Use Your Maiden Name Even After a Name Change

2,954 Comments

Whether you have decided to change your name in order to match your new spouse's and kids' names or because you like the new name better, there are still some situations in which you may be required to continue using your maiden name. A name change is final in certain situations—if you get your name changed on your passport, for example, you will not typically need to explain what your maiden name is—but it may still come up in other situations.

If you do intend to legally change your name while continuing to use your maiden name for other purposes, our online name change forms can help you to complete the process.

There are a few specific situations in which you may continue to use your maiden name. Here are some of them:

1. In professional contexts, particularly specialized professions

If you have spent the last decade building up a professional identity and reputation, you will not want to quickly cast that off! Some people change their legal name, but continue to use their maiden name after marriage. This can be tricky when people make out checks to you, for instance, but you often just need to talk to your bank and establish that checks may be deposited in your maiden name. You also may be able to obtain authorization to do business as your new name without changing documents—this is called a "doing business as" approval, or DBA.

The DBA approach may also be reversed, by registering a fictitious business name or trade name in your maiden name, while formally changing to your new married name on your personal credentials.

Licensing and legal documents may reflect your new name, but some people get around this by adding a last name: for instance, if your maiden name was Lesley Hastings, you could adopt the last name Smith by becoming Lesley Hastings Smith. This means you can often change legal documents but keep letterhead the same. In any case, there are many ways to get around the differences between legal name and the name your professional contacts know you by.

2. When you aren't ready for the name change in social situations

Many people aren't quite ready to change their name—after all, you have had the same name for your whole life until now! Yet, you want to have an easier time with insurance or paperwork, or want to conform to tradition and adopt your spouse's name. You don't have to go by your legal name in every situation. If you're meeting new people who don't know your spouse and refer to you by your maiden name, you don't necessarily need to correct them.

Meeting with old friends is another situation in which most people will continue to use their maiden name. Friends can have trouble adjusting to the new name if they have known you under one name for a long time! Since most of these situations are purely social, there are no legal ramifications. You may also revert to using your maiden name at any time if you just prefer it!

3. When you are legally obliged to disclose your maiden name

In many types of security and background paperwork, you are required to give any previous names you have gone under so that they can do a more thorough background check. This may include your passport, background checks for jobs or volunteer positions, or credit checks. In these kinds of situations, you are usually legally obligated to provide your maiden name.

How do you know if this is a requirement? Check the form—if there is a space for you to list other names you have gone under, there is usually a prompt that says "such as maiden names" in the instructions. It's usually better to be safe than sorry unless you're truly trying to escape your maiden name, in which case you can ask whoever you would submit the paperwork to whether it is a requirement to list your maiden name.

4. If you haven't yet updated all your paperwork

When you get your name changed, there are many steps to take in order to get every name updated! Your name is on everything from your social security card and credit card to your bank account, so you may not have updated all of your paperwork yet. Keep careful track of who you have gotten a name change approval from so far, so that you'll never be at a loss as to which name to supply.

Before you get official approval to use your new name, you can introduce yourself or identify yourself with your maiden name, then let them know that you are in the process of changing your name. This is often enough to satisfy requirements at places such as banks, as they understand that the name change process can be a hassle. It can certainly be more annoying when it comes to passports, since government officials tend to be more strict about names.

5. While deciding whether to go through with a name change

Some people just aren't sure whether they're ready for a name change. You might decide to change your legal name on some documents while deciding whether you truly want to change your name. You might even be on board with the name change until you actually start signing documents and introducing yourself with a new name entirely.

You aren't alone if you decide that you aren't sure if you want to go through with a name change yet, if at all. You can often change your name back to your maiden name or simply start to use the maiden name again whenever you choose to do so. If you don't want to go through the hassle of changing back the name again, you can sometimes add the new name as an alternate name to various accounts and with important agencies.

Changing your name is no small matter, and even when you change your maiden name to a new one, no rule says you need to use it in every situation or introduce yourself with it all the time! Many newly-married couples avoid the name change decision, so relax: you have time to choose where you want to use which names. You can continue to use your maiden name until you have decided whether to use it or your married name in each situation… and you may never really change your name when you're chatting with old friends!

2,954 Comments

  1. Larry Parker

    My wife and I married in January. She came here from Romania and we have a lawyer who is following us through the process of getting her a green card and citizenship. We recently applied for her SSN and found that the name on her card is her maiden name. Even though we presented them with a marriage certificate from Nebraska which showed we were legally married and also her passport from Romania, which obviously contained her maiden name. Would it be advisable for us to go through the process of changing her name with this site, or should we consult our lawyer before we make this move?

    I was not aware that her name wouldn't change after marriage, even though we told the registrar that she would take my name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      As you currently have a lawyer assisting you and your spouse through the citizenship and green card process, it makes sense to consult him/her about your situation.

      You stated that you didn't know your wife's name wouldn't automatically change after marriage. This is to be expected. Once you're married the name change process isn't automatic. You and your spouse may have specified what you want her name change to be on the marriage certificate, but that doesn't equate to her name changing. You'll have to go through the process of notifying the proper institutions afterward in order to get that done for real.

      Reply
  2. Diana

    Hi I got married in Feb 2012 and just added my husbands last name to mine. Will it be possible to remove my maiden name? And get a new marriage certificate showing the name change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Yes, you can remove your maiden name. As for modifying your existing marriage certificate, it's unlikely that such a request would be granted. You can contact your local vital records office to seek clarification, but they'll typically only amend a marriage record if there's a mistake on it, such as a spelling error or sections left blank.

      Marriage certificates are rarely amended after they're filed as they're just meant to serve as historical records of certain events, such as birth, marriage, or divorce. If you do need to have a modification done, you will have to fill out a form, typically referred to as an "affidavit to amend a marriage record."

      Expect to pay a modest processing fee to have your record amended. If you need a certified copy of your updated marriage certificate mailed to you afterward, be sure to request that separately. The amendment fee is only for updating your record, not to send you out a new certificate.

      Reply
    2. Dolores

      I was married and kept my married name after a divorce I remarried 20 years later so my marriage license reads my previous husbands last name
      I want to take my new maiden name hyphenated with my new husbands name. Is that possible? If so what documents do I need?

      Reply
      1. Valera

        Sure. Hyphenation is a common name change option. Use your marriage certificate to facilitate the name change.

        Reply
  3. Diana

    One last question can u remove my maiden name on my driver's licences even thought it has it on my green card?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      The DMV uses a marriage certificate to facilitate a name change, not a green card.

      Reply
      1. j

        The DMV uses primary documentation to change identifying information. For permanent residents it is your green card or passport with valid stamp. I know because I recently went through this process.

        Reply
      2. marcia

        actually the DMV used my name like it is on my green card , they didn't care about my social security(that has my name as I wanted) and my green card came with my entire name plus my husbands, was suppose to cut my middle name, they didn't!!!!

        Reply
  4. Victoria

    HELLO !!!! I took my husband's surname after marriage, but I do not want to change my documents (including green card and SSN), can I still use my maiden name and do not change the documents for husband's name? Or am I required to use husband's name, as written on the certificate of marriage, and I am obliged to change my green card and SSN? Can I change my name in obtaining United States citizenship, but until then to use my maiden name, despite the fact that certificate of marriage stated in the marriage? Thank you for advice!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Let's go through your questions, bit-by-bit:

      I took my husband's surname after marriage, but I do not want to change my documents

      You're not required to. Changing your last name is optional.

      can I still use my maiden name and do not change the documents for husband's name

      If you don't change your documents, then you'd continue to go by your maiden name (as your name hasn't changed). Essentially maintaining the status quo.

      Or am I required to use husband's name, as written on the certificate of marriage

      Having a new last name on your marriage certificate does not equate to your officially changing your name. Unless you take the next step of formally notifying the proper institutions, your maiden name will remain as-is and unchanged.

      Can I change my name in obtaining United States citizenship, but until then to use my maiden name

      We may be veering a little off topic here. If you're looking to undergo a non-marriage related name change while obtaining your U.S. citizenship, you may want to consult with the INS USCIS or an immigration attorney.

      Reply
      1. Victoria

        Thanks for your advice! You helped me a lot to understand! I'm already married, and the marriage certificate says that I took her husband's name, so I want to know if I must change all their documents (green card, SSN) with a new husband's name, or can I change my documents to the new name her husband at any time whenever I want, and I do not have any obligation to, I used her husband's surname after marriage, as specified in the certificate of marriage?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          I think I get the gist of what you're asking, but it's a little confusing as you appear to be referring to yourself in the third-person at certain spots. I chalk it up to what looks like a little bit of a language barrier, but no worries.

          If you have decided to formally change your name, you will have to update the documents you specified. Whether you decide to do it sooner or later is up to you. Not everyone chooses to change their name immediately after marriage. Some folks wait until later.

          Your last sentence seems like there's some uncertainty as you refer to your having an "obligation to" change (I assume) your documents. I'm not sure what you mean by "obligation?" Are you referring to it technically (in terms of paperwork) or on a personal preference level?

          Let me just reiterate what was mentioned previously. Changing one's name is not required. It's optional.

          Reply
        1. Valera

          Thanks for catching that legacy error Tom. The proper institution abbreviation is now specified.

          Reply
  5. Abeni Mcnair

    I changed my name only at the DMV when I married but I I want to use my maiden name now as I haven't changed my name on my ss card or anything else. . Is this possiable just to go to dmv and have maiden name placed back on ID

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Yes, that should be fine. Return to the DMV and bring your social security card that shows your maiden name. It wouldn't hurt to bring your birth certificate as well.

      Reply
  6. Sara

    I'm planning On changing my last name when i marry. I am debating changing my child`s last name at the same time. I had had my first child very young and gave him his biological fathers name. Since then I have had two more children with my fiancé of six years. Do you have more information on changing the names of children.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      The various jurisdictions throughout the U.S. have different laws regarding the changing of a child's name. Generally speaking, you'll have to file a petition with the court requesting your minor's name be changed. You'll have to affirm that it's not for fraudulent reasons.

      For your first child, you'll have to get written, notarized consent from the biological father. The court should provide you details of what supporting documentation you'll need to bring, such as a marriage certificate (original or certified copy) and consent paperwork.

      Reply
  7. Jay

    Hello. I recently came across a situation that made my wife very upset and I can't find any information on what I should have done, if anything.

    My wife had to fill out some paperwork at a hospital for a pending surgery, she was instructed to never use her married last name. We explained to the clerks at the hospital that she changed her name legally in every id, including driver's license, passport, even ssn card. There is no valid form of identification that has her maiden name, on top of that my wife really prefers to not use her maiden name ever again.

    They were not allowing it, they made her sign her actual signature under the name she renounced which was her maiden name. She felt like she was signing under the name of another person since it is not her legal name and she is concerned that she was in a way forced to break the law by signing under a name different to her actual name. On top of that, if she wishes to ask for her medical records, she has no id with the maiden name and therefore no medical records will be given to her.

    So our questions are, can she be obligated to ONLY put her maiden name in forms even though that is not her legal name and is she breaking the law by signing a document with her current signature under her maiden name and not her legal name?

    It caused a great deal of confusion and both my wife and I are concerned that this may cause legal problems. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      As I'm not privy to the circumstances of what went down, I can't speak specifically about you and your wife's experience with your hospital. Generally speaking, hospital protocols vary and can be quite strict. They typically have documented guidelines that staff follow, especially regarding paperwork.

      Some institutions won't deal with a new name unless it's been updated in their records first. For instance, let's say you were facing a similar situation with an airline—you get a ticket with an old name, but your ID has your new name. That's a name mismatch problem, which can result in a delay of getting on your flight. You go to the bank and try to cash a check written out to your old name, but your ID has your new name. Another name mismatch, which may give you trouble getting your money.

      For a hospital, how do they deal with a patient's old name in their records not matching an updated name on an ID card? What's their protocol to change it? How fast can they change it and have those alterations propagated in time for any imminent medical procedure that's taking place?

      Different hospitals have different rules. It may be a good idea to simply talk to the hospital administrator about your experience. You say you're not able to access your medical records because your wife doesn't have ID with her maiden name? Well, do you need to update your wife's name on file to access the records, or do they need some proof of identity that displays her maiden name, such as a birth certificate? A question that can be asked of the records department or hospital administrator.

      As to the legality of signing a maiden name instead of a legal name to a document… different states, different laws, different circumstances. For such a unique legal query a private attorney or legal aid office could be consulted.

      Reply
      1. Jay

        Thank you for your response.

        This was a hospital we had never been to before and therefore a new record was opened under the maiden name. They had no record whatsoever of her before. But they refused to let her write her current legal name.

        Funny thing is that she wrote her maiden name and they did not ask for any ID to confirm! So she could have written yogowippi as her last name and they would have accepted it!

        Talked to my lawyer and she said that after a legal name change, anything you do has to be with your legal name, the most you can do is "aka" the previous name of you want or if there is a space for "maiden name" for you to write it, which there wasn't in our case. Sometimes people change their names for protection and they cannot be obligated to either say the reason of the name change or the previous name. When it comes to medical care and insurance payment, it is generally not a problem but insurance companies can refuse payment of medical care due to inconsistencies, especially in cases like mine where the person came into the insurance coverage under the new legal name and there is no record of a maiden name.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          That's interesting. As I mentioned previously, you could contact the hospital administrator (or whoever's in charge of such matters there) to try and get an explanation for why they wanted the paperwork filled out with the maiden name instead of the legal name. Documentation detailing that could be worthwhile.

          I think you touched on an important concern—will the insurance claims filed be covered without incident. You can contact the hospital to see if they were able to file them successfully. You can also contact your insurance company to see the status of any claims.

          If a medical organization is going to file an insurance claim, they'll not just use a name as a reference. They'll use an identifying data point specific to the insurance company and policy holder, such as a group/subscriber ID or social security number. Claims that don't go through due to technicalities can typically be refiled once the parties involved get on the same page.

          Finally, you can also get in touch with your insurance company and have them note your wife's maiden name in their records. Insurance companies deal with name changes often and have procedures in place to handle them.

          Reply
  8. Vel

    I got married and I changed to my husband last name at the DMV but i let everything else stayed the same and I went back to the DMV to change my name back to my maiden name because i decided to keep my maiden name and they wouldn't let me change it back what can i do

    Reply
    1. Valera

      What was their basis for declining your request? Did they say you need to provide a certain legal document, such as a birth certificate/record?

      Reply
      1. Vel

        no they told me that I had to bring in a document of a legal name change

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Vel, did they specify what "document" or documents they deemed acceptable? It seems like they're asking you to provide a document that doesn't exist as you've not actually undergone a complete name change.

          Reply
          1. Vel

            They told me I had to bring a document from the counts stating my name change

          2. Valera

            Interesting. They're asking you to get a document from the court detailing your name change when you never actually changed your name? It seems as though they're of the belief that you did legally change your name. You may want to explain to them that you never formally changed your name and you're in need of a "correction" to the name on your driver's license.

          3. Vel

            I went to the DMV and explain to them about my situation and they still told me that I had to go though a legal name change and bring it in with me to get my name change back

          4. Valera

            But, still, what's the rationale? How are you supposed to legally change your current name to your current name? Have you gotten this consistent response from other DMV's or other agents?

            Now, it appears you've hit a roadblock at that particular DMV. Have you tried contacting your court and explaining this situation to them? That your DMV wants you to undertake a legal name change, even though your name hasn't legally change anywhere other than that DMV?

            Can the court supply you with a document "affirming" your current name, rather than you undergoing an actual legal name change? Can they supply you with such a document that can satisfy your DMV?

  9. chelsea

    i have a question if i take my husbands last name on the marriage license does that mean i also have to change it on all my documents to my married last name or can i just keep them the way they are for now since we are doing this secretly and i don't want my family finding out just yet

    Reply
    1. Valera

      No, not if you don't want to. Specifying a new name on your marriage license doesn't formally change anything. It's not binding. If you do nothing, the status quo remains.

      Reply
  10. Eva

    Hello,My country doesn't allow to change your name when you get married but I got marry to an American and in the US I took my husband s last name, keeping my maiden name in my country . Now I got dual citizenship and I have to get an American passort. I have my husband's last name in my Driving licence and my naturalization certificate but I would like to get a US passport with my maiden name so my foreing passport and my American passport match (for plane tickets' purpouses) Is it possible to get my maiden name in my passport without going throw a change of name again? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I recommend you contact the State Department and ask about what identification document(s) you'll need to provide with your first time passport application. They can provide a list of acceptable primary and secondary forms of identification. Be sure to explain you have dual citizenship and your intent is to synchronize your two passports to match your maiden name.

      Reply
  11. Adriana

    Hi,
    I am currently an American living in Germany. I recently got married in Denmark to another American.
    My marriage certificate only states my maiden name because i was told they cannot change my name.
    I attempted to change my name on my social security card but was told i need proof of my new name. I do not have any form of I.D with my new name because any where i go i am asked for proof of a new last name. I am at a loss at how to go about changing my last name to my husbands.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Did you have your marriage certificate filed with a clerk of courts in the U.S. or overseas equivalent? If so, when attempting to change your name were you using your Germany-originated certificate or U.S. filed and validated & recognized certificate?

      Reply
  12. Darlene Aldridge

    I married a man 23 years ago who had been married before. Shortly after we were married his ex remarried but kept my husband's last name. She has no professional career that she would need to keep the name to be identified by or children with his name and yet she continues to go by our last name. She is mentally unstable and I hate it when someone asks if I am related to this person. Is there a way she can be forced not to use his name or can I change mine back to my maiden name without doing it legally?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is there a way she can be forced not to use his name

      No, that's not possible.

      or can I change mine back to my maiden name without doing it legally?

      No. If you want to go back to your maiden name you have to undergo the name change process. Although, you can use your maiden name in some informal contexts (e.g., social settings, professional identity).

      Reply
  13. Tootietoo2

    I received a new (renewed) passport in 2010 in my maiden name. I got married in 2011 and hyphenated my name on my driver's license and social security card (Tootie Maiden-Married), but forgot about my passport. Now we're going on vacation out of the country and my passport is in my maiden name only. We leave in a few weeks & I really don't want to spend the $140 renewal fee plus fees to expedite. Is it legal for me to travel under my maiden name? Can I travel as "Tootie Maiden" instead of "Tootie Maiden-Married?"

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Yes, it's fine to travel under your maiden name. Make sure you airline ticket matches the name on your passport as well.

      Reply
  14. Samantha Favela

    Hi there ! I'd gotten married almost 2 years ago, I changed my name to take his last name, however I'm feeling very weary about it– I don't think I was ready for that change, and I was wondering if it is possible to add my maiden name back ? Along with his last name, or is it possible to change my name back to maiden name completely ? I'm currently going through schooling, and there's so many documents and forms I'm being driven crazy on which name I can use… It's quite stressful

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Samantha, you can go back to your maiden name. Unfortunately, it's a bit more cumbersome than a marriage-related name change. You'll likely have to do it by petitioning the court.

      Reply
  15. Katie

    Hi,
    I changed my name on everything when I got married. Now, I'm wishing I had kept my maiden name somewhere. Is it possible to go back and have it added, like say to my middle name? For example, Julia Rose Roberts Smith. Smith being the only "last name."
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Katie. Samantha, above, asked an identical question, and it's pretty much the same answer. You're basically looking at having to undergo a legal name change by petitioning your local court. After you get that done, you'll have to go ahead and formally change your name on all your documents all over again.

      Reply
  16. mily

    I would like to keep my maiden name professionally, but change my name personally since getting married. I was able to change my bank account to include both names, but the DMV wouldn't allow me to add my husband's surname without a court-documented name change. (I wanted to use my maiden as middle name, or even just the first letter as my middle initial but was told I couldn't) I need to apply for a social security card and would like to use my maiden name as middle, but will I also be required to have a court-document, or will the marriage certificate suffice?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      First of all, you'll typically want to do social security first, then driver's license. For last name changes, your marriage certificate should suffice. For maiden to middle name changes, there are six states (CA, NJ, NY, OH, PA, WA) where the state DMV may not allow it with just a marriage certificate. Depending on the clerk you get and how strict they are, they may throw the court-petitioned name change requirement at you.

      Reply
  17. Katie

    Hi there!
    I have been in such agony over the decision to use my Fiancé's last name after marriage. What I would love to do is change my name on my marriage certificate to his last name, but not go through the actual official name change with social security etc.. If I did this, would I legally be allowed to go by either my maiden or married name in applying for jobs etc…?
    Thank you so so much!
    Katie (PS: a resident of Michigan, if that matters)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If you only change your name on your marriage certificate and do nothing else, it doesn't really change anything practically. Your "married name" is still technically your maiden name, which is the name you'll need to use on legal documents.

      As for swapping out your married and maiden name on job applications, this wouldn't work as you've described because your married name would still be your maiden name, as I mentioned above. What you seem to be suggesting is interchanging your maiden name with an unofficial, non-binding married name that exists only on your marriage certificate.

      A potential employer is most likely going to want your real name. Some employers will run background checks on applicants and if you've not provided your real, legal name that can obviously be problematic.

      Reply
  18. Deidre

    Hi there!

    I never ever wanted to change my last name but my husband forced me to include his last name for the new surname section for our marriage licence. When he files for me for my greencard must I use the new name? Is it too late now that there's a new surname on the marriage licence. I am told the new name does not have to be reflected on my marriage certificate.

    Looking forward to your reply. Thanks so much.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I am told the new name does not have to be reflected on my marriage certificate.

      Correct. The marriage certificate is what's important. The marriage license is just the document you get before marriage allowing you to get married.

      Reply
      1. Deidre

        Wow thanks for the speedy response! However after just looking at my marriage license it appears here in ny the bottom will be signed and the license will also serve as the marriage certificate?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Deidre, let me clarify. The marriage certificate is what's important. This is the document you receive that proves you are married. This is the document you'll use when going through the name change process, if you so choose.

          Now, there are some states and counties where the document may be the same. Often the document is titled something such as "License and Certificate of Marriage." This is probably what you're seeing. The document's status is different based upon if you're married or not. Before you're married, its status is just that of a marriage license. After you're married, and the officiant signs the license and files it with the local vital records office, the document status shifts to certificate.

          But here's the bottom line… Whatever name you put on the license/certificate does not automatically change your name in any formal way. Unless you go through the proper name change procedures, your name does not and will not change.

          Reply
          1. Barb

            So after reading many of these posts is my understanding correct that the definition of " proper name change procedures" would be the process of me actually calling my credit cards, going to the DMV, going to the bank, going to the social security office etc. and telling them my new married name? Until I do this, even though my last name has changed on the marriage cert I can opt to keep my maiden on all of these documents and it is legal? and I can do the name change to my married name at any time in the future when I feel ready…..or not? How about on my will & POA & house title? Can I leave my maiden name on these documents?

          2. Valera

            Until I do this, even though my last name has changed on the marriage cert I can opt to keep my maiden on all of these documents and it is legal?

            Correct.

            …and I can do the name change to my married name at any time in the future when I feel ready…

            Correct.

            How about on my will & POA & house title? Can I leave my maiden name on these documents?

            Yes.

      2. Deidre

        Oh got ya! So therefore when I fill out aos app I am not obligated to use new surname although it appears on marriage certificate right? A change of name is way more emotional than I expected!!!

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Yes, changing one's name is optional. It's not an automatic process. Unless someone proactively chooses to do so, their name remains the same. If you have any uncertainty about your situation, you can contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

          Reply
          1. Deidre

            Ok got ya! I thought the formal name change procedure was including the new name on marriage licence and certificate. *breathes sigh of relief*

      3. Xenia

        Hi, Valera
        I just get married with my husband. We are both Chinese ,and he just had his green card. When I filled the marriage license and application forms I choice change my last name. But when we took our marriage certificate my last name still same as my maiden name. I feel confused right now whether my last name had changed? If I don't go to change my passport or driver's license by myself, my last name still my maiden name is that legal ?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          But when we took our marriage certificate my last name still same as my maiden name.

          Changing your name on your marriage certificate does not equate to changing your name for real. It's not binding.

          Reply
  19. Marina

    I got married a few years ago but since we were in the middle of a green card process I decided against taking my husbands surname. However now I am planning to go through the process of naturalization and would like to change my surname to my husbands surname. I have built a reputation for myself professionally under my maiden name and would like to continue using it. In reading this article it seems like I can continue to use my maiden name professionally while using my married name in other contexts and I'm good with that. My question is this…in my professional capacity I draft and sign legal documents for my employer. Should I use my married name or can I still use my maiden name for these documents? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Generally speaking, married name goes on legal documents, but there are no hard and fast rules that dictate every scenario. For instance, your employer may not require you to sign your married name, so you'll have to ask them. Or if they do, perhaps they can waive the requirement. Or agree to have you sign it in another format that includes your maiden and married name (e.g., First | Maiden | Married).

      Reply
  20. ana

    I've never married I used his last name because I had his kids. Can I go to Texas DMV and just use my maiden last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Ana, I don't understand what you're asking. Are you saying you've informally been using your spouse's last name, but never actually changed your last name for real? Or did you originally change your last name without getting married? And you're asking if you can go to the DMV and do what? Change your maiden name to his? Or restore your maiden name? Please clarify.

      Reply
  21. Connie

    I have separated from my husband and would like to use my maiden name again professionally. Will that be a problem?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      No, that wouldn't be a problem. Many people do. Just be certain that when you're signing or applying your name to certain legal documents that you're using your proper legal name.

      Reply
  22. Isabel

    I got married 20 years ago and changed all my legal documentation to my married name but for professional purposes continued to use my maiden name hypenated by my married name. Can I change that with my marriage certificate or will it require a petition for name change to the court in Florida?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Isabel, as you've already gone through a marriage name change several years ago and are looking to change it a second time with the same spouse, it's unlikely your original marriage certificate will suffice again. Even though these things can vary from state to state, and often county to county, you're likely facing the court order route.

      Reply
  23. Luie

    Hi. I'm applying for greencard to US. On my application i used my married namebut on my passport i'm still using my maiden name and i want to stay as it is. Do i have any problem with that? Do i really need to change it to married name

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Luie, you don't have to update your passport name if you don't want to. Just make sure any airline tickets you purchase matches the name on your passport.

      Reply
  24. virali

    haloo,
    i m married since fabruary..i have my marriage certificate but i have not chage my surname any where now if i am planning to have a fresh passport in that though i have heard that one can keep their maiden surname in passport but what to do about the address proof as my parents as well as my husband stay in the same city but my Adhar card shows my address of my maiden address and not of my husband?so what should i do in that case?very confuse

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi virali. For U.S. passports, it's true that the maiden name can remain as is. As for your Aadhaar card status, that's something specific to India, so you'll have to contact the proper authorities in India for assistance.

      Reply
  25. Cindy

    Hi!
    I am newly married and was considering adding my husbands name to mine. I only would like to change my drivers licence ,SS card, and passport. I also think I have to change it for my tax forms. I have many other accounts such as bank, credit cards, mortgages ect. As long as I have both names on the main leagal forms can I leave all other accounts in my maiden name? And if I open new ones do I have the option to use one or the other rather than both? Such as I open a new bank account. Could I use just my married or surname? Thank you for your help?

    Cin

    Reply
    1. Valera

      As long as I have both names on the main leagal forms can I leave all other accounts in my maiden name?

      Technically, you could, but the downside is there will be inconsistencies. For instance, you change your name on your I.D. card, but not your credit card. There's a name mismatch there, which can be problematic when making purchases.

      And if I open new ones do I have the option to use one or the other rather than both? Such as I open a new bank account. Could I use just my married or surname?

      Generally speaking, your married name goes on legal documents. You can always ask, but I doubt a bank would accept anything other than your legal, married, hyphenated name.

      Reply
  26. Chris

    Hi Valera,

    My husband and I will be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks. In addition, I'm in the process of looking for a new job. Our marriage certificate says that my last name will be the same as his but I never changed it . Over the past few years, however, I've been using my maiden name and married name as my last name (no hyphen). Given I'm job searching (and using both last names on my resume), I want to officially change my name to both last names and retain my middle name. How I do this given how the marriage certificate reads that I will be using his surname only?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      What's important is the document itself, and not so much the name on it. Make sure it's the original or certified copy though.

      Reply
  27. Dimple

    Hello,
    So I have an interesting situation. I got married back in April 2009 and changed my name where my maiden name became my middle name and I took my husband's last name because we were purchasing our first home. I changed my name on my SS, Driver's license, my bank accounts and all my tax related paperwork. In 2011 my husband got a job offer outside of the country but my passport still had my maiden name. So now in the foreign country (which is our official place of residents) all of my paperwork including visas, traveling visas, all insurance, driver's license, country id and so forth has my maiden name. We recently found out we are pregnant and my dilemma is that I have a different name in the US then I do in the country I reside in (which doesn't including my husband's last name). If and when we do plan on moving back to the US with our family, I don't want have any problems with the birth certificate(s) with my children because they will only put the name that's on my passport on the birth certificate. I think it would be easier to change my name back in the US then deal with the hassle in the foreign country. Please advise. Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      …I don't want have any problems with the birth certificate(s) with my children…

      You can contact the SSA about this, but I don't see what the difficulty would be. You should be able to provide a U.S. consular report of birth, which is an accepted document. You can explain why your maiden name remained on your passport, which is not an uncommon thing.

      For instance, some folks who undergo a name change will temporarily delay a passport name change if they're bumping up against immediate travel plans that might precede the turnaround time of processing the passport name change. Oftentimes, one can deal with this scenario by opting for expedited service. You've done your own extended delay with a different rationale, but the end result is the same.

      I think it would be easier to change my name back in the US then deal with the hassle in the foreign country.

      Perhaps. It depends on the country and how many documents you'll need to update. If there's not a compelling reason for you to make the change while in the foreign country, why put yourself through what you deem to be a hassle?

      Reply
  28. aprill

    I got a divorce back in feb of 2013 and i never changed back to my maiden name. As of June 2013 I married another man and I am wondering what documents will be required to get a social security card under my married name. I have my birth certificate, my id with my previous last name on it, my divorce decree and my marriage license for this marriage. Do you think that is all that I will need?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Primary document is your marriage certificate (original or certified copy). It can be gotten from your vital records office.

      Reply
  29. Robin Gryskiewicz

    Hello,

    I'm in quite agony about whether to change my last name once I am married in Oct. I'm very fond of my last name (and proud of it). I am also a veterinarian and want to keep my name for my profession ie my signature to stay the same for my profession. My fiance has his heart set on me at least hyphenating my name. I've read that you can keep your professional name and still legally change your name. How would that work?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Pretty much as you think it would. Use your married name in the proper context, such as when you apply it to legal or licensing documents. Then use your professional names in other business and social contexts.

      Reply
      1. Army Girl

        So would you just apply the name change to banking, social security, passport, mortgages, etc? I'm active duty military and have an official passport issued by the government. Would I need to change that to mirror my personal passport if I intend to keep my maiden name for professional purposes in the military?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Would I need to change that to mirror my personal passport if I intend to keep my maiden name for professional purposes in the military?

          Have you confirmed if protocol allows this? It's one thing to use your maiden name informally in certain business context, but another to purposefully do so on certain official documentation. You'll want to be careful that any name mismatches won't become problematic.

          Reply
  30. Stacey

    Hi, I was wondering is there a time frame we should change all of the formal identifications to match the marriage certificate (ie if I decide 3 years down the line to finally go ahead and change everything, will I run into problems)? Thank you

    Reply
      1. Xenia

        And one more question.
        Does there has any time limitation if I want to change my last name to my husband's later?

        Reply
  31. Lupe

    Hello, i been married for a year now and when I got married i did choose to get my husband's last name, but i have not chace any document with his last name. I just think its too much changing names and i perfer to keep my birth name. Is it possible to keep my birth name instead of my husbands even though My marriage certificate states that i changed my name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Yes. Just do nothing and your birth name will remain your current, legal name. Changing one's name on a marriage certificate doesn't technically change anyone's name in any official capacity.

      Reply
  32. taleah

    Hi I got married about a yr ago and havent changed my name.
    My husband wants me to drop my lat name and im not sure how i feel about it.
    No one really knows about my marriage and not sure how to go about this.
    If i get my name hyphenated can I still use my maiden name for example – Mary Lee -Brown ;can i use Mary Lee for like work,bills,checks stuff like as it was that this way i dont have to go through the name change process? or do i have to use the Mary Brown or Mary Lee-Brown

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If i get my name hyphenated can I still use my maiden name for example – Mary Lee -Brown ;can i use Mary Lee for like work, bills,checks stuff

      For work, it depends. If you're the boss, then it's your choice how you decide to use your name in a professional, business capacity. Jump to the end of my comment for a caveat.

      If you're an employee, you'll have to consult with your workplace rules/requirements to determine what is or isn't allowed. Depending on what your job is and how your name interacts with it, they may prefer you use your legal, married name. For instance, if you're responsible for signing company documents or checks, they may want your legal name applied to those papers. If your name doesn't interact with anything like that, then they may not care. But, even if that's the case, you'll want to make sure your employer is applying your legal name correctly to certain paperwork (e.g., taxes, workers compensation, health insurance) so as not to holdup any benefits you should be receiving.

      For bills, unless a name mismatch is going to result in a delay or complication in services rendered, I don't think it's particularly momentous what you do.

      For checks, you can request your bank allow checks to be deposited and cashed in your maiden name.

      With all that said, as a rule of thumb, you should sign your married, legal name to legal documents.

      Reply
  33. Anita

    Such great information! Glad I found this site!

    When I got married about 7 years ago, I made my maiden name into my middle name (dropped previous middle completely) and took my husband's last name. Names were changed on my DL, SSN and Passport. A year later we moved to a new state and I wanted all three names to appear on my DL just as they had in my old state. The clerk at the DMV said they don't do middle names on DLs here only initials, but he could hyphenate my middle and last name if I wanted. I said okay. I've since learned that he really shouldn't have done that, but's its remained like that to this day, even after a renewal.

    Now, 7 years into marriage, I regret taking my husband's last name. Or at least, I regret not hyphenating it officially at the time. My question is, since I already have a govt issued document (my DL) with my preferred name, does it offer me any shortcuts to getting a new SSN with the hyphenated name or do I still have to go through the court process? Also, would any name change I undergo at this point have any affect on my child's name who was born a couple years ago and has his father's (my husband's) last name? I wouldn't think it would but obviously my name on his birth certificate will be different (though not very different) if I am successful in changing my name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My question is, since I already have a govt issued document (my DL) with my preferred name, does it offer me any shortcuts to getting a new SSN with the hyphenated name or do I still have to go through the court process?

      Unfortunately, no shortcuts. Since you've already gone through an official married name change with your current spouse, you'll have to go through the courts the second go-round. I know it's a bummer.

      Also, would any name change I undergo at this point have any affect on my child's name…

      No. Your child's name would be unaffected.

      Reply
  34. Hailey

    Hi,
    I just got married on August 13, 2013. I went to Social Security office for a name change to my husbands last name. The lady told my husband and I that I will have my new social security card in 10 days and she said that my name will be updated. What did she mean by updated? Does that mean I can use his last name or do I need all my information changed to use my new married name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      It means your name has been changed within their system. You can begin to use your husband's last name. You'll have to contact the other various institutions to complete your name change where it hasn't been updated.

      Reply
      1. Jessica

        Hi so my question kind of relates to hers
        So I went ahead and got a name change through the social security office and recieved my new social security card but I haven't changed my name on my drivers license, credit cards,etc will that affect me in any way??

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Jessica. It's a now or later thing. Eventually you'll have to update your records. If you wait until your license expires, you'll end up having to update it then. Several states have laws requiring folks who've changed their name to update their driver's license within X days, but the consequence for not doing so is, oftentimes, ambiguous.

          Reply
  35. Kelly

    HI,
    So I got married two weeks ago and just received my marriage certificate. I am one of those who is not ready to change my name or sure which option is for me. I had to fill in my " name after marriage" on my marriage license for it to be complete and valid. So under pressure I chose to hyphenate our last names. I didn't do much research on this before hand and now I don't feel that it's right for me. I haven't changed my name legally yet, so I was wondering could I drop my maiden name or the hyphen when I apply for a new social security card. Or am I going to have to do all of this twice? once for marriage certificate and then again to change name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      As I understand it, you regret hyphenating your name on your marriage certificate, and you're not certain if you even want to change your name, yet you're asking how to change your name anyway?

      Please keep in mind, name change is optional. If you're not sure if you want to go forward with a name change, you don't have to decide now. You don't have to decide, ever.

      Whatever name you have on your marriage certificate isn't binding. If you don't go through the steps of changing your name, then what you have on your marriage certificate won't matter, as it won't be used for anything. It'll just be a piece of paper sitting in your local vital records office's file cabinet.

      Now, if you do plan to go forward with a name change, but you're concerned that the last name on the certificate isn't the name you'll be sticking with, then that's not really an issue. The marriage certificate document, itself, is what's important when filing your name change paperwork. It'll serve as proof of name change.

      Reply
  36. ellie

    Hi,

    You've been great with all the advice you've given – thank you so much, and sorry if you've already answered this one:

    I've been married for five years and recently became a US citizen. I then decided to change my name to my husband's so that we all (along with our kids) would have the same name. Now I regret it because I have to change all my documents, including social security card, credit cards, driver's license, etc. Would it be OK if I didn't change my name in all those documents or am I required legally to inform SSN and other institutes of my name change? And if I do need to change my name everywhere, then I am seriously considering going back to my maiden name…do you think it might be possible to change my name back to my maiden name even though my certificate of citizenship is in my newly acquired name?

    Thanks again!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ellie. You may have to contact USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) about changing your naturalization/citizenship document to reflect your preferred name. Keep in mind, there's likely to be a fee for this.

      Reply
  37. Shirley

    Hi Valera,
    Thank you for a great website. I have learned alot but unfortunately I still have a question. I have built my name professionally. I got married while in graduate school and I have my degrees in my maiden name so definately want to use my maiden name in the workplace. I took my husband's name because I also wanted to have the same name as our children. After we married, I made a name change at DMV and also with my passport, but I never made the change with Social Security. Now we live outside the US and I am applying for US government job. I would like to use my maiden name on my resume but knowing that its a government job and I'm providing my social security number on the application, I'm wondering if I should use my legal name as given on my passport and drivers license. Yet I never made the change witih social security so I wonder if it mattters? I also never changed the name for my credit cards or bank accounts. If I you tell me I should use my married name on the resume is there a way to make it clear on my resume that I want to use my maiden name professionally. I've considered keeping my maiden name on the resume, putting "legal: married name" in parenthesis below it and using my married name on the application forms that requires a SS# . Is that just more confusing? Do I just use my married name everyone and assert my maiden name later (although my publications are in my maiden name)? Please help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      After we married, I made a name change at DMV and also with my passport, but I never made the change with Social Security.

      I would like to use my maiden name on my resume but knowing that its a government job and I'm providing my social security number on the application, I'm wondering if I should use my legal name as given on my passport and drivers license.

      You prefer to use your maiden name on your resume. The job application is asking for your social security number, not your passport or driver's license number. Your social security number is still in your maiden name. So you're not really facing a potential name mis-match, from the application's perspective. Technically, using your maiden name seems to be the more appropriate choice.

      Now, I don't think it hurts to explain to your potential employer your name situation. Perhaps as an addendum. It's clear that you're approaching this with great caution. Continue to do that.

      Is that just more confusing?

      You've built a professional reputation based on your maiden name, and you're carrying that on. Many people do. It's quite a common thing. It's a little bit more work, but you're proving it's doable.

      Reply
  38. Carmen

    My husband and I are debating on how to use the maiden name and married name. In what sequence do you place names? For instance Carmen Maiden Married or Carmen Married Maiden? thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Carmen. It's typically Maiden Married. But it ultimately comes down to personal preference.

      Reply
  39. Stacie

    I recently got married in NY, my foreign wife put my last name hyphenated with her maiden last name (maiden-married). We applied for her green card but put only her maiden name. Will this be a problem since its on the marriage certificate? All other supporting documents we submitted show only her maiden name. Ie. passport, current visa.

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Stacie. Which are you concerned it might be a problem for? Green card or other documents, such as passport?

      Reply
        1. Valera

          The name change processes utilizes the marriage certificate as proof of name change. I don't see how your green card is even a factor.

          Reply
  40. Samantha

    Hi!
    Please forgive me if you've answered this before. I am just so confused!

    I got married almost a year ago. When filling out the marriage certificate, the woman at the courthouse said to NOT put what my married name would be on the license, but my maiden name. I even told her I wanted to change it. But yet she told my husband to put what his would be (he dropped his second last name because it was hyphenated and such a hassle!) and left it at that.

    After marrying, I changed my SS card to what I wanted my name to be, since that is what she told me to do. I did the same with my driver's license. Seems like all is fine, I've had no problems.

    However, it's bothering me why the woman told me to put my maiden name on the license when everyone else said they put their desired to-be name on their licenses and that's what they were supposed to do (if changing last names). I kept my maiden name and just added it to my middle name. Is this okay? Do you know why she could have said to do this? I know sometimes internet researching can be not advised, but this was just too weird to me.

    I apologize if this is a very wonky question, just sometimes when I'll fill out a form, the whole scenario pops into my head and bugs me! Haha.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      However, it's bothering me why the woman told me to put my maiden name on the license when everyone else said they put their desired to-be name on their licenses…

      I doubt anything irregular was going on. Some states and counties have the marriage license and certificate merged into one document. It can have a title on the letterhead such as "license and certificate of marriage."

      Such a document will typically have a space to specify what your preferred married name will be. It's likely your marriage license was not in this format, which required you to put forth your legal name at that time, which was your maiden name.

      Reply
      1. Samantha

        Oh, okay! Thank you for answering. I really appreciate it–now my mind can be at ease!

        Reply
        1. LaKeisha

          Hello Samantha,
          This was my case as well and I was told that when I legally change my name that I have the choice of choosing whichever name I choose. Being said I now understand that i do not have to change my name at all if that is my choice. I think for me I am going to keep my maiden name instead of my husband last name.

          Kind regards,

          Reply
  41. Veronica Sanchez

    Hello, I have a question, I recently got married 3 days ago… I have not changed my last name legally yet..my husband owes back pay on child support…can I use my new last name nd still file seperatly do u no??? Help

    Reply
  42. Em

    Hi! I recently got married and changed my last name on my SSN but where I work I am not allowed to "work with my husband" and therefore my boss wants me to keep my last name the same even on tax documents just so the corporation won't get upset that I am married and fire me. Is that going to be ok when taxes come in or when I get simple paychecks. I have not changed my name on anything else yet, just my SSN. Please help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Em, if you've changed your name on your SSN then the IRS is notified of it so they can update their records. This can result in a tax record name mis-match, which can delay processing of tax returns. Just make sure you and your workplace are aware of the ramifications and take the necessary steps to make sure everything's inline. You can take a look at this taxes and name change article that discusses the topic a little more in-depth.

      Reply
  43. Poonam Vijay Mehta

    My Indian passport issued before marriage shows my given name as Poonam Vijay i.e "My name [Poonam]- father's name [Vijay]". Surname shows our family name "Mehta".

    After marriage, my husband agreed to retain my name before marriage. But going by logic, I mentioned my name for the marriage certificate as "Poonam Mehta" i.e I did not mention my fathers' name for this certificate.

    Now the passport mentions Poonam Vijay Mehta but the Marriage certificate shows Poonam Mehta.

    I am to apply for H4 visa to USA. Please advise if it is mandatory for me to change the name on my passport because name change on marriage certificate is not possible.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Poonam. Are you asking if it's necessary to change your name on your Indian or U.S. passport? For established U.S. passports, name changes aren't typically mandatory. For various reasons, some folks don't update or will wait an extended period of time before doing so.

      Reply
  44. Betty

    My birth certificate received and used since birth has my middle name as "Jean". I recently ordered a certified birth certificate (long form) for foreign travel and has a different middle name "Joyce". The state I was born in says I have to go to court for a name change to get them to change it back. I will go to court in state I live in now to do that but question is it asks for my applicant name and name to be changed to. Do I put "first middle (maiden) married" as my name in that format (& should maiden name be in parenthesis or not??) on the court petition, and would vital records know to only put court ordered first middle maiden on the birth certificate.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I put "first middle (maiden) married" as my name in that format (& should maiden name be in parenthesis or not??)

      Even without seeing the application format, I don't see how including parenthesis would be a valid character to use when filling out your name. Filling out such an application isn't a time to be freelancing. You'll want to fill it out precisely the way it needs to be completed so that they may process it correctly without having to decipher your intention.

      would vital records know to only put court ordered first middle maiden on the birth certificate.

      Vital records is just data archiving. Unless something looks obviously out of whack, they'll log what you applied for. Don't assume anything. Make sure the end result of your name change petition will turn out exactly as you expect it would. If there's any doubt, contact the court to make sure expectations are met before you get going.

      Reply
  45. Kyla

    Hi, i have a Green Card and just recently applied for SS Card. The officer told me that the name on my Green Card doesn't match the name on my Passport and Marriage Certificate. I checked my Green Card, and noticed that USCIS combined my maiden name and my husband's last name (Miller) *NOT REAL NAME
    a.Maiden Name: Marie C. Smith
    b.Marriage Certificate/Passport Name: Marie S. Miller
    c. GreenCard/SSCard: Marie C. Smith Miller

    The Officer issued me a SSC, but all the discrepancies in my documents are bothering me. I am planning to travel outside the country in 2months time, and soon will file a tax return —I am confused on what last name to use.. Please help.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Whatever name is referenced on your passport is what you'll use for travel. For tax returns, it'll be the name on your SS card.

      Reply
  46. porsha

    I am getting married on Sept 20th. My question is yes i am taking my husbands last name but do i have to change it right now? What if i wait a year is that illegal. I just know the process is dreadful aside from so much being tied to my maiden name. So if i take his last name am i required to get the documents asap or can i wait til im ready to change them…by the way im in illinois.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My question is yes i am taking my husbands last name but do i have to change it right now?

      No.

      What if i wait a year is that illegal.

      No, it is not illegal. You can wait to change it when you're ready.

      So if i take his last name am i required to get the documents asap or can i wait til im ready to change them

      You're not required to get anything. You're not required to change your name. You can wait until you're ready to change your name.

      Reply
  47. ana

    When I got married 7 years ago (NY), I opted to keep my maiden name on my marriage certificate. However, now I would like to change my last name legally to my husband's. Since I decided to not take his name on the marriage certificate, is the only way to go through the court system now to take my husband's last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      No. There's no time limit to change your name. You can take advantage of the simpler marriage name change route.

      Reply
      1. ana

        Thanks. My maiden name is on my marriage certificate. Are you saying that I can go to social security with this marriage certificate and have them change my maiden name to my husband's? Am I missing a step? Or do I have to first somehow need to have my marriage certificate amended to show my new last name?

        Reply
      2. Bee

        Hi – I have a similar question … I opted
        To NOT change my name on my marriage license (new York) and now
        I want to take my husbands last name
        And use my maiden name as my new middle name. So nowhere in my license does it say that i changed my name. Based on what I've read so far I guess I should do social security first … Do I just take my marriage license and will they let me do the name change ?

        Reply
  48. Donna

    My divorce documents have restored my name to my maiden name. Am I required to change my name legally because my divorce documents say this? Also, I am remarrying, do I need to change my name twice then,…..from my current name (which is what it still is when I was married to my ex)….back to my maiden name (because that's what I chose to have restored in my divorce documents)….then change it again to my new married name….(which I will be getting married in a couple months).
    OR….could I just keep it legally what it is currently (which is what it still is when I was married to my ex)……but my new husband probably wouldn't like that too much!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My divorce documents have restored my name to my maiden name. Am I required to change my name legally because my divorce documents say this?

      Yes. You'll now have to formally complete the name change process by notifying the necessary institutions.

      Also, I am remarrying, do I need to change my name twice

      That's up to you. You can change it now, then do it again after you're married.

      Reply
      1. Donna

        Question cuz I'm confused: Why do I have to change my name formally if its on my divorce documents back to my maiden name but I do not have to change my name if its on my new marriage license? (I'm asking this because I've been divorced for almost 2 years and after decided to keep my married name on everything (instead of going back to my maiden name which I initially chose my attorney to put in the divorce documents) because it was too much of a hassle to change it back to my maiden name. But now that I'm remarrying in a couple months, I'd like to take my new husband's name, so do I really have to go through TWO name changes within a couple months? Couldn't I just keep my current married name (from my first marriage)….then just do ONE name change in a couple months to my new married name?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Why do I have to change my name formally if its on my divorce documents back to my maiden name but I do not have to change my name if its on my new marriage license?

          Having an order in your divorce documents restoring your maiden name won't actually restore it (for real) unless you take the next step of notifying the necessary institutions to actually change your name.

          Couldn't I just keep my current married name (from my first marriage)… then just do ONE name change in a couple months to my new married name?

          Yes, which would be efficient.

          Reply
  49. Maria

    I've been married for 6 years and changed my last name to my husbands. I have a new Social Security card, driver's license, etc. reflecting my married name. Now I regret it and want to hyphenate my name to include my maiden name. What do I need to do?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maria. Since you've already changed your name once, you're looking at having to petition the court to do it again.

      Reply
  50. Vickie Bishop-Kenney

    My marriage certificate has my maiden name and my husband's last name as my last name, without a hyphen. When I when to change the name on my SS card, I was told I had to put a hyphen between the names. Will I have to use the hyphenated version of my name from now on? My husband added me to his bank account and I didn't add the hyphen. Will this be a problem? My SS card, driver's license, and my work use the hyphenated version.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Since your name change has a hyphen it would make sense to continue using that consistently. You can contact your bank and have them issue a correction (or notation in the interim), but I doubt it'll have any real-world effect on your ability to access your account or cash checks.

      Reply
  51. Mary

    I am in the process of getting my US citizenship and I requested a legal name change so as a new citizen I am keeping my first name but will have a new middle & last name. My question is after the process is complete I am getting married to my fiancé so on the marriage application do I put my new legal name or my original maiden name?
    Thank you.

    Reply
  52. Patricia

    Hello,
    I recently got divorced, I didn't ask to change my last name to my maiden name. I am planning to get remarried do I still need to file a petition to the court to change my last name to the new married name after getting married or all I need is the new marriage certificate to change my last name?

    Reply
  53. Rachel

    Hi,
    I got married 2 years ago and I change my fathers name to my husband name, I don't want to keep my husband name any more is't possible to switch to my father name again as I'm not divorce and not intend to?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I don't want to keep my husband name any more is't possible to switch to my father name again

      Yes, you can. But you'll have to petition the court to do so, as you've already been through a marriage-related name change once before.

      Reply
  54. Emily

    HI,
    I have been married for 9 years. Recently we decided to move and I put my social security card in my wallet so it would not get lost, My purse was stole that same day. I have my old social security card with just my maiden name on it. Is it possible to use that for my driver's license and in closing on my house or will I need to get a new one with my married name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My purse was stole that same day. I have my old social security card with just my maiden name on it. Is it possible to use that for my driver's license and in closing on my house or will I need to get a new one with my married name?

      I assume you haven't updated your driver's license with your new name yet. If that's the case, I doubt the old social security card will work, as it won't match what your new name is. It's best to just go ahead and get a replacement social security card.

      As for the closing of your house, you should discuss this with your agent to determine their flexibility.

      Reply
  55. Sunny

    I got married a couple weeks ago 8/31/13. My husband and I filed for our marriage license back in April as we live out of state from where we actually got married. I don't remember the specific questions but my marriage certificate has arrived and it has my maiden name on it instead of my married name. Does this matter when I go to file my name change. It sames my husbands name and then my name with my maiden name under it. It seems that this varies by state/country as from what I have read above. Will I be able to change my name successfully without having a document with my new married name? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      On rare occasions, I've heard of this being an issue for folks wanting to change an aspect of their name that wasn't supported by a state's statute, such as a first name change, but not so much other traditional last name changes. The marriage certificate is really just meant to serve as proof of marriage, which facilitates a name change to be processed.

      Now, if the name on your certificate is erroneous you can request your marriage certificate be amended with a correction.

      Reply
  56. erica

    Hi , I've been married for a few years and I now want to hyphenate my husband's last name to mine , I know I have to change my driver's license, and social security card , but am I also required to change my passport and all my credit cards and bank accounts to my new last name ? And if yes , who else would I need to notify of the name change ? Thank you for your time answering my questions.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Erica. You'll have to notify any organization that has your old name, such as postal mail, store cards, rental/mortgage agreement, car title/registration, memberships, insurance, payment profiles for website's you've registered with. The list goes on and on.

      Reply
  57. lisa Klassert

    I have been divorced for 10 years and want to go back to my maiden name. I still have a child who is not happy with this. I would like to be able to use my maiden at all times except with my daughters paperwork such as her school. How do I formulate my last name to be able to do this. Do I legally change to both names then use whatever part I want. but then would I have to change again when she is accepting. Can I change my name to my maiden and just use my married with her schooling?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How do I formulate my last name to be able to do this.

      This is an interesting conundrum. Your question seems to be the reverse of what this article discusses. That is, using your prior married name in place of your legal maiden name on a case-by-case basis.

      As for the how, well you could hyphenate your married and maiden name if you want both to appear in the last name. I'm not advocating for or against the idea. Just throwing it out there as a technical possibility. But is that practical? Is that something you'd want to do?

      Do I legally change to both names then use whatever part I want

      You'll need to sign your legal name to legal documents. When it comes to applying your name to your daughter's school documents, you'll want to be careful that you're doing what's in the school's guidelines. Perhaps they can annotate your daughter's records of your prior name so that any reference to it won't be considered erroneous.

      …but then would I have to change again when she is accepting.

      You could. There's nothing to stop someone from going through multiple name changes. But is it practical or worth the effort? Only you can decide that.

      Reply
  58. Megan

    Hi,
    I was married about a year ago in New York and I would prefer to take my husband's name, but also keep mine. The registrar wouldn't allow me to do this without hyphenating the name, but I do not want a hyphen. Let's say my maiden name was Megan Marie Smith and I married Adam Jones. I want to be Megan Marie Smith Jones, with my middle name being Marie and my last name being Smith Jones and NOT Smith-Jones. Is that possible? I just wanted to check before I purchased your kit.
    Thank you!
    Megan

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Megan. New York doesn't allow a space separated surname for marriage. They'll allow either spouse to take the other's surname, the choosing of a new surname based on the combination of segments of one or both surnames, or hyphenation.

      Reply
  59. emma

    Hello, I recently got married and I plan on changing my name with Social Security. How fast after I receive my new SS card do I have to update my name on my drivers license, bank statements, passport, etc? Can I update my SS card and then update my drivers license/passport/all other records in a couple months? Which name should I use once I update it with SS – the maidem or the married name?

    Thank you :)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How fast after I receive my new SS card do I have to update my name on my drivers license

      I'd wait at least 24 hours between the two. The rest you can do on your own schedule—immediately or taking your time. It shouldn't take months unless you're intentionally dragging it out.

      Which name should I use once I update it with SS – the maidem or the married name?

      Married name on legal or licensing documents, but you can choose to continue using your maiden name in certain informal contexts.

      Reply
      1. emma

        Thank you for your speedy answer. You have a great post :)

        Yes, sorry for not being more specific, I would like to intentionally drag it a bit more. I don't want people at work to know that I am married. One of my colleagues had / has a crush on me – he's a nice guy and has helped me a lot professionally so it will feel kind of weird. I'll be leaving my job towards the end of the year so it wouldn't really matter by then.

        At the same time, I'd like to change my name because I know it's something that my husband cares deeply about and really wishes for us to have the same last name. And since he is my first priority, I don't want him to think that I am somehow avoiding changing my name. I plan on making my maiden name into my middle name, so I'll be called First Name Maiden Husband's name.

        Can I change my name to my husband's and still use my maiden name at work? I will be getting some reference letters for graduate school. Can I have those in my maiden name? Thank you :)

        Reply
        1. Valera

          I would like to intentionally drag it a bit more.

          You can do that.

          Can I change my name to my husband's and still use my maiden name at work?

          As long as it's ok with your employer, then yes. They may have to reference your married name for certain documents (e.g., taxes, insurance) for filing purposes, even if you continue to use your maiden name professionally.

          I will be getting some reference letters for graduate school. Can I have those in my maiden name? Thank you :)

          Yes.

          Reply
  60. Lisette

    Hello,

    This is a very informative and real-time website. I love it! I got married and then when through a full name change through the naturalization process. My passport and state ID both show my new name but I have not changed it on my social security card. My name on the passport & state ID is shown as follows "Newfirstname Formerfirstname Maiden Husband's name". The ss card is my Formerfirstname Maiden. I am in the middle of a refinance that contained my Formerfirstname Maiden. I am also in the middle of getting a divorce, which probably won't be finalized until after the refinance. The underwriter for the loan says that I am unable to keep the loan papers under my Formerfirstname Maiden. However, when I went through the name change, I was told I was able to use any combo after the change. Is that correct? Would you be able to provide the section of law that says this? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      However, when I went through the name change, I was told I was able to use any combo after the change.

      Lisette, what do you mean by this? Are you saying you were told that you could interchangeable use two name variations? Please clarify. I just want to make sure I understand what you're trying to accomplish.

      Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Lisette. I've not come across what you're suggesting. You say you were told at the time of your name change that you'll be able to use two difference names? Who suggested that as a possibility and what was the context?

          Reply
  61. Gabriela

    Hi Valera!

    Thank you for all your posts and advice. In my case, I was born in Mexico and became a Naturalized citizen when I was a teen. I am getting married this November and I love the romantic notion of changing my last name. If I drop my maiden name will I be required to do a Petition for Name Change with the court and will I have to change my name on my Naturalization certificate? It's an expensive step to do a petition for a name change in my state, $450. A name change is such an emotional choice!! Especially for me. I want to make my fiance happy, sine we won't have kids it's truly my only tie to him, however, I have kids and my maiden name is my tie to them. Their father and I were never married. I am also confused because you keep mentioning "status quo" and you keep saying the marriage certificate is Non Binding yet, you keep telling us that it is used as proof to make name changes. So sorry about my confusion. My wedding is just around the corner and more than anything I am stressed and emotionally distraught about dropping a name that has so much emotional attachment to me.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Gabriela. You'll just need your eventual marriage certificate to change your name—no need to petition the court.

      I am also confused because you keep mentioning "status quo" and you keep saying the marriage certificate is Non Binding yet, you keep telling us that it is used as proof to make name changes.

      Some folks were asking if name change is somehow automatic or obligatory following marriage, even if a new name is specified on the marriage certificate. The answer was and is no. If someone gets married and they don't go through the proper steps to complete a name change, then nothing actually changes. The status quo remains. The name prior to marriage will remain intact.

      Reply
  62. Christine

    I have the following problem: I have decided to pursue my dormant art career and all my artwork has always had my maiden name on it since it dates back well before my marriage. I legally changed my name to my husband's. I am making business cards and can't figure out how to word them! I do not have the option of hyphenating my name or using my maiden name as my middle name because my maiden name was already hyphenated thanks to my parents. Do I put my maiden name on the cards so people won't be confused going to to my website and seeing a different last name? Do I list both names? Do I change my website and professional name to my current married name since my art may be signed with my maiden name but I am virtually unknown in the art world?
    Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Christine. As the bulk of your professional work is in your maiden name, it would make sense to maintain that identity. You can continue to exclusively use your maiden name in professional contexts, while making sure to use your married name in legal contexts, such as when you're applying your name to legal paperwork.

      Reply
  63. simone

    hi! i was very confused right now and im really glad that i found this website! i recently got married last june 5 and im planning to file a petition for my spouse and child that is in the philippines. by the way im only a GC holder. i was wondering if do i have to change to my last name to my husbands last name or just leave it? will it affect my petition if i decided not to make any changes? any advice please. thank you valera!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      i was wondering if do i have to change to my last name to my husbands last name or just leave it?

      Name change after marriage is optional. You don't have to change it if you don't want to. You can just leave it as it is.

      Reply
      1. simone

        thank you for your reply! :) so maybe ill just use my maiden name to lessen the hassle on filling the petition. thank you again and God Bless!

        Reply
  64. Mia

    I've been happily married since January 2013. I now have my husband's name on my green card, ID/driver's license, and social security card (I just updated social security card a few weeks ago). However, I found out that processing name change in my home country is a very cumbersome and lengthy process of ~8 months, during which I wouldn't be allowed to travel internationally. But I could travel freely if I didn't change my name. What would I need to do to change my name back to maiden name on social security card, ID, and GC, how much would it cost, and how long would it take? PS: my Pennsylvania's marriage certificate does not say whether or not I adopted my husband's name; it just lists my maiden name and my husband's name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mia. To change your name back to your maiden you'll have to petition the court. The fees and time schedules vary, so you'll have to contact your local court for that info. After your name change request is approved by the judge you can update your other documents.

      Reply
  65. kay

    Hey i got married dec2010 n i changed my last name at the ss office but decided i wanted to keep my birth las name n i didn change it at da dmv and now i lost my ss card with my orginial last name on there and i need it hw do i get my name changed back to get my orginial card

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kay. Since you've already changed your name with the SSA, any replacement card you get from them will reference your changed name. You won't be able to get a new card with your prior, original name. If you want to return to your birth name, you'll have to undergo another name change.

      Reply
  66. Sarah

    Hi
    I just changed my name to my married name. I added my husbands last name and only left the first initial of my maiden name. I've had second thoughts and want my maiden name to be spelled out completely. Can I still go back and change it since its only been two days since I've changed it?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      When you say you changed your name, are you talking about the name you specified on your marriage certificate or actually changing it (for real) with the SSA?

      Reply
  67. Reija

    I'm a green card holder who is eligible for Citizenship. I obtained my green card through my ex husband. I re-married this past May and my husband and I are expecting a baby together. I know that I can change my name through my citizenship application but right now that's not financially feasible. Can I change my name on all of my other documents (SS, DL, etc..) and leave my former name (ex's last name) on my green card and passport until I'm able to do my citizenship?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I change my name on all of my other documents (SS, DL, etc..) and leave my former name (ex's last name) on my green card and passport until I'm able to do my citizenship?

      Reija, I don't think it's possible for you to change your name on your SS card without first changing the name on your green card. As you say, changing the name on a green card can be quite an expensive operation. Around $450. I recommend you contact the USCIS and SSA to pose this question to them for additional confirmation.

      Reply
  68. alice

    I want to make my maiden name a second middle name. So my name would read like "Alice Jane Ivory Jones. But the maiden name (Ivory) would be my middle name as well as Jane. Can I do that?? I was married in WV but reside in OH.

    Reply
        1. Valera

          Nope. Sorry, no middle name changes in Ohio without court petition. I know, it's a bummer.

          Reply
          1. alice

            Ok. Well, thank you so much for the clarifications!

  69. Sharon

    This is a complicated one. My granddaughter married 3 years ago in Texas, at the courthouse and her husband was military. Their license was also their certificate(she has the certified copy) She had to get a military ID and it was in her married name. She never changed her SS card, didn't have a DL. They separated a year later. She has since used her maiden name on EVERYTHING, including a new driver's license. They are NOW divorcing, and she will be getting married again. She is concerned that she has nothing with her married name, and is her using her maiden name illegal since it is not a court change? Is everything she put her maiden name on "illegal"? Does she have to change her SS card, DL etc. before she divorces or what should she do? She now lives in Missouri and he lives in Florida.
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sharon. Primary name identification is the SS card. Since she never changed it there, it's still in her maiden name. No, she doesn't have to change her name before she divorces. She can wait to do it after she's married again. Afterwards, be sure to tell her to update her social security card, then driver's license.

      Reply
  70. laura

    In Minnesota, the law states you have 30 days to update your license with any changes as far as address and name. Are there ramifications if wait a year to change my name? The situation is an elopement w/planned public ceremony/blessing a year later.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Are there ramifications if wait a year to change my name?

      No. You can wait to change it later, as many people choose to do.

      Reply
  71. Liz

    I recently got married and I am changed my name in my Soial Security Card to my new (husbands) last name. My question is, Im trying to go Jamaica to visit family but I haven't changed my maiden name to my new last name on my passport? Would this be a problem,to travel with my maiden name passport and my marriage certificate or do I have to change my name on my passport before I travel?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Traveling under your old maiden name passport is fine. Just make sure your airline tickets match the name on your passport.

      Reply
  72. nb

    question –
    my middle name was left off of my marriage certificate. i though it was there, but apparently it wasn't. i added by husband's last name by hypen. i had no intention of dropping my middle name. social security gave me a new social security card with my middle name. however, dmv refused. dmv insists that because the marriage certificate lists no middle name in the new name section…i no longer have a middle name. i went to the county clerk's office to try to correct it. county clerk says i must petition the court to get my middle name back. really? any suggestions are much appreciated! thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      i went to the county clerk's office to try to correct it. county clerk says i must petition the court to get my middle name back.

      I don't know what this clerk is going on about, but you need to have your marriage certificate amended with a correction. You'll fill out something that's often referred to as an "amendment of marriage record."

      Depending on the state and how long ago your marriage took place, you may have to contact a different office. For instance, in some states you'll have to contact the State Department of Public Health to make corrections after a certain amount of time has passed.

      Reply
      1. nb

        thank you for the reply. i'm in california. i checked the dept of vital records which handles corrections, however, they specifically exclude corrections to add middle names. i put in a call to their office to get a better answer. thank you again for the help. it seems silly to go through the court process to get a middle name back right?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi nb. Let me touch on a few points specific to California. You can't amend a marriage record to change, add, or remove a middle name. But you're not attempting to add a name that didn't previously exist. You're trying to correct a record that mistakenly omitted your middle name, which you were born with (I assume).

          I know you're waiting on a reply from the vital records office for further information. I think you need to stress to them that you're requesting this modification due to a name omission, and not because you just want to add a brand new middle name. Inquire if providing a copy of your birth certificate would be sufficient to illustrate the validity of your pre-existing (and still valid) middle name.

          Reply
  73. M A

    Hi Valera,

    I am in the process of applying for a green card through marriage and have a question regarding under what name to apply. I married to a US citizen and changed my last name to his on a marriage certificate. I didn't change any ID's or documents they are all under my maiden name. So when I send all the paperwork to USCIS should I use my maiden name or my new last name? I tried to change my SSN without success they said that I have to get a green card with my new last name on it and then they will issue me a new SSN. So all my current ID's including my passport and visas are still under my maiden name. Will USCIS get a confusion if I sign all paper work using my new last name? But at the same time I need to use my new last name to get green card with my new last name so I can then change my SSN and DL and etc…

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      It's not really either/or. The form should provide a space for you to specify your current name and a name you'll be changing to. Once the green card is issued in your new name, you can then update your SSN. The USCIS deals with such common changes often, so they'll be able to guide you through the process.

      Reply
  74. chelsea

    I am a new registered nurse that has been job hunting under my maiden name. I also hold my nursing license under my maiden name. I married 3 months ago, and want to change my name but it creates a catch22 for me. If I change my name the hospitals I have applied to could be confused of my identity and I could lose a job opportunity…yes jobs are that tough right now. I will also have to go through the Board of Registred Nursing to get my license changed into my new name. I want to be added to our new home title and husbands life isurance, I am already on his bank accounts and retirement accounts. So the last to make it official is the house & life insurance…He says he wants to wait until my name change is official because it's a hassle. My question is….is it a hassle? I could be waiting 6 months for a job. I feel it's important for me to be on the house and his insurance. How difficult is it really to add me under my maiden names and then change it later…or would I even have to if we sent in the marriage certificate? I live in CA.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      It shouldn't really be a hassle. They should have forms and defined processes to handle such account updates. You can send in your marriage certificate to offer proof of your name change, but it should accompany a notice of name change document requesting they make the change.

      Reply
  75. debbiann

    Hello, I recently received my 10yr greencard but my maiden name is listed and on my 2yr it has both maiden and married because I wanted to keep my maiden name so it is hyphenated. my foreign passport has only my maiden name, my question is..will it be a problem to travel if my married name is not listed on my green card? This mistake was immigrations or should I try to get it corrected listing both my maiden and married name as it was signed by me with both?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      You should be fine as long as you can bring some additional documentation that shows your married name, such as your marriage certificate.

      Reply

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *