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. Valerie Wynn

    We recently got married in Tennessee and we live in GA, I put my maiden name on the the application for the marriage license because it asked for current name. On my marriage certificate it has my maiden name but I want my husbands last name, can I still change my name with social security and DMV even though my maiden name is on my marriage certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Valerie. Yes, your Tennessee marriage certificate will work fine in Georgia for name change purposes.

      Reply
  2. Steven L.

    My wife and I are trying to change our last names in Florida. We want to do a combination of my wife's last name and my mother's last name.

    I currently have my father's last name. I was raised by my mother so I feel my mother's last name is actually more accurate to who I am. The trouble is that I've never had my mother's last name. So essentially, both my wife and I want to change our last names to a name that neither of us have had.

    My understanding is that both my wife and I will need to petition for a legal name change through the courts. Since we want to switch to name neither of us have had previously, we can't use the marriage certificate to change our names.

    Does that sound correct? It would be nice if I could get a legal name change, and then my wife use the marriage certificate to change her name without needing to go through the petition herself. I don't believe that is possible though because the marriage certificate can't be updated even after a legal name change according to my local clerk of court office.

    So no matter what my wife and I both need to petition for a legal name change? Do you know if there would be any troubles if we both try to change our names at the same time? Or would it be best for us to change one at a time?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Steven. You've got it mapped out correctly. Your marriage certificate would no longer come into play. You'd both have to petition the court separately. You may be able to have your hearings held simultaneously. That's up to the court.

      Reply
  3. Megan

    I got married in California, but left the new name box empty because I was not planning to change me name until later since we were working on a Visa for my husband. I am not ready to change my name, but that box is empty. Do I need to have that filled in before I apply for a new Social Security card?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Megan. In California, no new name specified would preclude you from changing your name through marriage.

      Reply
  4. Mary J

    I just applied for my marriage license and there wasn't any place to put my new surname. I used my maiden name for the license. (I'm in Anderson County, TN.) Do I need to reapply to change my name after the ceremony or can I use the license with my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mary. That's standard in Tennessee. You needn't do anything.

      Reply
  5. Autumn

    I recently got married on June 4th in New Mexico. I accidentally hyphenated my maiden name and my husbands last name, and didnt notice until we got the papers back from the county clerk when I wanted my maiden name to be my middle name. Do i need to do an amendment or how shall I go about this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Autumn. You can request an amendment with the county clerk's office you applied in.

      Reply
  6. Celest Zodiacal

    Hello, I got married in North Carolina, but on my marriage certificate it’s doesn’t state my new last name. I live in California will I be able to change my documents?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Celest. You'll be able to change your name fine. California understand that other state's design their marriage certificate differently and won't hold it against you.

      Reply
      1. Vee

        Hi – Just went to get my name changed at the CA DMV, they said nope. Married in PA, had official certificate but they said it didn't reflect the name change so they couldn't do a CA driver's license in my married name. Is that correct? Do you know what steps do I need to take now? I would like to have ID with my correct name soon.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Vee. That's odd. They should understand they're not dealing with a California certificate. Pennsylvania doesn't have a new name spot on their license or certs, so what they're demanding isn't possible. Can they even back up their position in writing? You may want to ask for a supervisory override or try another office.

          Reply
  7. Elvia

    Hello! I currently live in TX and plan on getting married in Vegas this fall. My name on my birth certificate and SS card is currently Elvia X Y Z, with X and Y both being my middle name. All of my records, passport, tax returns, DL, nursing license, credit cards, bank accounts, etc only list my name as Elvia X Z.

    I have never used middle name Y. It is actually my mom's maiden last name. Therefore, when I apply for my marriage license, do I need to include middle name Y or can I just leave it as Elvia X Z as that is what my DL shows and that is what I plan on showing them at the clerk's office?

    I do plan on changing my last name to my fiance's last name, and NV gives you the option to do so on the marriage license. Do you know if it is your new married name or your maiden name that shows up on the certificate?

    I basically don't want to run into trouble obtaining new records if I use Elvia X Z without middle name Y since it is on my birth certificate and SS card, but not on another other document I've had.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      do I need to include middle name Y

      You needn't include it. Neither your social security card nor birth certificate is required to apply for a Nevada marriage license.

      can I just leave it as Elvia X Z as that is what my DL shows

      Yes.

      Do you know if it is your new married name or your maiden name that shows up on the certificate?

      Both will appear.

      Reply
  8. Frank

    Hello,

    Me and my wife got married in Michigan a few years ago. In our county on the clerk website it says you may sign the certificate with the name you intend to use. (Macomb county). My wife signed it with her first, middle names and my last name but she has not changed her name on anything else (Like SSN or ID). She now doesn’t really want to change her name. Is there a time limit she would have to change it by? Or can she just never change anything and stick with her original last name forever? Does this have any effect on the legality or our marriage??

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Frank. There's no time limit. She needn't change, ever. There's no legal consequence for not changing.

      Reply
  9. Lia

    Hi. I live and got married in CA. I don’t have a middle but my maiden name was added as my middle name and my husband’s as my new last name on the marriage certificate.

    However, I don’t want to use my middle (maiden) name and have it reflected on my SSI or driver’s license. I just want to use first and last name. The SSI office says they use the exact name on the marriage certificate. Can the married certificate be changed or amended?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lia. Unfortunately, your marriage certificate cannot be altered to drop a name.

      Reply
  10. Deedee

    Hello,

    I read through the comments and you have somewhat answered this above, but I want to confirm. My husband and I both married in California and changed our names to First Name (as given), Middle Name (my maiden name), Last Name (his last name) in the "new name" section.

    I am pursuing my name change as listed on the marriage license/certificate but we were not planning to legally change his name to add a middle name because that may complicate some trusts that he is involved in with his parents. My questions are:

    1) do we need to legally change his name to add a middle name and then follow through on changing his names on all documents to reflect the addition of a middle name?
    2) if not, will our marriage license still be valid if he never adds the middle name legally?
    3) are there any situations where it might get complicated that he has added a middle name on our marriage certificate but never filed for any name changes with any agencies?
    4) in your opinion, is it better to include his full name (including new middle name) on those trusts now that we have a document that does in fact have a change in his name?

    Thank you in advance for your time!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      do we need to legally change his name to add a middle name

      Not mandatory.

      if not, will our marriage license still be valid

      Yes.

      any situations where it might get complicated that he has added a middle name on our marriage certificate but never filed for any name changes

      No.

      is it better to include his full name

      Use his current legal name, not the new name on the marriage certificate.

      Reply
  11. Rach

    Recently got married in Michigan signed my marriage license with my maiden name. Can I still change to my husbands last name? Will the marriage license with my maiden name work to change at social security office?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rach. Yes, your marriage certificate will work fine in Michigan. That state doesn't have a new married name spot when applying for a marriage license, so you're good.

      Reply
      1. Gianna

        Is it the same in HI? I don’t remember if they had a new name section and signed with my maiden name. Thank you

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Gianna. Hawaii should have a section that asks for your new name post-marriage.

          Reply
    2. Rebecca Kapp

      I have the same problem, but with Utah. I don't think they had they had a new name section, but I can't remember and I signed with my maiden name.

      Reply
      1. Valera

        I have the same problem, but with Utah. I don't think they had they had a new name section

        Utah doesn't.

        Reply
  12. Alina Bagley

    Hey, trying to renew my passport and now I’m all confused about legal names and stuff. My marriage certificate (5 years married) says my maiden name. No one told me shit about any of this process. But I did go change my social security name to my married name, just added my husband’s last name at the end. (I don’t know how they lay me do that…) but now I don’t know what to put on my passport application.

    I don’t have any proof of a legal name change that I know of… and it sounds like I can’t just go back and change my social back to just my maiden name… will that impede my passport application if my social and marriage certificate name are different???

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My marriage certificate (5 years married) says my maiden name.

      That's likely not a problem.

      now I don’t know what to put on my passport application

      You could change it to match, or keep your name unchanged.

      I don’t have any proof of a legal name change

      Your marriage certificate is proof of your name change event. It doesn't necessarily have to spell out your new name verbatim. It can be derived from the document.

      it sounds like I can’t just go back and change my social back to just my maiden name

      You technically could with the SSA. It's called a name correction. It's basically a name reversal. You'd use your marriage certificate. However, it's really only practical if it's the only document you've changed your name on.

      will that impede my passport application if my social and marriage certificate name are different?

      The names don't have to match.

      Reply
  13. GB

    Getting married in California (putting his last name on certificate), but relocating to Utah soon.
    Can I just change my last name when I get to Utah?
    Is there a time limit to a name change in Utah after marriage?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi GB. Yes, you can get married in California then change your name in Utah. No, there's no time limit.

      Reply
      1. GB

        Even though the new name is on the marriage certificate, would there be any issues that could arise if I just decided to not got through the hassle of changing it?

        From what I have read so far, seems to not be any issue for the most part, although not sure if that's the case in all states.

        Thanks for the help!

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi GB. Skipping the name change is a non-issue in all states.

          Reply
  14. Jamie

    Hello! I have a unique situation and am looking for any kind of help that you could possibly give me. I got married in April 2018 in NJ. I took his last name as far as the marriage certificate goes, but I never actually changed my name on any other type of document like SS card, Driver's license, Passport, etc. All of those items still have my maiden name.

    I was under the impression that I could change my name on those types of documents at any point. However, sadly, I am now filing for divorce, and I used my maiden name on all of the paperwork because again, I never changed any of my official ID's to my husband's name.

    Should I be filling out using my married name or maiden name? There is an area that asks about "permitting the plaintiff to assume the use of the name of ________________ " (the name that you would like to assume after your divorce/dissolution).

    Do I need to write that I wish to assume the use of my maiden name or is that not necessary since the only thing that ever had my married name was my marriage certificate? I'm so sorry for my complicated situation.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I was under the impression that I could change my name on those types of documents at any point.

      Correct.

      I am now filing for divorce, and I used my maiden name on all of the paperwork because again

      This is proper, since you've never formally change your name.

      Should I be filling out using my married name or maiden name?

      Maiden name.

      There is an area that asks about "permitting the plaintiff to assume the use of the name of

      That's for folks who've changed their name and would like to have the judge restore a prior name. That section doesn't apply to you.

      Do I need to write that I wish to assume the use of my maiden name or is that not necessary since the only thing that ever had my married name was my marriage certificate?

      Not applicable. Not necessary. You could write in your maiden name or leave it blank. It's all the same.

      Reply
      1. Jamie

        I cannot thank you enough. You were so thorough and gave me all the answers that I was seeking. I appreciate your help so incredibly much.

        Reply
  15. Ana

    Hello, I’m getting my marriage license tomorrow, followed by a marriage ceremony at the courthouse in California.

    On the online marriage license application I repeated my maiden name as my “new name”. My question is: can I still correct it tomorrow with the clerk and add my husbands last name to mine?

    And if so, next question regards the technicality of my future last name. My birth last name is already hyphenated (X-Y). Can I ‘swap’ the second part of my last name (Y) for my husbands last name (R) crating X-R?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      can I still correct it tomorrow with the clerk and add my husbands last name to mine?

      The clerk may be willing to reissue you an updated certificate without charge, but be prepared for the possibility of reapplying and paying the license fee all over again.

      Can I ‘swap’ the second part of my last name

      Yes, you can.

      Reply
  16. Heidi

    I got married in Puerto Rico 8 years ago and because nobody changes there last names in PR I didn’t either. But now my husband and I have made the decision of doing so. I would like to know the steps we need to take from here.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Heidi. The steps are the same as if you just got married. Get a certified copy of your marriage certificate to effect a name change with the various government institutions.

      Reply
  17. Abby

    Hello, I got married last year in Michigan and decided that I wanted to keep my maiden name and that is how I signed my marriage license. Now we are having a child and I've decided I still want to keep my maiden name as my legal last name, but I would like to change my middle name to be my husband and son's last name.

    Can I use my marriage license as proof of name change for my MIDDLE name? Even a year later?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Abby. You can change your name as you prefer. The fact that a year has passed is immaterial.

      Reply
  18. Sino

    Hello. I have 2 questions,please assist? I'm originally from South Africa and last year got married in Ohio. My husband is a US citizen.

    Our marriage certificate came back with my maiden name. Since I didnt have anything with my husband's last name, I have been using my maiden name for all applications I make like SSN, permanent residence card etc.

    If I want to start using my husbands last name do I still need to go to court to petition a name change and go through that process? Do I just make new applications with my husbands last name and show my marriage certificate as proof even though it still has my maiden name?

    Reply
  19. Somer wells

    Hi I need help!

    My husband I got married in New York State. When we got married, I chose to keep my maiden name, because at the time, I was still in college and wanted my maiden name on my degree.

    Now that I am out of college, I would like to take my husbands name. I am wondering how to go about this. Am I going to have to petition the court to change my last name now, because I chose to keep my maiden name after marriage? Or can I just send my original marriage certificate with my husbands name and they can derive my new last name from his name?

    Reply
  20. Stacy

    My 80 year old Mom applied for a Real ID and this alerted us to the fact that both her first and middle names on her birth certificate have typos.

    She talked to the county and the contact there requested a clerical change, but the change was rejected because they said that was how her names were spelled on the original paper request they received.

    They said she has to complete an amendment which we are having problems with because of the fact that we have to provide two supporting documents. It turns out that her marriage certificate has her correctly spelled first and middle name but then my mom added yet another middle name that she claimed her parents gave her even though she never used/uses it and it wasn’t on her birth certificate.

    I am being told in the state of MN that I have to petition the court to get that second middle name off of the marriage certificate. Do you know if this is true?

    SSN card used to have everything correctly spelled first, only one middle name and maiden name and then it has correctly spelled first and married last name after she got married (they may have left the middle name off because new married name was so long?) Her current Driver’s license has correctly spelled first, one middle name and last name on it.

    I am unclear if having typos on her birth certificate and the extra middle name on the marriage certificate will cause her any other problems other than getting a Real ID or a passport.

    She does not like to travel and has only flown somewhere once in her life. Do we need to be concerned about correcting the birth certificate and marriage certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I am being told in the state of MN that I have to petition the court to get that second middle name off of the marriage certificate. Do you know if this is true?

      That's likely where she's headed.

      they may have left the middle name off because new married name was so long?

      Maybe. If there's a lack of space, the middle name is the first to be sacrificed.

      I am unclear if having typos on her birth certificate and the extra middle name on the marriage certificate will cause her any other problems other than getting a Real ID or a passport.

      It's already causing problems with her Real ID. It may as well on her passport. For instance, if she's going for her first passport or it's older than 15 years old, she'll have to supply proof of citizenship, which is typically the birth certificate.

      Do we need to be concerned about correcting the birth certificate and marriage certificate?

      Option 1 is to complete a one and the same person affidavit where she swears that the name variations are all her. This is likely to not work, but is a Hail Mary you can offer to the DMV.

      Option 2 is to get a court ordered name change. But, in your mom's case, it's more of a name affirmation. She'll get a certified document from a U.S. court that confirms her name. That'll be the proof she'll need for everything (e.g., passport, Real ID).

      Reply
  21. Michelle Fenner

    Hi . I would like to know am I responsible for telling the DMV , social security and etc of my name change or will the automatically find out due to me changing my name on the marriage certificate

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Michelle. Yes, it's your responsible to notify every agency, organization, or entity of your name change. They won't be notified automatically of what's on your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  22. Paul

    Hello

    My wife and I got married in Massachusetts in March. At the time she did not wish to change her name so on the marriage certificate in the section which says 'last name after Marriage' her name remained the same.

    The Mass.gov website advised when you update the certificate the name will change automatically and then you can contact the SSN office etc. but does not state how she can now change her last name after the event?

    How can we change her last name now? Will the marriage certificate still suffice with the SS office etc to change her name now?

    Thank you :)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How can we change her last name now? Will the marriage certificate still suffice with the SS office etc to change her name now?

      The same as always. She must obtain a certified copy of the marriage certificate from the city or town clerk where you got your marriage license to change her name with the SSA, DMV, etc.

      Reply
  23. LKA

    Hi, Married in NH but live in MA, used hyphenated last name on marriage license (maiden-husband name) and it’s on the certificate. Will it be a problem if I don’t legally change my name (SS, license, etc.) and just continue to use my maiden name instead or will I get in trouble? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will it be a problem if I don’t legally change my name (SS, license, etc.) and just continue to use my maiden name instead or will I get in trouble?

      You're definitely not going to get in trouble for not changing your name, regardless of what's on your marriage certificate. This fear/doubt seems pretty prevalent. We're gonna have to get an article up on the site soon to put this concern to bed.

      Reply
  24. EZ

    Hello,
    This a long one… About 10 years I apparently put my husband's last name on the marriage application in Georgia. However, our marriage reflects my maiden name.

    Well when I went to to SSA they gave me the option to change me name with any of the name combinations on the marriage certificate. I choose to hyphen maiden and husband's last name, not remembering or considering what was placed on the marriage application.

    Everyone has gone by the hyphenated name, such as taxes (both state and federal), dependent military ID, schools and student loans, and level 1 finger print card. I've only ran into issues with getting the state of Georgia to provide my hyphenated name on my driver's license, despite my paying Georgia taxes with it 🙄🙄…

    We are currently stationed in Arizona. Arizona goes by what's on the social security card when it comes to getting a drivers license. According to Georgia, if I were to transfer my Georgia drivers license to Arizona, then later back to Georgia, they would accept the hyphened name.

    This is ridiculously insane, as there is no record anywhere legally of me with just my husband's name, not even in a background check… In my case is a legal name change necessary, if the name not placed on my application is not my legal name? If seems like I would be changing my hyphenated name to my hyphenated name!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      transfer my Georgia drivers license to Arizona, then later back to Georgia

      This may be your path of least resistance. However, you may want to contact the office to determine if they'll accept a one and the same person affidavit where you swear that both names variations are yours.

      In my case is a legal name change necessary

      Not if you follow Georgia's DDS recommendation.

      If seems like I would be changing my hyphenated name to my hyphenated name!

      It's more of an affirmation than a name change. The courts understand why folks do this and will not scoff at it.

      Reply
  25. Jo

    I got married in NYC back in 2012 but I choose to stay with my maiden name, now I had a change of heart and I want my husbands last name but I don't know how to go about it. I read someplace I have to petition, in other places that I just go and change it. my marriage license has my maiden name. What are the steps to changing my last name to his now? What should I do next?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jo. You'd have to petition. It's the Civil Court in NYC or Supreme Court outside of NYC.

      Reply
  26. Laura

    I got married in NYC stated I wanted to take my husband's last name but the certificate put in his paternal and maternal last name. SS office only wrote paternal last name on my card but my passport shows both paternal and maternal last names. I only use the paternal last name. However I moved to Indiana and they state I cannot get an ID because my SS card and passport don't match. I don't really want to change my SS to both last names. Is there any way I can only use the paternal last name? Do I have to have a name change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Laura. Instead of using your passport, how about using a certified copy of your birth certificate?

      Reply
  27. Laura

    Hello,

    I will be getting married in September, and would prefer to use two surnames (two last names without the hyphen). When we filled out our marriage license (in NH), there was no option to give a compound surname unless it was hyphenated.

    If we get married with the license and certificate with the hyphenated name, will I still be able to change my name at the SSA, DMV, passport without the hyphen? Otherwise I'm considering just keeping my maiden name. Thanks!

    Reply
  28. Amanda Parks

    Hey i got married 7 yrs ago in Ga. my marriage license i put my new name as the “Surname” but on my Marriage certificate it has my born name. I wanted to get it changed on my SS Card. What do i do. They want me to mail it in because of the virus. So i want to be sure nothing holds it up..

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Amanda. If by the "surname" you mean your spouse's name, then your marriage certificate is fine. If the probate court clerk made a mistake with the name applied on your marriage certificate, contact their office for a correction and amendment.

      Reply
  29. Ellen

    Hi, Valera. I recently got married in PA and and my marriage certificate shows my maiden last name only. Pennsylvania did not ask me to put down the last name I want to use post-wedding in the marriage license application form, so I just wrote down my current legal name.

    Regarding the name change, I understand that I can just bring my marriage certificate, which shows my current last name only, to the social security office to change my maiden last name to my husband's last name. But, is changing my last name on the social security card considered a "legal" name change?

    I was just a bit confused whether or not the name change on the social security card would be considered a "legal" change. My marriage certificate, which is my legal document, is a historical document so it would still show my maiden last name even after the name change on the social security card. I was wondering whether I would need to file a name change petition to "legally" change my name.

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Pennsylvania did not ask me to put down the last name

      That's standard.

      is changing my last name on the social security card considered a "legal" name change?

      Yes.

      marriage certificate, which is my legal document, is a historical document so it would still show my maiden last name

      Right. Your certificate's a snapshot in time. It's not meant to change, no matter what happens to your name.

      I was wondering whether I would need to file a name change petition to "legally" change my name.

      You do not.

      Reply
  30. Sarah Nicole

    Hi!
    I married over 2 years ago in Colorado and cannot remember what the clerk asked me. I have the marriage license and certificate both stating my maiden name. I now want to change it to my husband’s last name. Can this be done by applying for SSI with new name or do I need to petition the court?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  31. Karma

    Hi,
    My fiancé and I plan to get married in NYC, he is still debating to changing his last name and hyphenate it with mine, so we both have the same hyphenated surnames.

    Will it cause a problem if after choosing the new name we decide both to keep our birth surname and never change it when renewing our passport, or with the social security of motor vehicles (because my birth surname is already an hyphenated one, we doubt names with 2 hyphens are accepted) offices?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will it cause a problem if after choosing the new name we decide both to keep our birth surname and never change

      Certainly. You can change your name on your marriage certificate without changing it on anything else.

      Reply
  32. Alaska Rain

    Hi,
    I got married in Las Vegas and there wasn't a spot to put "future name" or name after marriage.

    So my marriage certificate has my maiden name, my husband and I wanted to take his surname.

    Do we have to go through the courts at this time? We got married October of 2019 and we are both from AK.

    Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Crystal. Her marriage certificate documents her name change event. This satisfies SSA and DMV requirements. She can take her husband's name because it'll be derived from his name portion of the certificate.

          Reply
  33. Rachel

    So I applied for my married application in GA a few weeks ago, I have not gotten married yet. I do not want to change my name right now, but I would like the option to if i decide to later on.

    On the form where it asks "what will your new name be after marriage" I wrote my Fiance' last name. The clerk was rude and short with me and I was very confused with the process. She made is sound like if I didn't write his last name on the application now it would be more difficult if I decide to change it in the future. Is that accurate?

    Is my legal name after we are married now my Fiance's name or my birth name if I haven't gone to SS or any other places?

    Do I have to go to SS to legally change it or does the marriage certificate legally change it?

    At this point I don't want to change my name yet, but I might in the future. What should I do now? Try to reapply for another marriage licence with my birth name or not worry about it bc its not legally changed until I go through SS? …very confused and stressed about this.. please help….

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I do not want to change my name right now, but I would like the option to if i decide to later on.

      You don't have to change your name. But the option will remain to do it later.

      She made is sound like if I didn't write his last name on the application now it would be more difficult if I decide to change it in the future. Is that accurate?

      That is accurate. Think of it like a placeholder.

      Is my legal name after we are married now my Fiance's name or my birth name if I haven't gone to SS or any other places?

      Your legal name is still your birth name.

      Do I have to go to SS to legally change it or does the marriage certificate legally change it?

      The SSA doesn't get automatically notified. You'll have to initiate the change with them directly.

      At this point I don't want to change my name yet, but I might in the future. What should I do now?

      Select your new name on the application. It's nonbinding. Even if you choose not to go forward with it, you preserve the option.

      Try to reapply for another marriage licence with my birth name or not worry about it bc its not legally changed until I go through SS?

      The latter. Don't worry about it. It's there if you decide to use it.

      Reply
  34. Caitlyn

    Would the process be the same if my husband takes my last name? from Texas

    Reply
  35. April

    I got married in Lincoln, Nebraska, our marriage certificate application didn't ask what name I wanted to use for my married name. I want to use my stepdad's last name (different from my maiden name) and hyphenate it with my husband's last name. Is this possible? I'm just worried that SS and DMV won't accept my marriage certificate, since my stepdad's last name isn't reflected on the marriage certificate.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to use my stepdad's last name (different from my maiden name) and hyphenate it with my husband's last name. Is this possible?

      It's not possible through marriage.

      Reply
  36. Veronica D

    I was just recently married (August 16th 2020) in Las Vegas NV and I live in California. When I was online getting ready to place an order to have a copy of marriage certificate but I had noticed that my name was still my birth name. But when I filled out my marriage license I had put down that I wanted to change my last name to be the same as my husband.

    Why does it still show my birth last name and not my new last night? Will I be able to have it changed At SS, DMV, etc to my husband last name whenever my marriage certificate comes in the mail ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Veronica. Are you saying your new last name isn't showing in the online portal or the certified certificate they mailed you. If it's the prior and there's a space where it's indicated to show, you can contact the county recorder to find out what's up. If it's the latter, you can contact them to reissue a certificate to fix their clerical error.

      Reply
  37. Jillian

    Hi there,

    I got married last September in Rhode Island and I live in Massachusetts and I was about to start the name change process and realized that my married name is not on the marriage certificate. Am I going to have an issue with Social Security and Massachusetts in changing my name?

    I noticed on the marriage license it does have my first name by saying first middle and last name and then says birth name if (different) in the box next to it but the woman told me that was for people who had been married more than once Because she said to write my legal information on the certificate. I’m curious now if Massachusetts is going to give me problems with this or not. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Am I going to have an issue with Social Security and Massachusetts in changing my name?

      You won't have a problem. That's how Rhode Island designs their marriage license and certificate. It will be accepted fine in Mass.

      Reply
  38. Mackenzie

    I got married/ a marriage license in NC. The marriage license shows my maiden name and not my husband's last name. We live in CA and I now want to change my name. Can I use my marriage license as proof to change my name in CA, even if the new name is not listed on the license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I use my marriage license as proof to change my name in CA, even if the new name is not listed on the license?

      Yes, since you were married in NC. If you married in CA, it'd be a different story.

      Reply
  39. Laura

    Hi,

    I got married about 3 weeks ago in Wisconsin, but we live in Illinois. I just got our marriage certificate, and for my name it states, in both boxes my maiden name.

    I was planning on changing to my husbands last name. I believe we mentioned this to the woman who helped us get our marriage license and I don't recall any boxes saying to put my future last name or name after being married. Everything just said to put my current name, which I used my original (maiden) last name for since that was my name.

    Will this certificate be accepted by the SSA and DMV to change my name? Or will i have to do additional things to change my last name like petition or etc? Please help!

    Thank you,
    Laura

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will this certificate be accepted by the SSA and DMV to change my name?

      It will be accepted.

      Reply
    2. Kat

      HI, Laura!
      Same thing also happened to me here in Wisconsin. After we got our marriage license (in 2020), we noticed that my surname didn't change. So when I got my DMV and Social Security, they were still my maiden name cos I wasn't able to use my husband's. Up until now, I still haven't changed it–we couldn't fix it right away due to the pandemic. Have you fixed yours?

      Reply
  40. Leanna

    I recently got married in Wyoming, but live in Utah. I signed my marriage license with my maiden name. Will I be able to change my name in Utah with my marriage license? I would like to hyphenate my last name with his, but it's not clear if that's an option in Utah without petitioning a court.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will I be able to change my name in Utah with my marriage license?

      Yes, with the marriage certificate.

      it's not clear if that's an option in Utah without petitioning a court.

      That's not necessary.

      Reply
  41. Irene

    I got married in California in 2008 (I know, long time, and just now I noticed!) I didn't change my last name to my husband's until later (2016 when I applied for US citizenship, I have dual).

    The reason I started digging is that I need to change my last name in my second citizenship passport as it's also has expired on top of new name. For that, they accept only 2 documents as a proof of name change – (1) marriage certificate (important note – it HAS to have new last name section, which I don't) or (2) court order. Either one has to be notarized with apostil and translation.

    I have tried researching which option is less work, I have asked consulate if I can get my marriage certificate amended to show new name and if they would accept that (they haven't responded yet).

    Court order from CA seemed like more work especially if it has to come from the same state I got married in, I now live on other side of the country in state of Georgia. But if no choice I'll have to pursue.

    Getting marriage certificate amended:

    Besides the fact that I need it to reflect my new last name I have noticed typos in both my husband's parents’ names and mine. Since we are immigrants our names are long and very easy to mess up.

    1) My question is – if I were to pursue marriage certificate amendment (even if they don't take it for my passport purpose, it's good to have it correct regardless) are my parents’ names typos enough along with new last name addition to get it approved? Your article says it's tough to get it and could get dismissed.

    1a) Does the amendment have to come from the same state I got married in?

    2) Other question is – if I to pursue court order does it have to be from the same state I got married in?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I need to change my last name in my second citizenship passport

      Which country?

      they accept only 2 documents as a proof of name change – (1) marriage certificate (important note – it HAS to have new last name section, which I don't)

      Most marriage certificates in the U.S. don't show the new name explicitly. It's derived by referring to the spouse's name. Are they explicitly saying it must show the new name or can it be derived?

      I have tried researching which option is less work

      Marriage certificate, if you can use it.

      Besides the fact that I need it to reflect my new last name I have noticed typos in both my husband's parents’ names and mine.

      Typos may be corrected, but not the inclusion of a new name

      are my parents’ names typos enough along with new last name addition to get it approved?

      See previous answer.

      Does the amendment have to come from the same state I got married in?

      Yes.

      if I to pursue court order does it have to be from the same state I got married in?

      State of residence.

      Reply
      1. Irene

        Thank you so much! Second passport is for Russia. I called CA clerk recorder office and they said they can't include the name change just like you stated above (only correct typos), so I'll have to go with to petition to court.

        OR try to present my current marriage certificate as is as a proof of name change and see what happens. But I still have to seek apostle and notarized translation.

        Embassy response was (I assume by your name Valera – you can read this, if not, I can translate):

        Если в свидетельстве о браке нет четкого указания на перемену фамилии, то Вам необходимо предоставить судебное решение (name change order) об изменении фамилии (полученное в Судебном департаменте штата). В нём должны быть четко указаны Ваши Ф.И.О (как в действующем российском загранпаспорте вместе с отчеством, переведенным на английский язык) и Ваши новые Ф.И. (как в американских документах).

        На это документе также должен быть проставлен "Апостиль". Апостиль проставляется в секретариате штата, выдавшего документ (в США Апостиль проставляют в офисах Секретарей штатов. Сведения об адресах Секретарей штатов, их контактных телефонах можно найти на сайте: http://www.secstates.com.).

        Оба документа должны быть переведены на русский язык (подробная информация на сайте Посольства РФ в Вашингтон: https://washington.mid.ru/ru/consular-services/, раздел "Перевод документов, перевод должен быть нотариально заверен в консульском отделе Посольства.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          so I'll have to go with to petition to court.

          Likely, as the California Name Equality Act had provided you the opportunity to choose a new name way back when. The embassy may be aware of this, hence their reply.

          OR try to present my current marriage certificate as is as a proof of name change and see what happens.

          You could and see if they'll accept the certificate as-is and allow your new surname to be derived solely from your spouse's last name block.

          Reply
          1. Irene

            Hello Valera,
            I already almost gathered all the documents for court to officially change my last name in order to renew 'zagran' to reflect it and just now realized I could just renew it with my maiden name – it is so much less work and money.

            But if I fly to visit Russia I'd have to bring 2 passports (since they will show 2 different last names) and my marriage certificate with me, correct?

            Any other docs to bring? AND another benefit of that is that I wouldn't have to change my local/internal Russian passport based on zagran or new name.

            However:
            1. Will marriage certificate that doesn't show new last name work at the customs ?
            2. Will I need to have apostle and notarized translation with my marriage certificate or one original/certified copy of it is sufficient as is in English ?
            3. What name I should buy plane ticket under ? My friend once wasn't let on the plane because she bought it under her new name but I'm reading on-line it could work either way. I'd assume her experience is more solid information and I need to buy it under old name.

          2. Valera

            I'd have to bring 2 passports (since they will show 2 different last names) and my marriage certificate with me, correct?

            The more supporting documentation the merrier.

            Any other docs to bring?

            Other documents showing your maiden name wouldn't hurt, such as your birth certificate or prior ID (even if expired).

            Will marriage certificate that doesn't show new last name work at the customs?

            Not sure what you mean by "work?" It'll show proof of marriage and can link your two names.

            Will I need to have apostle and notarized translation with my marriage certificate

            You'll want to pose this question to consular services. They may want an official translation even if they have translators on staff.

            What name I should buy plane ticket under?

            Match the passport.

        2. Hanna

          Irene, I have a few questions about court order, because I m going to do it too, my Florida marriage certificate doesn’t have line about changes surnames after marriage. What state are you from?

          Reply
          1. Valera

            my Florida marriage certificate doesn’t have line about changes surnames after marriage

            That's standard in Florida.

  42. Kassandra

    Michigan- my husband and myself applied for a marriage license and we were told to sign our maiden name even though we both want to use a different last name. She said we will sign again after the wedding but at that point are we able to sign the name we choose or do we have to sign our maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      we both want to use a different last name

      You wouldn't be able to change to an entirely new name through marriage.

      but at that point are we able to sign the name we choose

      At no point.

      or do we have to sign our maiden name?

      You'd sign whatever your current legal name is at the time.

      Reply
  43. DL Lee

    I am a man who has had a legal first name change over 3 years ago. My social security card, state id, new birth certificate, other legal documents show that. We want a divorce and the marriage license carries the old first name. Does that make me still married under my new name, is a legitimate divorce necessary??

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lee. Your marriage record is merely a historical vital record. Name changes don't invalidate or give it special meaning. Your divorce under your new name will dissolve your marriage, regardless of what name appears on your preceding marriage certificate.

      Reply
  44. Amber Sawyer

    Hello! I live in North Carolina but was married in Virginia in 2016. I did not indicate a name change on the marriage license. Now I want to change my name as my first child is on the way. Will I need to petition the court in NC now for a name change?

    Reply
  45. Laila

    I got married in NYC 5 years ago and chose not to change my name, so marriage certificate shows my maiden name. I’ve changed my mind now that we have a child and wish to now take my married name. Do I have to now petition the court in my state of residence? Will I encounter any future problems with a marriage certificate that shows my maiden name but all other ID documents show married name (after I successfully change it)?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I have to now petition the court in my state of residence?

      Most likely.

      problems with a marriage certificate that shows my maiden name but all other ID documents show married name

      That shouldn't be a problem.

      Reply
  46. Esther

    So, I just got married and found out that my husbands name is wrong on his birth certificate, and now my marriage license is wrong and he needs to change his name too. What should we do in this situation?

    Reply
  47. Ellie

    I got married in OK 10 years ago and signed the license and certificate using my maiden name. I currently reside in TX and would now like to add my husband's last name to my maiden name via hyphenation. Would I need to petition the court due to the duration of time or what steps would I need to take? Thanks in advance for any and all assistance.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ellie. You'd just use your marriage certificate. There's no name change time limit procedural change.

      Reply
  48. Danielle

    I was married in Vegas, September 14th of 2019. When filling out the license application, I did not designate a new name because I didn’t know you had to in order to change your name in the future, I wasn’t going to change right away. I am now wanting my name to be changed, what do I do since my maiden name is on my certificate and it has been a year?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Danielle. Nevada is lenient in that it'll still allow a name change through marriage using your marriage certificate with the new name space empty.

      Reply
  49. Jane Teague-Urbach

    We are 73 years old. Our marriage certificate shows only our maiden names (pre-hyphenation). ALL our other documents including our social security cards show our hyphenated names. Now I'm afraid we're going to have trouble getting Real I.D. We're on a fixed income so getting names legally changed is going to be a real challenge. What can we do..if anything?

    Reply
  50. Annie

    I got married in Boston, MA and wrote down my husband's last name as my new name for the marriage license. But they didn't ask about my middle name. Do I need to file a name change petition in court to get my middle name changed to my maiden name?

    Reply
  51. Marie

    Hi I am an NC resident trying to change my last name in NC. My marriage license doesn't have my new last name on it, but does have my maiden name and my husbands last name. It has a spot on it for name prior to marriage.

    Should I have signed my new last name and put my maiden name in the name prior to marriage? Will I be able to change it through SSA or will I have to petition my local court?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Should I have signed my new last name and put my maiden name in the name prior to marriage?

      No, it's asking for your current name and birth name. You filled it out correctly.

      Will I be able to change it through SSA or will I have to petition my local court?

      Using your marriage certificate will work. No need to go to court.

      Reply
  52. Sailea

    I got married in Vegas I put my haha bra last name – my maiden last name. I haven’t changed anything yet but I want too. The thing is now I don’t want my last name on there just his. Do I have to amend to have my last name dropped off?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sailea. Although you have nothing to lose by asking for a correction, it's unlikely to be granted for such a circumstance. You could argue that it was an error or misunderstanding.

      Reply
  53. Jessica

    Hello!
    My Fiancé and I will be getting married in Michigan this Sunday. I do not currently want to go through the name change process, but if we have kids in the future, I would like to change my name to his so I can have the same last name as my kids.

    I just want the option to change my current last name to my married last name in the future. Should I write my married name on the marriage certificate? Do I have to change anything else right away or ever if we never have kids (SSC, DL, etc.)? Or can I just wait and change it in the future if I feel like it?

    When I do taxes as married I would use my current (Maiden) last name until I officially changed it on my social security card/ Drivers license correct? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Should I write my married name on the marriage certificate?

      In Michigan, you'll put your current legal name.

      Do I have to change anything else right away or ever if we never have kids (SSC, DL, etc.)?

      You do not.

      Or can I just wait and change it in the future if I feel like it?

      You can.

      When I do taxes as married I would use my current (Maiden) last name until I officially changed it on my social security card/ Drivers license correct?

      Yes.

      Reply
  54. Emily

    My husband’s last name was legally changed (his mother remarried when he was very young). So the name on his birth certificate says one thing, and his legal name another – we put both names on the certificate in their designated locations, but the birth certificate name is what is at the top of the marriage license in big bold letters… that is 100% NOT the last name I am taking (and obviously not his last name either). We got married 2 days ago. Will this be an issue? (We are in NJ if that helps)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Emily. Unless the certificate shows both names and properly designates them, it may be a clerical error. If so, you'll have to contact the local registrar for a correction and reissued cert.

      Reply
  55. Mia

    Hello,

    I plan on getting married here in California within the next couple of months. Due to COVID-19 and being far apart from immediate family we'll likely just go to a courthouse to sign documents and keep it private, until we can celebrate with family and close friends in our respective home states.

    I do want to change my last name eventually, but I'm not so keen on switching before we can have some kind of party with loved ones. Is it legal to put my "new" last name on the license, but wait a year or longer to change it?

    Also, if I apply for a passport renewal soon, can I do that after the elopement with my current last name, but amend it later with little to no cost when I start using the "new" surname? We will be moving to AZ mid-December, so I'll have to get a new Driver's License before too long. Could I also use my current last name for that up to whenever I decide to call the SSA about changing?

    I feel overwhelmed and don't know if I asked about all the relevant issues.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it legal to put my "new" last name on the license, but wait a year or longer to change it?

      Yes.

      if I apply for a passport renewal soon, can I do that after the elopement with my current last name

      Yes.

      but amend it later with little to no cost when I start using the "new" surname?

      Follow-up renewal is free if done within a year of the prior.

      Could I also use my current last name for that up to whenever I decide to call the SSA about changing?

      Yes.

      Reply
  56. Nichole

    I recently got married in NV. Our officiant was from out of state and she performed and filled everything out correctly, we assume because we did it together.

    I specifically wanted my last name changed to my new married name and it was on the marriage license application but for some reason when i got the email saying my new name was not designated on the certificate… but on all copies of certificate there was no place to put my new last name or married name anywhere just said first and last name.

    Is this common? Will my new name be on the certificate because it was originally on my license application? What should i do? My officiant is out of state and only applied to do 1 time ceremony and i really don't want to do this process over again

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nichole. Your new name should have appeared on your certificate. You'll have to contact the county recorder to inquire.

      Reply
  57. Marianne

    Hello!

    I am in NY & have kind of unique situation. When filling out our marriage license, I put my fiancé’s last name in the name change box. However, I want to keep my maiden name for now for insurance purposes (I am having a baby in January, and trying to get onto his insurance before that).

    If I put my name down as maiden name on the insurance form, can they deny me because I filled out his last name on the marriage license? Due to COVID, everything is closed here & I don’t have time to rely on mailing in documents for my name change, so I thought it would be best to just wait until after the baby is born. I do want to change my last name to his after the baby is born. Will this be an issue as far as my insurance coverage? Can they deny me for using my maiden name? I am scared! Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      ill this be an issue as far as my insurance coverage? Can they deny me for using my maiden name?

      It's a nonissue. They'll understand that your name change is optional.

      Reply
  58. Monica

    I am from Japan and got married in IL in 2016. I didn't change my last name. My green card has my maiden name as well as my marriage certificate. Now we have a kid and I want to have the same family name. What would be the next step?

    1. Go to the SSA and change my last name with the marriage certificate 2.Go to the DMV with a new SS card and change my last name 3. Start the process to change my name on my green card. Is my understanding correct?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Monica. Using your marriage certificate, green card, then SSA, then DMV.

      Reply
      1. Monica

        Hi Valera,

        We tried to change my name when I removed the conditions last year with my marriage certificate. However, they did not approve our request. They said we needed legal materials with a new name.

        If I change my last name on the SS card first, will it be a legal ID to change my last name on my green card?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Monica. They should have given details of what legal materials they're referring to. Your marriage certificate is a legal document, but green card should be doable beforehand.

          Reply
    2. Monika

      Exactly my situation. As per my understanding and as you said that you have maiden name on all your documents including Marriage certificate, you need to file a petition for name change in court then you will get legal name changed document. so that you can show that to PR,SSN and dmv etc wherever you want to change the name as you changed your name legally. They will change your name.

      Reply
      1. Valera

        Hi Monika. You don't need to go to court. Use your marriage certificate to complete your name change.

        Reply
  59. Karen

    I got married back in 1989 in CA. I decided to take my Husbands last name after marriage and did the proper procedures. However, just recently i couldn’t find my marriage license and or certificate so i went down to the county recorders office.

    Upon paying for a copy (just had to show my drivers license and birth certificate) I see that in the bold box is my maiden name, not my married name which I’ve been going by for over 30 years. Matter of fact, the entire license / certificate doesn’t have my last name shown anywhere. It shows my first name, my middle name and my old maiden name. Upon looking at the signature I supposedly signed, it shows the same wrong name.

    I see that even my signature isn’t mine upon looking even closer. My question to you: how would someone have perhaps changed the original information on a filed document ? Why would someone do that and would it effect the home I bought with my husband using my married name? Also, can it be changes back ?

    Where the box is that reads “Maiden/Last/Family” it is completely blank. And again, the bold box shows my maiden name instead of my married name I’ve been going by for years.

    Help!!!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Karen. In 1989, that was the format for California marriage certificates. After the Name Equality Act of 2007, the designed it to show married name.

      Reply
  60. Nicole

    Hello,
    I got married in Las Vegas NV in 2018/ but live in NY. I’m ready to change my name, but noticed my marriage certificate does not have a new name. I must have left it blank at application. I’ll be changing my name through SSA via mail and then at the DMV in person. Will this be an issue that may reject the name change?
    Thank you for any help

    Reply
  61. Traveler

    Word of advice – if you change your name in your US marriage certificate and then ignore that name change in other US documents (which is Ok based on this article above and also based on our own experience), and then you intend to live oversees and use your US marriage certificate to prove that you are married (which maybe important, like linking father to children), you can then be in a lot of trouble oversees.

    Some countries, unlike the US, make a big deal over name changes in marriage certificates. So they will accept your US marriage certificate but then claim that your other documents, like local passports, have wrong (old) names. Watch out!

    Reply
  62. Marissa

    My husband and I just got married this October in Wisconsin. I filled out our marriage application and used my maiden name when filled in the “current name” section. I only realized this was a mistake after we received our copies of our marriage certificate.

    I was so excited to change my last name, but now am I unable to sense only my maiden name is listed on our marriage certificate? How can I fix it so I can change my last name to match my husbands?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Marissa. You'll be able to change your name fine in Wisconsin using your marriage certificate, as "current name" and "birth name" are the only name-related questions on the marriage application.

      Reply
  63. Marisa

    Hi – I live in New Jersey and was married in New Jersey this summer. I only saw a place to put my name as it appeared on my birth certificate, and did not see a place for my new last name. Did I miss something? Or does NJ not have a place for new last name on the marriage license and certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Did I miss something? Or does NJ not have a place for new last name on the marriage license and certificate?

      You didn't miss anything. There's no such spot.

      Reply
  64. Sally Brown

    Married in MS (2017) but lives in TN, what will the process be to finally change to husband last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      what will the process be to finally change to husband last name?

      Same as if you lived in Mississippi or any other state. Use a certified copy of your marriage certificate as proof of your name change event when filing with the SSA, DMV, etc.

      Reply
  65. Nikita Samani

    Hello,

    Got married in NYC in April 2018 and I signed the marriage certificate with my maiden name and did not put down my husband's name .
    We are currently living in Texas and I would like to take my husband's last name. Do we have to petition the court here? Thanks so much.

    Reply
  66. Elsa

    Hello, I got married in California 6 yrs ago, but when completing my marriage license application I wrote my legal maiden name on the specific new name spot, and I wanted to add my husband last name, when I saw the mistake I asked the clerk for a change but she said it was too late since it was right after marriage.

    Do I need a court order to make the change if my marriage certificate only shows my legal maiden name.

    Do I have to pay a lawyer for that?

    Thank you for your help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Elsa. You do need a court-ordered name change at this point. You don't have to hire a lawyer to do so.

      Reply
  67. Abigail

    I just got married in Illinois how would I go about changing my last name to my married name

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Abigail. There's a dedicated Illinois name change page. The procedure is the basically the same for all states. Use a certified copy of your marriage certificate to change your name with various government and non-government institutions.

      Start with your social security card, then driver's license, then passport, and so on.

      Reply
  68. Tina

    Hi Tyrone,

    I listed on the marriage license application that I wanted my new surname to be my husband's, and my maiden name become my middle name (TM to TMP). However, today we received our marriage certificate from GA (we live in SC) and the certificate only lists my maiden name (TM). I was told by the clerk the name change happens after you are married (as TM was printed on the marriage license), so I expected my requested name would appear on the certificate.

    Since it's not, am I able to change my name with the SSA with my certificate as is, or does TMP need to be on the marriage certificate in order to move forward with changing my name with all institutions (and as an official name change doc)? Will the office change the mistake or will I be forced to go through the lengthy and costly process of changing my name through the courts and newspaper as I've read online?

    Also, I am looking to potentially travel internationally in December. If I legally change my name to TMP prior to traveling, will I be able to travel with my passport that says TM? Should I buy my ticket with TM or TMP?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tina. You may want to give the probate court a call to find out if there was a clerical error and getting your certificate corrected and reissued gratis. They'll reissue if it's a mistake on their end.

      As for travel, just book your ticket to match the name on your passport. If you update your SS card and driver's license, but not your passport, the ticket should still match the name on your passport.

      If you can't get your updated passport in time for travel, you should consider waiting until after traveling to update that credential.

      Reply
  69. Sara

    Hi,

    I have seen you helped a lot of people the same question I am going to ask, but the reason of mine is to help others who faces the same issue in Maryland.

    Last week when we filled up the Marriage License Form at Circuit Court there were no humans to ask any questions because of COVID. So we filled the marriage license form and dropped off in a box.

    In the form we didn't find any option for changing the name, so when clerk called back my partner didn't ask the question of changing name. So next day he called the clerk to confirm that we didn't see the option of changing the name after marriage, so the clerk said "I will send you the information no worries". Then on the day of ceremony before vows I asked her again and she said she will send us the documents. After couple of days we received the Certificate of marriage which still reflects the name I had before marriage because no one asked any name change request nor we gave them any New name information yet, right?

    So I find out your website where you were right about that we are not alone, we were thinking we did something wrong or there is some error from the clerk? However you explains that it depends on the state you live in, in Maryland you don't find the option of changing name on the marriage license form the time you applied neither you have name change option at the ceremony nor clerk asked us these questions any time of the process.

    The name I had before the marriage reflects the marriage license, ceremony vows and marriage certificate. Confusion starts now….. I have checked multiple times the website of circuit court they did not explain how you are able to change the name, they just stated on the website that after marriage for changing name go to social security and DMV, submit the application along with the certified copy of marriage certificate.

    We also find a yellow page form with the certificate which we have to fill and mail out to the circuit court, I think it’s for the request of the certified copy, in the form it still asks that print your name “which you had before marriage”. The package doesn’t contain any information about changing the name.

    Definitely, people will confuse how come we can change our name if our marriage certificate reflects our old name (which we had before marriage).

    However you explained on your website that marriage license/certificate itself is the authentic document to change your name because it has your husband’s name, if you want to change your last name, right? What if someone what’s to change her first name also along with the last name as husband name. example…

    i.e husband name: Daniel Joseph & wife name: Sara Angel (before marriage)- Now I wanted to change as “Alisha Daniel”

    I really appreciate your support and time you take to read. God bless you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      you explained on your website that marriage license/certificate itself is the authentic document to change your name because it has your husband’s name, if you want to change your last name, right?

      Exactly.

      What if someone what’s to change her first name also along with the last name as husband name.

      Not possible through marriage using your marriage certificate. Gotta go to court for that. Completely separate.

      Reply
  70. Emily

    Hi I recently was married in Tennessee our marriage license only has my maiden name on it. I don’t remember seeing a spot to change my last name. We live in Ohio. Will I be able to change my name at ss and dmv using the license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Emily. New name spot doesn't exist in Tennessee. You'll be able to change your name fine.

      Reply
  71. Melissa Hession

    Hello!

    I got married back in March of 2020 and I did not change my name to my spouses name and kept my maiden name. I live in California and want to change my last name to his. How do I do this? Is it too late?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Melissa. If you did specified your new name on your marriage license and it's reflected on your marriage certificate, use that to change your name as your normally would. If you didn't specify it at the time, you'll have to petition the court.

      Reply
  72. Shiela

    Hi
    I got married in Toronto Canada 2016. My marriage certificate only reflects my birth name. I live in PA and would like to now take my husband last name. How should I go about this?

    Reply
  73. Cori Bernal

    I was married in 2020 and my name on my marriage certificate matches my birth certificate, but I was able to change my social security card and driver's license to reflect my husband's last name. Am I able to remove my husband's name from my name legally?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Am I able to remove my husband's name from my name legally?

      What do you mean remove? To reverse your name change? To your name before marriage? If so, you could request a name correction or reversal from the SSA.

      The procedure is the same as changing your name. You'd use your marriage certificate as the validating document. But, you'll almost certainly face trouble when trying to undo your driver's license name change. For that, you'll have to get a court order.

      Reply
  74. RS

    Hi there! I was born in Russia and for the first 15 years of my life went by a name such as John Dough. When I was 15, my parents became US citizens and changed their last name to Doe. At the time, we had my birth certificate in Russian translated and notarized showing name of John Doe, which is what I go by now and have for some time.

    When I got married, in NJ, the municipal township put John Dough as my name at birth even though I go by John Doe. When my wife wanted to adopt the name Doe, SSA told her the marriage certificate would have to be amended to show Doe.

    The township sent a letter to the NJ State department to amend the license to show Doe, but they're asking for evidence of the name change. Given I was underage at the time and adopted my parents' name change (Doe), any idea what I can provide?

    I understand my wife can go to the court and do the name change that way, but then I think the marriage license will always be an issue for anything we need?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, it has been a frustrating time.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      they're asking for evidence of the name change.

      How about your birth certificate? Short of that, your wife would have to get a court-ordered name change.

      Reply
  75. Katlyn Hogan

    I got married by the court in NY and now I’m having my wedding next year on my marriage certificate it has my last name because the clerk gave me wrong info I told her didn’t want to change my last name yet but I will next year she told me to put down that I’m keeping my last name. Is there any way I can change my last name now?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is there any way I can change my last name now?

      Apply for another marriage license and get your marriage solemnized again. It'll override your prior marriage certificate.

      Reply
  76. Amanda

    Hi there! I got married in California and forgot to put my new married name. I live in Florida. Do I have to file for an amendment?

    Reply
  77. Gee Vee

    Hi! We live in CA but eloped in Las Vegas on Halloween. My birth name is Gee Vee but I changed it to Gee Vee (new middle name) Cee (husband's last name) on the marriage license. I'm regretting taking his last name. Can anything be done to revert back to my birth name? Do I legally have to change my DL, SS card, passport? If I have children can I give them my birth last name (Vee)? Or is that a bad idea since both my husband and my last name is technically Cee? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I legally have to change my DL, SS card, passport?

      You do not. Ignore you marriage certificate and your name stays the same.

      If I have children can I give them my birth last name (Vee)?

      No, it has to be your current legal last name.

      Reply
  78. Robert

    I recently got married in Jamaica. When we received our marriage certificate, it shows my wife's maiden name only. Is that going to be a problem here in the states to change her last name to mine on all her important stuff, like driver's license, social security cards, etc.?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Robert. Your Jamaican marriage certificate won't pose a problem for your wife changing her name.

      Reply
  79. Mary

    So I missed the change the surname box on my marriage license in New York. I wasn’t 100% sure nor did the clerk ask to confirm it. Am I screwed with switching my name on all other documents or should having my certificate of marriage be good enough? I don’t want to waste money on hitch switch.com if it won’t work. Please help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mary. If necessary, you can apply for a New York remarriage license and start over.

      Reply
  80. Berenice

    My husband and I got married October 2019 in Oaxaca Mexico we are from California our marriage certificate doesn’t have a spot for new names so When i called SS office they said I’d have to petition the court, after reading this blog i feel like i don’t need necessarily need to go that expensive long route. Correct me if I’m wrong?

    Also since i was married in Mexico do i need to do anything here to make the marriage be legal here in the U.S? In my wedding package i had paid to make the marriage legal which some people i talked to had said they didn’t think that was an actual thing that i had to do but since covid happened their offices closed apparently so they refunded the money I had paid for the legality Please help I’ve been going around in circus with covid most offfices being closed it’s made it harder to get all this figured out.

    Do i need to make marriage legal here?

    Can i still use my husbands last name without going through petitioning the court? And when SS offices open up just start there to change my name and then everything else?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Correct me if I’m wrong?

      You shouldn't have to petition. Foreign marriage certificates are valid.

      do i need to do anything here to make the marriage be legal here in the U.S?

      If it was a legally performed marriage in Mexico, it's valid in the U.S. A certified copy of your marriage record would show that.

      In my wedding package i had paid to make the marriage legal

      I'm not sure what this is referring to.

      Do i need to make marriage legal here?

      If your marriage in Mexico is invalid, you can get married in the states.

      Can i still use my husbands last name without going through petitioning the court?

      Informally, yes. Formally, you'd use a certified copy of your marriage certificate. But, it appears the validity of your marriage is in question.

      when SS offices open up just start there to change my name and then everything else?

      Correct.

      Reply

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