In 2014, women were strongly rewarded with a decision by the Department of Motor Vehicles of New York State giving them one of the simplest processes of changing their middle names into their maiden names on their own drivers' licenses after getting married.

What the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) now requires is just a marriage certificate to help with the change. Before the change, the process was very time consuming and expensive. The decision is seen as one that's of huge benefit to married couples and women all over New York.

The pressure and motivation to have the new change effected in New York came from the new wave of women in the state and country at large within the changing contemporary society, wishing to hold on to the identities of their families at home, workplace and even as students. NY Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester) also put forth a concerted effort to push for this procedural change.

What the DMV did was modernize a procedure that was anti-women mostly and would now be of benefit to those getting married, particularly the increasing number of New York women who would like to maintain maiden names and middle names as the same. The idea of getting down to courts to make applications for name change was very discouraging. The new clarification would ease the process making it hugely affordable for married people all over the state. The change was also expected to reinforce the idea that both partners are equal in marriage while professional women's lives would be simplified henceforth.

In years past, the practice had been growing and culminated into the new change. Coretta Scott King, a civil rights leader and Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Secretary of State and a Democratic Presidential candidate, were some of the pioneers of the need for women to maintain their maiden names as middle names without any negative affect on their marriage, personal and professional lives. This change makes them maintain a very important part of themselves without really changing the sanctity of their marriage or disorganizing their professional careers and lives.

With the new policy, there is the realization middle names do change after marriage and the changes need to make it easy to alter names just like it is easy for newlyweds to do the same. In the past, before the inquiry was pursued, DMV accepted middle name changes only when the interested individuals followed any of two almost unattainable processes. In one pathway, the interested individual needed lots of documents that were virtually hard to get. It was also possible for people to change their names through the court system's legal process, which was very burdensome, so much that it took a number of months to effect the change and expensive since it attracted a minimum of $100 in fees. Through the inquiry, the system was updated allowing middle name changes to be done into maiden names just by providing a genuine marriage certificate.

Lots of women have waited for the change for decades. After marriage, they were only able to make their middle names into maiden names in virtually all areas of life from credit cards, travel documents, businesses to academics among others, except on their driver license in the State of New York.

Newlyweds had also been affected before the change and after effecting change on all other areas. The only problem was the driver's license. Apart from being burdensome, the process was also very confusing and too much for working parents who needed to be working and not following the matter in the corridors of justice. The new change would now bring honor to most families' legacies while simplifying their professional lives.

Procedure of changing names with the New York DMV

To change your name, including changing your maiden name into your middle name, you must avail yourself in person. In turn, you will be able to update your vehicle's certificate of title, vehicle's registration, and your ID card or driver's license.

Remember, you cannot effect or complete name change by email, phone, mail or online. You only need to visit the local office of the NY DMV closest to you.

As you visit the DMV office, do not forget to carry with you the current documents from NY DMV that will need to have the name changed and bring proof of identity, which can be a United States passport or passport card, New York photo driver license, ID or permit or a photo ID card of the United States military which can be from a retired, reserved or active personnel only.

You should also bring a certified document for name change such as a court order issued within the United States only, a decree of divorce carrying an official signature from the United States or simply a certified copy of your marriage certificate issued by a county, city or state within the country.

You need to bring an application for Non Driver ID Card or Driver License duly completed, which is form MV-44 or a Title Application/Vehicle Registration of application-form MV-82. Check the fees required to change your name within New York for guidance on whether there are replacement fee payments to be made.

Once you have provided all the required details, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles will then mail you the new driver's ID or license, title or vehicle registration in less than 10 days. It is important that before you start the name change process you check all the documents accepted for proof of identity.

Current name change fees on NY DMV documents

Changing name on the certificate of title and vehicle registration is absolutely free, while a non-driver ID card name change is only $5. Changing your name on the driver's license or the permit for learners is only $12.50.

Perhaps the important thing to remember for those newlyweds or married in New York is that the long, almost impossible, procedure that took time and money simply to have someone maintain their maiden name as their middle name on their driver's license is now the easiest it has ever been for decades.

It doesn't make sense to have every document you own changed except your driver's license and the new NY DMV name change clarification puts men and women on an equal footing.


  1. Jaine


    How would you fill out your marriage license to reflect your maiden name as your middle name?
    Would it be First middle husband last name or first maiden name husband last name?

    Thank you

    1. Valera

      Hi Jaine. Put first, maiden, husband last on the part of the application where it asks you to choose your new name.


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