Maiden Name to Middle Name Change

Woman Considering a Maiden Name to Middle Name Change

When you're considering ways to change your name after marriage while honoring your maiden name, one of the best options to consider is adopting your spouse's last name and making your maiden name your new middle name.

For those that aren't aware, your maiden name is your last name at birth. For men, your maiden name is your birth name too. But the term "maiden" applies only to women.

Since many people choose to adopt a new name after getting married, losing your old name can feel like a tremendous loss and some people even grieve it.

If you're an only child or don't have children, you might worry how your parents will feel when your surname is lost. Who will they expect to carry on the family name now?

People strike, waving banners, picketing, protesting for and against name change

Making your maiden name your middle name is a great way to keep it in your life while still following marriage conventions, as far as changing your name goes.

How do you change your middle name after marriage?

You can use a certified copy of your marriage certificate to legally change your maiden name to your middle name. Do it at the same time you change your last name. No extra step.

When you apply for a marriage license, assign your new middle name if they offer a spot to do so. If the application didn't ask, your marriage certificate won't show your new name.

Such an omission isn't a problem. Your new name will get derived from you and your spouse's current and birth names, as shown on your marriage certificate.

Pros of maiden middle names

If you change your maiden name to your middle name, you'll achieve useful, long-term plusses beyond just its sentimental value.

For instance, if your maiden name were Avery, you could tell folks, "Call me Avery." They wouldn't know if it was your first, middle, or last name.

You could go by your maiden middle name informally or socially, while maintaining the veneer of legality. It is part of your legal name, after all.

What happens when you come across unexpected little name changes at non-government institutions and need a quick way to prove that you've changed your name?

Whip out your marriage certificate? That's a hassle. Yet having your maiden name as your middle makes it easy to verify you've "added a name" and you're the same person.

Hands holding big paper maiden to middle name change sign

It has an added benefit if you plan to continue using your maiden name in business for professional reasons, as using just part of your name is still common.

If you were born without a middle name, inserting your maiden name presents a great opportunity to fill that void. This may help make your decision even easier.

If you decide to go forward with your name change, you can save time by using our online name change kit to help complete the transition.

Satisfies your relatives

Your parents and relatives might begrudge you for dropping your birth name. Pride in family and heritage can run deep. Giving up your name may feel like abandoning your legacy.

You may feel yourself shrinking to a child, explaining to your parent why you're changing your name. Perhaps they won't mind, but thinking of the conversation may breed anxiety.

Mother and daughter quarreling

If your name is famous, prestigious, or linked to relatives you admire, making your maiden name into your middle name is a solid way to honor your past while honoring your commitment to your partner and future with them.

If you're trying to show that you aren't forgetting where you came from, keeping your heritage as a part of your name is a wonderful gesture and sure to heal rifts that might develop over adopting a brand new name.

Happy family spending lunchtime together

The decision to change your name is yours alone. But there's no shame in pursuing a win-win solution that keeps you, your spouse, your family, and your mean in-laws happy.

It's not just women who face the name change question. Some states allow men to take their wife's name. Even pursue a birth name to middle name switch.

Can you have a second middle name?

Today, three out of four people have a middle name. And many of them use it on a regular basis. If you have a middle name, you have a dilemma:

  1. Do you replace your middle name?
  2. Do you use your maiden name as a second middle name?

The answer depends on what you think of having two middle names after marriage.

Woman expressing doubts

Some use two initials, or one initial and one middle name. And others use just one middle name on a regular basis while keeping the other as a formal middle name.

If your middle names clash, consider replacing your old middle name with the new one. But doing this after undergoing one change might require a court petition.

Just remember: having two middle names can prove unwieldy, especially with forms and documents that only have space for one middle name on them.

Double middle names are uncommon and demand juggling, making sure people don't confuse your dual middle as part of your first or last name.

Usually easier than hyphenation

When you have your maiden name as a middle name, it's easier than hyphenating your name. It keeps your identity clear and compartmentalized.

You'll be able to more easily prove your connection to people on both sides of your family as necessary. This is important for childcare issues, such as flying with children.

You won't struggle with an overly long last name and you don't have to use your middle name on a regular basis—but you won't get penalized if you don't.

Before considering a hyphenated name, assess how well it complements your partner's name. Does it sound good or does it roll off the tongue like an auditory cacophony?

Woman holding big megaphone

The maiden to middle path may edge out a jarring hyphenated surname. Plus, it means your last name won't be such a mouthful.

Helps ease you through the transition

If you aren't hyphenating your last name because you just want a single last name, perhaps you're choosing your partner's name for convenience or because you prefer it.

In doing so, you might experience a sense of loss. Although there may be ways to reverse your name change, it's best to choose well at the outset instead of backtracking.

Woman weeping with hands cusped over her face

It isn't always about keeping your spouse, relatives, and in-laws satisfied. You should inhabit your new name when updating ID and renewing your professional details.

By keeping your maiden name active and relevant it won't seem as scary because you won't feel as though you need to abandon what you've been familiar with your entire life.

Your name change should be an act of triumph and celebration. Not of doubt and anguish. Keeping your maiden name alive can help make that a reality.

Smiling, confident woman superhero in costume

You get to embrace your new name while keeping the old. This is like having your cake and eating it, too. Sometimes the simplest choice is the best pick.

Disadvantages of maiden middle names

There are a few downsides when executing a maiden to middle name switch. Various states make the process trickier than average (see next section), though most don't.

If you have a middle name, you must choose one or feel like "one of those people" by listing more than one middle name whenever you give your full name.

Getting used to having a middle name is also a process, as you'll need to add this new name to numerous documents. It's time to practice your new signature too.

Happy woman holding large pencil

Everything from your social security card and driver's license to passport should match and reflect your new middle name. You don't want your credentials to drift out of sync.

Some states make this tricky

Only three states don't allow you to replace your middle name with your maiden name after getting married: New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington State.

In these states, you need to petition the court to alter your middle name. The steps can be easy or stressful, depending on how much you enjoy bureaucracy and the court system.

It may be tough since it takes more time, when name changes can already be time-consuming. If you live in one of these states, hyphenation may be the easiest option.

Finding the right balance

Changing your maiden name to your middle name is becoming ever more popular as people try to find a balance between tradition and more practical, modern alternatives.

No matter whether you're leaning towards hyphenating, creating a new last name, or keeping your maiden name, it's worth considering your middle name as a fungible placeholder.

Do you plan to change your name?

Our online name change kit makes it easy.

Get Started

1,053 Comments

  1. Erica

    I live in New York and wanted to move my maiden name to my middle name. I saw a tip online that if you change your passport and SS card first, then the NY DMV will let you proceed without having to petition the courts. I just tried it this morning and it worked for me, so hopefully it would work for other New Yorkers!

    Reply
    1. Sergio

      Erica, will I get a marriage license with a maiden name in place of the middle name?

      Reply
      1. Valera

        Sergio, you can specify your preferred name sequence on your marriage license.

        Reply
    2. Valera

      Thanks for chiming in with your in-office experience. I've heard of other New York success cases for those going the SSN & passport before DMV route, although there's also been a mixture of let-downs. Still, something worth considering.

      Reply
    3. DJ

      So with your SS card as proof you were able to get your maiden name as your middle name on your passport??

      Reply
    4. brooke

      Hi Erica,

      I just saw your post – can you let me know what you did and what you needed to get the passport and SS card with the new middle name without going to the court first?

      Thanks! Brooke

      Reply
  2. Laurel

    Well I already have two middle names as is. I want to know if i can add my maiden name to a middle name, thus having three middle names, five names total. I would want to put my maiden name as my "one" middle name on all official documents. Has anyone heard or seen this?? I got married almost one year ago and have been putting it off due to the crazy amount of time it requires and well, I really don't want to find out that I have to give up any of my names. I do want to take on my husbands name by I'm very proud of my maiden name as it holds a lot of history.

    Any advice??

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Three middle names is exceptionally rare. As you have two middle names, I'm sure you've experienced the potential difficulties and confusion it can cause. Three names would compound that.

      One thing to think about (and we're getting a bit into the weeds here) is if your name will fit on your driver's license. A month and a half ago there was a story of a woman whose name was too long for her driver's license and how she clashed with the DMV to get the length limitations relaxed.

      Now, I highly doubt you'll be facing any such character length limit, but since I don't know what your actual name is comprised of, it doesn't hurt to throw this out there just incase.

      Reply
  3. Rhoda

    I used my maiden name as my middle name but now want to drop the maiden name to use my middle name, would I have to go through the courts to do so?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      …but now want to drop the maiden name to use my middle name, would I have to go through the courts to do so?

      Yes, you will, due to your already having changed your name before. Now, I'm assuming you actually did undergo a formal name change and now you're looking to legally undo it. If that's not the case please clarify.

      Reply
      1. Rhoda

        I did not legally change my name. When I got married I dropped my middle name and started using my maiden name

        Reply
        1. Valera

          In that case, as long as you're not a resident in one of the six excluded states listed in the article, you don't have to go through the courts. Just initiate a regular marriage-related name change.

          Reply
  4. Jill

    I just got married and changed my middle name to my maiden name and took my husband's last name. I live in PA and had absolutely no problems doing this with SS or the DMV (PennDOT). They accepted my maiden name as my new middle name, no issues whatsoever.

    Reply
    1. sarah

      If you don't mind me asking what ID did you use? I just tried to change my middle name to my maiden name (i live in pa as well) and they refused it. Penndot told me I had to get a court order to change my name. So now my SS card and drivers license don't match :-( ugh!

      Reply
    2. Aly

      Hi Jill,
      I live in PA and am trying to do the same thing – would you mind telling me how you did it? I called the court system and they said I had to do a full petition to get my maiden name as my middle name before I can go to SS or PennDOT. Please let me know. Thanks!!

      Reply
  5. Jane

    So this is definitely what I want to do when I get married next month. I live in Idaho, but we're getting married in Nevada. I have already applied for my license online to speed the process when we get to Las Vegas. When we're done with the ceremony, I've been told by the Nevada Marriage Bureau that I will need to request a copy of my marriage certificate after I get home. They said that the certificate will only have my current maiden name (first, middle, maiden name) on it to show that I married my fiance. At what point then do I get my name changed to having the maiden name as the middle name? The SS office told me that they will use whatever is on my marriage certificate. Do I get my SS card first or my Drivers License first? Kind of confused on the process here and WHEN exactly I request that my name will be changed. Advice?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      When we're done with the ceremony, I've been told by the Nevada Marriage Bureau that I will need to request a copy of my marriage certificate after I get home.

      Correct. You'll contact the state's vital records office to request a certified copy be mailed to you. They'll charge a processing fee, but so does every other records office. Be sure to check it for errors, and request an amendment if you find any.

      They said that the certificate will only have my current maiden name (first, middle, maiden name) on it to show that I married my fiance.

      That's Nevada's prerogative. Every state does it differently.

      At what point then do I get my name changed to having the maiden name as the middle name?

      When you change it with the SSA.

      The SS office told me that they will use whatever is on my marriage certificate.

      I don't know what your local office is going on about, so I can't speak for them. The marriage certificate serves as proof that you're married and that you can legally use the last name of your spouse. Your spouse's last name would also be on the certificate.

      Do I get my SS card first or my Drivers License first?

      SS then DL. It may be a good idea to space them out by at least a day as the DMV may access the SSA database to see that you've initiated a matching name change request. This buffer provides time for such data changes to propagate.

      Reply
  6. Isabel

    I live in california ahve you heard the passport and ssn process first then dmv work for anyone?

    Reply
  7. marcia

    Hi, I am from Brazil and I just got married in august , my husband is American, we did all the immigration process and in the interview which was on Dec 10 the officer ask how I would like to have my name on the green card and I said I wanted to eliminate my middle name and use my maiden name as a new middle and my husband's name as a last name, she said ok and week later I received my GC with my full old name plus my husband's last name, they just added his…….now I made an appointment with immigration to go in January, what do I say to them? they will do the way I want it?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Marcia. Are you saying they made a mistake? If so, you can request a correction.

      Reply
      1. marcia

        Yes they made a mistake but I want to know if I can have my maiden name as a middle name and my husband's as a last name…..ex: MARCIA GONCALVES DE SILVA (before marry) can become : MARCIA SILVA SMITH….Smith is my husband's., so I would eliminate goncalves de, and keep Silva as new middle name and add my husband's name Smith….Is it possible ?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          You can shift your names around as you prefer as long as you're not in one of the states specified at the end of the article. You'll still need to get your green card corrected though.

          Reply
  8. Rizz

    I live in NYC and will be getting married in February.The state won't let me drop my middle initial and use my "would be" maiden name as my middle name because my IDs all have my middle initial on it. It is frustrating. What should I do in order to have my last name as my new maiden name and also add my fiance's last name? If I petition later to change it after marriage, then do I have to request a new copy of the marriage license also with the petitioned name change? Please any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      What should I do in order to have my last name as my new maiden name and also add my fiance's last name?

      You'll have to go through a court-petitioned name change.

      If I petition later to change it after marriage, then do I have to request a new copy of the marriage license also with the petitioned name change?

      No. You'll use the document the court provides to facilitate your name change.

      Reply
  9. DJ

    I changed the SS with no problem to maiden name as my new middle name. I have submitted my passport now for a name change to include my maiden name as my middle name. I also included a copy of my SS card. I am completely worried that they will put my former middle name on my new passport. Has anyone been able to get maiden as new middle on passport?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi DJ. I think you're worrying yourself unnecessarily. As long as you've filled out the form specifying your maiden name as your new middle name and included the proper documentation along with your application (as you appear to have done), you should be fine.

      Reply
  10. Jennifer Heacock

    I have a first, middle and last name. I am getting married. Is it possible to add my new married name to my current name without using a hyphen? I know I will probably have to change my drivers license, ss card and passport. What I'm trying to avoid is having to change my bank accounts, payroll checks, etc. Also, can airline tickets be booked in either last name if there's no hyphen?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it possible to add my new married name to my current name without using a hyphen?

      Yes.

      Also, can airline tickets be booked in either last name if there's no hyphen?

      Your airline ticket must match your identification. For domestic flights, the name on your I.D. must match your ticket. For international flights, the name on your passport must match your ticket. It's unlikely the airline will be hoodwinked as they'll cross-reference your name and its divisions (first, middle, last) with the TSA.

      You can take a look at the following maiden or middle name on passport article for additional details.

      Reply
  11. Garrett

    My wife and I were just married a few weeks ago. She went to the DMV yesterday and was told she could not use her maiden name for her middle name b/c of some July 2012 bill for security. I've never heard of anything and was trying to research why. Can't find anything. We live in the state of Georgia, USA, if that helps.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Garrett. They're likely referring to the Real ID Act. It's a federal law that was passed around a decade ago, but has been deferred several times for various reasons. It's meant to be implemented in phases, although the majority of states aren't currently compliant. It ultimately comes down to the supporting document detailing the name change event.

      A few questions. First, did your wife present a supporting document (e.g., marriage certificate) to the DMV? If so, was it a certified copy or church issued certificate? Second, did she change her name with the SSA first? If so, how long did she wait before going to the DMV?

      Reply
      1. Garrett

        Hi Valera,

        Thanks for your response.

        Yes, she did take a certified copy of the marriage certificate. She also had a certified copy of her divorce decree (issued 12/2/13, since the divorce took 3 years to become final) from her first marriage that reflected her name being restored to her maiden name.

        To avoid having to change her name with government agencies twice in two months, she just waited until our marriage was legalized to do it all at once. Her Drivers license had her original married name, but our marriage certificate showed her maiden name, since the divorce decree had shown its legal restoration.

        She went to the DMV first and hasn't been to SSA yet.

        Thank you for your help.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          She went to the DMV first and hasn't been to SSA yet.

          Do the SSA first, then return to the DMV. Georgia's DMV specifies that a valid SSA document can be used to prove the current name along with an additional supporting document showing the new name (e.g., bank/credit card statement, property tax bill, W-2 form, tax return). If you don't have any such supporting document contact the DMV to inquire what other document they'll accept.

          Reply
          1. Garrett

            Thank you very much for your help!
            The SSA changed it correctly by mail without any issues. Then upon returning to the DMV they insisted on going by the "Federal Law" that wouldn't allow the change to happen as desired but after speaking with another employee it was straightened out but not easily.
            Thank you again!

  12. Lisa

    My name on my GC that arrived included my mother's last name as my middle name, (shown as my middle intitial) and my last name as my father's last name and my husband's last name combined. All my other docs/ids are under my married name which is my first name, my middle name (my father's last name), and my husbands last name. Am I allowed to call USCIS to correct this or should I asked my lawyer to talk to them? Will this pose problems when I travel since obviously my passport and GC will not match.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lisa. You can try to contact the USCIS yourself to have a correction issued or have your attorney handle it. Whichever you prefer. You shouldn't face any travel issues as long as you can prove that you're the same person and entitled to both documents.

      Reply
  13. Scott

    My wife and I married in RI almost 20 years ago. At the time, she chose to drop her middle name and replace it with her maiden name (taking my last name). She had no problems changing her SS card or Driver's License (and never had any trouble with any other state we moved to). However, when we moved to Nevada last year, they said they wouldn't honor the name on her SS card, marriage license or current (out-of-state) license because there was no court order showing she legally changed her middle name. The said we'd have to pay to have her name legally changed (which isn't all that cheap from what I've researched). So, now her SS card and Driver's license have different middle names and it is causing quite a hassle. Any advice?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Scott. The Nevada DMV doesn't accept a marriage license as proof for authorizing a name change. You have to supply them with a certified copy of your marriage certificate. This can be acquired from your vital records office.

      Reply
      1. Andie

        You're incorrect and are misunderstanding the comment.

        Nevada DMV told me after 9/11 they can't drop the middle name on your birth certificate, regardless of your certified marriage license and new name on your social security card. You can put your new last name on there, but they have to hyphenate it. He told me I could sign it however I wanted. Such a pain.

        Reply
  14. April

    I live in PA as well and changed my name at the SS office. I took my maiden name as my middle and my husband's last name as my last. The DMV will NOT change it without the below:

    "If you desire to use any name other than 1) your birth name, 2) spouse's surname or 3) a name given by the court, you must provide a copy of a Social Security Card (or records), together with copies of documents from two other sources with the desired name such as: Tax Records, Selective Services Card, Voter Registration Card, Passport or any form of Photo ID issued by a governmental agency."

    Now I'm kind of stuck because it seems like the other forms may need my license to change them? Any advice? So far I have my new SS card and tax documents with my new last nameā€¦I need one more.

    Reply
    1. Laura

      Hello April! I am in EXACTLY the same boat as you. I would recommend using a Voter Registration Card as your third piece of evidence. I just applied for mine, it's a very simple form you mail in with your new name and address, as well as your previously registered name and address. They don't require any supporting documents, so it's OK if your passport and driver's license still have your maiden name on them.

      Here is the site I used to get the form: http://www.votespa.com/

      Then just mail it in and wait.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  15. Sarah

    I live in PA also, and went to the Soc Security office two weeks ago to have my maiden name replaced as my middle name, and they refused to do so without a court ordered document, even thought I had my marriage license. I finally went to PennDOT on Friday to get my license name changed to match my SS card (since my husband and I leave on our honeymoon in 5 weeks), and the PennDOT worker told me I could circumvent the court document requirement by changing my name on my voter registration card as well as either my bank account or my W-4 at work, and take those documents to the Soc Security office for a new card. I'm thinking I may have to wait until after the honeymoon due to time restrictions… I need to be able to board the plane. :)

    Has anyone actually tried this yet? If so, were you successful, and how long did it take?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sarah. See @Laura's comment (preceding yours) which also mentions using the voter registration card as an acceptable supporting document.

      Reply
  16. Allison

    I went today to s.s to change my name after marriage, and they refused to let me drop my middle name for my maiden name.. I live on Long Island, and never heard such nonsense before..

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Allison. While NY is comparatively flexible with last name change options, maiden to middle name change modifications are more stringent than most other states. This restriction you experienced is applied statewide.

      Reply

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