My Marriage Certificate Is Missing My Married Name. Now What?

Sad Bunny Costume

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 fill out your name change forms with confidence using our online app to create your printable, auto-filled PDF forms.

They never asked me for my new name

Maybe the marriage license application asked for your new name, but you missed it.

  1. Did you forget?
  2. Did the clerk forget?
  3. What are you missing?
  4. Do you need to correct your marriage certificate?
  5. 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.

Confused woman searching for missing married name
Searching for the new surname field on the marriage application.

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.

  1. Your marriage license only has your maiden name.
  2. 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.

Woman expressing happiness and approval
Relief over your marriage certificate working out after all.

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?

Woman cutting tree branch in act of self-sabotage
Self-sabotaging your name change plans.

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?

Success vs failure, target split screen
Target your name change well when applying to get married.

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?

Success vs failure, assignment split screen
Be mindful when completing your new name pick.

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.

Woman worried that signed the wrong name (maiden name instead of married name)
It's unnecessary to worry if you signed your maiden 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:

  1. It won't invalidate your marriage.
  2. It won't nullify your marriage license or certificate.
  3. 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.

Worried husband trapped atop spider web
Getting stuck with the wrong name on your marriage certificate.

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.

Woman filling out name change on marriage license application with confidence
Serenity writing your new married name on the application.

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.

Young, irritated, frustrated woman standing and touching her cheek
Unease over your completed new name decision.

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.

Stressed woman holding defective marriage certificate
Struggling to accept your new legal name as declared.

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.

Indignant government employee
Indignant government clerk denying your name change waiver.

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):

  1. Apply for a new marriage license;
  2. Change the name on your marriage certificate; or
  3. 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.

Triumphant woman escaping name change bear trap
Escape the name change trap with a new marriage license.

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.

Woman feeling hope with crossed fingers
Hoping for a successful marriage certificate correction.

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.

  1. Everyone would still see the old record.
  2. 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.

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.

Judge granting name change court order
Judge granting a name change court order.

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.

Criminal bandit imprisoned
Zero consequences for not changing your name.

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.

Do you plan to change your name?

Our online name change kit makes it easy.

Get Started

856 Comments

  1. Beatrice

    Hi there…my fiancée and I live in NY but planned on getting married in CT.

    We sent the marriage license application and they didn’t have the possibility to change my surname on the form. I asked the lady at the City Town Hall and she stated that I can change my name only after the marriage certification at the NYC DMV.

    I’m confused, and I’m not sure that is how it’s supposed to be. What should I do? HELP! I’m getting married next week !!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      they didn’t have the possibility to change my surname on the form.

      That's standard in Connecticut.

      the lady at the City Town Hall and she stated that I can change my name only after the marriage certification at the NYC DMV.

      She's right.

      I’m confused, and I’m not sure that is how it’s supposed to be. What should I do? HELP!

      Your marriage certificate doesn't have to show your married name. Your maiden name alone will suffice. The NY DMV will accept it.

      Reply
  2. Brooke

    Hello! I have read a few situations but just want to be sure of my own. I am getting married shortly in California. I figure eventually I will want to have the same name as my husband and plan to put my original first and middle name on the marriage license and new last name. However, I am not in any rush to go to the social security office or DMV and want to be known as my maiden name for now and possibly years from now.

    If I never go to the social security office or do other type of change, will I still legally be my maiden name? I figure whenever I am ready (5, 10, 20 years from now) I will have my new last name on my marriage license and will not have any problems changing it with the other places. Just want to ensure that’s correct? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If I never go to the social security office or do other type of change, will I still legally be my maiden name?

      Yes, your legal name remains the same until you complete the necessary steps to change it.

      I figure whenever I am ready (5, 10, 20 years from now) I will have my new last name on my marriage license and will not have any problems changing it with the other places.

      Correct. You'll keep that Ace up your sleeve until you're ready to use it. Maybe later. Maybe never.

      Reply
  3. Emily

    I was married in Utah in 2019. I don't remember being asked about a new married name, but I could be mistaken. Do you know if Utah provides a place for a new name? My certificate has my maiden name only but I'm not sure if that's how they all are or if I made a mistake. Will the UT DMV accept a marriage certificate with only my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do you know if Utah provides a place for a new name?

      No, it doesn't. It asks for your current name and your maiden name.

      Will the UT DMV accept a marriage certificate with only my maiden name?

      Yes, the DMV will accept your certificate without a problem.

      Reply
  4. Ili

    Hi,
    Married in California about 15 years ago, didn’t change my name at the time I now want to take my husbands last name but I see only my maiden name listed on the marriage license can I use only the license to change my name or will I have to file a partition with the court to do so?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ili. Since your marriage predates California's Name Equality Act, your marriage certificate will work fine for name change purposes. No need to go to court.

      Reply
  5. Emily

    I got married back back in 2018, after the wedding I changed my name with Social Security, DPS, and recieved a passport.

    I recently have had a change of heart, and want just my husband's surname. Do I need to petition or could I use my marriage certificate again to have them amended to just his surname rather than a hyphenated name? I assume I would need a petition, but I might as well ask, we live and married in TX.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Emily. An amendment would work using your marriage certificate for the Social Security Administration, but not for TX DPS and your passport. Had you only changed it with social security, you'd be in good shape. At this point, you're looking at petitioning.

      Reply
  6. Alex

    My husband and I were just married this summer 2021 in Wisconsin, but we live in Minnesota.

    We filed our marriage license in the Wisconsin county we were married and there wasn’t a section that asked for my married name. so the marriage certificate shows “current” and “maiden”- during the process, the government employee said to put my current legal name at that time (prior to the marriage ceremony), not my married name.

    When I go to change my name at the DMV, SS, passport, etc. will I be able to change my last name to my husbands last name when the marriage certificate doesn’t show my last name as his?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Alex. You'll be able to change your name without a problem.

      Reply
  7. Benji

    Hi there. My wife and I were recently married, and neither of us intends to keep our original last names and instead choose a new family name to start our lives together. The marriage certificate only required a name before marriage but has no places for the married names. We live in Washington state. Will we be able to continue with contacting agencies or will we need to go through the courts?

    Reply
  8. Molly

    My husband and I were married in 1985 in Ohio. Since I was changing my last name to his, I decided to change my first name from the formal birth name that I was never called to the nickname that I had always been called, with my maiden name as my middle name.

    I simply filled out the marriage license forms in that way. No one advised me to do a formal name change. I then registered my new name with social security, my passport and my driver's license. This has been fine for 36 years.

    I was unable to obtain a compliant id card this month, because the first name on my birth certificate does not match my other documents. Is it necessary to formally change my name through the courts after all this time? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Molly. You can use your passport to prove your legal name instead of your birth certificate.

      Reply
  9. Jessica

    I got married 2 weeks ago in Nevada. We are residents from California. Our marriage certificate reflects my maiden name. We left the "new designated name" area blank. I want to change my driver's license and SSN card to reflect my NEW last name (husband's last name), will I still be able to change driver's license and SSN card? Or will this be an issue? HELP PLEASE

    Reply
  10. Angelina

    Hi my husband and I were married in July 2021 in Illinois. We just received our marriage licence in the mail and I noticed that I misspelled my middle name. I was off by one letter. Do I need to have it corrected? Is our marriage still legal if I don't?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need to have it corrected?

      That would be a good idea. Contact the county clerk's office where you applied for your marriage license.

      Is our marriage still legal if I don't?

      Yes, your marriage is still valid and legal even though your marriage certificate has typographical errors.

      Reply
  11. Nette Chao

    Hi,
    I got married a few years ago in NY. I kept my maiden name. Since then we have had two kids and I would like to hyphenate my last name with my husband's. Do I have to petition the court for this or can I ask for a revision on my original marriage certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nette. They won't allow such a revision. You can opt to get married again by applying for another marriage license and using the subsequent certificate to change your name. New York State does allow you to remarry your current spouse. Barring that, you're looking at court.

      Reply
  12. Andrea Ramos

    Hello,
    I got married August 2020 in Mexico to my now husband but on the marriage license/certificate it never gave me the option to add my husband’s last name to mine. So now on the marriage certificate it has only my last name as it appears on my birth certificate. Will I have trouble adding my husband’s last name to mine through SSA, DMV, Passport, etc.?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will I have trouble adding my husband’s last name to mine through SSA, DMV, Passport, etc.?

      No, your new last name will be derived from your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  13. Michael

    Hi,

    My wife and I got married in New York State. We just received our marriage certificate and the "New Middle and/or Surname" field is blank. She had intended to take my last name.

    Is it still possible for her to change her last name with this certificate? If not, would calling the local clerk's office do any good? Failing that, would we have to apply to remarry in New York or a different state?

    I'd imagine this issue is not entirely uncommon and I'd like to believe there is a way to resolve this without having to petition the court.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      She had intended to take my last name.

      Did she specify this on the marriage license application? If so, she can request a corrected marriage certificate. If not, you both can apply for another marriage license to get married again in NY.

      Reply
  14. Cali

    Hello,
    Got married a few days ago and I’m a little confused! My marriage license/certificate only shows my maiden name. There was no space that I saw for desired married names, I even double checked with the clerk to Which name to write down for the documents though I wanted a name change after all was said and done. However I want to hyphenate and add my husbands last name to mine! How do I prove my “new legal name”? Can I still do this though I currently have nothing showing my new desired name ? We got married din Wyoming but live in Ohio!!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Cali. Your marriage certificate will work fine for hyphenating. The various federal and state agencies will piece together your new name by referencing your maiden name and your spouse's current surname.

      Reply
  15. Diana

    Hi,

    I arrived to the US with a so-called K-1 (fiancé) visa and we got married in Colorado last week. After googling for a while now I know that it’s absolutely OK in Colorado not to have my new name on the Marriage Certificate but my name before marriage only.

    I was asked if I want to change my last name later and said yes but didn’t receive any further information how that name change will go. I’m trying to figure that out now but still have zero clue. I only know that I can use the marriage certificate for the change – but where will I have to do it?

    At the moment I’m going through the application process for the green card, etc. so I neither have a Green Card, nor a SSN or a drivers license.

    Can I still apply for all these documents with my new name – which is shown nowhere?

    Thanks in advance for any help in this matter, I never thought my name change will be this difficult. ??

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I still apply for all these documents with my new name – which is shown nowhere?

      Your new name can be derived from your marriage certificate by referencing your spouse's name.

      Reply
  16. Nathan

    Hi,

    My wife and I got married in Nashville, TN in July. We want to hyphenate our last names. The marriage certificate in TN only has our original last names on it, not our married names.

    The Social Security office in CA says we need to go through the courts for a name change decree since our new last name is not listed on our certificate. Is there any way to get around this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nathan. It could be mixed signals. Them thinking your marriage took place in California. Tennessee doesn't have a new name spot on their marriage license and certificate like California does. For those certificates, your new name can be derived from the certificate.

      Reply
  17. Erica

    Hello – I just applied for a marriage license with my future husband in the state of Rhode Island. The application asked for my current name and then also had a place to indicate birth name (if different than current). If I want to change my name, should I have put his last name in the “current” spot?

    Additionally, I am still somewhat undecided on if I want to go through with the name change in general. Is there one option that makes it easier for me to make this choice in time rather than right now? I.e. should I put his last name in the current spot and never legally change it if that’s the route I choose to go down?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If I want to change my name, should I have put his last name in the “current” spot?

      No, you were right to use your current name.

      Is there one option that makes it easier for me to make this choice in time rather than right now?

      Not applicable in your case. It's nothing to be concerned about.

      should I put his last name in the current spot and never legally change it if that’s the route I choose to go down?

      You must put your name. If you had put otherwise, the city or town clerk would have alerted you to correct it, as it wouldn't have matched your ID.

      Reply
  18. Shannon

    My partner and I just got married last week in Tennessee, but the certificate shows no change in married name and I'm not even sure the application asked for the name change. We are trying to figure out if we can change to a completely different name then what we have or if we have to take one or the other, or if it's even possible now that the certificate has been filed.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I'm not even sure the application asked for the name change

      It shouldn't have.

      trying to figure out if we can change to a completely different name then what we have

      Not possible through marriage.

      or if we have to take one or the other

      This is your remaining choice.

      Reply
  19. Frank

    My fiancé and I recently got our marriage license but the officiant actually made a mistake and added my last name to her so now her new surname is her last name +mine. But we don’t want her to change her last name therefore she is not going to change that with the ssn or any official documents.

    Is she gonna encounter any problems in New York states if she doesn’t change her social security and ID with that new surname?
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is she gonna encounter any problems in New York states if she doesn’t change her social security and ID

      No, there won't be a problem.

      Reply
  20. Reid

    Got married 8 years ago in Milwaukee, Wi, never changed my maiden name, but now I want to do I have to go to court or can I just take my marriage license to Social security?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Reid. You needn't go to court. Your marriage certificate will still work.

      Reply
  21. Ashlyn

    Me and my husband got married last October in Georgia! When filling out our marriage application, I was still stuck on what exactly I wanted my surname to be. I accidentally submitted the application without ever putting a designated surname. Now, almost a year later I am trying to get my name changed on everything but I am scared this is going to prevent me from changing. Please help, any advice?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ashlyn. Georgia marriage licenses and certificates aren't standardized statewide. Each probate court does it differently. Some will print your new name on your certificate. Some won't. If your certificate references a blank new name block, it could be a problem. Otherwise, you should be fine changing your name.

      Reply
  22. Jen

    I got married in Maryland in 2012. Marriage certificate has my maiden name and each of us legally have 2 last names (traditional in latino families). I took my husband’s first last name and dropped all of mine, got my driver’s license, SS card and military ID with this new name. Relocated to Indiana, got an IN Real ID driver’s license using this name.

    Now relocated to Ohio and they won’t accept my IN driver’s license as proof of name for my OH drivers license and they’re saying I need to go to court to get it changed before I can get my OH Real ID using this name. Is there really no other option than having to petition a name change to the court?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jen. The difficulty with DMVs is that they operate on their state's rules, and they needn't recognize the name change rules allowed in other states, or even the federal government. For instance, the SSA would allow you to use a space to join your surname with your spouse's while most DMVs wouldn't.

      At best, you can return to the Ohio BMV and bring your marriage certificate as proof of your name change event instead of only your existing IDs. The name change that you achieved in 2012 in Maryland wouldn't have worked in Ohio. So they consider the change invalid then and now.

      Reply
  23. Carrie

    Hi, I got married in MN years ago and put my full maiden name as my married name on the marriage license. Now I want to change to my husbands last name. Do I need to petition the court or can I go to SS office and change it as well as license etc?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Carrie. If your marriage certificate has a new last name section that lists your maiden name, you'd have to petition. If it's empty or doesn't exist, you may be able to pursue a limited name change, such as taking your spouse's last name as-is.

      Reply
  24. Bianca

    Hello, I just got married in Arizona, I wanted to start using my husbands last name but they never asked me if I wanted to change and there was no spot on the application to do so. My marriage license and certificate have my maiden name. But I want my future documents to have my husbands last name. Do I need to have my new name on my marriage certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need to have my new name on my marriage certificate?

      No, your Arizona marriage certificate alone is enough to authorize your name change.

      Reply
  25. Arianna

    Hi, my wife and I got married November 2020 in California, at the time we were not aware that if we didn’t put a new last name on our marriage certificate it would be harder to change in the future. Clerk never mentioned to us but the section is indeed on our certificate at the bottom and we just left it blank.

    I want to change my last name to my wife’s as shown on the marriage certificate, is there any possible way around this or is court our only option? If not, then can we remarry in another state and use that certificate? I want to change my SSN and all my other paperwork to have her last name but losing hope about our options.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      is there any possible way around this or is court our only option?

      No, there's no way around this using your California marriage certificate.

      If not, then can we remarry in another state and use that certificate?

      Maybe, but you'll many state marriage license applications ask if you're already married. If so, they won't issue you a new marriage license. New York is one state that does allow this and will issue you a new license and certificate.

      Reply
  26. Shelby

    Hello I got married 7 years ago in Florida never changed my last name. I want to change it now but not sure how to go about it what should I do go back to court ?

    Reply
      1. Shelby

        I kept my maiden last name but want to change it to my husband name now that I have kids So with the certificate I can just go to social security and use that

        Reply
        1. Valera

          So with the certificate I can just go to social security and use that

          Correct. Please consult the social security article that explains the how. But pay special attention to the proof of ID section that explains what ID you must include.

          Because your marriage took place over two years ago, you'll have to do a bit more work that others who got married within two years don't have to go through.

          Reply
  27. Grigor

    Hello, the article states that the Georgia marriage application has a field for the last name after marriage. I am wondering if the marriage certificates from Georgia have the new last name on them or at least mention that one of the parties would like to change their last name to a specific new last name? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Grigor. No, not all counties do this. The format isn't normalized statewide. Each county is responsible for designing their own marriage application, license, and certificate.

      Reply
  28. stephanie

    Hello!
    I got legally married in Mexico this past week. Upon looking at our documents to start the name change process we noticed my maiden name is on the marriage certificate. I thought this was correct because I married my husband with my maiden name (if that makes sense). I'm reading the application for SS in Texas and it states the marriage license needs to be given as proof, as well as it being translated… Is our marriage license proof enough or does my married name need to be on that certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      application for SS in Texas and it states the marriage license needs to be given as proof

      Marriage certificate. In some states they're one and the same. Only their status changes after marriage.

      as well as it being translated

      The SSA has in-house translators for French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish documents. That doesn't necessarily mean they'll get translated at a local field office. They'll get scanned and sent to authorized translators. This adds to the turnaround time: two days to three weeks, depending on workload.

      Is our marriage license proof enough

      Yes, that's the proof you need. Make sure it's a certified copy.

      does my married name need to be on that certificate?

      No, your maiden name alone is fine.

      Reply
  29. Mandy

    My husband and I got married 6 years ago. At the time he had the last name Moriarty (he only had this name for 3 years thanks to his mom encouraging him at 17 to not have his fathers name anymore) and so we signed the certificate with the name Moriarty.

    Since then, he has changed his name back to his birth name (Eagleshield) that he had for most of his life (through a court order from Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court, the tribe he is enrolled in), so is there any way to "edit/correct" the name that we had used on our marriage certificate in 2015? Or will I just have to go through the courts myself for a name change or do a vow renewal or something to get a new certificate? Thanks for any help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mandy. You can try to get the certificate amended and reissued, but it's unlikely to work. Your most likely path is pursing a court order. There are some states where you can pursue a vow renewal by applying for a new marriage license, such as Colorado, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.

      Reply
  30. Kelly R

    I scrolled the comments but didn't see this one come up. I live in Minnesota but just got married 2 months ago in Wisconsin. I just received a denial letter from social security in MN because my marriage certificate doesn't show my "married" or new name. I called Wisconsin and they said it's because they don't add married names to certificates! MN does on their applications. So this is likely why i got denied. Do I just try again and hope for someone new who understands some states don't add this to certificates or do we need to go to court in these situations!

    Reply
  31. Rivany

    I got married in 2003 NH, but my marriage certificate does not show my married name. I am from Brazil and I can't get my Brazilian documents with my married name because Brazil only accepts the translation of my marriage certificate. I'm not sure how to prove that I changed my name. I have all my American documents with my married name, but because the marriage certificate does not show the name change, they won't accept. So frustrating.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rivany. It's not uncommon for marriage certificates to not have the new married name spelled out. It seems like there's something missing from the story. They may reject it, but an expanded explanation is called for.

      Do they require your foreign marriage certificate to be registered with a Brazilian consulate? Do they need supporting ID in your married name, such as a passport?

      Reply
  32. Mrs Woolwich

    I got married in March in AZ
    I am trying to get my name changed on my social security card. I was hoping the offices would reopen so I could go in person but so far it looks like I have to mail it in. I called to make sure I have the right documents and the social security rep said my marriage license has to have my married name or they won't change it on my social security card but there was never a place to put my married name on the marriage license so it only has my maiden name.

    I even asked before I filled it out to make sure I put the right name. Now I think I was talking to an out of state agent because the local office was closed but I'm not sure. Do I have to petition the court to change my name or will they accept my marriage certificate to change my social since there was no spot to put my married name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      rep said my marriage license has to have my married name or they won't change it

      It will have your new name. Just not the way you think. It'll get pieced together from your current name and your spouse's current name as shown on your certificate.

      Now I think I was talking to an out of state agent because the local office was closed

      That might be the case if you were talking to an agent from a state where the new name appears on the marriage certificate in isolation.

      Do I have to petition the court to change my name or will they accept my marriage certificate

      They'll accept it.

      Reply
  33. Stephanie Dvorak

    I got married 2 weeks ago in Cumberland County NC, I just put my maiden name will I still be able to take my spouses last name with social security?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      will I still be able to take my spouses last name with social security?

      Yes, you're good to go.

      Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Thomas. Your marriage and certificate are still valid with the wrong date. You should still contact the issuing authority and have it fixed.

      Reply
  34. kelly

    I want to verify some legal questions regarding the name change before my marriage. I want to eventually take my spouse's name but there are so many costs that go into your name changing with passports and updating my citizenship certificate. I want to wait a few years until we've recovered some money to change my name.

    Is it going to be a problem if I fill out my spouse's name as the "Designated surname" on our marriage license but don't change my name for years? My passport expires in 3 years so I want to utilize what I've paid for as well for our honeymoon. Will it be a problem if I don't change my name on any legal documents with DMV, SSA, or USCIS until 2024?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it going to be a problem if I fill out my spouse's name as the "Designated surname" on our marriage license but don't change my name for years?

      This won't be a problem. This'll keep your options open.

      My passport expires in 3 years so I want to utilize what I've paid for as well for our honeymoon.

      Sensible.

      Will it be a problem if I don't change my name on any legal documents with DMV, SSA, or USCIS until 2024?

      No problem. There's no name change deadline.

      Reply
  35. Julieta

    Hi! I am from Nevada and have my marriage license. At the time of the application I had chose to leave my new last name Undesignated. I was wondering if I could go into the county clerks and have them change it to the desired last name of my soon to be husbands last name now? or would I just need to apply for a new one over all? Or possibly just renew it since it is expiring in December? Could I renew it before the expiration date? I am in dire need of answers my set wedding date is in 4 weeks. Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      wondering if I could go into the county clerks and have them change it to the desired last name of my soon to be husbands last name

      They might be willing to do that. That's the clerk's prerogative.

      or would I just need to apply for a new one over all?

      They might require that.

      Or possibly just renew it since it is expiring in December? Could I renew it before the expiration date?

      There's no renewal. You'd have to reapply.

      Reply
  36. Sara

    I got married in West Bend, WI about two months ago. I was going to work on changing my last name to my husbands and have now realized that I was supposed to write that in on our marriage license under "current name" in order to change my last name to his. It listed "birth name" and "current name" on the application and wrote my maiden name for both because I didn't realize that "current name" meant the name I wanted it to be changed to. It didn't even occur to me that that was the way to legally change my name. What can I do? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I didn't realize that "current name" meant the name I wanted it to be changed to.

      You filled out the marriage application correctly. You didn't miss anything. Current name is what your legal name is at the time of application. For instance, if your maiden name were Sara Harlow, but your parents later changed it to Sara Williams, your birth name would be "Sara Harlow" and current name "Sara Williams."

      If there were a name after marriage block on the form, then that would've been an omission. There wasn't, so you can use your marriage certificate as-is to complete your name change.

      Reply
  37. Sandy

    I was married 40+ years ago in Texas which didn't and still doesn't have a place to choose a new name on the marriage license. After our wedding, I took the marriage license to the DMV and SS offices and had my middle name changed to my maiden name and my new, married last name. No problem with either.

    Fast forward to this year and I registered for TSA Precheck. They issued a known traveler number with my birth first name, birth middle name, and married last name. That name does not appear on any legal identification, but because the birth middle name was on my marriage license (nowhere on the license is there a place for a new married name), TSA will not change the name in their system.

    Now I cannot use the KTN because the name attached to it is different than the name on my Drivers License, which is my official photo id. UGH. I have been round in circles. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sandy. Did you start the TSA Pre-Check online? And when they contacted you, did you provide them evidence of your name change, such as your marriage certificate.

      Reply
      1. Sandy

        No. I went into their office. I took my Drivers license, Birth Certificate and Marriage license.

        Reply
  38. LC

    Hi, my husband and I got married a few weeks ago in California and I indicated on the marriage license application that I wanted to change my last name to my spouse’s- I even double checked my customer copy. We received our official marriage certificate today, and it only shows my maiden name.

    Should the certificate have my new last name? I’ve read conflicting answers about this; some sites say no, others say yes.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi LC. Your new married name should be shown. You can contact the county recorder in the county where you got your marriage license to inquire and seek a correction.

      Reply
  39. Angie

    I was just recently married in NH. This is my 3rd (no judging). My current last name is a hyphenated of my 1st marriage and 2nd: "Name A-Name B", I kept Name A due to the fact we share a child and I wanted to still share a partial last name with her.

    When my 3rd and I went to apply for the marriage license, the clerk either was new and didn't really know her way around filling out forms or didn't try hard enough, but supposedly their system "wouldn't let" her change my last name from Name A-Name B to Name A-Name C, I only wanted to change last last half of my hyphenated last name to my current husbands last name.

    She said my only option was to keep my current last name and change it later. We didn't have time to press the matter. I tried to change it with SSA and explained the situation but was still rejected. Now it feels like my only option is to petition the court, pay a bunch of money, and wait over 40 days just to make a simple change.

    Is there are way to avoid this? Can I try the city clerk again to see if the marriage certificate can be corrected? I can't imagine I'm the only to have had this issue

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Angie. The original city clerk was correct. You can't excise one-half of your existing name and re-hyphenate. Returning to get a correction won't work. You will have to petition.

      Reply
  40. Mel

    I got married back in July 2019 but never changed my last name due to military purposes. I am now wanting to take my husbands last name but the social security office in Idaho has told me it has been over two years and my marriage certificate is no longer valid to use as form of changing my name. Do I have to now go through courts to get my last name changed?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      You don't have to go to court. The SSA has a two-year rule that says you can use your marriage certificate as your identity document if your marriage (the name change event) took place within the past two years.

      If two years have passed, include ID (e.g., driver's license, passport) along with your marriage certificate.

      You can read more about the SSA card ID requirements and about mailing ID.

      Reply
      1. KC Diaz

        This may be a dumb question about if it’s been more than 2 years after marriage:
        Does the secondary ID (drivers license, passport, etc) need to show maiden name and does it need to be current?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi KC. Expired ID in your maiden name is fine. ID in your new name must be unexpired.

          Reply
  41. DM

    I, an American, married my Ukrainian husband in NC a decade ago. Our marriage certificate only has my maiden name on it, and I changed my surname to his within a week or so of marriage.

    Fast forward to present day- we moved to Ukraine, and he invited me on a family visa. We have a few children together, too. The migration services won't recognize me as the mother of our children or his wife even though I have all the legal and official supporting documents that point to me being, well, me!

    All because I guess I wasn't born with my husband's surname (that's weird!) and they want some unicorn of a document that satisfies them. They don't believe the state of NC has no marriage certificate with a married name on it since other states apparently do. Is there a way to prove I am me as a North Carolinian?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      They don't believe the state of NC has no marriage certificate with a married name on it since other states apparently do.

      For states that don't show your married name alongside your first and middle name, you'll have to derive your new surname. That's the standard across federal and state institutions. The Ukrainian official is requesting a document in a format that doesn't exist.

      Is there a way to prove I am me as a North Carolinian?

      Are they questioning your residency or relationship to your spouse? If it's the prior, you can ask what documents they'll accept that shows your address. Perhaps a driver's license, bank statement, or utility bill.

      If they doubt your identity and relationship to your spouse, the main document that connects you both would be a certified copy of your marriage certificate. Both you and your husband's name will appear on the document, alongside biographical characteristics.

      As for your children, your name should appear on their birth certificates. You could supplement this with medical or school records. These documents tie you together.

      If they don't accept this, they'll have to provide you guidance (preferably in writing) detailing what they will and won't accept.

      Reply
  42. Lauren

    Hello! We just recently received our Illinois marriage license. There was no section at all to fill out our new married name, and no box to check about whether or not we would be changing it. I assumed that would all come after we received our marriage certificate. So now we have it, and it lists both of our original names.

    We want to change our name to my husband's mother's maiden name, so we would both be using a new last name that isn't listed on the marriage license. Will this be a problem? Can we both submit our marriage license to the social security office and change our names to his mother's maiden name? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      We want to change our name to my husband's mother's maiden name

      That won't work using your marriage certificate. You both must file separate name change petitions with the court.

      Can we both submit our marriage license to the social security office and change our names to his mother's maiden name?

      No, they won't accept that.

      Reply
  43. Johanna Chin

    Hi, I didn't put the new last name during my marriage certificate application, and I've decided to change it couple years later after the wedding. Will I have to file a petition to change my name? or I can still use my marriage certificate for that?

    Reply
  44. Ju'Neal Francis

    Hi,
    So I got married in Georgia in July 2021. On the marriage application it asked for my full name and in a different space it ask for my new married name. I wrote my maiden name and my husbands last name hyphenated. When i got the certificate it just had my maiden name on it. Can i used the certificate to do the name change with SSN and DMV?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ju’Neal. Yes, you can use your marriage certificate. The license to certificate inconsistency of a quirk of Georgia. Each county designs their own license and certificate.

      Reply
  45. Ashley Elliott

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My marriage license says my last name as my maiden name and my new last name

      Did you specify your new last name on the marriage license application?

      Reply
  46. Lina

    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.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      1. Which governing body (court order/social security/other) is legally changing my name?

      The Social Security Administration is primary.

      Is social security the one actually changing my name?

      Yes.

      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).

      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.

      Do I need to show this documentation of my new legal name alongside the marriage certificate, since it doesn't have the 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.

      This is probably basic, but I don't really understand who is legally changing my name.

      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.

      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?

      No, that won't work. You can't use your marriage certificate for name change purposes, as it omits your new married name.

      When I enter the new name that I want, are they making sure it matches a specific document that shows my new legal 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.

      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?

      Same as above. This won't work in California.

      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.

      No.

      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.

      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.

      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.

      The SSA and U.S. State Department (who issues passports) are federal agencies, but process name changes separately.

      You would be a lifesaver in answering this because I am very stressed and confused on where to start.

      We're happy to help.

      Reply
  47. Stephanie P

    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?

    Reply
  48. Melissa Stone

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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.

      Reply
  49. Ana

    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.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      At the courthouse I was asked if I wanted to change my name and I said yes

      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.

      when I came back to pick up my marriage certificate it had my maiden name on both birth and current name.

      As it should.

      I want to know how do I fix this

      There's nothing to fix.

      Not sure how this would affect me.

      It won't affect you in any problematic way.

      Reply
  50. Archana

    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?

    Reply
    1. Archana

      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.

      Reply
      1. Valera

        Academic certificate is referred as name identity.

        The new name on your marriage certificate won't affect your academic certificates. You don't have to update them.

        And we want to continue my parents surname as my surname.

        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.

        Reply
    2. Valera

      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.

      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.

      They asked us to show another proof (we are on it).

      If you didn't encounter an agent who was mistaken, you might have a faulty marriage record that's missing information, needing correction.

      So is there any problem with that and if I have to correct that surname what's the process?

      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.

      Reply
  51. Larin

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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.

      Are you certain about this? I believe Washington State only allows your current legal name to appear on your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  52. Jason

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jason. No need to petition. Your marriage certificate is fine to use as-is.

      Reply
  53. Cori

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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.

      Reply
      1. Cori

        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

        Reply
          1. Cori

            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.

          2. Valera

            Today we were reissued a new certificate! It was in fact a Clerk error.

            I'm glad it worked out.

  54. Kole

    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.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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.

      Reply
  55. Ana

    Hello,

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ana. Since your marriage certificate shows a new name, you'll only be able to change to that.

      Reply
  56. KC Diaz

    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?

    Reply
  57. Anna

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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.

      Reply
  58. KS

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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.

      Reply
  59. Jay

    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?

    Reply
  60. Bob L

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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?

      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.

      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?

      It's not too late. Your marriage certificate can still be used.

      Reply
  61. Teresa

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Teresa. You must present a court order, as documented in PR 02712.006 California:

      An individual whose marriage certificate issued on or after January 1, 2009 does not reflect a name change, and who wishes to change his or her name based on that marriage, must present a court order changing his or her name.

      Reply
  62. Ria

    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!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I change SS and DL name to only B without any problem later?

      This won't work in Georgia when changing your name through marriage.

      Or marriage license filed as A-B so need court order to change just B?

      Correct, you need a court order.

      Reply
  63. Anna

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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?

      No, it's not a problem to only change your name on your certificate.

      Could someone challenge the validity of our marriage (license) later on?

      No. Your marriage will remain valid whether or not you change your name beyond your certificate.

      Reply
  64. Allen

    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)?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      What last name does she must sign on marriage certificate?

      The standard in New Jersey is to sign your current legal name.

      Reply
  65. Emily

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I don't remember a place to put down a new married name on the marriage license application

      You're not forgetting. There was no such spot.

      My PA Marriage Certificate has my maiden name.

      As it should.

      Am I able to go to the SSN office in DE with my PA Marriage Certificate and request a name change?

      Yes, that would work.

      Reply
      1. Emily

        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

        Reply
        1. Valera

          THANK YOU FOR THE PROMPT RESPONSE!!

          You're welcome. I'm glad this was helpful for you.

          Reply
  66. Sophia

    Hi Valera,

    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

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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.

      You didn't have to go to court. You could have hyphenated using your marriage certificate.

      If I’d rather just keep my maiden name as is, does it matter if I changed it with the state of VA?

      No, it doesn't matter. You can skip your name change, even through court order.

      Will it mess anything up if I continue to keep my last name?

      No, you're fine.

      Reply
  67. Diane

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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.

      Reply
  68. Ashley

    Hi Valera,
    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?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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.

      Reply
  69. Kianna

    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

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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.

      Reply
  70. Nessa

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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.

      Reply
  71. Lacey

    Hello,
    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Where it says Name of spouse, I wrote my name at the time/maiden name and not the new last name.

      This was proper.

      There is a spot for "maiden surname", but I left it blank.

      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.

      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?

      You can change your name fine. No need to petition.

      Reply
  72. Justin

    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?

    Thank you!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Our marriage certificate only states her birth name (as we believe it should).

      Correct, it should.

      was told that she would have to petition in court to do so since we got married in Wisconsin and not Minnesota.

      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.

      did we mess something up by doing the petition and being granted the court name change?

      No, it's harmless. Your wife could use either the marriage certificate or court order to complete her name change.

      Is there any legal difference by changing your name through marriage versus changing via the court petition?

      No, both facilitate legal name changes.

      Reply
  73. Rox

    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.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      married and live in NJ and am wondering if I can make my maiden name my middle name

      New Jersey is one of a few states that requires petitioning the court to execute a maiden to middle name change.

      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

      Each of these would require a court petition.

      Also when I change my name at the DMV, should I first change it with SS

      Yes, social security first.

      and passport so that those would serve as proof of name change??

      You don't need to update the name on your passport before your driver's license or Real ID.

      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

      Just bring your marriage certificate, proof of social security number, and the necessary points of ID.

      Reply
  74. Ashley

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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.

      Reply
  75. Jackie

    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.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I'm going to have to petition the court, right?

      No, your marriage certificate will work fine.

      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

      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.

      Reply
  76. Marie

    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?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Marie. I'm fairly certain Minnesota doesn't have a remarriage option.

      Reply
  77. Ana

    Hi there,
    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?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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.

      Reply
  78. Karollina

    Hi,
    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.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      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.

      Reply
  79. Fiorentina

    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.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Fiorentina. Where did your marriage take place and what state are you living in now?

      Reply

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