Use Your Maiden Name Even After a Name Change

Smiling Businesswoman Holding Blank Name Placard

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!

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3,038 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 FiancĂ©'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

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