realise that í had put my maiden name on my marriage license. How can í get my name changed to my huabands last name

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Crystal. It depends on the state. Not every state has a spot on the license where you specify your new name, so it wouldn't matter. It's difficult to say without knowing the state you live in.

      Reply
  36. Beth

    I was married 6 years ago and never went through the name change. I noticed that on my marriage certificate, it was listed as my first name, my husband's last name was put into the middle name box (under my name) and my maiden name was left as my last name. We were married in CA. Can I still change my last name to my husband's name if I get a certified copy of my marriage certificate? My husband's name is correct and my name is correctly listed above. I am not sure why it was listed that way on the bottom and never paid much attention to it. I would really like to change it to his name after 6 years…thank you in advnace

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Beth. In CA, if it's changed, it must be changed to what's listed on the certificate.

      Reply
        1. Valera

          Can i go to the clerk and petition that it was an error?

          Although California provides an affidavit to amend a marriage record form, it's only for typos or to add missing info to blank areas. It's not to change any part of any name.

          Reply
  37. carolina

    i was wondering i got married 20 years ago, i have a confidential marriage license. well after all these years my husband wants me to have his last name. how can i go about doing this. do i have to petition the courts for a legal name change. i kept my last name for personal reasons at the time. please help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Carolina. You may be able to use your marriage certificate as-is, considering your marriage took place prior to passage of the name equality act. Get a certified copy of your marriage certificate to push through your name change.

      Reply
  38. Shelly

    I read that in Massachusetts you can change your surnames to whatever you want. Is this true? If my last name is White and his last name is Black, can we list an entirely different surname (e.g. Gray) on the license?
    If we get married in a state where there is no place to put intended new last name on the license, what are our options when we go to social security? Can we choose any surname, or do we have to choose mine, his, a hybrid name (like Whick), or a hyphenated surname (e.g. White-Black)? If we get married in a state where there is no place to put intended new last name, would we each have to go to court to change our last name to Gray or Whick as if we did not ever even get married?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I read that in Massachusetts you can change your surnames to whatever you want. Is this true?

      No, I don't believe that is true.

      If we get married in a state where there is no place to put intended new last name on the license, what are our options when we go to social security?

      You'd just use the marriage certificate as-is.

      Can we choose any surname, or do we have to choose mine, his, a hybrid name (like Whick), or a hyphenated surname (e.g. White-Black)?

      Universally accepted options would be to hyphenate or to take his last name. Hybrids, or composite names, are rarely accepted.

      If we get married in a state where there is no place to put intended new last name, would we each have to go to court to change our last name to Gray or Whick as if we did not ever even get married?

      You'll just use your marriage certificate as-is. No need to go to court.

      Reply
  39. Nikki

    I got married last year.. On my marriage certificate I put my dad's name and my husbands name…. like an hyphenated surname…

    Now I really want to stop using a hyphenated surname..I just want to use my husband surname. How do I go about doing that?

    What's the first step??
    Please help me…

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nikki. If you've not already formally changed your name, your DMV may be willing to honor just taking your husband's surname. Depending on the state/agent/office, how strict or flexible they'll be can vary. If you've already changed your name with the SSA and DMV, then you'll have to get a court order to change it again.

      Reply
  40. Darinka

    Hi, I'm trying to get married in Louisiana. When applying for marriage license on application it says last name and then last name before first marriage. Under last name do I put new last name? I was married before and I don't want to see that last name anywhere on this certificate. I still have his last name I didn't change on my drivers license or ss due to immigration. And will I have a problem since my dl still has my ex last name but I don't want to put that name anywhere on the application?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Darinka. Last name before first marriage would not be your ex's. It's typically your maiden name. If you've undergone a non-marriage name change prior to your first marriage, then you'd put that instead of your maiden. So, to be clear, if the name you had just prior to your first marriage was your maiden (birth) name, then put that.

      Reply
      1. Darinka

        All I have with my maiden name is my birth certificate and expired passport. My driver license shows ex last name. Do you think they'll give me trouble to obtain marriage license? Also I don't know if you'd know this but is Louisiana one of those states that allows you to change to husband last name on marriage application.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Do you think they'll give me trouble to obtain marriage license?

          No, I don't see where you'd face a problem.

          Also I don't know if you'd know this but is Louisiana one of those states that allows you to change to husband last name on marriage application.

          I don't believe Louisiana marriage license applications have a space to specify a new name, although it may vary from parish to parish.

          Reply
  41. Renata

    Hi I get married 2 years ago but back then I did not get my husband last name and now I register my marriage on the Brazilian embassy because we from Brazil and I did get his last name so what I have to do know change my marriage lincense here too and after that change all the other documents ?

    Reply
  42. Lizbeth Shanklin

    Hi I got married last year in Illinois and I changed my last name to my husbands last name. We live in North Carolina now I want to hyphen my maiden name with his last name… will I need to file for a name change decree.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      will I need to file for a name change decree.

      No, just get a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the Illinois county vital records office.

      Reply
  43. Mayumi

    Hi! I just got married last month. In my marriage license I signed my first name and my new last name. When I got back home, I didn't have a chance to change my last name whatsoever. Now, I just want to stick to my original name… how do I go from here? Please help, I am getting overwhelmed.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Now, I just want to stick to my original name… how do I go from here? Please help, I am getting overwhelmed.

      Just don't do anything. Your name will remain unchanged.

      Reply
  44. Megan

    I got married in October in California. i reside in Arizona. I am going to back to California in January. can I go a Social Security office in California to change my last name, or do i have to go to a social security office in Arizona?

    Reply
  45. Samantha

    Hi, I changed my new last name as my maiden name hyphenated with my husband's name. Now that we've settled in and everything, I want to change my last name to just my husband's. Do I need to go back to court and change my now last name to just his last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need to go back to court and change my now last name to just his last name?

      That's right. You have to go to court to change it a second time.

      Reply
  46. Jen

    I am from Canada (BC). Instead of taking my husbands last name or him taking mine. Can we just take a different one? Example – His/Smith Mine/John Married Last Name/Gibbler

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I am from Canada (BC). Instead of taking my husbands last name or him taking mine. Can we just take a different one?

      Not through marriage. In British Columbia, you'll have to undergo a legal name change.

      Reply
  47. Belkis Ramos

    Hi,

    I got Married in Puerto Rico; in Puerto Rico we do not change last name at marriage. Over a year ago we relocated to FL, how do I go about changing my name to my husband's name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I got Married in Puerto Rico

      You'll need to obtain (if you don't already have one) a certified copy of your marriage certificate from Puerto Rico to change your name in Florida.

      Reply
  48. Jen

    I got married in Texas back in 2008. I never changed my name to take on my husband's name (I was too lazy to change all the documents.) When we were pregnant with our first child he asked me to change it. I went to SSA in Oregon and they said it had been too long and I needed formal ID in the new name. So I went back to Texas, got a new DL in the married name. I went back to SSA and showed my DL and they turned me away (I really cant remember the reason why). I got frustrated with the process and never went back to SSA. I recently had to renew my DL and I had to go back to my maiden name b/c my DL and SSN did not match. I want to make one more attempt to change my name. What documents will I need?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      What documents will I need?

      Certified copy of marriage certificate and driver's license.

      Reply
  49. A

    Hello,

    I was married 4 years ago in the state or Florida and I wrote/sign my marriage license using my Maiden name. I took my marriage license to my local social security office and had my name changed to my first/middle/his last. I am still married but I would like to resume my Maiden name and just hyphenate my husbands name at the end. How do I go about doing this?
    Thank you for your time and help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I am still married but I would like to resume my Maiden name and just hyphenate my husbands name at the end. How do I go about doing this?

      You'll have to undergo a general adult name change to change it again. Using your marriage certificate won't do you any good, as it's already been used. The FL name change page details the process of going to court.

      Reply
  50. Eli

    Hi, we just got our marriage licence few days ago and didn't change my last name on it. Can i correct it before the ceremony? I would love to have my future husbands last name!!!. Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      we just got our marriage licence few days ago and didn't change my last name on it. Can i correct it before the ceremony?

      Yes, you can typically amend a marriage license before you get married. You may be charged a small fee though. Contact the office that issued your license for instructions on how to do so.

      Reply
  51. Ellen

    Hi there. I married in Georgie in late July of 2016, and changed my name to first/maiden/his. I moved to South Carolina August 1st, however I claim residency in Georgia as I am only a student in South Carolina (and wanted to keep a Georgia driver's license). I successfully changed my name with the SSA here in South Carolina in August, but have yet to get back to Georgia to update my name on my driver's license. The DDS/DMV website for Georgia says I have 60 days to update my name, but it's been about 5 months. Will I encounter issues at DDS/DMV when trying to update my name if I go there now? Do I need to go to court to eventually get my name changed on my driver's license? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ellen. You should be fine to change your name as your normally would (without court).

      Reply
  52. Alex

    Hi, I just got married in Georgia. When we applied for the marriage license they asked for my full name and I gave them my legal name (maiden name) and there was not a spot to indicate what my name was going to be after marriage. Will I still be able to change my name with the social security office and DMV? Or will I have to have it changed on the marriage license/certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Alex. Yes, you'll be able to change it fine. Not every state has a space on the application to specify a new name.

      Reply
  53. Clare

    I got married in Las Vegas this year, the certified marriage certificate only shows the maiden name. I live in ND and was wanting to have a double-barreled last name, but I'm unsure if the marriage certificate will suffice to get it changed to that or if I will have to go through the courts? So it would be first middle maiden married. It's hard to know where to start. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Clare. Consider contacting the ND DOT to inquire if they'll even accept a double-barreled name change. Hyphenation, sure, but the prior is not guaranteed. If they will, your NV certificate will be sufficient without having to go to court.

      Reply
  54. Qian

    Hi, I got married in Las Vegas 14 years ago and didn't change my last name then. My marriage certificate shows my maiden name. Now I want to change my last name to my husband's. Will my marriage certificate be sufficient or do I have to go through the court? We live in California since married. Thank you!

    Reply
  55. Vanessa

    Hello I am currently a Florida resident, my soon to be husband lives in Virginia. We are getting married in Florida and moving to Virginia immediately after, as far as the whole name change thing goes… do we have to be present in person here in Florida for copies or the marriage certificate/name change process? Are there other ways around this where it is possible for us handle the process in Virginia or Is this something you suggest us stay extra time to do?

    Reply
    1. Vanessa

      Also, if I have no middle name
      Can I move my maiden last name in place of a middle and take his last name?

      Reply
    2. Valera

      do we have to be present in person here in Florida for copies or the marriage certificate/name change process?

      No, you can order certified copies remotely.

      is possible for us handle the process in Virginia or Is this something you suggest us stay extra time to do?

      You can get it done in Virginia.

      Reply
  56. Quianna

    Hi. I'm Quianna, I just wanted to know if God forbids anything happens to my husband. Will I be able to take over everything? We do have a marriage license. I just never changed my last name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Quianna. I don't know what you mean by "take over everything?" Changing or not changing your name doesn't put you at an advantage/disadvantage when it comes to things such as property, insurance, joint accounts, etc, if that's what you're referring to.

      Reply
  57. Jade

    Hello. We were married in NY in April. I hyphenated my last name and my husband's last name on our marriage certificate. I haven't changed my name with SS or DMV yet but I would like to change it to only my husband's last name. Would I be able to to change my last name to just his at the SS office and the DMV without a court order? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jade. You may be able to. You can contact the DMV to confirm. If they wouldn't accept it, you can try to get your marriage certificate amended or opt to get a remarriage marriage license.

      Reply
  58. Tatyana

    HI, just got married in CA,ready to file my docs through your agency tomorrow. How long does it take to change my last name, to be able to purchase a plane ticket to fly over US?

    Reply
    1. Tatyana

      HI! This is Tatyana again. Can I change my driver license separately in person to speed up the process, and do all other changes with you?

      Reply
      1. Valera

        Hi Tatyana. SSA first, in case the DMV queries the SSA database for a name match/mismatch. If you complete it with the SSA, it's worth waiting at least 24 hours for their database to refresh. Then you can go into the driver's license office and get it done there.

        Reply
    2. Valera

      Hi Tatyana. Turnaround time is around 2-6 weeks, depending on how many documents need to get changed, how you go about it (mail vs in person), sequence, queue/backlog of the departments, time it takes to get a copy of your marriage certificate, if you don't already have it in your possession.

      Reply
      1. Tatyana Agnew

        Hi Valera!
        Shall I wait first from SSA, getting my SSN changed, and than send applications to all other places? I'm planning to come in person only to DMV office.

        Reply
  59. Jaclyn

    I got married in Wisconsin where there is no line for married name on the certificate, only for my maiden name. I reside in Illinois so that is where I will be changing my name. Will I be able to do it even though the certificate has me listed as Jaclyn Higgins but my husband's last name is Walsh, so I want my name to be Jaclyn Walsh?

    Reply
  60. Maria

    Hi Valera,

    I Changed My Name in my passport When I Got Married and Then I want to Chang It Back to my single surname.
    The reason is i found out that my ex husband is married before we get married. :(
    do you think is possible to change back my surname? do have any ideas the procedure.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maria. You'd need a new document to authorize another name change. Something such a certified annulment or divorce decree. Other than that, you'd have to get a court order.

      Reply
  61. Jessica

    My husband and I got married in 2010. On my marriage license my name is hyphenated but on everything else including my SS card, drivers license, it only had my husbands last name. Apparently NY state will not fix the marriage license unless we re-marry! We currently live in VA. Is there anything I can do so that EVERYTHING has just my husbands last name on it? Will a legal name change work?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Apparently NY state will not fix the marriage license unless we re-marry!

      That wouldn't "fix" or replace the old document. They're just issuing you another document. Both would remain publicly recorded and available for copy requests.

      Is there anything I can do so that EVERYTHING has just my husbands last name on it?

      Not really. At this point, your marriage license (or certificate, if that's what you're really referring to) is just a historical document. The clerk's office isn't going to correct it unless there's a mistake (e.g., typographical) that's their fault.

      Will a legal name change work?

      No. A legal name change would just be another document allowing you to change your name to something else. It wouldn't amend your marriage license.

      Reply
  62. Stephanie

    Hi Valera,

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ANSWERING ALL THESE QUESTIONS.

    I got married in September in New York. I did not indicate a "new surname." There is no "new surname" on my marriage certificate. It only says "stephanie madian name" was married to "husband's name."

    Can I use this marriage certificate to change my name at the social security office in New York? Or does New York require that a new surname is indicated on the certificate.

    Please help! And thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I use this marriage certificate to change my name at the social security office in New York? Or does New York require that a new surname is indicated on the certificate.

      You should be able to still change it even though your certificate doesn't reflect it. Failure to specify your new, intended surname during the NY marriage application process doesn't forfeit your right to ultimately change it later. That goes for your middle name as well.

      Reply
  63. Jessica

    My husband and I just recently got married on December 12, 2016. When I filled out our marriage certificate I didn't realize I had to write down my name, middle name and my new last name, instead I filled out the marriage certificate with my full legal name so now on my marriage certificate I don't have my husbands last name, but my dads last name. How could I change my last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jessica. You can contact the office where your marriage certificate is filed to see if they will amend it, but it's unlikely they will unless it's an error on their part.

      Reply
  64. Shirra

    I Just Recently Married On December 31, 2016 & I Was Wondering Can I Use My Certified Marriage Certificate I Applied In Tennesse In Another State For Name Changes

    Reply
  65. Sonya Blizzard

    I got married in California just over a year ago and I have not formally gone thru the process of changing my name as I just can't seem to give up my last name. How do I go about changing and adding back in my maiden name to my middle name ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sonya. If your marriage certificate has your maiden as middle, then you'd use your certificate to change your name. If didn't specify this choice during the application process, then you'll have to petition the court for a name change. More info can be found on the California name change page.

      Reply
  66. Tran

    I got married to my husband on July, 2016, but I didn't take his last name. Now, I really want to change my name on very paperwork that I have, including my marriage certificate. I want my new name stated in my marriage certificate as well. I'm living in Virginia. Will my marriage certificate be changed with my new name on it? And will I have to remarry?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will my marriage certificate be changed with my new name on it? And will I have to remarry?

      It's unlikely you'll be able to modify your certificate. Amendments are for mistakes, such as typos.

      Reply
  67. Katherine Marie Belt

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    I got married 18 months ago and my marriage certificate reflects my new name. I also have a D.L. with my new name. However about a month ago I got a new S.S. card with my first name, former married name as middle (for business reasons) and new last time. I am now dropping my former married name from use.

    Is it possible to get a new S.S. card with my new name even though I just got one?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Katherine. You wouldn't be able to reuse your marriage certificate for a secondary name change. You'll need a new document signifying another name change event. You'd be looking at petitioning the court to get it done.

      Reply
  68. Sonya

    It says you can use your spouses name personally and your maiden professionally but doesn't say how to go about that ? I'm ca. If also says that I would of had to of put my maiden as my middle on my marriage certificate in order to do this – can we just get married again for $98 or no?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      H

      It says you can use your spouses name personally and your maiden professionally but doesn't say how to go about that ?

      What are you referring to here?

      I'm ca. If also says that I would of had to of put my maiden as my middle on my marriage certificate in order to do this – can we just get married again for $98 or no?

      You'd have to contact your county clerk/recorder's office, but I'm not aware of a remarriage option in California. You're likely looking at having to petition the court.

      Reply
  69. Nicky

    Hi I just got married in New York on my marriage certificate my husband last name was not hyphen beside my last name which I think was my error,however how can I go about adding his last name to mine and can it be done at any court house in NY or I have to go back to the court house where I got married?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nicky. If you're referring to getting your certificate amended, you'll go to where your certificate is filed. If you're talking about petitioning the court, any will do.

      Reply
  70. Nicole

    Hello, I'm in Minnesota. When I got married 2 yrs ago I kept my maiden name but now I'd like to take my husbands last name. Can I still use my marriage certificate and just go to the SS office and DMV to change it? What if my maiden name is what I wrote on the marriage license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nicole. The name change would have had be specified on the marriage license application so that it would be reflected on the certificate.

      Reply
  71. Basit

    I'm in Maryland and got married in oct 2012 and legally changed my name in April 2015 is it possible to get certified copy of my marriage certificate with new name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      is it possible to get certified copy of my marriage certificate with new name?

      No, it's not possible. It's a historical snapshot, and cannot be changed unless there was a typographic mistake on the clerk's/office's part.

      Reply
  72. Kaitlyn Warf

    I got married in Punta Cana in December, and they sent me my marriage certificate. It has my maiden last name on it. Will this be a problem when I want to change my last name to my husbands last name?

    Reply
  73. Viki

    Me and my husband got married a few days ago and I just got the marriage certificate in the mail from the register of deeds but it has my maiden last name instead of my husbands. Not sure what went wrong, does this mean I have to file a petition to change my maiden name to my husbands last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Viki. It can depend on the state. For some, it's binding, others not. If the mistake was on the part of the clerk's office, you can request an amendment/correction.

      Reply
  74. Clara

    Hi! We applied and picked up marriage license last week. Now we have 90 days to get married. I took my husband's surname as my last name…. I really want to keep my last name as middle name and his last as my last name: first name, my last, his last.
    Can I still change it if we did not have ceremony yet? If I will wait over 90 days without ceremony, can I reissued marriage license and apply again and then add my last name as middle one? Thank you for your help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I still change it if we did not have ceremony yet?

      You may want to check end of the maiden to middle article for a list of states where this is not recognized.

      Some states require the new name be specified on the application, so you may need to get it reissued with your preferred name.

      If I will wait over 90 days without ceremony, can I reissued marriage license and apply again and then add my last name as middle one?

      You can get it reissued now; you don't have to wait until it expires.

      Reply
  75. Jennifer

    I already filed my taxes, but the IRS declined it because I used my married name and I haven't changed it at the social security office yet. Do I just go to the social security office and apply for a new card and they will submit it to the IRS or are there other steps I need to take?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jennifer. The SSA won't resubmit your taxes. If you update with the SSA, they'll notify the IRS of the name change. Afterwards, you'll have to refile in your married name. Alternatively, you can refile in your maiden name, which is what will currently match what's on file with the SSA/IRS.

      Reply
  76. Lisa

    I got married 2.5 years ago in Hawaii and took his last name. I have never changed my social security card, drivers license, etc. in Missouri. Is there a time limit to do so?

    Reply
  77. Shy

    Hello,
    I have been reading the comments to try and get an answer to my question but I'm not sure if I am correct.
    I got married in Hawaii 2012 and at the time I decided to take my husband's last name; but not in it entirety. My husband has two last names hyphenated, consisting of both of his parents last names.
    Example: (moms last name-dad's last name)
    On my marriage certificate I have firstname/middlename/husband'sdadlastname as my declared surname.
    So I did NOT pick up his moms last name.
    I never went to get a SSC or DL so I still have my maiden name. However, I want to take his full last name since our future children will also have that name. We now live in Virginia.

    Is taking his full last name possible?

    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Shy. I don't believe Virginia recognizes that sort of partial hyphenation. You can contact the VA DMV, then SSA for verification.

      Reply
  78. Jody

    I got married 9 years ago in NV (we live in CA). I have recently decided I want to change my last name so that it's the same as my husband (and children). However, my marriage certificate contains my maiden name. Will I need to file a petition for name change with the court in order to change to my husband's last name? (I would like to move my maiden name to second-middle, and add his last name as my new last name.) Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jody. No, you don't need to go to court. Your NV certificate should be sufficient. If you were married in CA and your California certificate didn't show your new married name, then you probably would have had to petition the court. But even for that, it depends on when your marriage took place, and how the California marriage licenses/certificates were designed nine years ago.

      This is a point of confusion many have. They live in California, hear that they must specify their new, change-to name on the marriage license, which will ultimately be reflected on the certificate. If they didn't do this, then they'll have to petition the court. But, if a California resident gets married in another state, that rule doesn't apply. So they get their marriage certificate from, say Nevada, which doesn't reflect any new name choice, so they're left wondering if it'll pass muster. It will.

      Reply
  79. Karina

    Getting married in the next 15 days. On marriage license I chose to take: my first & husbands last name. I'm not sure I want to change any official documents yet (ss#, DL,etc)..
    Do I have to change my official documents? Or can I continue to use my maiden name as I have been without changes? I'm in CA. Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Karina. You don't have to change any documents. It just gives you the option to do so later.

      Reply
  80. Nelly Ahoudji

    My spouse and I got married in Dec 2016 in PA (same sex couple). We both kept our maiden names on the marriage certificate. I am now thinking about hyphenating both names. How can I do that? Do I have to go to court or can I just change it at the SS office.

    Reply

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