Is There a Deadline for Name Change After Marriage?

Shocked young woman holding clock

How much time do you have to change your name after getting married? And how might you avoid getting consumed by the effects of waiting too long to meet your deadlines?

Today you will learn to schedule and order your name change chronology, from your social security card and passport, to your driver's license or REAL ID.

What is the problem?

Suppose you have completed a name change event:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce or annulment
  • Court-petitioned name change

And you have a name change document proving said event:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce decree
  • Court order

How much time do you have to change your name until you are:

  1. Unable to change your name, period.
  2. Forced into filing a new court-petitioned name change.

The good news is neither ugly outcome is on the table. But you still have to navigate other name change deadlines and consequences.

Once your schedule is in order, you can circle back and use our online name change kit to complete the name change process, as that is the ultimate time crunch end goal.

Deadlines, schedules, and running against the clock

There is no hard, destructive deadline to change your name after marriage, divorce, or court order. Meaning, you will never face an outright name change shut out.

Yet demarcations and time limits do exist that will affect the duration, expense, and effort involved in changing your name. You are running against the clock.

Tiny woman running with clock

The longer you wait to change your name may cost you more in time, money, and energy spent because of shifting requirements. You are up against multiple timelines and deadlines.

When does your name change begin?

Do you know when the name change process starts?

  1. Upon marriage, divorce, or court petition.
  2. Updating your social security card.
  3. Updating your driver's license.
  4. None of the above.

The answer is split:

  1. None of the above for passports.
  2. Updating your social security card for everything else.

Social security ID deadline

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a two-year rule for social security card name changes. Their identity verification standards are stricter after two years.

Hand with pencil marking calendar

Meaning, your name change document may serve as ID—in place of photo ID—if your name change event took place within two years. This simplifies name change by mail.

For instance, if you got married 23 months ago, you have one month left to change the name on your social security card by mail using just your marriage certificate; no need to include your driver's license, passport, or other photo ID.

There is no penalty beyond the added inconvenience of including ID in your mailed paperwork. (You could always change your name in person instead of mail to escape this burden.)

Driver's license notification deadline

Most U.S. states have laws that dictate when you must notify the driver's license authority—DMV, DOT, DPS, BMV, etc—that you have changed your name or address.

Smiling woman driving car

Note: We will use DMV as shorthand to reference your state's driver's license office.

What do your state's laws require?

The most common notification intervals are 10, 30, and 60 days, as shown in the following table. We will explain later why this may represent a Herculean or impossible task.

StateDeadline
Alabama30 days
Alaska30 days
Arizona10 days
Arkansas30 days
California10 days
Colorado30 days
Connecticut48 hours
Delaware30 days
District of Columbia60 days
Florida30 days
Georgia60 days
Hawaii30 days
Idaho90 days
Illinois10 days
Indiana30 days
Iowa30 days
Kansas10 days
Kentucky10 days
Louisiana10 days
Maine30 days
Maryland30 days
Massachusetts30 days
Michigan10 days
Minnesota30 days
Mississippi30 days
MissouriUnspecified
Montana10 days
Nebraska60 days
Nevada30 days
New Hampshire30 days
New JerseyOne week
New Mexico10 days
New York10 days
North Carolina60 days
North Dakota10 days
Ohio10 days
Oklahoma10 days
Oregon30 days
Pennsylvania15 days
Rhode Island10 days
South Carolina10 days
South DakotaUnspecified
Tennessee10 days
Texas30 days
Utah10 days
Vermont30 days
Virginia30 days
Washington10 days
West Virginia20 days
Wisconsin10 days
Wyoming10 days

These deadlines are trivial if you were only changing your address. Many DMVs offer change of address online or by mail. But name change requires two extra components:

  1. Changing your name in person.
  2. Updating your social security record first.

Explaining what it means to notify

So your state driver's license office says you must notify them of your address or name change within a precise number of days: 10, 30, 60, or whatnot.

Woman shouting through megaphone

For example, here is Texas' statute (the language is similar across states):

[You] shall notify the department of the change not later than the 30th day after the date on which the change takes effect and apply for a duplicate license

Example name change statute.

But what does "notify" mean? An email, phone call, or form submission? And what does "of the change" and "change takes effect" represent? The day you marry or divorce?

Here is the real-world translation:

You must apply for a new driver's license, REAL ID, or state-issued ID card—in person—within 30 days of changing the name on your social security record.

Clarified rewording of prior example name change statute.

Not 30 days from your marriage, divorce, or other name change event, but counting from when the Social Security Administration updates your record.

Driver's license and social security names must match

You may have noticed throughout this page references to your social security record, not your social security card. This is the metric used by your driver's license office.

They will use your marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order, or other name change document to confirm your name change event occurred. But that alone is not enough.

Detective holding giant magnifying glass

First, they will check that your name change took place on the federal level by performing an electronic query against the Social Security Administration database.

Hands holding puzzle pieces solving jigsaw

Your driver's license name change depends on your social security name change finishing first. Your name change will get rejected if they discover an identity mismatch.

Tip: Space out your social security and driver's license name change by 24 to 48 hours. This gives time for social security's database to refresh before getting queried.

Penalties for not reporting

You may incur a penalty for failure to report your address or name change to the DMV within the allotted time frame. For instance, Texas imposes a $20 fine, while New York is $75.

Woman running up stack of coins

A failure to notify penalty is most often applied when a police officer pulls you over for an unrelated traffic violation, and not upon renewing your driver's license.

Complying with the law

Abiding by these narrow time constraints is tough, even if you were intent to follow the spirit and letter of the law by expediting your name change.

Young police officer chasing thieves escaping with stolen bag

Your social security filing will not get a tracking number akin to a mail parcel. Beyond receiving your new card by mail, you will not know when your record has updated.

Your DMV's name change deadlines may be difficult or impossible to honor, given their expectation that your social security name change gets finished first.

But written law and real life often diverge. You may take solace knowing that while penalties and fines are real, their enforcements are rare. (Minus the unlucky.)

Passport notification deadline

The U.S. State Department does not exact penalties for failure to change the name or address associated with your passport. You could even renew in your old name.

Your passport age affects the renewal fees, forms, and steps. Waiting too long may increase the fees while ruling out the convenience of mailing your paperwork.

Man at airport traveling with suitcase

If your passport is less than one-year-old, you can renew it by mail for free via Form DS-5504. This is when good timing and expeditiousness can become a money saver.

Between one and 15 years, $100+ fees kick in via Form DS-82. But they still allow renewal by mail. Beyond 15 years, you have got bigger fees and in person filing via Form DS-11.

Deadline to final destination

There is no cut-off-point deadline for changing your name after marriage, divorce, or court order. But target dates in between may make your life harder when they are past due.

Two key takeaways:

  1. Do not procrastinate.
  2. Do not start what you cannot finish.

And an extra takeaway: get started. Our online name change kit can help guide you through your new name journey, specific to your timetable.

We've helped thousands change their names, both before and after marriage.

Get Started

14 Comments

  1. Helena

    If I make an appointment to change my driver's license name and it's not matched with social security will I have to keep coming back?

    I sent in my SS name change paperwork two weeks ago and it hasn't come yet. Can the DMV just hold my info and retry without my being there and just send my license once they're done?

    Reply
    1. Tyrone Jones

      Hi Helena. Yes, you'll have to return. It won't get placed in a queue.

      Reply
  2. Lina

    So I changed my name on my social security card a few months ago but nothing else. Will the DMV find out if I don't tell them?

    Reply
    1. Tyrone Jones

      Hi Lina. The SSA will not notify the DMV about your name change. It's not their their responsibility.

      Reply
      1. Lina

        Thanks but what about the county clerk? My marriage certificate says I changed my name and I'm wondering if they share it with the DMV. Can they somehow get this info about me?

        Reply
        1. Tyrone Jones

          Hi Lina. The county clerk isn't going to notify anyone about the contents of your marriage certificate other than the state vital records office when they report your marriage.

          The DMV and other federal or state agencies aren't notified about the new name shown on your marriage certificate. They aren't notified about your marriage at all.

          Reply
  3. Diana

    So I got married in July and I filed for A disability claim in June. I haven’t changed my name yet because I am at the end of my third trimester and about to pop. Will getting married have postponed my disability claim because my last name is changed on my marriage certificate?

    Reply
    1. Tyrone Jones

      Will getting married have postponed my disability claim because my last name is changed on my marriage certificate?

      Changing your name through marriage or showing a changed name on your marriage certificate doesn't affect disability benefits. SSDI benefits aren't affected because of marriage, no matter what your spouse makes. But SSI benefits are affected by marriage because the SSA will consider part of your spouse's income in their calculations.

      Reply
  4. Angie Aragon

    I hyphenated and added my husbands my last to name when I got married but have kept using the same name (my first name, last name) without the hyphenation, I never contacted SSA. Can I just keep using my name or do I have to notify SSA or DMV of my new hyphenated name.

    Reply
    1. Tyrone Jones

      do I have to notify SSA or DMV of my new hyphenated name

      No, you do not have to take further action. You only have to notify once you begin the legal name change process by updating your social security record.

      Reply
  5. Gigi B.

    I have an odd situation. Back when I got married I decided to leave my last name as it was. My husband purchased a new car and had the title paperwork done up with my name included, and the dealership clerk assumed that my last name was the same as my husbands.

    Long story short – they insisted I run to the local N.Y. DMV to have my license changed so they could complete the sales transaction. It is the ONLY doc I have with that last name! So, Soc. Sec., IRS, banks, etc. all have my other name.

    I've been able to make it work, except that we just moved to PA – and when I went to change from a NY lic to PA … they aren't wanting to let me use my old name, and that is what all of my other ID is in. And I do mean ALL.

    I had at one point (still in NY) thought about changing everything to my husbands last name, but we had been married longer than 2 years by then and the Soc Sec rep informed me that I would have to apply for a formal name change through our county Supreme Court! At this point I don't even know what to do. The PA DMV clerks weren't too sure either.

    Reply
    1. Tyrone Jones

      Hi Gigi. Without getting into the accuracy or merits of PA DMV/PennDOT's assertions, you can try to correct your NY title or registration, and then get it reissued with the proper name. You may even need to get the dealership to help, as they initiated the mistake.

      Reply
  6. Melissa K

    I am getting married in IL today, but retiring in March 2023 and moving to MI where my hubby was transferred. I am planning on changing my name when I move. Will it be all right to wait? Of course I will change ssi first, but not until the move.

    Reply
    1. Tyrone Jones

      I am planning on changing my name when I move. Will it be all right to wait?

      Yes, you can wait to change your name until your ready. The various countdowns begin once you change the name on your social security card, not when your marriage takes place.

      Reply

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