135 Comments

So your marriage certificate is missing your married name and you're wondering if you'll ever be able to change your name. What happened? What went wrong? You're not alone.

Folks in California, Georgia, Oregon, New York, among others, have it easy. When they apply for a marriage license the application has a clear bright spot to choose a new last name after marriage.

But if you don't live in one of those types of states, you can't declare a new name on your marriage application, marriage license, or marriage certificate. Are you missing out?

On the flip side, maybe you live in a state that allows you to choose a new name on the application, but you regret your choice. Or maybe you didn't choose. Are you disadvantaged?

In this brief post, we'll cover both angles. You'll find out how much trouble you're in and potential fixes to resolve your woes.

They never asked me for my new name

Maybe the marriage license application asked for your new name, but you missed it. Did you forget? Did the clerk forgot? What are you missing? Do you need to correct your marriage certificate? Does it even matter?

If these are the questions you're asking yourself, you're in limbo. It's time to bring you out of the fog.

Let's assume that you're sure the marriage license application never asked for your new name after marriage. Your memory isn't faulty. You looked for it and it wasn't there.

Your marriage license has your current name. Your marriage certificate has your current name. If you're not married yet, you expect your marriage certificate to fall in line and show your current name too.

At this point you may wonder how you'll change your name if your marriage license or marriage certificate only has your current name.

You can't be the only one facing this predicament, right?

If this matches your experience, you're in the majority. This omission may appear to be a roadblock, but it's not.

It just doesn't matter

Most marriage certificates don't show married names. Instead, they'll show the current name, maiden name, or birth name.

This is because the marriage license application for most states doesn't offer spots to specify a new name after marriage. But this won't stop you from changing your name.

For those states, your marriage certificate is proof of a name change event, even if it doesn't show your new name. The act of marriage itself is what allows your name change to take place.

They did ask for my new name, but I screwed up

Everything explained so far only applies if your state's marriage license application did not offer a space to choose a new name after marriage.

If they asked, but you left it empty, you have a problem. If you made a mistake in choosing your new name, you have a problem.

I left my new name blank

What if the marriage license application had a spot to choose a new name after marriage, but you left it blank? Did you miss your shot?

Yes, you've missed your shot, assuming your marriage has occurred. If you're not married yet, get another marriage license.

Remember, they tell you to review your marriage license before signing it for a reason. Your signature locks in your choices. Not choosing is a choice.

I chose the wrong name

What if you specified a new name, but have since changed your mind? Today you want to pick out an entirely different name. Are you out of luck?

Yes, you're out of luck, assuming your marriage has taken place. If you're not married yet, get a new marriage license in your preferred name.

Why am I stuck?

If you choose a new name on your marriage license application, it will automatically show up on your marriage certificate.

The Social Security Administration, DMV, and other government agencies will recognize and use the new name shown on your marriage certificate when you update or renew your documents.

That's why having the wrong name on your marriage certificate is such a problem.

For example, let's say you get married in California. The marriage application allows you to choose a new last name. It even lets you to choose a new middle name.

On the application, you add your spouse's birth name to your middle name, separated by a space. You hyphenate your maiden name with your spouse's current surname.

Now you're married, but you haven't changed your name with anyone yet. Your social security card, driver's license, and passport are still in your old name. Well, your current name, that is.

Your marriage certificate arrives in the mail. You're not happy. It shows the new names you chose, but they're no longer the names you want.

Now you want to keep your middle name by itself. And you want the last names to stay hyphenated, but in reverse order. Spouse's first, yours last.

The county clerk refuses to alter your marriage certificate. Next, you go to the Social Security Administration and DMV and ask them to make an exception. What do they do?

They reject your request.

Fix your mistake

If you're not satisfied with the name you chose or didn't choose, apply for a new marriage license, amend your marriage certificate, or petition the court for a name change.

Those are you three options. Let's go through them.

1: Apply for a new marriage license

If your marriage ceremony hasn't happened yet, you're in luck. Replace your faulty marriage license by applying for a new one. You must pay the marriage license fee again.

2: Amend the marriage certificate

Marriage certificate amendments are for mistakes and typos. They're not meant for changes of heart. Perhaps the clerk will sympathize and allow the change, but it's a Hail Mary pass. Failure is likelier than not.

Even if you could get your marriage certificate amended, it might not help. This is because they attach amendments to the original marriage record. They're not replaced. Everyone will still see the old record.

Just because a vital records clerk forgoes or straight up breaks the rules doesn't mean other federal and state agencies will accept it. They could dismiss your amendment as unlawful.

3: Petition the court

If you've run out of options, you must petition the court for a name change. This is the worst-case scenario. It may be expensive and time-consuming, but at least you're guaranteed to get the name you want.

You could even change your first name while you're in court. You can't do with a marriage certificate.

Will I get in trouble if I don't change my name?

No, you won't get in trouble if you don't change your name after marriage. That's a myth or misconception.

Even if your marriage certificate shows a new married name, you don't have to follow through with it. Maybe in 2 years, 10 years, or 20 years, you'll change your mind. But, for now, just ignore it.

My certificate's good, I'm ready to change my name

If your marriage certificate is usable and you're ready to change your name, start with your social security card, then move onto your driver's license and passport.

We've even put together a streamlined online name change service to help you complete the application process.

Is there a loophole?

We've had readers report unlikely successes dealing with city, county, social security, passport, and DMV clerks. You may fail where they've succeeded. But you may find an opening where others don't even bother to venture.

Did you find a name change loophole? Were you able to get your name changed when you thought it was impossible? Share how you did it.

135 Comments

  1. Leann

    I got married in Las Vegas but my home is California. My marriage certificate only shows my maiden name. Will they accept my Nevada marriage certificate to do a name change how I want?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will they accept my Nevada marriage certificate to do a name change

      Yes, your Nevada marriage certificate will be accepted in California, even if it only shows your maiden name.

      how I want?

      I'm not sure what you mean by how you want. Your name change has to be within the boundaries of what's allowed by state law.

      Reply
  2. Jnny

    I got married in Vegas a few weeks ago but didn't state a name change in the marriage license application. I reside in Texas and want to change my last name to my husband's. Will this be an issue to change in Texas if my marriage certificate only shows my maiden name and not a name change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I got married in Vegas a few weeks ago but didn't state a name change in the marriage license application.

      That's normal for Nevada.

      Will this be an issue to change in Texas if my marriage certificate only shows my maiden name and not a name change?

      It won't be a problem.

      Reply
  3. Charlotte

    I'm kind of in the opposite situation. I got married in Oregon and my new name is on the marriage certificate but I want to change it. Can I go back to the office and have them change the certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I go back to the office and have them change the certificate?

      Amendments are reserved for typographical errors and factual mistakes. You can't retroactively change the name on your marriage record because you changed your mind.

      Reply
  4. Danijela

    Hello,thank you for all this useful information.

    We are married at North Carolina and we live at Virginia,noone didnt ask as about changing my name,I'm European and now what can I do to change that.

    One thing that I also don't understand,its diferent from Europe is that we get at 1 paper marriage certified,licence and 1 more thing.Very big and long paper.I didnt like it honestly how it looks ??but I love my husband very much.Thank you for answering

    Reply
    1. Valera

      We are married at North Carolina and we live at Virginia,noone didnt ask as about changing my name,I'm European and now what can I do to change that.

      That's normal. The North Carolina marriage license application doesn't ask for new names post-marriage. That won't stop you from changing your name though.

      One thing that I also don't understand,its diferent from Europe is that we get at 1 paper marriage certified,licence and 1 more thing.

      For NC and most states, you'll get your marriage license immediately or soon after you apply. Later, you'll get a certified copy of your marriage certificate. The certificate copy is automatically sent in some states, while others require a separate purchase.

      Reply
  5. Jeanette

    We just got married in Las Vegas and just noticed on the unofficial marriage certificate that only my first and middle name but not maiden name are listed to be changed to the correct new married name.

    I await the certified copy with hope, but it looks like even on the marriage license application only my first and middle name are listed without the maiden name. I think it is a clerk error and I did not notice at the window. I am so nervous about changing my name at the SS office and being denied. Yikes!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I think it is a clerk error and I did not notice at the window.

      That may indeed be a clerical error. If you did specify a new name on your marriage application, the marriage certificate should show it. You'll have to get in touch with the clerk to correct or amend your marriage record and reissue a new marriage certificate.

      Reply
      1. Jeanette

        Thank you! The unofficial marriage certificate shows the correct married name, but only shows my first and middle name without maiden name as the one getting married. I ordered the certified copy of marriage certificate and also the copy of marriage license, so we will know more when those arrive in about a week :)

        Reply
  6. Noelle

    I am applying for a new passport and have since been married and changed my name. I live and was married in Florida, which is one of the states that does not have a place on the application to designate your new last name. So our marriage certificate does not have my new last name on it, however, this certificate is supposed to be the supporting documentation of my name change for my passport. Do the passport folks just match up your social security # with your marriage certificate, and verify it that way?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do the passport folks just match up your social security # with your marriage certificate, and verify it that way?

      The passport office/agency may use your social security number for debt collection purposes, to verify identity, and to determine if you're on a list of persons ineligible to receive or renew a passport. There are other internal uses as well.

      For name change, your marriage certificate is what's used to effect a name change, even if it doesn't match the SSA. This is what allows someone to renew a passport in their current or premarital name even though they've changed their name on their social security card, driver's license, and other records.

      Reply
  7. Mariah

    I got married in Pennsylvania and now live in South Dakota and my new name isnt on my marriage certificate only my maiden name and they never asked will they accept my certificate for a name change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      my new name isnt on my marriage certificate only my maiden name

      That's the way it should be. Pennsylvania's marriage license application only allows you to specify your current legal name, not a new post-marriage name.

      will they accept my certificate for a name change?

      Your Pennsylvania marriage certificate will be accepted in South Dakota for name change purposes as-is.

      Reply
  8. Claudine

    Hello, I got my marriage license in Florida and they didn’t ask for a new last name change, I have my current legal name on it. Now I want a name change on my passport, social security and other documents would that be a problem?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Now I want a name change on my passport, social security and other documents

      To be clear, you must use your marriage certificate to change your name, not your marriage license.

      would that be a problem?

      This won't be a problem in Florida. The state's marriage license application doesn't have an option to choose a new last name. That's why your marriage license only shows the name you had before marriage. This won't prevent you from changing your name using your eventual marriage certificate.

      Reply
      1. Claudine

        Thank you so much. I meant marriage certificate not the license. And in Florida the marriage license and the certificate is in one paper, I thought they would be in separate papers

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Thank you so much. I meant marriage certificate not the license.

          You're welcome.

          And in Florida the marriage license and the certificate is in one paper

          Yes, in some states the marriage license and marriage certificate are exactly the same document. It's just the status changes after it's been recorded.

          Reply
  9. Emma

    I got married in va and I'm not sure what category i fall under. Its got my real last name not my husbands so what is my next step? If its right then what do i have to do tp change my name for everything and what all do i have to change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Emma. Virginia is one of the many states that do not provide an option to choose a last name to appear on the marriage license or certificate. It's not a hindrance. Just use your marriage certificate as-is to complete your name change.

      Reply
  10. Trisha

    Hi I got married a week ago and i haven’t gotten my certified marriage certificate, but when I applied for the license, they said I didn’t need to decide then, I could change it anytime/
    So it says – Name desired after marriage: Name Not Designated.

    Can I still change my maiden name to my husband’s last name?

    This was in Reno, NV by the way.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      but when I applied for the license, they said I didn’t need to decide then, I could change it anytime

      Nevada's new marriage-related name change laws went into effect at the beginning of January 1, 2018. Before this date, the marriage application didn't provide an option to choose a new middle or last name after marriage.

      So it says – Name desired after marriage: Name Not Designated

      Not designated is essentially blank. Had you chosen something specific, it might bind you to that choice. According to the clerk who processed your marriage application and license, not choosing a name leaves your options open.

      This was in Reno, NV

      According to the Washoe County Clerk's office (where Reno, NV is situated), half the couples who come into the office leave the new name change after marriage field blank because they hadn't even considered what to choose.

      As mentioned at the beginning, Nevada only added the new name fields to their applications starting in 2018. Knowledge of it probably hasn't filtered its way down to the masses.

      Nevada's revised marriage statutes explain what you're allowed to change your name to, but goes no further. Nevada's court petition name change page doesn't provide much clarity. However, the Nevada DMV name change instructions throws a wrench in the gears by stating a maiden name to middle name change won't be processed unless that specific name sequence appears on the marriage certificate. It doesn't elaborate on a last name change.

      So, the vagueness of the Nevada's laws suggests you're probably okay and will be able to change your last name to match your husband's without jumping through extra legal/court hoops.

      I've seen no commentary or documentation to suggest not choosing a new name at the time of application will practically limit you when your marriage certificate arrives with no new name designated.

      If and when you go to change your name, please come back to report your experience and if you ended up facing resistance at the SSA or DMV.

      Reply
      1. Trisha

        Hi! I just wanted to reply back and let you know that I didn’t have a problem at all, even in Florida which is where I changed my SS card and Driver’s License. Hope it helps anyone who maybe wondering about this who got married in Reno, NV.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          I just wanted to reply back and let you know that I didn’t have a problem at all, even in Florida which is where I changed my SS card and Driver’s License.

          Great. Thanks for coming back to provide a status update.

          Reply
  11. Stef

    My marriage certificate is from Alabama. It has my maiden name. Will I be able to use this to support my name change to a married name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will I be able to use this to support my name change to a married name?

      Yes, you're good to go.

      Reply
  12. Miriam Oden

    so I got married 6/15/19 in Hawaii but live in California my marriage license reads brides name: Miriam middle name and my maiden last name on line 1 on line 2 it ask for my middle name and the 3rd line reads new surname, so im sure lines 2 and 3 are ok but line 1 is freaking me out

    I feel like it should of just been my first name not my entire name, middle and last but I asked the clerk that filled it out and she said it was fine but it still doesn't look correct to me and im changing all my paperwork to my married last name today!! uuuuggghhh im stressing out

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Miriam,

      Just to be clear, this is what's appearing on your marriage record?…

      Line 1: First name, middle name, maiden surname
      Line 2: Current or new middle name
      Line 3: New last name

      If this is the case, I don't see a problem. This is very clean. In Hawaii, you can specify both a new middle name and last name when you apply for a marriage license.

      Having the middle and last names in separate fields makes it clear to various government and state institutions what your current, pre-marriage, legal name is and the new name you've chosen to change to.

      Line 1 is useful because it identifies your current legal name before any change. This provides a before and after pictures of your name transition.

      Reply
  13. Lucia

    I got married in NY and left the "New Surname" field blank. I would like to change my last name to my husband's, but I now reside in NC. What is the best method to change my last name in NC? Can I apply for a NC marriage license? Will Social Security accept the original NY certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I apply for a NC marriage license? Will Social Security accept the original NY certificate?

      No need to get NC marriage license. Your NY marriage certificate will suffice.

      Reply
  14. Erin

    Hi thanks for this helpful blog!

    I’m getting married in New York which allows the name change on the certificate. I live in New Jersey, which does not list new last names on certificates.

    If I do NOT state a name change on my NY marriage license, but later decide to change my last name, would I have to get married again? If I go to the SSA/DMV in NJ, will they refuse my name change request?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If I do NOT state a name change on my NY marriage license, but later decide to change my last name, would I have to get married again?

      No.

      If I go to the SSA/DMV in NJ, will they refuse my name change request?

      No.

      Reply
  15. Kelly

    I want to use my last name and his,with no hyphen,can I do that? I put just his for new surname on the marriage license. The clerk at the office told me I didn't need to write my new name in,I could choose later. This is all so confusing!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to use my last name and his,with no hyphen,can I do that?

      Maybe. Which state did your marriage take place in?

      Reply
  16. Shawn

    I have a friend who will be married in California but resides in Texas. She is unsure of what to change her name to or even if she would like to change her name. Should she include a name change on her marriage license if she decides later on she would like to change her name?

    If she leaves the name change space blank, will she still be able to change her name later on as long as she has proof of marriage? Will she have to file a petition for a name change or will the marriage certificate suffice.

    Also, how long does she have to file her marriage license after it has been filed with the county. It's Santa Barbara. If you have any other helpful information for me to pass along that would be amazing. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Should she include a name change on her marriage license if she decides later on she would like to change her name?

      Yes, if she's sure of what she intends to change to.

      If she leaves the name change space blank, will she still be able to change her name later on as long as she has proof of marriage?

      Yes, since her name change will be taking place in Texas instead of California.

      Will she have to file a petition for a name change or will the marriage certificate suffice.

      The marriage certificate alone is enough.

      Also, how long does she have to file her marriage license after it has been filed with the county.

      I'm not sure what you mean by this. After your friend is married, the marriage certificate must be sent back to the issuing office for recording within 10 days following the ceremony.

      If you were referring to something else, please clarify.

      Reply
  17. Bexx

    So I got married in 2008 in Los Angeles. I believe at that time there was no spot on the application to enter in a new name. I've looked over my Cert. a dozen times and do not see a spot for it! Also when I then went to change my name on my DL in 2009 I first had to change my Social. All I did was take in my current ID at the time and a copy of my Marriage Cert. and got that changed. I'm hoping that when I go in for my REAL ID that the names not matching won't screw things up!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      So I got married in 2008 in Los Angeles. I believe at that time there was no spot on the application to enter in a new name. I've looked over my Cert. a dozen times and do not see a spot for it!

      That's because California's Name Equality Act of 2007 didn't actually go into effect until January 1, 2009.

      Reply
  18. Jane Smith

    I got married in MA. On the marriage certificate it had a spot for full maiden name and a spot for new last name but it didn’t specify full new name. I wanted to drop my middle name. So Jane Ann Doe becomes Jane Smith. The SSO and DMV issued me ID as Jane Smith. I am also applying for foreign visa and applied as Jane Smith. Having a passport with a different name will make me forfeit visa.

    When I got my passport renewed the issued it as Jane Ann Smith even though that’s not how I filled out application.

    I made an appointment with Passport agency. They told me I needed to fill out a different form and provide records from banks or other official institutions showing my name is Jane Smith, but the form says for assumed names used for 5+ years. My appointment is on Friday. Why Is Passport not recognizing MA name change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      On the marriage certificate it had a spot for full maiden name and a spot for new last name but it didn’t specify full new name.

      That's normal.

      I wanted to drop my middle name. So Jane Ann Doe becomes Jane Smith. The SSO and DMV issued me ID as Jane Smith.

      The SSA doesn't actually consider your middle name as part of your legal name. Dropping it doesn't mean much. The DMV will often mimic the SSA.

      My appointment is on Friday. Why Is Passport not recognizing MA name change?

      It could be a simple as the agent filling in your missing name, thinking the omission was a mistake. Although the SSA and State Department are federal, they operate under different guidelines.

      You can try to get your passport reissued due to a clerical error on the agent's part.

      Reply
  19. Hannah

    I’m confused. I got married in California almost 2 years ago and I was told I could change my name later. Now both husband and I are Texas residents and I want to change my name.

    Do I just bring my marriage license with my maiden name to a social security office in Texas? Does it matter that the license is from California and only says my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I just bring my marriage license with my maiden name to a social security office in Texas?

      Correct. Bring your marriage certificate. Make sure it's a certified copy.

      Does it matter that the license is from California and only says my maiden name?

      No, it doesn't matter.

      Reply
  20. Amy

    I got my marriage license in New York City 2 years ago, but I didn't change my last name. I now reside in New Jersey and just decided I want to make the change. I want to make my maiden name as part of my middle name and take my husband's last name. How do I go about doing this? Which state do I apply for the name change? Any help is appreciated. Thank you in advance!

    Reply
  21. Meredith

    I got married in Kentucky and my marriage license has my maiden name listed. I don't remember an option for a name change, but I could have missed it. Is it going to be a problem when I try to change my name in Ohio?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I don't remember an option for a name change, but I could have missed it.

      You didn't miss anything. There is no new name after marriage field on Kentucky marriage license applications.

      Is it going to be a problem when I try to change my name in Ohio?

      You won't face a problem.

      Reply
  22. Aidan D Hahn

    Hi we live in Maryland and my wife wants to change her last name to mine but we wrote her maiden name on the marriage license.
    Will it still be possible for her to change her last name at the social security office with that marriage license?

    Thank you in advance.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      we wrote her maiden name on the marriage license

      Which is correct.

      Will it still be possible for her to change her last name at the social security office with that marriage license?

      Yes, Maryland's marriage application/affidavit only asks for the current legal name and no other.

      Reply
  23. Kathy

    I got a marriage certificate in Oklahoma and they misspelled the name to be known as. And i missed the typo. We aren’t married yet but he has to take an unpaid day off to go get it. Is there anyway for me to amend it without him there?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is there anyway for me to amend it without him there?

      Contact the court clerk's office about getting it reissued. If they're the ones who made the mistake, it shouldn't cost you anything.

      They'll have to explain their internal procedures. You may be able to get this processed without having to go in office.

      Reply
  24. Ashley

    I am getting married in Massachusetts, I have not decided if I want to change my last name. On the Massachusetts marriage license form it ask what your married surname will be. Do I need to put my husbands last name or will my maiden name suffice to officially change it in the future? I am under the impression I could put my husbands last name and officially change my last name in the future when I choose.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I am under the impression I could put my husbands last name and officially change my last name in the future when I choose.

      That's correct. Putting down your husband's last name leaves that option available to you down the road.

      Reply
  25. Paulina

    Got married in Alaska back in 2015, didn’t change my name when they asked me because I was too nervous. Now I’ve been dragging the whole changing my name thinking is gonna be too difficult. Now we reside in Colorado and need to know what to do, I’ll be applying for my American citizenship within next year so I would like to have my married last name. Help!?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Paulina. You can change your name during the naturalization process. It's simple. Just make the request at the proper time.

      Reply
  26. Jeanne

    I want to apply for residency in Mexico and I'm married to a Mexican citizen. In order to apply, our names on the marriage certificate need to match exactly the names on our passports, which they don't (no middle names, and my name is now hyphenated). Can we get married again in the US using our full names? Would we need to get divorced first?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can we get married again in the US using our full names? Would we need to get divorced first?

      Some U.S. states permit couples to get a remarriage license to remarry their current spouse. For example, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York allow remarriage.

      Reply
  27. Dee

    I got married 5 years ago and I am now deciding to change my last name. I want to surprise my husband with all completed process of changing my name. Obviously my marriage certificate has my maiden name. What is my first step in changing my last name?? Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Obviously my marriage certificate has my maiden name.

      First, does your marriage certificate have a space where you specified a new name after marriage and you're now trying to deviate from that choice? If so, that could be a problem. Let's assume that's not what you're facing, and move onto your next step…

      What is my first step in changing my last name?

      You'll still use a certified copy of your marriage certificate to prove your name change event. Because your marriage took place over two years ago, you'll have to include an identity document (e.g., driver's license, passport) along with your social security application.

      Reply
      1. Dee

        Yes, this is my issue. Im finally deciding to change my last name. Thank you, so I will get my marriage certificate ( with added ID) and move on to the social security part.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Yes, this is my issue. Im finally deciding to change my last name.

          If your marriage certificate has a new name after marriage specified, that's what the SSA would accept. You couldn't switch to a new name choice.

          Reply
  28. Luz

    I was married in Vegas 2012 and never changed my name, I reside in AZ and want to give my husband a surprise with the name Change, can I still do that?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I reside in AZ and want to give my husband a surprise with the name Change, can I still do that?

      Yes, there isn't a maximum time limit to change your name.

      Reply
  29. Maureen

    Hi. I was married in Vegas 3weeks ago but live in IL. When we apply for marriage license we left the name change part blank but would like to change it now. What are my next steps?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maureen. The steps to change your name are the same. Just use a certified copy of your marriage certificate as your documented name change event and you'll be good to go.

      Reply
  30. Ryan

    I got married in TN and my certificate states my maiden name. I don’t remember a place asking for my new last name. Will I be okay to change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I don’t remember a place asking for my new last name. Will I be okay to change?

      You didn't miss anything. The Tennessee marriage license application only asks for your current name and birth name, not a new name post-marriage name. You're fine to change your name using your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  31. Megan

    Hello,

    I was married in Santa Barbara, CA in 2015 and at the time was a CA resident. I chose to keep my maiden name. My husband joined the military in 2017 and we now live in CO. Would I be able to change my last name to his at a Social Security agency here in Colorado?

    Thanks for your help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Would I be able to change my last name to his at a Social Security agency here in Colorado?

      Yes.

      Reply
  32. Manda

    I got married this past weekend in Ohio. I don’t recall ever seeing anything about putting in a new last name. Our abstract of marriage has my maiden name, is Ohio one of the states that doesn’t allow you to enter in a new last name? Or do I need to get the marriage certificate fixed before I can go through the process of changing my name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      is Ohio one of the states that doesn’t allow you to enter in a new last name?

      Yes, it is.

      Or do I need to get the marriage certificate fixed before I can go through the process of changing my name?

      No, you're Ohio marriage certificate is fine as-is.

      Reply
  33. Kim

    I just got married and I live in MD but on my marriage license it still has my last and not my husband. I don’t remember seeing a spot for me to take my husband last name will this be a problem for me to change

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kim. You won't have a problem changing your name using your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  34. Quasia

    I married my husband last week and I didn’t take his name, now I want to take his last name. How can I go about this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Quasia. Which state did the marriage take place? Or was it a foreign marriage?

      Reply
  35. Mariette

    Im from the UK and got married in Florida on the 20th august 2019, we went to the court house on the 17th August and filled out the application, we got back to the UK on the 27th August and yesterday the 4th September we received a stamped copy of the application we filled in, is this the marriage certificate?

    and does this automatically mean i have taken my husbands last name? because it says my spouses name then my name (before being married) then my maiden name, was i suppose to put my husbands last name when i filled out my name? because it doesnt say anywhere on the application ( that i could remember) about changing my last name? im really confused and upset about the fact i dont think i have his name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      we received a stamped copy of the application we filled in, is this the marriage certificate?

      It wouldn't say marriage application. It should say marriage license and show the date it was recorded.

      and does this automatically mean i have taken my husbands last name?

      No, name change isn't automatic.

      was i suppose to put my husbands last name when i filled out my name?

      No, in Florida you'd put your name before marriage.

      im really confused and upset about the fact i dont think i have his name?

      You just need to obtain a certified copy of your recorded marriage license from the circuit court to change your name.

      Reply
  36. Cathy

    I live in CT and recently got married in NY. At the time I choose my maiden name as my new surname (I was previously married) but have decided to take my new husbands name. Even though the marriage certificate has my maiden name as my new surname I was able to change it to my husbands name at SSA and DMV. I just applied for a name change for my passport. Since SSA processed my name change do you think I'll have problems with my passport?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Since SSA processed my name change do you think I'll have problems with my passport?

      No, you'll be fine.

      Reply
  37. Laurie Barrow

    I got married but it has my maden name and i want to add my married name i live in indiana. How do i do this ? And do u know how much it will be ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I got married but it has my maden name and i want to add my married name i live in indiana. How do i do this ?

      You'd use your marriage certificate.

      And do u know how much it will be ?

      Nothing, since you won't be petitioning the court.

      Reply
  38. Maly

    If I got married in CA already, but left my "new married name" section blank on my CA marriage license, can I get a new marriage license in NV (with my already husband of course) and use that to get my DMV and other legal docs to change my name to my husbands last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      can I get a new marriage license in NV (with my already husband of course)

      No, Nevada will not issue you a marriage license or remarriage license for this scenario.

      Reply
  39. Amanda

    I reside and got married in Pennsylvania. There isn’t a spot on the license for new name in my state. I went to social security office and got my name changed. I dropped my birth middle name and moved my maiden name there. In Pa this says it allowed.

    The clerk at the social security office told me people at the dmv had turned women away because of this and forced them back to their maiden middle name. I called penndot. Of course one guy I spoke with didn’t know a thing because he told me I had to designate it on my marriage license. No not in Pa.

    I called back for another person. She said all I needed was my new social security card. Why is this such a hassle to do something legal. My state is so far behind with the times.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      There isn’t a spot on the license for new name in my state.

      Correct.

      I went to social security office and got my name changed.

      To be expected, the SSA doesn't have a problem with this.

      The clerk at the social security office told me people at the dmv had turned women away because of this and forced them back to their maiden middle name.

      Those PA DMV clerks might want to read their own PennDOT website that explains how a maiden name to middle name change is permitted.

      I called penndot. Of course one guy I spoke with didn’t know a thing because he told me I had to designate it on my marriage license. No not in Pa.

      True, it doesn't exist.

      I called back for another person. She said all I needed was my new social security card. Why is this such a hassle to do something legal.

      This person is up-to-date.

      Reply
  40. Katherine

    Hi,
    I hyphenated my last name + husband's last name. We received our marriage certificate recently. I've had a change of heart and would like to fully take his last name and drop my last name. Can I do an amendment to drop my last name? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Katherine. You could with the SSA, assuming you've already changed your name with them, as they'll consider that a name correction. But, you'll probably face resistance with your local driver's license office.

      Reply
  41. Regina Ham

    I got married in Arlington, VA in August 2018. I didn't see a box for a new surname. I want to go and get my name changed now but I'm freaking out I filled the wrong form out.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I got married in Arlington, VA in August 2018. I didn't see a box for a new surname.

      No such box exists in Virginia.

      I want to go and get my name changed now but I'm freaking out I filled the wrong form out.

      You're fine. Just use your marriage certificate as-is.

      Reply
  42. Jen Scott

    Got married in California to a man I have been with for two decades…my children all have a hyphenated version of his and my maiden last names. On my wedding certificate I chose to take the same hyphenated name as my children…that was five years ago, and I never changed my name on my social security card, medical cards, etc.

    Now I need to get a Real ID through the DMV. Since I never filled out any paperwork to change my social, birth certificate, etc., is my true last name still my maiden name (which I hope, I really no longer wish to have a hyphenated last name), or by changing my name on my marriage certificate is that now my true legal last name I must use with the DMV.

    Any help is greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      is my true last name still my maiden name (which I hope, I really no longer wish to have a hyphenated last name)

      Your maiden name is still your sole legal name.

      or by changing my name on my marriage certificate is that now my true legal last name I must use with the DMV.

      You can safely ignore what's on your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  43. Charlene

    We got married in 1993. I am trying to get my TSA & our marriage license shows my maiden name not my married name. I never noticed that before. According to the TSA website your current name has to match all documents. What am I going to do?

    Reply
      1. Valera

        Hi Charlene. California's Name Equality Act wasn't until 2007, which is why your marriage certificate only shows your maiden name.

        Reply
    1. Valera

      According to the TSA website your current name has to match all documents. What am I going to do?

      Your married name can be derived from your marriage certificate, which is common.

      Reply
  44. Haley

    I’m getting married in Vegas soon and was wondering about the name change designation on the marriage application. Is it a requirement to fill in my requested name change at the time of application? If I leave it blank will I be able to change my name in the state of Nevada with just my marriage certificate showing my maiden name? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it a requirement to fill in my requested name change at the time of application?

      You don't have to fill it in.

      If I leave it blank will I be able to change my name in the state of Nevada with just my marriage certificate showing my maiden name?

      Nevada is interesting, because you can indeed leave it blank and maintain the option to change it later using your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  45. Andrea teuss

    On my marriage certificate does it say my new name and husbands or my maiden name

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Andrea. It varies by state. If you specify the state where your marriage took place I can tell which name could appear.

      Reply
  46. Jenna

    I was married in Las Vegas Nevada in 2008 and my marriage certificate only shows my maiden name. I am unable to get a passport because I cannot prove that my married last name is legally my last name. I guess I will need to petition the court for a name change. My drivers license and social security card both show my married name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My drivers license and social security card both show my married name.

      Did you present these documents along with your marriage certificate?

      Reply
  47. Sandy

    I married in Texas. At the time when I applied for my marriage license my driving license had my middle name misspelled. The county clerk went by the name on my DL so now my marriage license has my middle name misspelled.

    The ceremony has already taken place, I called the county clerk office back and they informed me that they are unable to correct the spelling of my middle name on the marriage license.

    I was able to get my SS and DL updated to correct spelling of my middle name and my new married last name. I am still in the process of updating other documents. One is my passport, which leads me to these questions.

    Will there be a problem when I submit my application for passport for a name change? Is this a common thing? How likely will they decline me?

    If I they decline me are there ways submitt other docs to show the correct spelling? Thanks so much for addressing all these concerns. Best regards.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will there be a problem when I submit my application for passport for a name change?

      You shouldn't face a problem considering your driver's license currently has the correct spelling.

      If I they decline me are there ways submitt other docs to show the correct spelling?

      Current passport, social security card, voter registration, among others.

      Reply
  48. Gabby

    We went to get our Marriage License, and when I told them that I wanted to make my maiden name my middle name, they told me they couldn’t do that? I don’t currently have a middle name. We live in Oklahoma, and I have a friend who did this. I signed the license with my future last name, but does this mean that I won’t even be able to make my maiden name my middle name at the SS office?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      but does this mean that I won’t even be able to make my maiden name my middle name at the SS office?

      You may be able to since the SSA doesn't even regard your middle name as part of your legal name. Your maiden name is also referenced on your prior SSA record, so your name history can take it into account.

      Reply
  49. Erika

    We just got married on Friday in VA, I don’t remember there being a spot to place my new name and the clerk asked if I was changing it and I told her yes and just said don’t forgot to get the license with you to the DMV etc but now I’m getting mixed answers on what to do….

    someone is saying to fill out paper work for s name change at the courthouse and some are saying just take the license to the Social Security Administration office and they will be able to change my name and get new card etc and then I can go to the DMV…could someone clarify?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      We just got married on Friday in VA, I don’t remember there being a spot to place my new name

      You didn't miss anything. Virginia's marriage license application doesn't have a new name after marriage field.

      the clerk asked if I was changing it and I told her yes and just said don’t forgot to get the license with you to the DMV etc

      Do as the clerk suggested: use a certified copy of your marriage license (actually your certificate) to change your name as you normally would.

      Reply
  50. Chelsea Sano

    I'm a resident and married in CA. On my marriage certificate I kept my original middle name and just added my new last name. I never filed the name change. However now I don't want my original middle name I would rather have my maiden name as my middle name. Would it still be possible to make this chane?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Chelsea. California's name change rules for marriage are fairly explicit. You can't shift from what's on your marriage certificate without getting a court order. The name you decide on when you apply does lock you in.

      Reply
  51. Norma

    I was born and live in MA. I was married in RI and my marriage certificate does not have my married name. When I had to renew my driver's license and wanted a Real federal ID, I had to use the initial of my birth middle name which I have never used in 50 yrs. I was really blindsided on that.

    Ever since I was married I used my maiden name as my middle name. Unfortunately, I never got a passport which would have helped. I don't want a different name on my license than is on everything else, so I had to pay $165 to have my maiden name be legally my middle name. The only other option I might have had would have been to apply for a passport before my license expired.

    Reply
  52. Taty

    Hello, can you please help me ,my husband and I got married last year, but only this year we find out misspelling on my husbands last name, local Illinois clerk said what there is no law for correction, my green card and ssn with right husbands last name but I was worry if our marriage still legal? And how can we change that mistake, thank you

    Reply
  53. Jassy

    Hello, I have a friend whose been married for almost 25 years. However, the name entered in the marriage certificate is Ma. Theresa but in her birth certificate her legal name is only Theresa. Also, she has known in the community as Ma. Theresa, likewise, in all her documents and information.

    Does it mean that I my friend is not legally married with her husband since it could be a different person. Since in her birth certificates name is only Theresa, could it be possible that if she will get a copy of CENOMAR there is a possibility that she is not married.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Does it mean that I my friend is not legally married with her husband since it could be a different person.

      Unlikely, as she'd likely able to prove identity. Many marriage certificates display identifying attributes, such as age, date of birth, or place of birth. A misspelling wouldn't invalidate a marriage or marriage record.

      Reply
  54. Grace

    I recently got married in Wisconsin and I'm trying to figure out how to go about getting my name changed. I just received copies of our marriage certificate but I notice that it has my maiden name listed in both boxes.

    I looked back at the application I filled out to request the copies and the only spot where I could see where I would've put my married name is at the top when it asks for "current name". I put my maiden name because that is still my current name!

    Will the copies of the marriage license I have not be valid for changing my name with SS and the DMV? We applied for the license in office and I know that we would've stated that I planned on changing my name if that question was offered to us. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I just received copies of our marriage certificate but I notice that it has my maiden name listed in both boxes.

      As it should.

      I put my maiden name because that is still my current name!

      You did the right thing. That was your only option.

      Will the copies of the marriage license I have not be valid for changing my name with SS and the DMV?

      The SSA and DMV will accept your marriage certificate.

      we would've stated that I planned on changing my name if that question was offered to us.

      That option isn't offered in Wisconsin. It's a non-issue.

      I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do!

      Use your marriage certificate as it stands and you'll be fine.

      Reply
  55. Dawn

    I got married in Texas (Travis County) in July and at the time wasn't sure if I wanted to change my name. Looking back, there isn't a spot on either the application of the marriage license itself for the married name. So to change my name now do I just go to the SS office with the name change form and my marriage license (certified copy)?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Looking back, there isn't a spot on either the application of the marriage license itself for the married name.

      That's correct. You didn't overlook anything.

      So to change my name now do I just go to the SS office with the name change form and my marriage license (certified copy)?

      That's right.

      Reply
  56. Annielou F Ponce

    I did a online marriage application on November 3 2019 . I answered all the questions but got confused on the part that says last name and birth name i put my birthname on birth name part and last name part

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Annielou. Last name without another qualifier should refer to your current last name. Birth name is the name you were given at birth.

      Reply
  57. Raffy

    I got married in Missouri, when the person filling up the marriage license asked me if any name change would happen. I said, No. I wasn’t ready for this question, but after getting married. I realized I wanted to take my husbands last name. But my marriage certificate is with my maiden name.

    Question, can I still change my name on legal documents with my husbands last name? Or have to file for a name change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      can I still change my name on legal documents with my husbands last name?

      A certified copy of your Missouri marriage license alone is sufficient.

      Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Candice. No, there's no new name spot in Colorado. You didn't miss anything.

      Reply
      1. Candice

        Great thanks! Also, is there any time period you have to start the process of changing your name after you get officially married. Can you do it whenever?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Candice. You can start as soon as you get your marriage certificate. You could even wait decades later. It's up to you.

          Reply
  58. Stephanie

    Hello and thank you in advance for your wealth of knowledge about this topic. I am getting married in the Bahamas and reside in Missouri. I am wanting to have:

    Stephanie 'Maiden Name' 'Married Name' (without a hyphen).

    Will I then be able to use either last name without changing it legally?
    If not, what are my options to be able to use both how I choose…if any?

    Reply
    1. Stephanie

      Also, do you know if there will be a spot on the marriage certificate to decipher this, as we are told we do not have to obtain a marriage license before we get to the Bahamas??? Therefore I have seen no documents…

      Reply
      1. Valera

        Also, do you know if there will be a spot on the marriage certificate to decipher this,

        There won't be.

        Reply
    2. Valera

      Hi Stephanie. You should be able to take on your preferred name using your marriage certificate.

      Reply

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