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

842 Comments

  1. Monica Cardenas

    Hello, I got mArried in CAlifornia in 2002, On the license and certificate it has my maiden names, and now that i want to change it to my husbands, do i need to go thru court to change it? or will it be ok going to the social security office then dmv? Wi;; i have a problem? Thanks you

    Reply
  2. Terri

    I am in Arizona, we were married 1 year ago and I did not put a new name on our marriage certificate because we wanted to wait until we had a wedding with our family back east before I changed my name. Can I go straight to changing my name through social security or do I have to petition for a name change now? If I have to petition for a name change will this affect my birth certificate, I do not want it reissued with the name change.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I go straight to changing my name through social security or do I have to petition for a name change now?

      Go straight to social security using your Arizona marriage certificate.

      If I have to petition for a name change will this affect my birth certificate, I do not want it reissued with the name change.

      Not applicable, but even if you had to petition, it wouldn't affect your birth certificate unless you wanted it to. Meaning, if you had a court ordered name change, you could use it to update the name on your birth certificate.

      Reply
  3. Veronica

    Hello,

    On my Marriage License and Marriage Certificate it shows my name exactly as my birth certificate, they never asked if i wanted to change it to my husbands last name, its been 10yrs and Now that we have kids, i want to change it to his, will it be ok to just go to social security office? How do i go about this? Thank you so much!
    Im in California and Married here aswell..,
    i got married in the court house btw..

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Veronica. You'll likely have to go to court as the Name Equality Act was in effect at that time. Are you certain you weren't asked? You can contact the county clerk to confirm this by having them look up the application record.

      Reply
  4. Bill (Peterson) Burden

    I just got married in Pennsylvania (same sex couple). The marriage license application did not ask for my new surname, so I completed it with my surname from birth. As a result, my marriage certificate shows my surname from birth.

    Do I need to petition the court now to complete a legal name change? And if I complete the process though the court, is it okay that my marriage certificate will show my surname from birth?

    I will get a new social security card and driver's license that show my married surname, but my marriage certificate will have my old surname. Is this the correct procedure?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      The marriage license application did not ask for my new surname

      Standard in PA.

      my marriage certificate shows my surname from birth.

      That's the correct formatting. You're good to go there.

      Do I need to petition the court now to complete a legal name change?

      No need. Name change through marriage using your marriage certificate would work.

      And if I complete the process though the court, is it okay that my marriage certificate will show my surname from birth?

      Not applicable. Even if you had to go to court, your marriage certificate wouldn't come into play.

      I will get a new social security card and driver's license that show my married surname, but my marriage certificate will have my old surname. Is this the correct procedure?

      That's correct.

      Reply
  5. Dominique

    I got married and changed my middle name and last name with social security. My middle name had one letter wrong since birth so I changed it with social security at the same time as my last name. No problem. Went to the DMV and they would not allow me to have my middle name changed. We live in Connecticut. What would I need to do?

    Reply
  6. Courtney Cummis

    Hello, I got married in TN and live there as well. I don't remember there being a spot for a name change when filling out my application but I am wanting to take my husband's name. My license is changed and so is my bank account, but trying to change it on my vehicle and at work is proving difficult since the marriage certificate reads my previous last name and not the one I'm opting for. What do I need to do?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I don't remember there being a spot for a name change when filling out my application

      There isn't any.

      trying to change it on my vehicle and at work is proving difficult since the marriage certificate reads my previous last name

      Your marriage certificate is good enough for federal and state agencies, but not for your workplace? They're asking for something that doesn't exist.

      Reply
      1. Courtney Cummis

        Do I need to provide my marriage license AND my driver's license with my new last name on it when changing my name on my vehicle and at work?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Courtney. For work-related name changes, a copy of your marriage certificate should suffice. If you can provide additional ID (i.e., driver's license), that wouldn't hurt.

          Reply
  7. J

    I go by my middle name. When I married (nearly 24 years ago), I dropped my first name and used my middle name, maiden name and married name. Have never had a single problem in all these years, but today I was denied a real ID. I live in TN and my marriage license is in Tennessee.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi J. The problem is you don't have a name change document that proves your name change. You were able to get an unconventional name change 24 years ago that probably shouldn't have been authorized. It wouldn't be allowed today.

      Unless they're willing to make an exception for the length of time you've had your name changed, a new name change document will be requested. Specifically a court order.

      Reply
  8. Veronica

    Hi my husband and I got married in California 2007. I signed our marriage license with my maiden name. Since then I was able to change it at the social security office and dmv I put my maiden name as a middle name and added his last name as my last name in 2015. However someone recently told me that my name is what is on my marriage license so I’m confused because I was able to change it at the social security office and dmv I showed them my marriage certificate and they said nothing about me signing with my maiden name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Veronica. You're fine because the California Name Equality Act of 2007 didn't actually go into effect until January 1, 2009.

      Reply
  9. Lizzy

    I live in CO and my wife and I also married 2 years ago and are now going about the name change process. Our request was denied due to the names not being correct on the Marriage Certificate. I relooked at the form, and it does not ask for a new name anywhere, so both of our birth names are listed.

    Before getting rejected, I had no idea I was supposed to have a married last name on the form anywhere, and I don’t recall the clerk asking what our new last name would be. I am not sure what the next step is. But apparently the marriage license didn’t work for us with our maiden names. :-/

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I relooked at the form, and it does not ask for a new name anywhere, so both of our birth names are listed.

      Colorado's forms don't list new names, so you didn't miss anything there.

      I had no idea I was supposed to have a married last name on the form anywhere

      You weren't.

      I don’t recall the clerk asking what our new last name would be.

      They wouldn't, as it wouldn't be applied to the application, license, or recorded marriage certificate.

      I am not sure what the next step is.

      Which entity rejected your name change?

      Reply
  10. Autumn Manry

    Hi, I got married in Louisiana and I didn't sign my married name on my marriage license. I want to go change my name with the social security office and dmv. Will my signing my maiden name stop me from being able to?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Autumn. Signing your maiden name was correct. You won't face any problems.

      Reply
  11. Jasmine

    Hi there. My fiance and I will be getting married in Maryland in the near future. Is it possible for my fiance to take my last name and make his current last name his middle name after marriage without having to petition?

    Thanks for all your help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jasmine. Yes, your fiance can take your last name and replace his middle name with his current last name.

      Reply
  12. Monika

    I got married in MA in 2018 and now in TX. my marriage certificate has my maiden name. I didn’t want to change it at that time so used my maiden name on SSN, PR etc. now I want to change my name with my husband’s name.
    So do i need to file petition or can I change it on marriage certificate? What will be the easiest way?
    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Monika

      How can I change my name with my married name on SS,PR and passport? Just need to show marriage certificate but it has my maiden name.

      Reply
    2. Valera

      Hi Monika. You're alright using your marriage certificate, since you're in a state where that doesn't list your new name on their marriage certificates.

      Reply
  13. Jane

    Hello again, I wrote a comment yesterday about trying to use my maiden and husband's last name both as my new surname. I want to use my maiden name professionally (and to buy an office, and practice dentistry under), and I will use his name socially. However, I'm not sure if I mentioned that my marriage certificate was issued in NY and I wrote his name as my new surname at that time (not thrilled about it there). Do I need to change the NY marriage certificate first? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jane. In your previous comment you inquired about using dual last names, without a hyphen. You wouldn't be able to amend your marriage certificate for non-typographical errors. At best, you can apply for another marriage license and remarry. But NY doesn't permit space-separated surnames either.

      Reply
    2. Kirsten

      Your legal name is your maiden name until you decide to change it with Social Security and on your driver's license. Just because you wrote it on your marriage certificate doesn't mean you're obligated to change it, it's optional for if/when you want to take your husband's name. Your name didn't automatically change.

      Reply
  14. Jackie

    Hi,

    My husband and I have been married for over a decade. We are just realizing his middle name is incorrect on our marriage license. We were married and live in California. How do we go about correcting this error? Thanks!

    Reply
  15. Alice

    Hello from California!

    Earlier this year, I petitioned for a name change to change my first name for personal preference and my last name to reflect my partner's last name because we were planning on getting married this year.

    The petition has been approved and I've received paperwork from the court to change my name, but the issue is none of the government agencies are open so I can't go to the social security office to get my name changed. So legally, on my license and social security card, my birth name is still showing.

    We just decided to get married in a few months and are planning to apply for my marriage license and certificate. My question to is – will it matter if my marriage certificate shows my original birth name? Since I will eventually get my name legally changed on my documents (social security card, license, etc) and my new name will be eventually be what I go by.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      will it matter if my marriage certificate shows my original birth name?

      It won't matter, since you'll still be using your court order to change your name later.

      Reply
  16. Amy

    Hello, I need some advice.
    I’ve got married 16years ago and I put my maiden name on a marriage certificate. However, I want to change my last name to my husband name now. I went to the county marriage certificate office, but they said they can’t change my last name.

    Right now, my social security card has my husband’s last name, driver’s license and marriage certificate have my median name. How can I change all of my name to my husband’s last name?

    I am a permanent resident and have a green card. I want to change my green card name to my husband’s last name, but my driver’s license name is my maiden name, so I cannot apply for a name change… Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Amy. Form I-90 is used to change the name on your green card. You'll use your marriage certificate for that. It may have your maiden name, but your new name can be derived from your husband's. Same goes for your driver's license.

      Reply
  17. Want my maiden name!

    Hi- I got married in Oregon (July 2018). At the time of completing the marriage license application, I thought I wanted to changed my last name to my spouse's last name, so I completed the license with the name change.

    However, I never went through with contacting SS, banks, changing my drivers license, etc. I've decided I would prefer to just keep my maiden name.

    Do I need to somehow change my last name back to my maiden name? Or, should I not worry about it because it's only changed on my marriage license and I never changed it with SS or the DMV?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need to somehow change my last name back to my maiden name?

      No need.

      Or, should I not worry about it because it's only changed on my marriage license and I never changed it with SS or the DMV?

      Correct. Just ignore the new name on your marriage license.

      Reply
  18. Rachel

    Hello, my husband and I recently married in California. We were both planning to change our last names to his mother's maiden (he currently uses his 1st stepfather's last name), but at the civil ceremony we were told we can't do that there and would have to go to the clerk's office to get a name change. Since we couldn't change our last names then, we put our current names on our marriage certificate.

    My questions are, do we both have to petition for a name change, or can I use our marriage certificate after he changes his name to get mine changed as well? Also, will we have to amend our marriage certificate after we change our names to show our new names?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      do we both have to petition for a name change

      You'll both have to petition.

      or can I use our marriage certificate after he changes his name to get mine changed as well

      Your marriage certificate is no longer good for name change purposes.

      will we have to amend our marriage certificate after we change our names to show our new names?

      You don't have to. You couldn't even if you wanted to.

      Reply
  19. Tonya Hanna

    Hi. I got married in Hawaii in December. I hyphenate my last name.. mine then his. i haven't done anything else to change my name. My marriage certificate has the new name on it. I no longer want to change my last name and continue to use my maiden name. do I have to change my marriage certificate?
    Thank you
    Tonya

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tonya. You don't have to change your name. You can ignore what you specified on your certificate.

      Reply
  20. Victoria Mendes

    Hey there, my husband and I got married last December in Indiana. We filled our marriage application online and there was no additional field asking what my name would be after marriage, so my marriage certificate is with my MAIDEN NAME. Did we make a mistake? Should I have told the clerk that I wanted to change my last name to my husband's name?

    Does anyone know how it is in Indiana?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Victoria. You didn't miss anything. You didn't make a mistake. Your marriage certificate is as it should be. You can still use it to change your name to your husband's. They'll deduce your last name from your husband's name.

      Reply
  21. Kisha

    Hi.
    I got married in October of 2019 in NC. There was not a place that I recall to put what I wanted my married last name to be. My marriage certificate has my original last name on it. I am wanting to change my name now.

    Will I have to go through the courts to petition a name change since it is not indicated on my marriage certificate? I am extremely confused on this entire process.

    Also is there a way to keep my maiden name as a second middle name or will I have to get rid of my first middle name completely?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My marriage certificate has my original last name on it.

      As it should.

      Will I have to go through the courts to petition

      No, you can use your marriage certificate.

      keep my maiden name as a second middle name or will I have to get rid of my first middle name completely

      You'll have to replace it completely.

      Reply
  22. LC

    Hello,
    After I got married, I went through a name change and hyphenated my name due to my profession (my last name-husband's last name). We're going to be moving and I would like to just have just my husband's last name (drop mine in the hyphenation). Can I go through SSA with my marriage certificate or do I have to go through a petition of name change?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi LC. If you've only changed your name on your social security card, you can opt for a name correction using your marriage certificate. If you've changed it on other documents (e.g., driver's license, state ID, passport), using your certificate won't work. In those instances, you'll need to petition.

      Reply
  23. Helen

    Hello,my name is Helen. Two years ago I got confidential married in CA. Now I change my first name in court. How I can change my first name in married certificate?

    Reply
  24. Jessica

    I got married about 2 months ago and changed my name through the SS office. I have name change regret. Am I able to change it back? The only place it changed was SS and marriage license has my old last name on it. I may not have access to the marriage license in this marriage though… please help. TX

    Reply
  25. Emily

    Hello,
    Looking for advice on a specific name situation, please! My husband and I were married in 2020. He has a hyphenated last name (2 last names). We BOTH want to take only 1 of his last names. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to change his last name before getting married, so his hyphenated name is on the marriage license.

    Will we have to go through the court to change his last name, then get it changed on the marriage license? Afterwards, then I can change my last name, without a court hearing, by having proof of the marriage license. Is this the correct way to go about this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will we have to go through the court to change his last name

      You'd both have to go to court. To be certain, could you share the state where you got married?

      then get it changed on the marriage license?

      That's not likely to fly, as most amendments wouldn't outright replace your old certificate. The amendment (which is unlikely to be approved) would be attached to the old record.

      Afterwards, then I can change my last name, without a court hearing, by having proof of the marriage license.

      See previous answer.

      Reply
  26. Mayra Arroyo

    Hello, My name is Mayra. I just got married in Las Vegas this year, and my marriage certificate only has my maiden name. Will I still be able to change my last name to my husbands' using only the certificate? I live in Washington state.

    Thank You!

    Reply
  27. Faye

    Hi. My husband legally changed his name (first, middle and last) three years after we got married. Is there a way to have his new name reflect on the marriage certificate? Or do we carry around the court orders forever to show that he's my husband?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Faye. You can try and request an amendment, but it's unlikely to be accepted.

      Reply
  28. Sarah

    Hello!

    So I got married at the end of last year in Savannah, GA. I put my husband's last name on my license application under the designated surname for my name after marriage, but my actual marriage certificate/license has only my first name and maiden name. Was it supposed to have my new name? Can I still change my name with social security with my maiden name on the license? This is such a confusing process. Any help is much appreciated! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sarah. It should have appeared on your certified copy. You'll have to contact the probate court to determine what happened. Since you're just taking your spouse's surname as-is, your certificate should still be fine for use.

      Reply
  29. Savannah

    Hi! I have been married for over two months and at the time I chose to keep my maiden name. But. I live in Oregon where they actually specify. Do I need to file an actual court change if I have decided to take my husbands name or can I just change my social security and drivers license and go with it? Thanks!

    Reply
  30. Kristen Harmel

    I am a California resident and recently got married in Jamaica. My marriage certificate contains my maiden name but I want to take my husbands name. I was not given the opportunity to indicate my new name on the license or certificate.

    Can I use my current certificate from Jamaica to obtain the name change in CA or will I need to do a court petition for a name change?

    Reply
  31. Cyn

    I was married almost 4 years ago, my marriage license has my first name and married name, but no middle name, I wanted my maiden name as my middle name. I have not taken it to social security or the DMV so everything is in my maiden name still. What do I do? I’d like to get me documents in my new name now.

    Reply
  32. Jackie

    Hi! I recently got married in Georgia. On the marriage license, it asked me what my married name will be. I chose to hyphenate at the time.

    We are now married, and we have received our marriage certificate. But it still lists my maiden name and not the married name that I opted for at the time.

    Now that it’s time to change my name with SSN, I decided that I would like to have my maiden name as my middle name and have my husband’s last name as my last name.

    Am I stuck with hyphenating, or is there hope? Is there a way to amend the marriage license, or could I apply for a name change with SSN using the marriage certificate and hope for the best?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jackie. You should be able to use your marriage certificate as-is (assuming that's what you were sent) to get your name changed with both the SSA and Georgia DDS.

      Reply
  33. Mossa M. Shakalu

    hello,
    after 20 plus years of marriage, I just realized that there is letter mistake on my first name. how can I correct this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mossa. A letter mistake in your real name or on your marriage certificate? Or some other document?

      Reply
  34. Susana Fernandez

    I currently live in Rhode Island and was married in Las Vegas, Nevada on September of 2013. I am now trying to get the ball rolling to change my last name but I checked my marriage certificate and it has my maiden name on it. Will I still be able to change my last name in RI

    Reply
    1. Valera

      ill I still be able to change my last name in RI

      Yes, in 2013 Nevada hadn't yet updated their statutes to specify new name change rules. At that time, the marriage license application only asked for your current name, not what you'll change to. You're good to go changing your name using your certificate as-is. The fact that you live in Rhode Island isn't a factor.

      Reply
  35. Kim

    My partner and I were wanting to both change our last name when we get married, in Tennessee. We were told today when we picked up the marriage license that we could only choose either of the last name that we currently have and if we both wanted to change our name that we would have to file a name change with the court after the marriage.

    Is this true? Or can we do the name change when we submit the marriage certificate? I could not find anything online that stated this.

    (When her and her ex got married, in Iowa, they were able to chose what ever last name they wanted. We assumed it would be the same here.)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kim. You wouldn't change your name at the point you obtain your marriage license or certificate. You'll use the certificate as proof of your authorized name change event. Then you could independently take each other's names.

      Reply
  36. Shelby

    Hi! I got married December 21st, 2020 in Jackson Hole Wyoming. When we filled out our paper work, I am almost positive there wasn't a spot to put the "new name" I wanted. However, even though I don't recall seeing a designated spot, at the very end of the paperwork that I had to fill out, the very last spot that it asked for my name, I filled it out with my husbands last name because I thought that would at least let them know that's the name I wanted.

    When I got the copy of our marriage license back, it of course to my surprise had my maiden name on it and I am pretty disappointed as I had expected to see my new last name. I do live in Georgia- will I still be able to get my DL, SS, etc changed or will I have to petition this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      When we filled out our paper work, I am almost positive there wasn't a spot to put the "new name" I wanted.

      There isn't.

      the very last spot that it asked for my name, I filled it out with my husbands last name because I thought that would at least let them know that's the name I wanted.

      You should have filled in your maiden name.

      to my surprise had my maiden name on it and I am pretty disappointed

      They caught the error and corrected it on your behalf. This can actually be helpful in removing potential confusion regarding your future name change. It's a positive.

      will I still be able to get my DL, SS, etc changed or will I have to petition this?

      Your Wyoming certificate will work fine as-is. No need to petition.

      Reply
  37. Sujaira Aranda

    Hi I got Married December 18th 2020 in Louisiana and i wasn't sure if i wanted to change my name so all my paper work on the marriage license are my maiden name and Now i decided i do want to change my last name So would i have any problems at the SS office or Dmv with me changing my last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sujaira. You won't have any problems. The Louisiana marriage license application, license, and certificate should only reflect your legal name at the time of application. It will not display your new name preference. This will not prevent you from changing your last name with federal and state organizations.

      Reply
  38. Nisha

    Hi –

    I live in NJ, but my fiance lives in NC. We are having an Indian wedding in November due to postponement, but decided to get court married in March to capture our original wedding date. Although we will be married legally, I don't consider our official wedding date to be until November and don't want to change my last name with the government until November as well. I don't know how the process works in NC courts – whether they'll ask me to change it on the spot or not.

    Can I change my last name on the marriage certificate in March but wait until October/November to change it legally with the SSA?

    And also, my driver's license is expiring in April and I was thinking of getting a real ID but it would be in my maiden name and for the state of NJ rather than NC. Should I wait until I'm married to get a Real ID or should I just get a regular license right now then get another license (real ID) after my name change/state change and all that? Also would I get penalized if I changed my name for everything and not my driver's license?

    I'm super confused, and would really appreciate any insight!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I change my last name on the marriage certificate in March but wait until October/November to change it legally with the SSA?

      1) You won't be assigning your new name on the certificate. 2) You can wait until November fine.

      Should I wait until I'm married to get a Real ID or should I just get a regular license right now

      It doesn't matter. But you'll have to make sure your SSA card is updated first. Current delays in SSA processing times (sometimes up to 60 days) could push off your driver's license name change.

      then get another license (real ID) after my name change/state change and all that?

      You can. It's extra work for you, but doable.

      Also would I get penalized if I changed my name for everything and not my driver's license?

      No.

      Reply
  39. Ketan Shah

    My spouse middle name is with her ex on drivers license so on the marriage certificate we have with her ex.

    e.g
    My Name: John Duval
    Spouse Name: Michelle Rodoff Glover on drivers license with her ex.

    On marriage certificate now it with her ex as the clerk told me will go with the name on drivers license.

    How can I get it fix? If I go and change her drivers license will ask for marriage certificate so not sure from where to start. Please help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How can I get it fix?

      There is no fix, as it's not an error. The clerk would only have accepted the name on the current ID at the time.

      If I go and change her drivers license will ask for marriage certificate so not sure from where to start.

      This wouldn't prevent your spouse from changing their name. You may be concerned about something that's not an issue from the perspective of the driver's license office.

      Reply
  40. Marie

    Hello! I am from the Philippines and I got married recently in PA. Before getting married, I was here with nonimmigrant visa and now in the process of green card application. My marriage certificate shows my maiden name. I do not recall if there was a spot on the form for the new name when my husband and I applied for the marriage license. I would like to update my SSN information soon, will this be an issue?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I do not recall if there was a spot on the form for the new name when my husband and I applied for the marriage license.

      There wasn't.

      I would like to update my SSN information soon, will this be an issue?

      It won't be a problem.

      Reply
  41. Geri Austin

    My Fiance and I live in CA, we are getting married in WI in April. We are wanting to take his step father's last name, as this is the name he goes by but isn't legally changed too. I tried to contact the local clerks office here in CA but they told me to contact WI, haven't received a response yet.

    Are we able to change to his step father's last name with our marriage license in WI or will we need to file with the courts in CA?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Are we able to change to his step father's last name with our marriage license in WI or will we need to file with the courts in CA?

      Not possible through marriage. You'll have to go to court in your state of residence, which is California.

      Reply
  42. Chelsea

    I changed my name on the marriage certificate to my husband’s last name. But within the last few years I’ve never changed my social or Id last name to his. I never did because I realized I liked my name better. 😂 anyway, would I get in trouble eventually if I don’t change my Driver license and Social to his last name? I still have my maiden name on all my things. How does that work?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Chelsea. You won't get in any trouble. Changing your name is optional, regardless of what's on your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  43. Jaymi Barnett

    My wife and I were married in PA in 2020. We are a same sex married couple. On our marriage certificate it says our current last names and we would like to take my maiden name as our married name.

    We are the first same sex couple in area and can't seem to get a straight answer for this as our lawyer claims I have to file a precipae to resume maiden name after divorce and say my wife has to file a name change petition. I feel this is over kill when we were just married.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jaymi. You and your wife wouldn't be able to take your maiden name through marriage. Only our current last name as-is. You'd both have to petition the court to change your names to your maiden name.

      Some states are more flexible allowing previous surnames, but in Pennsylvania it's based on what's current at the time of marriage.

      Reply
  44. Leeah

    Hello! I got married almost five years ago now and at the time I wanted to take his last name and keep mine, so both is what was put on our marriage certificate (with a space in between, no hyphen). I've changed my mind and just want my last name, but I had already had my driver's license changed to include both since I had to change it a few months after marriage when I turned 21, and I used our marriage license to change that.

    Should I be able to change my driver's license back to just my family name now using my social security card, or would I need to petition the court for the change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Leeah. You'll almost certainly have to petition the court. If you tell me which state your name change has taken place in, I can peruse the driver services statutes to determine if there's a carve out available in your case. It's highly unlikely, but worth examining.

      Reply
      1. Leeah

        Thank you for the information! That sucks, I wish the process was easier.

        I am in New York State.

        If I don't get it changed but continue to just use my last name, do you think that'll ever be an issue?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          I am in New York State.

          NY won't allow a name reversal without a court order.

          If I don't get it changed but continue to just use my last name, do you think that'll ever be an issue?

          It can become an issue if you later intend to get a Real ID. In that case, you'll have a mismatch with your social security record. Real ID is optional though.

          Reply
          1. Leeah

            Okay, thank you!

            Would it ever cause issue with renewing my Passport? My passport has only my family name.

          2. Valera

            Hi Leeah. It's a non-issue with your passport.

  45. DK

    Hey there!

    My wife and I got married 4 years ago, we both wrote my surname on our marriage certificate but decided to keep our last names. Now I want to take her surname, is there any easier way to go than the whole court path? We're in Michigan. Thanks for your help!

    Reply
  46. Kierra moore

    Hey so I just got married in Tennessee last week. The documents me and my husband signed didn’t ask if I wanted to change my name. I realized now that I put down my maiden name and was wondering the easiest route to change my last name.

    Any advice will be appreciated! I’m living in Virginia right now moving to fort Campbell, Kentucky in a few weeks since he’s in the army

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kierra. You needn't do anything special. Just use your marriage certificate as-is.

      Reply
  47. Pam

    Hi Married in NY a long time ago… Just realized that my marriage certificate show my maiden name as my assumed name that I have been using for over 50 yrs and not my birth name! Is this a problem? if so what do I need to do about it?

    I don't know why I did not put my birth name down as my maiden name and used my assumed name… Hopefully this is not a problem when I or my spouse apply for social security or anything else!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Pam. It's not a problem. The Social Security Administration has operating instructions in place for folks who've been using the "wrong" name for an extended period of time. Your name usage and identity is historically well established and won't be an issue.

      Reply
  48. Melrose Geronimo

    So if it says “New name not declared” it’s okay? The registrar had to fix mine and didn’t ask about my new name and put not declared.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Melrose. If the registrar changed your marriage record after the fact, you should be fine. Is there something I'm missing? Is there something left blank? If so, please specify which state your marriage took place in.

      Reply
  49. Delizete

    Hello,
    I got married in Arizona 10 years ago and there, apparently they keep your maiden name too on your marriage certificate. I was able to change my SS and Driver's License in here, but I am originally from Brasil and need to change all my documents there too to my husbands last name.

    Unlike USA, Brasil doesn't accept your marriage certificate as proof of your identity if it doesn't state your husband's last name on it. What's your advice on how to change my maiden name to my husbands name on my marriage certificate.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Delizete. I think you're mixing up having your husband's name shown as your new surname instead of your husband's name simply appearing on the certificate in isolation. Most name changes are derived, meaning it's pieced together. You may be concerned about something that's not an issue.

      Reply
  50. Daisy

    Hello,

    We just found out that my husband's middle name actually never really existed. We needed his birth certificate for something and realized that his name is eg. "Mark Smith" instead of "Mark Caro Smith" as he always believed. He always used his middle name and even his parents were surprised when we found out his middle name is not in his birthday certificate. We also noted that none of his legal documents have the middle name in it.

    However, in our marriage certificate he has a middle name since he filled up our marriage application with his (not real) complete legal full name. We just got married and now I feel like I am married to someone who probably doesn't even exist and will probably face troubles because of that. Is it a kind of mistake that we can get fixed at the registrar office just by showing his birth certificate and explaining the situation?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it a kind of mistake that we can get fixed at the registrar office just by showing his birth certificate and explaining the situation?

      Yes, a simple certificate amendment request should suffice.

      Reply
  51. Rafa

    Hello,

    I’m originally from Mexico. My name on my birth certificate is as follows:
    First: AAA
    Middle: None
    Last: BBB CCC, two surnames with a space between them (no hyphen).

    I have been living in California for the last 31 years and all my documents, including my marriage certificate (I got married in 2000), and my California IDs are as follows:
    First: AAA
    Middle: CCC
    Last: BBB
    Back in 1989, the DMV let me use my second surname as my middle name.

    I became a PR last year (yes took me that long!) and I got my PR and SS card couple months ago, both have my full name as is on my birth certificate (AAA BBB CCC). I want to have my SS card with the name I have been using before (AAA CCC BBB). My question is, will my marriage certificate suffice the name change?

    Reply
  52. Alyssa

    My husband and I got our marriage license through our local Town Clerk in NY. While filling out the paperwork I asked the clerk how I go about changing my last name, she said I do it after we get married. I then asked if I should be filling the paperwork out in my maiden name or the name I want to take, she said I had to fill it out in my maiden name.

    Fast forward after we got married I return to the Town Clerk and ask to change my last name (as she had led me to believe this is how it was done). The same woman then screamed at me asking “why I changed my mind” and “why did you check the box to keep your maiden name”.

    On my certificate I saw a box checked saying I was keeping my maiden name. I never checked the box and was misinformed while filling out the paperwork for the license. After being reduced to tears, another town clerk worker that witnessed the event met me outside and comforted me and told me I should try Social Security and see if they could help.

    I went and explained the situation and was given a new Social Security card with my husbands last name. I then went to change my name at the DMV and even though I had the new social security card, they refused because the marriage certificate had the box checked to keep my maiden name.

    My license is expiring next year and I don’t know what to do because now I have a new social security card that doesn’t match my marriage certificate or birth certificate. This was not my fault, all I wanted was to take my husbands name. Is there anything I can do or am I completely screwed for the rest of my life?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Alyssa. You can apply for a remarriage license, then using the subsequent marriage certificate to change your name with the DMV. The remarriage license is the same as a regular marriage license. Think of it like renewing your vows and remarrying your spouse, but with official paperwork. You also needn't apply at the same town clerk's office. The alternative to that is pursuing a court-petitioned name change.

      Reply
  53. Claudia

    I am in NY and will be marrying my fiance in two weeks. I am also pregnant and the baby will have his last name. On my marriage application I checked that I would keep my maiden name.

    I planned on keeping my maiden name for legal/professional reasons and use my married name informally amongst friends and family. I have family that lives abroad and I plan on taking the baby with me.

    Will me not having the same last name as my child affect going through customs and immigration in other countries? Also if I change my mind and want my name changed to his later on, even though the license says I'm keeping my maiden name, is the marriage event itself make me eligible for a name change later on?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will me not having the same last name as my child affect going through customs and immigration in other countries?

      No. You can bring your marriage certificate with you to link the names, but that shouldn't be necessary.

      is the marriage event itself make me eligible for a name change later on?

      That could be a problem when you need to renew your driver's license. If you feel this may be a possibility, you can request your marriage license be amended and reissued under the most likely married name variation you'd seek.

      You're not obligated to go through with it, but this leaves your options open. Of course, you'll want to do this before you get married.

      Reply
  54. Aisha

    I received my certified marriage certificate in 2019 in Savannah, GA. On the license application, I elected to hyphenate my name with my husband's name. Our marriage certificate only shows my first and maiden name because that's the way they do it here.

    I never officially went to SSA or DDS to change my name to my husband's. Now that I'm receiving different accolades, my husband questions why I hadn't changed my name yet. When we were married, he added me on his insurance with the hyphenated name. Since he is now realizing that I never changed my name with SSA or DDS, I want to do it now to put him at ease. Will this be an issue with it being years later?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will this be an issue with it being years later?

      No, there's no time limit with name change. The procedure doesn't change.

      Reply
  55. Samantha

    Just recently got married in the state of Florida having read the column its understood, i hope I'm correct that my marriage certificate is a legal document which allows me to change my name. So when filing for my adjustment of status i can legally file using my married name

    Reply
  56. Nicole N.

    Hi there,
    I recently got married, but my Texas marriage license only has my maiden last name (I live in California). Is that normal/common for someone who wants to change their last name?

    Can I still use my marriage license to change my last name to my husband’s for my drivers license and social security card? If so, will this then be considered my new legal name?

    Thanks,
    Nicole

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is that normal/common for someone who wants to change their last name?

      Yes, it's standard in most states.

      Can I still use my marriage license to change my last name to my husband’s

      Yes.

      will this then be considered my new legal name?

      Your marriage "certificate" is the authorizing name change document. Your chosen name will be your new legal name.

      Reply
  57. Vy

    I just got married last week in TN and we live in Florida. We did a pre-application and I remember it not giving us an option on a new name. We went and got our license and yet again, we were not asked and the papers we signed showed us nothing of a new name. We just got our certificate and it still shows my maiden name.

    I did go back and look at the form again. The only thing it listed was surname (optional). I’m wondering if I need to file in court for a name change or can I just update with my new name using the marriage license as proof of marriage?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Vy. You don't need to go to court. Your certificate is usable as-is.

      Reply
  58. Marta

    Hi- I got married in January in Las Vegas. I have my maiden last name on the marriage certificate. I live in NY and I would like to change my last name to my husbands. At this point do I have to file a petition at the court or at social security?

    Reply
  59. Tina

    I was married in Tennessee in 1998 and my marriage certificate shows my maiden name, not the hyphenated name I took when we married. I remember at the time I was able to update my social security and drivers license with my hyphenated name which is a combination of my last name then his last name.

    We now live in CA and I need to get a Real ID and to show proof of name change it doesn't look like they are accepting the marriage certificate as proof of name change. I had uploaded the document and was planning on taking it in person with the other required documents to the DMV. So, I don't know the reason for rejecting the marriage certificate.

    I am trying to anticipate and correct the problem before going there since I live in the mountains nowhere near the DMV and it takes forever just to get there in addition to long lines. I don't want a wasted trip if I can figure this out before going. I hope you can tell me if there's something else I can do or if in person the DMV will accept my TN marriage certificate as proof of name change.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tina. If you have an expired passport book or card with your married name, you can use that as your identity documents. Then you're done. If you don't have that, you can provide a certified copy of your birth certificate and another document containing your married name: social security card, W-2 form, or pay stub with social security number.

      Reply
  60. Emily

    Hi, I got married in MA two years ago and used my maiden name + my husband's last name as my new last name on my marriage certificate. I haven't gone to SS, DMV, etc to inform them of the change the past couple years. I ultimately decided to just keep my maiden name on my official documents. Is there anything that I need to do on my end to keep my current name (i.e. get a new marriage doc, go to court, etc) ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is there anything that I need to do on my end to keep my current name (i.e. get a new marriage doc, go to court, etc)

      There's nothing you need to do.

      Reply
  61. Nicky

    Hi there,

    Hoping to get some help as my name change situation has really been stressing me out.

    I got married in Washington, D.C. in Oct 2020.

    My legal name is Alexandra Nicole. I am known by, and go by Nicky. On the D.C. marriage application, due to being so frazzled, I put Nicky.

    I want to change my name to Nicole. Have I shot myself in the foot by putting the wrong name on the marriage license/certificate? Do I need to file to change the name on the marriage certificate to be my legal name? Would love some insight before I move forward. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Nicky

      It cut out additional information but my middle name is my mother's maiden name and I have my father's last name. On the license/certificate I put Nicky + last name. I want to change my name is Nicole + mother's maiden name + husband's last name.

      Reply
      1. Valera

        I want to change my name is Nicole + mother's maiden name + husband's last name.

        Same situation. You'll want to request an amendment for missing information.

        Reply
        1. Nicky

          Thanks very much for your help. Just so that I have all the answers I am seeking: Social Security would not accept my marriage certificate as it currently is for name change?

          When requesting an amendment for the marriage certificate, would it be in my best interest to put my legal name or my desired name? I imagine my legal name so that it matches my SSA and then I have proof of identity?

          Thank you!

          Reply
          1. Valera

            Social Security would not accept my marriage certificate as it currently is for name change?

            They might not, as it wouldn't match your legal name on file. Also think beyond social security. You'll have other credentials you'll want to update as well.

            would it be in my best interest to put my legal name or my desired name?

            Only your legal name is allowed.

    2. Valera

      Do I need to file to change the name on the marriage certificate to be my legal name?

      You can contact the DC Marriage Bureau about amending your marriage record.

      Reply
  62. Sayali

    I married in Nevada and live in CA. In the application I chose to add my husbands' paternal last name. The clerk added both of his last names to my name and I want to change it. Having both of his last names makes me feel like one of his sisters. I haven't gone to the Social Security office to legally change my name yet because of this. What can I do?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sayali. You can submit a correction request form with the county clerk's office. They'll have them available. It's not guaranteed it'll be accepted though.

      Reply
  63. Sondra Smith

    I have been married twice. I kept my first marriage name and once I got married the second time I wanted to hyphenate my two last names. (I have one kid from first marriage and two from second marriage. I went to dmv and put my married name and explained that I didn’t change my social. They produced me a license. I never changed my name but now I can’t renew my license, what do I do. Help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sondra. You can update your social security card then try again with the DMV. When they check the SSA database, your name will match.

      Reply
  64. Ms. Douglas

    I got married in March in Las Vegas and I change my last name to my husband name but now I want to add my last name back
    What’s the steps I have to take to change it ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ms. Douglas. To be clear, are you asking to undo your name change entirely? Or are you trying to append your prior last name to your spouse's last name? Did you change it on any document other than your marriage license/certificate, such as your social security card or driver's license?

      If I can get a sense of how far down the name change path you've gone, I can suggest ways to come back from the brink.

      Reply
  65. Tia

    I got married in February 2018 in Nevada I live in Oregon I’m in the process of changing my last name and Was told what I needed to provide the social security administration with I supplied all the documents but today when I called to ask how long it typically takes to get my new social security card with my new last name they told me I can’t get one because it’s been over two years since I got married and that I would have to get my driver’s license changed with DMV first with my new last name before getting a new social.

    DMV told me that isn’t true and I need a new social with updated name first. Social security office said it was a law that Oregon passed over ten years ago saying I had to change my name within 2 years of getting married I NEED HELP! Not sure what to do about this.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tia. I don't know what two-year rule that agent was referring to. SSA has an internal two-year standard for whether or not you can use your marriage certificate for ID-purposes. That still wouldn't preclude you from changing your name.

      Since it's been two years since you've changed your name, you'll have to mail out your social security form, marriage certificate, and ID. Had you changed it within two years, you wouldn't need to include ID.

      Please review the social security name change article which goes into greater depth what you'll need to do.

      Reply
  66. Desiree

    Hi,

    We got married in Hawaii and I put my maiden name on the marriage license/Certificate instead of changing it to my husband's. Now, I am living in Texas and would like to change my last name to my husband's. Do I need to amend the marriage certificate in order to change my name in Texas? Not too sure how to move forward in my situation. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  67. Lisa

    Hello,
    I am recently married in TX and my marriage certificate has my full birth name. I would like to take my husband’s last name and change my middle name to my maiden name. Will the marriage certificate be acceptable for this name change or will a court petition be required? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will the marriage certificate be acceptable for this name change or will a court petition be required?

      Your marriage certificate would work great. No need for a court petition.

      Reply
  68. Vanessa

    Hi there! I've been married four 4 1/2 years and changed my name with the SSA (a few years ago) but never on my passport. I was married in the state of Florida and my marriage certificate has my maiden name, not my new last name.

    In order to update my name on my passport, they ask for your marriage certificate as proof of name change. Can I still submit this even if my new last name isn't on my marriage certificate? Is this still valid proof?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Vanessa. Your marriage certificate will work fine to change the name on your passport. When you think of "proof of name change" it may be more understandable to think of it as "proof of authorization to change your name."

      Reply
  69. Ashley G

    I live in Virginia. We filled out the marriage license on a computer in the circuit court and then talked to the clerk. There is a spot for (maiden surname) on the certificate but the clerk never mentioned it or asked if I wanted to change my last name and I didn’t realize that’s where my husbands last name should have gone.

    We got married April 10th. That spot is blank on are certified copy and only my maiden name is on the certificate. Do I have to petition the court to change my last name to my husbands? Or will I be able to change my SS, Birth Cert, DMV, bank, etc without doing all that?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      There is a spot for (maiden surname) on the certificate

      You filled out the application correctly. The "maiden surname" block is for your last name at birth, but it only only needs to be filled in if it differs from your current name. If they're the same, you'd leave it blank and it'll appear blank on the certificate.

      That spot is blank on are certified copy and only my maiden name is on the certificate.

      As it should be.

      Do I have to petition the court to change my last name to my husbands?

      No need to petition. Use your Virginia marriage certificate as-is.

      Reply
  70. Keda

    Thank you for the helpful article.

    I got married last year in Kansas, and so my marriage license and certificate are from Kansas. At that time I did not fill out the name change section as I was unsure. Now I currently live in New York. I wanted to ask:

    1) Do I need a court order or can I use my marriage certificate I want to change my name as: first name: same first name; middle name: maiden surname; last name: husband's last name.

    2) Do I need a court order or can I use my marriage certificate I want to change my name as: first name: same first name; middle name: same middle name; last name: husband's last name.

    Thank you

    Reply
      1. Keda

        Thank you for the reply.
        In the case of a name change, if I use my marriage certificate (which does not have my new name stated) if asked to present an Official document as proof of my new name, what document can I use?

        Thank you

        Reply
          1. Keda

            Thank you for your reply.

            Please just to be clear, I could still use my marriage certificate as the official document of proof of my name change, even though my marriage certificate does not carry my new/changed name?

            Thank you

          2. Valera

            Hi Keda. That's correct. The certificate proves that a name change event occurred.

          3. Keda

            Thank you, Valera and the marriage certificate team.

            Please I wanted to ask: Is there any implication in me and my husband having different last names; and also the event that our kids have his last name (which might be different from mine).

            I had read other blog posts, which were helpful, but I'm still trying to understand if there is more of an advantage of us having the same last name, especially when planning to have a family.

            Thank you

          4. Valera

            Is there any implication in me and my husband having different last names

            No. Others might assume you're Mrs. X, when you're Mrs. Maiden. But that's their problem.

            and also the event that our kids have his last name (which might be different from mine).

            No implications there either. Your children's last name will default to yours, unless you specify otherwise. Mother's prerogative.

  71. Hannah

    Hello. Hope you're having a good day. I tried to look through the comments to find a similar situation but wanted a more solid answer. My spouse and I got married recently in Florida, and we never recalled the clerk mentioning anything about a name change. Therefore, my marriage certificate has my maiden name instead of my husband's.

    If I wanted to change my maiden name as my middle name (currently don't have a middle name) and would like to take my husband's last name, would I be able to do so with my marriage certificate? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Hannah. Your preferred name change (middle and surname) would work using your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  72. Luz

    Hola me casé hace 1 mes en Misouri pero la sectretaria del condado de Jackson NO me preguntò que si deseaba tener el apellido de mi esposo y en el momento de casarnos tampoco me preguntaron y cuando llené la licencia no vi Casillas que indicaran Nuevo apellido…

    Realmente quiero tener el apellido de mi esposo. Es necesario solicitar una orden judicial? O es suficiente presentar el cerificado de matrimonio que solo aparece con mis apellidos de soltera cuando ya pueda sacar mi social security y mi licencia de manejar????…gracias

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Luz. So, the question is you've gotten married in Missouri and wasn't presented with the option to choose a new name through marriage during the application process. And do you have to get a court order for name change?

      The answer is no. You don't need a court order. Missouri's marriage license application only asks for your current name. Your marriage certificate as-is may be used for a marriage-related name change.

      Reply
  73. Maria

    Hi. I got married on February on a trip to Colorado but we live in Connecticut, I wasn't offered to change my name in that moment. Now I want to change it to my husband's name. Do I need a new marriage certificate or can I just change my name at the DMV and SSA?
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need a new marriage certificate or can I just change my name at the DMV and SSA?

      You can use your existing marriage certificate.

      Reply
  74. Marie

    Hello, I got married in September 2017 in Rhode Island. At that time, I kept my maiden name, and I do not remember if there was a spot on the marriage license application for me to provide what I wanted my married name to be. Thus, my Rhode Island marriage certificate lists my maiden name as my last name, and it has a spot for "Birth last name (if different)" that is blank.

    I now live in Texas and want to change my last name to my husband's last name or hyphenate both his last name and my maiden name. Will the current marriage certificate suffice for changing my social security, driver's license, and passport? Or will I need to get a court order in Texas for a name change? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Marie. Your out-of-state marriage certificate will work fine in Texas.

      Reply
      1. Marie

        Hi Valera. Thank you so much for your reply! You have been so helpful.

        My husband just told me he doesn't like the look of the hyphen between our two last names, so if I instead just use my maiden name and his last name as my new last name without the hyphen (just separated with a space), will that cause me any issues in Texas with the DPS, passport, etc? Thank you so much in advance for your help!

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Marie. I don't believe the space is a supported option through marriage.

          Reply
  75. Lauren Coffey

    Hi! Thanks for this article- super helpful. I got married in April in Massachusetts but left my maiden name on the marriage certificate (I didn't realize you were supposed to write down the new married name in that spot).

    At this point, can I go ahead and change my name at Social Security still? or will I have to petition the court? The MA website made it sound like I'd need to go to the court for a name change, but I wanted to double check before spending all that $$ and time! THANK YOU!

    Reply
  76. Danielle

    Hello! I live in WA and got married in CA.

    When we got our CA marriage license, I planned to leave the "New Surname" section blank and not change my name. I submitted it to the clerk blank, and she pressured me to add my husband's last name by repeating that if I EVER wanted to change it to his last name, even in 20 years, I needed to include his name now or I'd have to go to court.

    I was extremely upset and resisted at first, but I ultimately caved and added it. She said a lot of people change their minds over time. So at the bottom of my marriage certificate, it has First + Middle + Husband's Last as my new name.

    I took no steps to change my name, and I still do not want to take his last name, but I have been considering doing a double barrel and adding his last name after my current last name.

    Would I have to go to court in WA to make that happen? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Would I have to go to court in WA to make that happen?

      You can't go double barrel through marriage. Hyphenating is the closest you can get.

      Reply
  77. Jax

    I got married in California and it’s a confidential marriage. I was too young to know any better about adding a new last name. I’ve been wanting my husbands name for years but I can’t since I left that part blank. Can I get married in another state and use that license to change my name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jax. That may work, but you'd have to get your marriage license from a state that willingly allows remarriage, such as New York. In that state, the application will ask if you're currently married and planning to remarry your current spouse, and they'll still issue you the marriage license and certificate.

      Reply
  78. Joanna

    I live in and got married in New York in 2018. At the time, I opted not to change my last name. It is now 2021, and we are having our first child and I would like to change my last name to my husbands last name, and change my middle name to my maiden name. Can I use my current marriage certificate (which shows my maiden name) to apply for a name change with Social Security and DMV?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Joanna. Your omission could be a problem. You can obtain a new marriage license and remarry your spouse.

      Reply
      1. Joanna Beilman

        What does "remarrying" entail? If I had a church ceremony the first time around can I have a courthouse one for the second? I don't need all the hooplah, as this is strictly a means to change my name. Is there a problem with having 2 marriage certificates on file?

        I also saw an option of petitioning the courts for a name change. Do you know how easy / difficult this would be in NY State?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          If I had a church ceremony the first time around can I have a courthouse one for the second?

          Yes.

          Is there a problem with having 2 marriage certificates on file?

          No. You're not pulling a fast one on the clerks. They know this is a permitted by law.

          Do you know how easy / difficult this would be in NY State?

          It's more involved. You can reference the NY name change article for court petition details.

          Reply
          1. Christina Wilson

            Hi Valera,
            I have a similar situation to Joanna. I got married in 2018 in New York and I left the new surname part blank on my marriage certificate. I currently live in California and I'm now ready to change my name to my husband's surname. What are my options? Thanks.

          2. Valera

            Hi Christina. This might work as your marriage certificate isn't from the California. California statutes are clear that your name change would get denied if the omission was on a California license/certificate, but is vague on another state's marriage record.

  79. Vernicia

    I live in Las Vegas and got married beginning of May 2021. I didn’t realize I had to put my new name after marriage when doing the application and completely missed it! So now my marriage certificate has my birth name on it. Can I still use it to change my surname to my husbands surname with SS and DMV? I don’t know how I missed it and the clerk never asked when I went to complete the application filing.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Vernicia. You should still be fine for name change. Nevada is odd in that it'll allow a basic name change when the new name choice is omitted. However, if a name is specified you're locked into that choice. So say county clerks who's job it is to process marriage applications. Nevada statutes doesn't explicitly touch on this, which leaves this sliver of opportunity alive.

      Reply
  80. Elizabeth G Hansen

    I got married June of 1973, I was pretty naive. I ask my husband to be if he got the license. He said yes, we married be the Church. That was 48 yrs ago.

    The DMV Ask me for all my marriage licenses. I just found out I was never married. Legally by the eye of GOD yes. But not legally. We were suppose to go together and get blood test. That's what you did In San Francisco, CA.

    How can I prove to the the DMV, I even Got Church Certificate they said no. What do I do?

    Reply

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