My Marriage Certificate Is Missing My Married Name. Now What?
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.
Today we're going to answer the following question from every angle:
Can I change my last name if my marriage certificate has my maiden name?Asked by many-a-married person
What's the problem?
Folks in California, Georgia, Oregon, New York, among others, have it easy. When they apply for a marriage license, the application has a clear 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 at a disadvantage?
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.
Once you've eased your concerns, you can use our online name change kit to fill out your forms with confidence, knowing you've covered every base.
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 forget?
- What are you missing?
- Do you need to correct your marriage certificate?
- Does it even matter at this point?
If these are the questions you're asking yourself, you're in limbo. It's time to bring you out of the fog and get your name change back on track, minus obstacles.
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 only has your maiden name.
- Your marriage certificate only shows your maiden name.
If you're not married yet, you expect your marriage certificate to fall in line and show your maiden name after it's returned and recorded by the marriage clerk.
At this point you may wonder how you'll change your name if your marriage license or marriage certificate only has your current name or maiden 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.
Note: Although we reference maiden name, it could be your current name or birth name instead. It's the same predicament: lack of a new designated surname.
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 applications for most states don't offer spots to specify a new name after marriage. But this won't stop you from changing your name.
For those predominate 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 when your marriage certificate will never show a new name field because of its inherent design.
They did ask for my new name, but I screwed up
Everything explained so far only applies if your state's marriage license application didn't offer a space to choose a new name after marriage. But what if they offered it?
You have a problem if they asked, but you left it empty—whether on purpose by accident. If you made a mistake choosing your new name, you have a problem.
If you mess up your marriage license, it will mess up your marriage certificate as well. Avoiding these problems starts with a flawless marriage application.
1. I left my new name blank
What if your marriage license application had a spot to choose a new name after marriage, but you left it blank? Did you miss your shot by omission?
Yes, you have missed your shot if your marriage ceremony has taken place. But you may apply for another marriage license if you're not married yet.
Remember, they tell you to review your marriage license before signing it for a reason. Your signature locks in your choices. Not choosing a new name is a choice.
2. 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 replacement marriage license in your preferred name.
Picking the incorrect name on your marriage license will cascade and get mirrored onto your marriage certificate. Avoid this ripple effect at the outset.
I signed my marriage license or certificate wrong
You should sign your marriage license with your maiden name if it's your current legal name at the time of signing. Bottom line, just sign your current name.
But it doesn't matter if you signed the wrong name, your maiden name, or your future married name on your marriage license or certificate. The fact is:
- It won't invalidate your marriage.
- It won't nullify your marriage license or certificate.
- It won't affect your name change in any real-world sense.
Applying the wrong signature to your marriage record is an annoyance and red herring that's not worth mulling over, assuming it's not an egregious blunder.
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 (SSA), DMV, and other government agencies will only use the new name shown on your marriage certificate when you update or renew your documents.
That's why the wrong name appearing on your marriage certificate is a problem. You're locked into your new name unless you revise it or go to court.
Next, we'll document a common failed name pick scenario.
1. Documenting your new name
For example, say you were to marry where the marriage license application asks you to choose a new last name. The form may even let you to adopt a new middle name.
On the application, you replace your middle name with your maiden name. You then take your spouse's current surname as your new last name. This is a common preference.
Arrive prepared to answer the new name question. Don't get caught flatfooted and panic respond. Your state may not ask for it today, but laws change and it may later.
2. Seemed like a good idea at the time
Now you're married, yet haven't changed your name with anyone. Your social security card, driver's license, and passport are still in your old name. Well, your current name, that is.
Now second thoughts, regrets, and doubts invade. Did you make a mistake?
3. Change of heart
Your marriage certificate arrives by 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 restore your middle name to its original state. And you want to hyphenate your last name in reverse order—spouse's first, yours last.
4. Dejected and rejected
The city or county clerk refuses to alter your marriage certificate. Next, you visit the Social Security Administration and DMV and ask them to make an exception.
But they both refuse. They will only honor your undesired new name that is shown on your marriage certificate. No exceptions, overrides, or waivers.
Fix your mistake
You have three options if you're not satisfied with the name you chose (or didn't choose):
- Apply for a new marriage license;
- Change the name on your marriage certificate; or
- Petition the court for a separate legal name change.
Next, we'll explain the pros and cons of each potential solution.
1. Apply for a new marriage license
If your marriage ceremony has not happened yet, you're in luck. You still have time to replace your faulty marriage license by applying for a new one.
You must pay the marriage license fee again, assuming they do not offer complimentary, reissued licenses. (A meager sum to secure the name you want.)
2. Change the name on your marriage certificate
Marriage certificate amendments are not for changes of heart. They're meant to fix mistakes and typos. Yet the clerk may sympathize and allow for the change.
It's a Hail Mary pass, as you're not guaranteed a successful outcome.
Even if you could change the name on your marriage certificate, it may well snag you. Because they might attach (instead of overwrite) amendments to the original marriage record.
- Everyone would still see the old record.
- And both documents would remain public records.
If a vital records clerk forgoes or straight up breaks the rules, other federal and state agencies might consider your amendment questionable. (Assuming they even notice.)
Caveats aside, most city and county clerks and recorders have vast authority to change marriage certificates and other records within their discretion.
3. Petition the court for a separate legal name change
You must petition the court for a name change when you've run out of options. This is the worst-case scenario that's worth avoiding if possible.
Court may be an expensive and time-consuming process, but at least you're guaranteed to get the name you want. Your court order will assure acceptance by every organization.
You could even change your first name while you're in court. Or opt for a brand new middle name or surname. You can't do that with a marriage certificate.
Note: A court order supersedes—not supplements—your 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. There are even ways to return to your maiden name while still married.
You don't have to follow through with a name change even if your marriage certificate shows a new married name. Maybe you'll defer it and change your mind two, 10, or 20 years later.
Is there a loophole?
We've had intrepid readers report unlikely name change 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; through grit, luck, or a forgiving clerk.
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 in the comments section.
So my husband and I got married this year 2021 in Oregon, our permanent address is in Ohio. My marriage license says my last name as my maiden name and my new last name, however my marriage certificate has my maiden name on it.
I would still like to keep my maiden name, however I was going to instead add it to my middle name. So the outline of my name would look the same as in the marriage license, however my maiden name will just move into my second middle name instead of the first name in my last name.
As I said, my marriage certificate doesn't say my new name at all.
Is this something that I can do legally when filling out all my forms and such for my name change?
Did you specify your new last name on the marriage license application?
Hi. I've read a few of the comments and just wanted a clear answer for my situation.
I got married in June 2020 and I did not choose to change my last name because I still have my license and passport valid for a couple years. I want to change my name when I have to renew all my other documents. I just want to understand the process beforehand.
I've been reading about what I need to renew my passport/license with a new name, and they all require a marriage certificate as proof of a name change. That's where I am stuck, because my marriage certificate doesn't have the new name that I want in 2 years (my first name, my last name as the middle name, and my husband's last name).
Here is a question and theoretical situation based on assumptions, please correct me where I am wrong.
1. Which governing body (court order/social security/other) is legally changing my name? All the places I need to provide documents for require proof of legal name change. Is social security the one actually changing my name? And does the application process need an official document with my new name, if so, what is the document (court order, social security card, other). Do I need to show this documentation of my new legal name alongside the marriage certificate, since it doesn't have the new name? This is probably basic, but I don't really understand who is legally changing my name.
2. Let's say I provide social security with my marriage certificate with my unchanged name, is that proof just to show that I CAN change my name, not WHAT I am changing my name to? When I enter the new name that I want, are they making sure it matches a specific document that shows my new legal name? Or do they just want proof that I CAN change my name, and trust that I am entering my new legal name in the application? I'm wondering if there is a database where they can see my new name and then use that to verify the new name I am putting in the application.
3. For renewing my passport, I'm not sure if I can fill out form DS82 because there is a check box that I am unsure of.
(My name has changed by marriage or court order, and I can submit proper certified documentation to reflect my name change. )
I don't know if I can check this because I don't know what proper certified documentation I'm supposed to have to reflect my name change. This is why I'm wondering who is legally changing my name, and what documentation I'm supposed to have to show the new name.
I apologize if my questions are redundant and all over the place. I hope you understand what I am trying to ask. You would be a lifesaver in answering this because I am very stressed and confused on where to start.
*I got married in California by the way
The Social Security Administration is primary.
As you mentioned in your follow-up comment, your marriage took place in California, so your marriage certificate would need to reflect your new name.
Since your California marriage certificate doesn't have your new name, you'll have to pursue a court-ordered name change. Please review the California name change article for what that entails.
There are federal and state layers. Social security is federal, California driver's license, REAL ID, or state-issued ID is state-level government.
The California DMV will query the SSA database to make sure your pursued name change matches. Think of the SSA as a parent resource for the DMV.
No, that won't work. You can't use your marriage certificate for name change purposes, as it omits your new married name.
They'll match against the new name on your marriage certificate. Since it doesn't exist, you'll have to provide another name change document, such as a court order.
Same as above. This won't work in California.
Same as above. You'll need a court order to get your name synced across documents. In the meantime, you can renew your passport in your existing name.
The SSA and U.S. State Department (who issues passports) are federal agencies, but process name changes separately.
We're happy to help.
I got married in ny May 2019. I didn’t put my husbands last name as my surname after marriage. I decided I want to take his last name as mine.
I now live in Florida and am getting a new drivers license – with my maiden name -next week. Once I get my real copy- I was going to see if I can change my name with social security office in Florida using my Ny marriage license —- then once approved and I get new ssc – go back and change my name with dmv here in florida for my drivers license.
Will I have a problem since it is blank under surname after marriage on my marriage certificate/license?
Hi Stephanie. You should be fine running that sequence.
Hi Tyrone – that is interesting. Are you saying of people who got married in NY and did NOT elect to change their names at the time of marriage, they are still able to use their NY issued marriage certificate with their birth name only, as the basis for changing their names with the SSA, DMV, USCIS, and elsewhere?
I ask because I am in a similar boat but when looking around on the NYC City Clerk / Marriage Bureau website, they seem to suggest that people in this situation must "remarry." I'm not wild about that concept – plus we currently live overseas and so that is not possible at this time assuming it would require an in-person visit to City Hall in NYC?
When the new name is missing, the SSA and other agencies will resort to derived defaults: take the spouse's last name or opt for a hyphenated name.
Remarriage is an option when someone wants a specific new name shown on their marriage certificate instead of a blank space. New York's new name options (when designated on the marriage license and certificate) are more generous than SSA defaults, such as the ability to choose a segmented name.
Hi there, I married my husband in August 2021 in Florida, we live in Illinois.
I accidentally left the surname blank as I was nervous filling out the form and already had some troubles with it on the computer at the courthouse. My question is can I take my marriage license which says my current name and have it changed to my husbands last name? Is it too late to do anything?
Hi Melissa. Florida marriage license applications don't have a new surname block. You didn't omit anything. Your marriage certificate is good for use as-is.
Is this the same for a passport name change? I was married in FL years ago. I changed my DL name and name w/ SSA, but never did my passport (trying to do that now). Is my FL marriage license valid to submit as my proof of name change even though it only has maiden name on it? Thank you!
Yes, you're good to go when it comes to updating your passport.
Hi, I got married in Wisconsin in December 2021. At the courthouse I was asked if I wanted to change my name and I said yes, but when I came back to pick up my marriage certificate it had my maiden name on both birth and current name.
I want to know how do I fix this since I have to apply for residence and also have a ssn with my maiden name. Not sure how this would affect me.
Wisconsin's marriage license applications do not ask for your new name. The clerk might have asked you to provide you information about the name change process.
As it should.
There's nothing to fix.
It won't affect you in any problematic way.
Hi i got married in October 2020 in India and done our marriage certificate in 2021 January. My surname was entered by My husbands surname in the marriage certificate. So there is no indication of my previous surname (surname before marriage) in the marriage certificate.
I have applied for passport. There they asked a proof for marriage. The marriage certificate is not valid since it doesn't have the surname of mine which was on all my academic certificates. They asked us to show another proof (we are on it). We are planning to go abroad.
So my question is in all my academic certificates my name was with my parents surname. But in marriage certificate it's my husband surname. So is there any problem with that and if I have to correct that surname what's the process?
If I change my surname to husbands surname. It will effect. Academic certificate is referred as name identity. And we want to continue my parents surname as my surname.
The new name on your marriage certificate won't affect your academic certificates. You don't have to update them.
You don't have to update your name on other documents. You can keep your marriage certificate as the only document showing your new name.
Does your Indian marriage certificate at least say something such as "daughter of X"? This would list your previous surname indirectly. If so, this shouldn't be a problem as all variations are visible and can be pieced together from your certificate.
If you didn't encounter an agent who was mistaken, you might have a faulty marriage record that's missing information, needing correction.
That shouldn't pose a problem. When someone changes their name, academic papers instantly fall out of sync. It's up to you to update them to match, but it's not required.
I got married on July 3rd, 2021 in Pierce County, Washington. I signed the certificate with my maiden name, not realizing that in order to change my last name to be the same as my husband's I needed to sign the certificate with the new name. Can a correction be made to my marriage certificate or do I have to petition for a separate name change?
Are you certain about this? I believe Washington State only allows your current legal name to appear on your marriage certificate.
We recently got married in the state of Wisconsin, and I think it didn't ask my wife to sign with her new name. So when we went to get our Marriage Certificate it didn't have my last name it still had her full birth name. Do we need to get a petition to change her last name?
Hi Jason. No need to petition. Your marriage certificate is fine to use as-is.
Hello we recently got married in NY, this is my 2nd marriage and on my marriage license, I requested that my new surname be changed to my current spouse's last name.
We received our certificate and it had his name and my name with my former spouse's name (I had retained my married name after my 1st dissolution of marriage) Shouldn't my current certificate have my new surname? I'm thinking this is likely due to clerk error, what can be done?
Hi Cori. That might be a clerk's error. They can cross-reference your marriage application, license, and certificate to undercover a discrepancy. If found, they should issue you a corrected marriage certificate.
Thank you so much, I think I accidentally reposted this question on this forum by accident. I have no idea how I can go about contacting the clerks office! Here in the city, due to Covid, you can only arrange to be seen for licenses & ceremonies by appointment. There are no other options. I have sent an email and hope that they reply but from what I've gathered, they are poor at answering the phones & emails. Sigh
Hi Cori. Which city or town clerk's office is it? NYC?
Hi Valera, 👋🏾
Yes, NYC. I was fortunate enough to receive a reply to my email (albeit, several weeks later) Today we were reissued a new certificate! It was in fact a Clerk error.
I'm glad it worked out.
I got married back in 2018 and on my NY marriage license I picked my last name-husbands last name. I now want to change my name finally and I now just want to have my husbands last name and drop mine completely.
The town said we can get remarried for a new license since going to court is long and pricey. How does remarriage work? Do we have 2 marriage licenses or one with two marriage dates.
We have been married for almost 4 years I don’t want to make it seem void those years with the law.
Hi Kole. A remarriage license is the same as a regular marriage license. Same fees, application, etc. Think of it like renewing your vows on government-issued documents.
It wouldn't invalidate your marriage from several years ago, but it would provide you with a new marriage certificate with your new preferred name.
I got married thru civil august 2019 I received my marriage license, I took of my last name and added only my husbands. For example my name was Ana Smith my husband John Williams. Marriage license says Ana Williams. We got married thru church November 2019 then covid happened so I never changed the rest of my documents ( social security, banks, IDs etc )
Now I want to do my name change but I want to add my maiden name. Ana Smith Williams.
How can I do this change?
Hi Ana. Since your marriage certificate shows a new name, you'll only be able to change to that.
We were married in 2010 in California (we live in TX now). My marriage certificate shows my new name as my husband’s last name. I never changed it with SSA.
Fast forward 12 years, I want to officially take my husband’s name especially since we have a child together. I called SSA and they told me that since it’s been greater than 2 years, they cannot use my marriage certificate as ID and that I’d have to submit a secondary ID showing my husband’s name.
If I don’t have those things, I would need a to petition the court for a name change. Is this correct especially since my marriage certificate actually does have my husband’s last name as my new name?
Hi KC. The two-year rule is a thing. But your secondary ID options are vast.
Hello, I got married in San Francisco February 2022. On the marriage application decided to use my maiden name for my middle name and my husband's surname as my new last name. Fast forward, a month later and have decided I do not want to change my name at all and keep it as is.
I learned there is no penalty to moving forward with changing my name as mentioned in this article. However, is there any way to reverse these changes on the marriage certificate to include my original name?
No, it is not possible to reverse or modify your marriage certificate to change your designated new name. Such amendments are reserved for typos and clerical errors.
I'm getting married in Utah. I want to change my maiden name to my middle name and take my fiance's last name. We'll then be moving immediately to New York. What should I put on the Utah marriage license to make this process as easy as possible in New York?
I've read in your blog that Utah doesn't ask for a new name. Will the Utah marriage license be enough to change my name in New York without having to go to court?
Your Utah certificate will be sufficient to change your name in New York.
I got married in California. I took my husband’s last name. Are there any legality issues if I never report my married name on our marriage certificate to SSA? Will there be any issues later relating to our finance/benefits as a married couple if I never change my name with SSA?
Hi Jay. No to both questions. name change is not mandatory.
I'm a guy and I'd like to finally change my last name to a hyphenation of my wife and my name. Come this May we will be married for 5 years.
My wife and I married in France and have a French marriage certificate. There were no options to put a "married name" for either of us. So, the names on the certificate are only our birth names.
We also both live in California.
The only document that has the hyphenated name is my wife's green card.
I can't find enough information pertaining to my situation. How would I go about changing my last name? Do I have the option to use my marriage certificate to change my name considering that the name I'd like to change to isn't on the marriage certificate?
Is it too late for me to use my marriage cert to change my name? Is there a time limit to where the more expensive court order route becomes the only option?
You can use your foreign marriage certificate to change your name if your hyphenated name can be derived from your last names.
For instance, if you're Bob Livingston and your wife is Jane Doe, and your marriage certificate shows both surnames, then you can hyphenate to Livingston-Doe or Doe-Livingston.
It's not too late. Your marriage certificate can still be used.
Thank you so much!!
Hello, I got married a month ago in CA and I did not add my husbands last name to mine. I want to hyphen my last name with his last name. My marriage license/certificate has only my maiden name. If I go to social security will they make the name change or do I have to go to court and petition a name change?
Hi Teresa. You must present a court order, as documented in PR 02712.006 California:
Hi, when I applied marriage license in Georgia I was told by Clark that I can’t have my husband partial last name (he has hyphenated Last name like A-B and I wanted only B) so filled designated name as A-B, but my marriage certificate shows only maiden name. Can I change SS and DL name to only B without any problem later? Or marriage license filed as A-B so need court order to change just B? Thanks!
This won't work in Georgia when changing your name through marriage.
Correct, you need a court order.
Hi, I live in New York and I’m about to file for a marriage license. I am considering adding my fiancés name as a second last name (no hyphen). Due to professional reasons, I am still not sure if I want to change my name on any other documents, but would like to keep the option open.
If I add his name as a second last name on our marriage certificate, but never change it on any other documents will that be a problem? Would we run into problems later on with this version of the certificate if it doesn’t match any of my other legal documents? Could someone challenge the validity of our marriage (license) later on?
No, it's not a problem to only change your name on your certificate.
No. Your marriage will remain valid whether or not you change your name beyond your certificate.
Hi, we live in New Jersey, I'm planning to marry a divorced woman. She's still using her ex-husband family name in US passport, driving license, citizenship certificate, bank etc. and all of her records here in US are signature with her ex-husband family name as she entered in US as married.
We applied for marriage license, registrar office used the family name in her birth certificate (clerk asked her complete info and entered also her previous marriage record for their file).
What last name does she must sign on marriage certificate? The signature using her family name in our marriage license (birth certificate name) or her official signature in US govt (ex-husband name)?
The standard in New Jersey is to sign your current legal name.
Thank you so much for providing all of this information! I read the entire article and all of the comments with your replies but I didn't see anyone asking about this specific combo of states so I hope you can help me!
I married in October 2019 in Pennsylvania however at the time, and still currently, I live in Delaware.
I don't remember a place to put down a new married name on the marriage license application or the clerk asking me directly but I could definitely be forgetting (it felt like a whirlwind).
Anyway – I'm finally ready to change my name to my husband's but not sure how to begin.
My PA Marriage Certificate has my maiden name. Am I able to go to the SSN office in DE with my PA Marriage Certificate and request a name change?
You're not forgetting. There was no such spot.
As it should.
Yes, that would work.
THANK YOU FOR THE PROMPT RESPONSE!! This thread has literally been THE ONLY clear and helpful guide I have found on this topic and I will forever tell anyone who needs this information to read your article!! <3
You're welcome. I'm glad this was helpful for you.
This article has been helpful and I read most of the comments but can’t seem to find one in my situation. I married in 2020 at the Arlington, VA courthouse and the certificate did not have a spot for name change so a few months later I filed a name change with the circuit court to have my last name hyphenated with my husbands.
Due to Covid it took over a year to process and I got my approved application back in April 2021. Honestly I had forgotten I had done it and here I am a year later and I have not taken the next steps to change it with SSA or the DMV.
If I’d rather just keep my maiden name as is, does it matter if I changed it with the state of VA? Will it mess anything up if I continue to keep my last name?
Thank you so much
You didn't have to go to court. You could have hyphenated using your marriage certificate.
No, it doesn't matter. You can skip your name change, even through court order.
No, you're fine.
Hello, I married my husband almost 20 years ago in Michigan. He got his U.S citizenship 5 years ago and chose to restore his family last name. We both went to court to legally change our last names and have our names changed in all our legal documents except our marriage license. Do we need to apply for an updated marriage certificate?
No, you don't need to update the names on your marriage certificate. You couldn't even if you wanted to.
I tried to read through all of your comments beforehand. I got married about a year ago in New York and checked the box that said “checkbox if same as premarriage middle and surname” and left the new middle and new surname line blank. My husband and I now live in Massachusetts and I would like to change my middle and surname. Can I do this without petitioning the court for a name change?
Hi Ashley. That could be problem using your marriage certificate since you were given the option to designate a new name when you applied to get married. Your marriage certificate reflects this non-choice.
The SSA is aware of which states do and don't provide this option. Both New York and Massachusetts provide this choice to men and women. The SSA and DMV/RMV in both states would look for this on your certificate.
Hello, my husband and I got married March 21 2022
In NC, when the clerk showed us our names my husbands name was correct but we just looked over the paper work and it has his first name twice as his last name… Jonatan Jonatan.. not sure how we can fix that looked up Info and haven’t found the right answer
In North Carolina, you can contact the register of deeds office to correct and reissue your marriage certificate.
I recently just got married to my husband who's incarcerated. He failed to inform me that he had a middle name until after the ceremony. Is there a way I can add in his middle name with barely any cost?
That might be possible by contacting the clerk who recorded your marriage license to seek a records amendment.
I was married 1/12/22 in Florida but live in Minnesota. Where it says Name of spouse, I wrote my name at the time/maiden name and not the new last name. There is a spot for "maiden surname", but I left it blank.
I should have asked more questions, but it was a destination wedding and we were in a bit of a rush. Can I get a SSN and Drivers license with the new last name or do I have to petition to change my name before doing so?
This was proper.
If your maiden name was the same as your current name at the time, it wouldn't be a big deal to leave it blank.
You can change your name fine. No need to petition.
Hi, my wife and I reside in Minnesota but got married in September of 2021 in Wisconsin. Our marriage certificate only states her birth name (as we believe it should). She wanted to take my last name, but was told that she would have to petition in court to do so since we got married in Wisconsin and not Minnesota.
We recently completed the petition, but after reading the comments here and PR 02712.055-Wisconsin, we are thinking we didn’t need to do the petition after all. All that said, did we mess something up by doing the petition and being granted the court name change?
Is there any legal difference by changing your name through marriage versus changing via the court petition?
Correct, it should.
Incorrect, unless she's attempting a change of name outside of the norm, such as a blended surname or first name change. But since she's just taking your last name as-is, your Wisconsin marriage cert would work fine.
No, it's harmless. Your wife could use either the marriage certificate or court order to complete her name change.
No, both facilitate legal name changes.
Hi, I got married and live in NJ and am wondering if I can make my maiden name my middle name (drop my current middle name) and take my husband’s last name or would this require a court petition in NJ?
Or one step further- I currently have two first names, a middle name, and my last (maiden) name (First First Middle Last). Would I be able to change my name to just one first name, move second name to middle name, add maiden name as second middle name, and take my husband’s last name (First Middle Middle Last)?? I know I’m reaching for the stars with that one but if it’s possible I would ideally want to do that.
Also when I change my name at the DMV, should I first change it with SS and passport so that those would serve as proof of name change?? Real ID is causing me some anxiety because it says documents need to match but if there’s a name change then obviously my SS and passport will no longer match the drivers license that I’m trying to change.
New Jersey is one of a few states that requires petitioning the court to execute a maiden to middle name change.
Each of these would require a court petition.
Yes, social security first.
You don't need to update the name on your passport before your driver's license or Real ID.
Just bring your marriage certificate, proof of social security number, and the necessary points of ID.
Hello, I got married in Vegas back on 9/25/2004, I am from and live in California. I do not remember there being an option of adding my new name on the marriage license. However my marriage certificate has my maiden name, and I would like to finally change my last name to my husband's last name. Am I going to have a problem when I go to the SSA office, to do a name change?
Hi Ashley. You should be fine, since it's a Nevada marriage certificate. Were it a California marriage certificate, you'd have to go to court.
I just got married in Florida for the 2nd time and when I filled out the marriage application I signed it with my previous name (the last name of my ex-husband). There wasn't a spot to put my new last name.
I'm going to have to petition the court, right? Or is there another way around petitioning the court? The social security administration state on the application to change my name that I have to have my old name and new name on the marriage certificate.
No, your marriage certificate will work fine.
Not quite. Your marriage certificate must have sufficient information to identify your old and new name. Your old name is your current name at the time. Your new name could be derived from your spouse's surname.
Hello! I got married in NY and did not change my name but I would like to now. We are actually getting married again in MN (first was just a court house wedding) and wondering if we can get re-married in a different state?
Hi Marie. I'm fairly certain Minnesota doesn't have a remarriage option.
I got married in Texas in 2015 and it did not add my husbands last name (because of the green card, passports etc). I live in Arizona and am looking to change my last name to my husband’s name. How works?
You'll undergo a standard name change using a certified copy of your marriage certificate. Nothing more elaborate than that.
My husband change his name Joao to John after he got his citizenship. Last year, we got married and he signed the marriage certificate with his old name: Joao, but he supposed to signed with his new name: John. He didn’t know that. Now, I want to travel outside the USA and I want to know if this could be a problem for me, when I will show my marriage certificate with his old name there.
Hi Karollina. For travel purposes, it shouldn't affect you since the name discrepancy doesn't apply to you. Is there some other entity you plan to show it to that might raise the issue? If so, you could provide documentation showing your husband's name change.
My husband and I have been married 36 years. When I tried to get an enhanced license because the deadline to get one is in 2023, they would not issue it to me because my marriage certificate did not have my married name next to my maiden name. I did not know I was supposed to put it on, was not told to do so back then.
The DMV clerk said I have to remarry my husband and get a new certificate. Is this the only way? All my paperwork including my driver's licenses, SS card, deeds, bank, employment, etc, have my married name on them. I been using it for 36 years. What are my options, how can I get the DMV to align with everything else.
Hi Fiorentina. Where did your marriage take place and what state are you living in now?
Hi! I will be marrying my fiancé this September in New York and while I am not sure I want to change my name to his right away, I want to make it as easy for myself as possible to do it later. I see in your answer to a previous question that I can change to his name on the marriage license and then wait however long I want to change it on other legal documents like SS, driver's license, passport, etc. This is my ideal option.
However, my fiancé is not a US citizen and we will be applying for his green card shortly after getting married. Do you know if it will cause trouble on our green card application if my name as his sponsor is First Name + Original Middle Name + Spouse's Last Name on our marriage certificate, but First Name + Original Middle Name + Maiden Name on all my other identification documents? Would a fix be to do First Name + Maiden Name as Middle Name + Spouse's Last Name on the marriage certificate?
Apologies because this question may be better directed at USCIS, but they are certifiably impossible to get on the phone, so I figured I'd see if you had any experience with this first! Thank you!
No, this won't be a problem since your marriage certificate will show both your old and new name.
That's not necessary. The USCIS is well-versed in marriage certificate formatting and the appearance of current and married names.
Excellent! I didn't realize the marriage certificate would have my maiden name too. That seems to solve the problem. Thank you.
Just got married in Nevada on 6/2022 but live in Arizona. On my marriage license I kept my name but have since decided I would like to hyphenate my last name with my husband's.
Since it doesn't state a new name on the license will I need to amend it or can I just use it and take it to social security and they will change it to hyphenate my last name? Please help I'm so confused on how this works.
My husband is military and so they call me by his last name all the time. so I figured it would be best to hyphenate that way when they call me by his last name it would be correct instead of me having to correct people.
Hi Julia. You should be fine to use your marriage certificate since you live in another state from the one you married in.
Hi, my husband I got married last month in Alabama, but I didn't change my last name at the time because I thought it was a separate process, and they never asked if I wanted to. Will the marriage certificate be enough to request the name change now?
Your marriage certificate will be enough.
My wife (American) and I (not American) married in Copenhagen, Denmark and the marriage license and certificate didn't have any provision for her to take my last name. So the marriage certificate contains her current legal first name and last name, and not my last name.
Will this pose any challenges for her when she tries to change to my last name in her SSN, drivers license and other documents in America?
P.S: The marriage certificate have an apostille stamp already (certified?).
Your foreign marriage certificate will work fine for your wife's name change.
But on the website where she tries to change her name on her SSN, only asks for: Amended Birth Certificate, Court Order, Divorce Decree, or US Marriage Certificate.
What should we do as we have foreign marriage certificate?
The Social Security Administration will recognize your Denmark marriage certificate as it would a U.S. marriage certificate.
We got married 2012 in CA. We were not aware until recently that the clerk entered my husbands last name in the NEW NAME section.
I never changed the name with SS or on the DL and never intended to have a name change.
Basically I never changed my name legally. Is this correct?
Could you guide me to the legal section that states ones name is only legally changed once it is initiated with the SS office.
The problem we are having now that we have a child and need to get him a German passport as well I needed to show the marriage certificate which has the wrong information. New name section filled out.
They state legally changed my name which is not correct I would like to guide them to a section that states that section gives one the option but is not legally binding to change it or is in immediate effect.
Can I have the certificate which we just ordered amended?
Even if I petition in court it would be pointless since I never changed my name it was a clerical error – but the clerk will not change it now.
Btw they also do not seem to find the marriage license which was filled out back then how would I do about receiving that.
Your name has not changed as far as federal and state governments are concerned.
You will have to piece it together from POMS RM 10212.000 (Legal Names and Changes to the Numident).
Your marriage certificate also shows your old/current name.
You may want to download and review the CA name equality act (PDF). It does state: "Parties to the marriage are not required to change their
The document I just cited states: "Parties to the marriage may not add or amend this information after the marriage license has been issued. Clerical errors in the new name fields may only be amended if the amendment is signed by the county clerk and one of the parties to the marriage."
You may have to consult an attorney to argue that the mistake was made on the part of the clerk.
The county clerk should have archived your marriage application. The marriage license is recorded by the county recorder, not the county clerk. But if you had a confidential marriage license, it would be housed by the county clerk. Whichever version you have, I cannot speak to why it's missing.
Hi, I have a weird situation that I hope I can get some help with. I'm thinking either my husband or myself will have to go to court (or both of us).
My husband has a hyphenated last name "Name1-Name2" he hates the hyphen and never uses it for anything unless he has to for legal reasons.
We got married in Arkansas and Arkansas didn't care that I only took the Name1 part of his name (there wasn't even anywhere to put if anyone's last name was changing on the certificate).
We lived in Missouri and they didn't care either when I went to legally change my name to "Tam Name1." However, I recently moved to Kansas and in Kansas, the DMV forced me to put my name on my driver's license as "Tam Name1-Name2" although that is NOT MY LEGAL NAME.
I argued with them for quite a while about it but they insisted that since my husband's name on the marriage certificate says "Husband Name1-Name2" that's what my last name has to be.
What can I do to remedy this? It has been a nightmare since moving to Kansas and it causes issues when I try to open bank accounts, etc. Would he have to get his last name legally changed and then we get a new marriage certificate? Hopefully we could just go to court and get both fixed?
No, you (not your husband) would have to legally change your name by petitioning your district court in Kansas. Then use the court order to make the change with the DMV. Your marriage certificate would not play any part. You would not need to amend your certificate.
Your husband could change his name in court too, but it would require a separate petition and filing fees.
I'm getting married in NY soon.
I don't want to change my name legally right now but want the option to in the future.
I was thinking I could put a new surname on the marriage certificate and change my documents if I want to in the future. My question is, if a new surname is on the marriage certificate, am I legally required to change everything else (SS card, license, etc)? Is it obligatory? Could I just have it on the marriage license and not change anything else ever? Are there issues/consequences down the road?
The other thing I thought was keeping my current name on the certificate and remarrying if I want to change my name in the future. I believe NY allows this. Is this right?
No, changing is optional. It does preserve the option to change though.
Yes, that option does exist.
My wife and I were married in Nevada but we live in California. She kept her last name as her maiden name on the marriage certificate but wants to change her last name to my last name.
She already got a new Social Security card that reflects her middle name as her maiden last name and her last name as my last name.
She is now trying to go get a driver's license to reflect her new name.
Will the California DMV accept the marriage certificate even though it has her maiden name as her last name?
She also has to submit proof of residency documents. Can these be documents that show her maiden name as her last name? She doesn't have any proof of residency documents that reflect my last name as her last name.
Will the California DMV allow her to change her middle name to her maiden name? I read that California is one of the few states that doesn't allow that, but her Social Security card now reflects her middle name as being her maiden name. I read that the DMV will verify her information electronically with the Social Security Administration.
Yes, it's fine.
Yes, as the marriage certificate will link her old name and her new name as derived from your name.
Yes, maiden to middle is fine in California.
California does allow maiden to middle name changes.
Yes, they will.
Hi! I got married in 2021 in Georgia and intended to keep my last name and add on my husband’s last name, but not hyphenate them. When I filled out the marriage license application, I was told to put just my husband’s last name as my designated surname if I wasn’t hyphenating our last names and that my maiden last name could only become my middle name.
My marriage certificate only shows my maiden last name. When I apply to change my name with SSA and DMV, can I put both last names (not hyphenated) as my legal surname so that my maiden last name is still part of my legal name, or am I stuck with my maiden name being my middle name?
Also, do I just show the SSA my marriage certificate since it only shows my maiden name, or do they need both the marriage certificate and the marriage license application?
Yes, with SSA, but I don't believe GA DMV will allow a space-separated surname without a court order.
Georgia marriage certificates aren't standardized across counties (actually probate courts). If the certificate makes no mention of a new name post marriage, then you're fine to use it as-is with the SSA. But if it shows both your maiden name and a blank or incorrect new name section, the SSA will only accept the name designated as the new name.
Hello! I am a Michigan resident and just had my ceremony this past weekend. At the ceremony, I was told to sign the document with my married name, so I did. I sent it in to the county and am now freaking out because everything I am seeing says that I should have signed with my maiden (current name). I do in fact plan to change my last name to my husbands.
Will this be okay and should I still expect to get our certified marriage license back from the county without any issues or is it possible that we will have apply for a new marriage license and re-perform our ceremony?
That's not true for Michigan. You're fine.
You'll get your certified certificate if you prepaid for it. Otherwise, you'll have to purchase it separately.
When you get your certificate, you're fine to change your name using that document. No need for another marriage license or ceremony.
Married in CA –
There is a new name entered in the NEW Name section but it should be empty.
How can I have the certificate amended to show just dashes (NO entry at all)
The new name section should be empty we never entered a new name in the application section.
You must contact the county clerk who issued your marriage license for a correction or amendment.
Thank you for replying – it is much appreciated:
I looked over the link you attached.
Would I need a court order since this is not a name change but rather a correction where dashes should have been entered in the New Name section:
I contacted the county clerk and they stated to initiate a name change but no name change ever took place:
The courthouse can't perform a name change since current name will be the same as future name.
I am a little lost – would you be able to shed some light for me to understand.
Do I fill out VS 24C and put current info in and then as a correction dashes?
Thank you for all you do on this page it is such a blessing.
Hi Asana. You don't need a court order to remove a field that you didn't specify. But there's the rub. Are you certain the error by addition was on the part of the county recorder (or county clerk for confidential marriage licenses)?
When you filled out the marriage license application you had an opportunity to specify a new name after marriage. If you left it empty, a new name shouldn't appear on the marriage certificate. If you left it blank and a new name shows, then someone on the county government side made a mistake. They can confirm this by cross-referencing your marriage application, license, and certificate.
But if you were the one who entered something that was later reflected on your certificate, they won't allow the amendment.
If you're certain the mistake was on their part, you can submit the amendment paperwork.
And you shouldn't have to enter dashes to signify a non-name, as the form provides a "reason for correction" field to explain what you're doing.
You can also contact CDPH Vital Records by phone or email.
Hi, i got married about four years ago in Georgia. I did not change my last name at the time. I kept my maiden name on the marriage certificate as my married name.
Do I have to go through the petition process to change it now that I would like to have his last name? If not, what would be the next step? I know you have probably answered this 100 times, but I am just lost. There seems to be a lot of nuances with this topic.
Hi Stephanie. You can use your Georgia marriage certificate as-is. Georgia's marriage license and certificate configuration varies per county and probate court. The inconsistency has been the source of great confusion, but hasn't shown to inhibit the most generic of name changes: taking your spouse's name or hyphenating.
Hello! This page is so helpful. I have a random specific question (just like everyone else on here!)- my husband and I got married about a year ago in Massachusetts. At the time I put down his name on the marriage certificate but wasn't planning to go through the change process until this summer. I also wasn't 100% sure if I was going to change it or not.
I decided I want to keep my last name as a second middle name and have been researching the process to do so through a MA court order. However, I didn't realize that the marriage certificate automatically legally changed my name – someone from the probate court said that the name on the marriage certificate is my legal name even though it does not match my SSN (as I never changed it).
Does this mean that to go through the court process I would have to first change everything (SSN, license, etc.) to what's on my marriage certificate and THEN start the court process? Or am I just allowed to basically ignore what I put on my marriage certificate? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
It's nonbinding. The only entity that could report your name change is you. If you ignore your marriage certificate, so does everyone else. That's the real world impact.
Yes, you can disregard your marriage certificate.
Hello, I got married 202 and the person that filed our information for the marriage license didn't ask any questions about if I wanted to take my husband's last name, which I wanted and still want.
I'm a foreigner so I was doing all the process for my adjustment of status and I got my employment authorization card and it has my maiden name on it, we were told that someone (not sure who, nobody told us) was going to ask me if I was taking his last name. But no one asked and since we filed ourselves, we didn't know what to do about my last name.
Is there a way to change my last name to my husband's? I only have the employment authorization card valid for 2 years now, so I'm still in process for the green card. Is there any options to change my last name still?
We are in Florida,
Thanks in advance
Hi Joana. You don't have to update your EAD. You can request your name change during the interview process.
Me and my fiancé got married last Saturday Sep 17, 2022 when we went to get marriage license, there was nowhere to put my new last name on? I would like to take my husband last name? Because on our marriage license just says my maiden name? What should I do? They didn't ask us if I was changing my name?
Hi Angela. Where did your marriage take place?
I tried reading through all the previous comments but didn't find anything similar. Here it goes…my husband and I got married in Hawaii in 2017. On the marriage certificate, I declared his last name as my own. We live in TX.
When we got back home, he decided to take my last name instead. Social Security office and Drivers License all accepted our certificate and his decision. Now we need to apply for his passport…will it be an issue if the marriage certificate doesn't state that he took my name? We were told the passport would have his birth name on it, but then it would not match his Social Security, License, and all other documents.
Thanks in advance!
Hi Julie. He should be fine. He can use his birth certificate to confirm his birth name.
Hi, so, I'm kind of lost on what to do or if there's any options: my wife and I got married back in June, in Arizona. There was no line to put for name change on the marriage license. So the certificate came back to us and reflects both of us with still our birth names and doesn't show a new name field.
Is it possible and if so, how would I go about taking my wife's last name? Where/who do I go to get that name change done? Or any helpful links? And would my wife need to go with me?
Also, I saw the most recent comment from a couple days ago and the end of it, I have questions regarding my situation. Would I be able to go to Social Security office/dmv/passport and apply with my wife's last name even though our marriage certificate doesn't show a name change for me?
I appreciate any sort of advice to point me in the right direction.
Thanks for your help!
You would have to petition the court for a name change. Not because of something you missed with your marriage license, but because a man must petition in Arizona to take his wife's name.
Arizona Superior Court.
See the AZ courts name change page.
Your wife needn't accompany you. You can complete the process yourself.
At this point, you can ignore your marriage certificate. Your eventual court order will supersede it.
When seeking an Enhanced ID from our state's Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) department, my application was rejected because my birth certificate had apparently omitted listing my middle name — which has been on all my legal documents since I was an infant.
My full name is also on my Marriage Certificate, which, because I didn't take my husband's surname, includes my first, middle, and maiden name like all my other legal documents do.
My question is, would my Marriage Certificate be acceptable to the DVS as adequate proof of my "name change" (actually name correction) from my provided Birth Certificate name (e.g., XZ) to my full name (e.g., XYZ)?
Or must I instead (or additionally?) have to amend my Birth Certificate's name — either by using my Marriage Certificate's listing of my full name and those of my parents to show linkage between the name changes; or even by having to get a court-ordered legal "name change" (again only a name correction) to add my middle name to my birth certificate?
Yes, for name change. No, for proof of identity.
Which state is this taking place in? You would have to show sufficient evidence of your middle name.
Your marriage license wouldn't be sufficient.
That would work, but you could just substitute your birth certificate with an unexpired passport. Assuming your password shows your middle name.
I read all the comments, I couldn't find the answers to my query. I hope if you could reply and help. I got married recently (non-citizen) to my husband (US citizen) in Illinois. They didn't offer to name change and asked to go through SSN etc.
I'm not the citizen and therefore don't have SSN. We are going to file petition through USCIS. Can I use my new surname (his surname)? Can marriage certificate be used to use my new name like that? I hope you understood my question. Thank you!
Yes, you would still use your marriage certificate as proof of name change with the USCIS.
I do not have marriage certificate with a name change. It has my maiden name. So, I hope it would work?
We just got our marriage license a few days ago but it has an error (Idaho) she put our last names given at birth where it asks for "maiden names if previously married" and neither of us have been married before.
Our ceremony still hasn't been performed. What should we do? Can we just apply for a new license since no ceremony has been given yet?
Hi Monica. It's possible the recorder made that notation intentionally for record-keeping and genealogical purposes. You can contact them to inquire if it was a mistake or intentional. If it was a mistake on their end, they should issue you a replacement without charge. They may even be willing to reissue you a certificate if you're adamant about having a "clean" license.
My husband and I got married in 2013 in Kansas. I left the "new name" section blank on our certificate at the time, but about six months later, changed my last name to his through the Social Security office. I also changed my last name on my drivers license, and my military ID also shows my last name as his.
My question is in regards to getting a new passport under my married name so it matches my other forms of IDs. Because my old passport (which is expired) has my maiden name and my marriage certificate does not reflect my new name, I'm not sure what the best course of action would be to rectify this.
Hi Olivia. You should be still be fine to change the name on your passport.
Hello. I got married in Miami, FL this past week. I really want to have my husbands last name but just realized that the clerk never asked me if I wanted to change my last name and I didn’t ask I guess of how excited I was with the ceremony that it didn’t cross my mind.
So I am looking at my marriage certificate and it only has my maiden last name. What steps should I take go make the name change happen?
Just use your marriage certificate as-is to complete your name change. Florida marriage certificates will only show your current name at the time of application, not a new name post-marriage.
Hi I got married 10 years ago in Delaware. However, I live in NY. I now want to change my name so I can have the same name as my husband and my child for the birth certificate. I give birth in 2 months by the way. I guess I’m on a time crunch.
I want to still use my maiden name professionally and on all business documents. What’s the best way to go about this I would like my name changed but not for business purposes.
Since we were married in Delaware can I use the license to change it in NY or do I need to get a new license?
Do I need to change my name on everything. Including corporations and banking documents..etc?
Also if this process takes longer than expected can I still just write my married name on the birth certificate even though it’s not changed legally yet?
If you have professional licenses registered with the state, you should notify them of your name change, but inquire in the use of an alias. So, have your legal name on file, but continue the use of your maiden name in business contexts.
Your Delaware marriage certificate will work fine to change your name in New York.
You don't have to, but it would make sense. Upon request, you bank should be able to accommodate the continued use of your maiden name on your checks and debit cards. They would still need to have your legal name on file. They may also require a new signature card in your new name.
No, as that wouldn't be your legal name at the time. However, who's to stop you?
Hi, I had a name change to my husband's last name on the marriage certificate but since the pandemic, I never went to Social Security to change other documents.
Now a year after we got married, I realize what a hassle it would be to change my name on everything, especially now that I have renewed my passport with my maiden name.
Can I keep using my maiden name even though there is a name change on my marriage certificate? Will my husband need the certificate as proof that we are married after I die?
Yes, name change isn't mandatory regardless of what new name appears on your marriage certificate.
Yes, the marriage certificate could serve as proof. The new name appearing on it won't cause a problem in the future.
Hi, I just got married in TN 2 days ago but I live in Missouri and the people at the clerks office filled out our paperwork while asking questions but never asked if I wanted to take my husbands last name.
So now the marriage certificate has my maiden name on it and not the married last name and I have no idea on what I need to do to get it changed over to his last name.
Hi Tiffany. There is nothing that needs changing. Just use your certificate as it stands to change your name.
So I got married in Georgia in 2014. I'm pretty sure I missed the line about the new name or either it wasn't there. But I do want to change my last name to my husband's last name now. Do I have to go through the courts? My certificate and license is printed with my maiden name on it.
Hi Brandee. You're probably okay. Marriage certificate formatting isn't universal or standardized in Georgia. The state has 159 counties and each county's probate court is responsible for its own certificate design.
Even today, some counties don't apply the married name to the certified marriage certificate, even when it's asked on their marriage license application.
Thank you so much for this article! I think I know the answer to my question but would love an opinion.
My husband and I intended to get married May 2022 in CA. We got our marriage certificate in March 2022 and I put on the marriage certificate that I was only going to change my last name to my husband's name. My Dad very suddenly passed away Mid-April but we were able to get married in front of him a few days before his death. One of the last things he did was sign our certificate.
I live in Massachusetts so I just recently went to the SS office, showed my marriage certificate (which showed my birth middle name and husband's last name) and asked the clerk if it was possible to change my middle name to my maiden name and last name to my husband's name. She said no problem which I was grateful for.
Is this going to be a problem in the future that my SS name is different than my marriage certificate? I really don't want a new marriage certificate because of my Dad's signature but wondering if I need another document about new name? Do I need to do this in CA where the marriage certificate was issued or can I do this in MA where I live?
No, this won't be a problem. Once the SSA has approved your name change, there is no risk of them taking it back. Or are you concerned about blowback from another government agency?
No, you don't need another document.
There's nothing you need to do. If you were to amend it, it would take place in California, not Massachusetts. But such an amendment wouldn't get accepted in CA, as it wouldn't be considered an error.
In our Nevada marriage certificate, we have my birth name listed only, we opted out of the name change when we applied. After we got married, I eventually changed my mind and changed my name with Social Security, and I now have my maiden name as my middle name and I took his surname.
When I went to a NV DMV to change my name on my real ID, with my documents (current real id, new SSN, marriage certificate, proof of residency) they rejected my application because my marriage certificate did not reflect my new name (they said it's not a proof for a name change and I'd have to go to court).
The only change they offered to do was to hyphenate our last names or to keep my old middle name and replace my last name to my husband's. This would make my new SS card and new real ID different from each other which is not what I want.
Is that really the rules for a DMV real ID? Why offer those options but not put the same name as my social security on my ID?
They offered you the default choices. This is the unfortunate downside of not choosing a married name on your marriage license and certificate—one agency might accept it, while another disagrees.
You can try to get your marriage certificate amended, but that's tough to achieve without an error cited. You could claim that you left the new name portion of the application empty by mistake.
You could try a different DMV with your new social security card in hand, but that might yield little, as they're not obligated to agree with the SSA.
If all else fails, you can file a court petition for name change in Nevada with your county clerk of court. Expect to pay $200+ for the filing.
I am Brazilian and a permanent resident, I got my green card in 2019. I got married this July in Illinois and I plan to change my name. As a Brazilian, I have no middle name and multiple last names.
Being married in Illinois, I didn't have an option to pick my new name with the marriage license or certificate. My plan was to keep only part of my maiden name as my middle name, and then take my husband's last name.
Is making only part of my maiden name as a middle name going to be an issue? Do I go to USCIS first to change the green card? How do I prove to them that I have a new name if the marriage certificate had only my maiden name?
Very helpful forum, thanks a bunch!
Yes, that would be a problem. You can't carve off a portion of your maiden name.
Yes, use Form I-90.
They'll derive your new name from your spouse's name on the certificate.
Thank you for such an informative article! I'm hoping you can help me on a question I have regarding my name after marriage.
I am a resident of California, my marriage license was obtained in California, and was married in California. I intended to make my maiden last name my middle name after marriage, but this was left out of my marriage certificate. I already went through a court order to add my maiden last name as my middle name. Do I have to submit an affidavit to amend my marriage record to add my maiden last name as my new middle name?
I was told by my clerk recorder office that it would not be necessary to amend the marriage certificate if I have a court order name change, but they would not be able to change that section of the marriage certificate anyways since missing my middle name is not considered a typo or clerical error. They didn't seem very sure of their answer, so I was wondering if you know the answer?
Thank you so much!
No, you don't need to modify your marriage certificate. Just use your court order by itself. You no longer need your marriage certificate for name change purposes.
Correct. Amendments are reserved for errors.
Me and my husband recently got married in NC, I used my maiden name when applying for our marriage license and we just got our official license back and it has my maiden name. Will I still be able to change my last name to my husbands last name by going to the SSA office?
That's standard in NC.
Yes, your marriage certificate will work fine to change your name.
Mr. Jones – this post and the comments section are pure gold – thank you very much for your work here.
I would very much value your counsel on my situation:
– I got married in New York in 2010. At that time, I elected to retain my birth name on my marriage license and certificate
– I now would like to take my husband's last name, while adding my birth last name as a second middle name – i.e. going from First Middle BirthLastName to First Middle BirthLastName Husband'sLastName
1) Even though I elected not to change my name at the time of my marriage, and so my marriage certificate only has my birth name, can I still proceed to legally change my name with the SSA, DMV, USCIS and all other entities?
In other words, is it okay to "skip" the step of changing one's name on the marriage certificate in New York (as I understand NY is one of the states that offers the option of stating one's new married name on the marriage cert) – and still proceed to have their name legally changed everywhere else?
2) The NYC marriage bureau has something on their website about needing to "remarry" in order to get a new marriage certificate with one's desired married name. If it is not necessary to have one's new married name reflected on the marriage cert in order to legally change one's name with the SSA, DMV and USCIS – then what's the point of this "remarry" option? Who typically uses it and why?
3) I am now a resident of PA and so would be working with the PA DMV on my driver's license change – are there any peculiarities I should know about with dealing with the PA DMV on the basis of my NY marriage cert, that does NOT reflect a name change on it?
4) I currently live overseas in Australia and so need to be able to accomplish all name change steps remotely (online or via mail). From my research, it sounds like the SSA processes these name changes via mail. USCIS I presume I can work through the Australian consulate as US citizens residing overseas routinely do with normal passport renewals? PennDOT sounds like will be an issue as they only seem to offer an in-person approach. Would you please confirm all of the above from your knowledge?
5) Assuming the above is correct, does that mean I cannot complete the full legal name change process if I get stuck at the DMV step – and so would need to wait until I'm next visiting home to accomplish my name change?
6) With all of the above agencies, is there any issue with the new name format I want to take (First Middle BirthLastName Husband'sLastName)? Will they all derive it correctly or will any of the agencies force a different default format (e.g. only one middle name)?
Thank you so much!
You can use your marriage certificate as-is to take your husband's last name. But you must obtain a court order to add a second middle name. Were you only opting to replace your middle name with your maiden name, your marriage certificate would be usable.
Yes, but with the limits previously stated.
Correct, they'll issue a new marriage certificate for remarriages.
If a new name is shown on a marriage certificate, the SSA will only honor that name. If it's empty, they'll allow limited defaults.
Someone may choose to remarry to get themselves unbound from the new name they chose. Otherwise, it's either change their non-preferred choice, don't change their name, or go to court.
Remarriage also makes sense when they want to choose a new, alternative, complex name that NY law allows, such as taking a portion of each's current or prior surname. This kind of splicing isn't allowed in most states without petitioning a court. Yet New York allows it through marriage when designated on the marriage certificate.
Pennsylvania will accept your New York marriage certificate fine.
You're correct. SSA foreign offices accept mail, Australia has consulates, but PennDOT requires in person name changes.
You can complete the rest and deal with the DMV later.
As stated previously, two middle names requires a court order.
Thank you very much for your prompt reply. Of the two options – court order vs. "remarry" as NY state allows, which would you recommend for changing my name as I want to (i.e. to First BirthMiddleName BirthLastName Husband'sLastName) and why?
In which state should I apply for the Court Order – NY, where I was married or PA, where I hold residency (own a house, am registered to vote, where my current driver's license is, etc.). Noting that I currently live overseas in Australia?
Are Court Orders achievable remotely / all my mail or online?
Thank you so much.
Hi KG. Court order would make sense due to your desire for a second middle name. You should file in your state of residency, which is Pennsylvania.
Court orders must often be done in person, but you can contact the court clerk to determine if they accommodate proxies, such as an attorney to represent your petition or videoconferencing.
Will do. Thank you again for your help.
So I just decided this year I do want to change my last name to my husbands, problem is we got married 5 years ago in Las Vegas and we live in California. At the time I didn't know if there was an option to change my last name or just missed it.
How would I even start that process if it's already been many years. I've read online that it could cost 500$ and need a court hearing. Please help. Thank you in advance!!
I don't believe the Nevada marriage license applications had the new name after marriage section five years ago. You should be fine to use your marriage certificate as-is.
Hi, looking for help. I got married June 2021 in California. At the time I put both my maiden and husband's last name under new last name. It’s been over a year, could I still request an amendment?
I want to drop my maiden name all together and only have my spouses last name. I live in another state now, if I have to petition would I have to go back to CA to do so?
Such an amendment wouldn't get accepted no matter how much or little time has passed.
You can't change the name on your marriage certificate after the fact, unless there's an error.
You don't need to go down this path, as you're not required to change your name to match what appears on your certificate.
Hi there. I got married in TN in Nov 2022 and reside in CA. The TN marriage license did not have a spot to fill in desired new name, so my marriage certificate shows my maiden name.
I want to take my husband's name, and everywhere I am reading says I have to have my new desired name on the certificate to do this. Is my situation an exception since I was not married in CA and instead married in a state that doesn't operate this way?
Will it just be a coin flip of whether I get lucky that they will allow it? Thanks for your help!
That's only for certain states, Tennessee not included.
It won't be a coin flip. It will work for sure.
Help pls! I got married in 2007 and didn't take my husband's last name right away. One year later I decided to take his last name. I started by changing it on my SS card first. They didn't ask for legal paperwork just my marriage certificate. Since then all my paperwork and IDs have been under my new name.
Recently I have run into situations where I am required to show how I changed my last name legally. Either on my marriage certificate or court papers.
Do I need to change my name legally now or is there another option I can provide to satisfy the requirements. I'm sure many other people have done the same before the laws changed and social security started requiring more. Thank you for your help.
Your marriage certificate should satisfy the requirement.
I'm so lost and upset and would truly appreciate some guidance. My husband and I got married last August in GA. During the process of filing there was a slot for "Designated Last Name" meaning last name after marriage.
I filled out my husband's current last name as the plan was to take his last name. However, when we received the marriage certificate months later, it has my maiden name on it.
Since I'm a total perfectionist when it comes to paperwork with authorities, I kept and still have copies of the paperwork filled out for our marriage license which clearly states that the marriage certificate would have had my husband's last name for the both of us.
What are my options to move forward and change my name? We currently live in NJ as my husband is military and have been unable to get ahold of the county clerk office that provided our marriage license.
Is it even a possibility that they would go back in the records and admit they made a mistake? Would I be able/have to get a new certificate to proceed getting my named changed? Or is my only option at this point to file a legal name change with the court in NJ?
I am not a citizen in the U.S. and I didn't grow up here so I don't fully understand the process. Filing for my green card I also have to provide proof of name change as I want the correct name on the card.
Truly appreciate any guidance. Thank you in advance.
Hi Evelina. You should be fine to use your Georgia marriage certificate as-is. Georgia is odd with their marriage license to certificate inconsistencies. Their forms are designed by each county probate court. Some will include the new name on the certificate, others won't. This results in the confusion you've experienced, but shouldn't be a hindrance.
Hi. I was married in 2018 in Illinois. If I remember correctly, there was no option to on the marriage license to use a new married name hence I did not fill it out with my preferred name which was to hyphenate my last name with my husband's.
Our marriage certificate has my maiden name on it. I want to know if it's possible for me to change my name (hyphenate last name) with Social Security using this marriage certificate. And if successful, use the new social security card with updated name to update other legal documents/ID (driver's license, passport, etc.) Thank you for your help
Yes, your marriage certificate will work fine.
Your social security card isn't a true identity document, so you wouldn't use it to update other documents. Your marriage certificate will serve that purpose.
In Texas here. Married in 2017 and kept my maiden name. Now I am wanting to change my last name to my husband's last name.
Do I need to petition the court for a name change since my marriage cert has my birth name only?
Hi Aimie. You do not need to petition the court for a name change. Your marriage certificate alone will suffice.
Hi, I got married in CA in 2017. When filling out our marriage license I asked the clerk in which order I should have my last name since I have two, name A- name b. She said she couldn't help me so I ended up putting name A-then my husband's last name.
I hate it though because now I have things addressed to me with either two last names or just my maiden name. At this point I'm considering a whole name change, but I would like to know the cons of doing that. Thank you!
You'll want to review the California court petition section about what a full name change would entail. The pros are you'll get the name you want. The cons are the time, effort, and expense ($435 filing fee) required.
My name is Ashley Rhoads. I got married to my husband John Marra in October 2021 in FL, and we currently live there. We are both attorneys, and as such we take things very literally.
When filling out our marriage license, it asked for our full names, and then it asked for my maiden surname. As such, I wrote my full name Ashley Marie Rhoads, and then my maiden surname as Rhoads (I assumed that was what I needed to put because it asked for my name, and that is my name).
And there was no space to write in what I wanted to change my name to. Now, I want to change my name to Ashley Rhoads Marra. However, my marriage license and marriage certificate only has Ashley Marie Rhoads on it.
Do I have to petition the Court for a name change? Or can I change my name through the SSA with my marriage certificate as-is?
Hi Ashley. You can change your name through marriage using your Florida marriage certificate as-is. Their application, license, and certificate will only list your current name at the time of application, and your maiden name.
When it comes time to notify the SSA, they'll use your and your husband's names as shown on your certificate to "derive" your married name from a set of allowed configurations.
I got married in California in 2012. When we filled out the application for our marriage license, the clerk kept pressuring me to change my last name. She kept saying it was easiest and free to do it now in case I changed my mind later. I very explicitly told her that I would never change my last name.
Fast forward to 2023, and we have moved to Germany temporarily, and we got our marriage certificate translated to German for documentation here. When registering in our new city, the person found at the bottom of the translated certificate that my new name had been listed with my husband's last name. We then saw that it actually says that on our original marriage certificate.
Germany will now not recognize that we are married because if they do, my name doesn't match my passport. It is messing up our taxes, and I'm worried it will affect our visa extension that we are working on now.
We contacted the county clerk's office where we applied, and they sent us a scan of our application and said we signed the document with the name change request on the bottom. But in the scan, our answers are typed. Then there were two handwritten corrections that we made for parents because we accidentally hadn't put their maiden names. Then, hand written in neither of our handwriting, is the name change, when we had typed — in that field.
I know I did not sign the application with that on there. The clerk's office is saying that even if it was written on after we signed, the fact that we did not catch it before the ceremony and get it corrected (it is typed in tiny font at the very bottom of the marriage certificate) makes it valid.
Do we have any recourse? At this point, I have to pay to legally change my name back to my maiden name and go through all the paperwork and hassle, all because Germany won't recognize our marriage certificate as it is. Everything else – my passport, my real ID – have come through with my correct, original name without a problem.
Thank you for your help!
Hi Elicia. Could you obtain a new certified translation with an affidavit claiming that there's a clerk-issued error citing your new name? Or have the translation omit mention of it?
The alternative is to contact an attorney in California to work the county clerk's office on your behalf as a proxy. You wouldn't have to return to the state for this.
My husband and I eloped in Hawaii and live in California. We got married last month, but I want to wait to change my name till we have our ceremony in July. The Hawaii marriage certificate has my maiden name listed as my declared name. When July comes how will I change it?
Hi Haley. When you applied to get married, did your Hawaiian marriage license application provide an option to specify a new name after marriage? I do believe their agents make that an option.
Hi – I am trying to update my name on my passport (leaving in a month for Mexico and my passport has been hung up since January). I submitted all the information (at least I thought so) to change my name on passport (marriage certificate with maiden name, SSN documentation of new name) but still not processed.
The US Dept of State is asking for a marriage certificate with my new name but I only have that with my maiden name. We were married in Texas and I am so lost at what to do. Please help!
Hi Megan. Texas marriage certificates do not show new names. It would only show your current name and birth name. Your "new name" could be extrapolated from your marriage certificate by piecing together your last name and your spouse's last name.
There must be a misunderstanding somewhere, as your certificate should have worked fine as-is to change the name on your passport.
Hi. Thank you so much for your very useful advice! I got married in Hong Kong back in 2010, and have a marriage certificate issued by the Hong Kong government. I later moved to CA and obtained a court-ordered delayed CA marriage certificate in 2020 based on my Hong Kong marriage. I didn't know at the time that I had to add a new married name onto the marriage certificate, so my CA marriage certificate's "new name" section is blank.
I recently decided to finally take my husband's name as my last name, and use my maiden name as my middle name. Although SSA said I couldn't change my name based on my CA marriage certificate because my new name section is blank, they were able to process my name change based on my Hong Kong marriage certificate.
My question is for DMV and passport name change, what marriage certificate do I need to show/send in? Would the CA certificate alone suffice, given that my name has already been changed on the SSA database, or would I need to attach the Hong Kong certificate as well?
(I only have one copy of my Hong Kong certificate and I am concerned about losing it as the process to reapply for it is very cumbersome.)
Thank you so much!
Your Hong Kong marriage certificate should be sufficient for all federal and state entities.
Your Hong Kong certificate alone should work fine for your driver's license and passport.
Consider future-proofing your situation by obtaining one or more official copies of your marriage certificate. (Just in case.)