425 Comments

Congratulations on getting married! Congratulations on getting through the ceremony and dealing with all of the details that that sort of thing entails! Congratulations on joining your lives and starting off on this new adventure! Congratulations on all of the other cliché things that people are saying are happening to you right now! You're probably sick of hearing them, but they are still true. In fact, at this moment it is likely that you are so sick of wedding stuff that you don't ever want to hear the words "wedding", "ceremony" "bride" "groom" "decision" or "but what about… " ever again.

You probably just want it to all be done.

You've probably (hopefully) had a fantastic time on your honeymoon and now you are ready to just settle into the business of your regular routine again. Sure you've got some thank you notes to write but that has to be it, right? And really, you can do those in the evenings after work.

Not so fast!

Before you toss your tired body on to your couch, kick up your feet and declare yourself done, are you sure that you've taken care of all of the details that go into getting married? After all, the wedding and the thank you notes are just a part of it. There are also some legal things that need to be taken care of. For one thing, if you didn't keep your name, you have to make sure that you have your name legally changed on… well, as exhausting as it sounds, everything.

How Exactly Do I Change My Name?

First things first: you need to get a certified copy of your marriage certificate. This can usually be done by visiting your local records office and requesting a certified copy. It shouldn't take long for them to get it printed out and stamped for you. You might order a couple of them, just to keep your bases covered. They aren't usually expensive to have printed out for you.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The fancy looking certificate that you signed at your wedding doesn't actually count as your marriage certificate. That is just for you to put up at home. The legal document you signed and turned in when you applied for your marriage license and that your officiant had to sign and turn in after the ceremony are what make your marriage legal and will result in the production of a marriage certificate. You probably already know that, but it seemed like a good idea to include that here, just in case.

The good news is that, in most states, all you have to do to change your name is decide what your name will be after you get married and include that on your marriage license. This isn't always the case, though. In some states you are still going to need to go in to the courthouse, with your certified marriage certificate, and meet with a judge to get the process finalized.

Once you've gotten your name legally changed and you have official and certified proof of the change you are ready to get rolling.

Changing Your Name: The Steps

There are three major steps involved in changing your name.

Step One: The List

First you need to make a list of everything that you have under your non-married name. This is going to get overwhelming and quickly. It is possible that you have things listed under your name that you've forgotten about. That's okay. For now, let's start with what you can remember.

Typically your list will include things like:

  • Your ID/Driver's License
  • Your Social Security Card
  • Your Passport
  • Your HR Information at Work
  • Your Bank Account
  • Credit Card Accounts
  • Your rental agreement/Mortgage agreement
  • The title and registration for your vehicle (if you have one)
  • Your Library Card
  • Your Gym Membership
  • Store Discount Cards
  • Magazine Subscriptions
  • Online Profiles
  • Any other thing you can think of

Step Two: Prioritize

Obviously it is going to be more important to change some of these things than others. Your legal identification (driver's license or ID card), and your social security card should be at the top of that list.

This is usually because, to have your name changed on other documents and accounts, you will need these things to display your new name as proof of your new "identity." In some instances the marriage certificate itself is good enough because it will contain your pre-marriage name. In other cases, however, like with gym memberships, prescriptions, etc—you will need a new legal photo ID to get that done.

Step Three: Take Action

While you are waiting to receive your new social security cards and photo IDs (this can take longer in some states than in others. In New York it can take a month. In Oregon it takes about a week), you can get the ball rolling with your employer and at places like your bank. These typically will accept the temporary ID issued to you by the DMV as well as your marriage certificate as proof of the name change.

When you have your new photo ID and social security card, you can start to change things like the name on your library card, your gym membership and the name on your credit cards.

How Long Does This All Take, Anyway?

This is going to take some time to complete, especially if you try to do it all by yourself. You can probably get to the DMV and the Social Security Administration in a day, depending on where you live and how busy these offices are.

It might also be worth it to change the name on your vehicle registration and title while you are at the DMV changing your name on your license.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You are allowed to mail in your marriage certificate and other information to the Social Security Administration to get a new social security card, it is just a longer waiting process for the new card when you do it this way.

From there it is mostly about how much time you have each day to devote to changing your name. You are going to have to pay a visit to your bank to have your name changed on your accounts and, potentially to order new checks (though this can be done at any time online). The same is true if you have a mortgage or auto loan—you'll have to pay a visit to those lenders to change your name with them.

Other things, like changing your name on your credit cards will need to be done through the mail or by faxing in a copy of your marriage certificate. You can do a few of these things each day so that it doesn't seem overwhelming.

Wow! That's a Lot of Work

It truly is a lot of work to change your name. Like planning a wedding, making sure you get it all done means being organized and making sure that you've got everything written down and a centralized location in which you can track your progress on each place in which you need to change your name.

The Good News

The good news is that changing your name doesn't have to be a completely overwhelming process. It's really just a matter of getting all of your ducks in a row and then just going down your list.

The Better News

There are some really great online tools that will help you streamline this process. This very website you're reading, for one, offers you a centralized online portal through which to track every thing you do not need to do live and in person. It offers you a simple step-by-step form in which to input your information and then you can print out the forms you need for each type of name change. It can even help you get through the submission process.

Hey That Sounds Like a Sales Pitch

It isn't. It is up to you to figure out how to do the work of getting your name changed. If you prefer to take care of all of the details yourself and feel more comfortable that way (type A's, we're looking at you), that's fine. It is definitely an option. If you don't have the time or inclination to do every little part yourself and in person, tools like our online name change service can be of major assistance in guiding you through the name change procedure.

To Sum Up

Changing your name is a huge process. Don't let anybody lie to you and tell you that it is easy. It is one of those things that, just when you think you've got everything done, you find a new account or a new piece of mail arrives that is still in your old name. It can be frustrating.

What matters is that you will get through it. Much like planning and carrying out your wedding, changing your name is something that you are more than capable of doing. It might not seem like it now but you had moments when you were sure you'd never get your wedding planned, right? You got through that! You can definitely get through this.

After all, what matters now is that you are married and you are starting a brand new adventure (stop gagging; it is true, you know that it is true and you love that it is true. It's okay to admit it)!

425 Comments

  1. Gen

    Hi,

    My husband and I married in Colorado 5 years ago, at the time I kept & signed as my maiden name. I am finally looking into the process of changing my last name to his. Is the marriage certificate all that I need to begin that process? Also I need to change this on my green-card as well, I am not an American citizen.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Gen. Correct. A certified copy of your marriage certificate is all you need.

      Reply
  2. Cynthia

    Hello,I live in California, got married in Las Vegas 9 years ago I am trying to take my husbands last name.At the court house when we filled out our marriage license application I didn't put my name as it would be with his,it's still under my maiden name.Would there be a problem changing it here in California or would our marriage license would be good enough?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Cynthia. It'll be good enough. Make sure you get a certified copy of your certificate, not license.

      Reply
  3. Jennifer Szewczyk-Hapeman

    I've read some previous replies but I'm still not sure what to do. I hyphenated my last-his last name. I haven't changed any documents with my hyphenated name. Now I want to take his last name only. What route do I go from here? Our certificate says I want the hyphen. Now I don't. Just want his. Just repeated that. Sorry. What now??

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jennifer. In many cases, you'll be able to still use your marriage certificate as-is to change it to the non-hyphenated version. Some states (or some state DMV's) might be more stringent, and may only change it to what's specified on the certificate. It can vary by office or the clerk's interpretation.

      Reply
  4. Kylee

    I just got married in UT and I am starting this process. After having my certified copy of my marriage license, I know I need to go to the Social Security Administration first. Once I have provided them with what they need and it is being processed, can I go to the Driver's License Division to get my Driver's License changed or do I need to wait to receive my new SS Card with my married name before I can move forward? Will a certified copy of the marriage license with my original SS card and ID suffice for changing my name with the DLD?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kylee. It's a good idea to wait about 24 hours between SSN and DLD to allow time for the prior's database to refresh, assuming the DLD will query it for a name match/mismatch.

      Reply
  5. Alina

    Hi I got married 2 years back and didn't change my name then. I want to change it now starting first with SSN. My marriage certificate has my maiden name on it. I want to know if that would be enough to change my name legally or do I need additional proof stating my new and old name like it's mentioned on social security website. I reside in Illinois.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Crystal. I don't believe Illinois has a spot on the license to specify a new name, so you should be able to use your marriage certificate as-is.

      Reply
  6. Crystal

    Hello í got married last month and í didnt realise that í had put my maiden name on my marriage license. How can í get my name changed to my huabands last name

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Crystal. It depends on the state. Not every state has a spot on the license where you specify your new name, so it wouldn't matter. It's difficult to say without knowing the state you live in.

      Reply
  7. Beth

    I was married 6 years ago and never went through the name change. I noticed that on my marriage certificate, it was listed as my first name, my husband's last name was put into the middle name box (under my name) and my maiden name was left as my last name. We were married in CA. Can I still change my last name to my husband's name if I get a certified copy of my marriage certificate? My husband's name is correct and my name is correctly listed above. I am not sure why it was listed that way on the bottom and never paid much attention to it. I would really like to change it to his name after 6 years…thank you in advnace

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Beth. In CA, if it's changed, it must be changed to what's listed on the certificate.

      Reply
        1. Valera

          Can i go to the clerk and petition that it was an error?

          Although California provides an affidavit to amend a marriage record form, it's only for typos or to add missing info to blank areas. It's not to change any part of any name.

          Reply
  8. carolina

    i was wondering i got married 20 years ago, i have a confidential marriage license. well after all these years my husband wants me to have his last name. how can i go about doing this. do i have to petition the courts for a legal name change. i kept my last name for personal reasons at the time. please help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Carolina. You may be able to use your marriage certificate as-is, considering your marriage took place prior to passage of the name equality act. Get a certified copy of your marriage certificate to push through your name change.

      Reply
  9. Shelly

    I read that in Massachusetts you can change your surnames to whatever you want. Is this true? If my last name is White and his last name is Black, can we list an entirely different surname (e.g. Gray) on the license?
    If we get married in a state where there is no place to put intended new last name on the license, what are our options when we go to social security? Can we choose any surname, or do we have to choose mine, his, a hybrid name (like Whick), or a hyphenated surname (e.g. White-Black)? If we get married in a state where there is no place to put intended new last name, would we each have to go to court to change our last name to Gray or Whick as if we did not ever even get married?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I read that in Massachusetts you can change your surnames to whatever you want. Is this true?

      No, I don't believe that is true.

      If we get married in a state where there is no place to put intended new last name on the license, what are our options when we go to social security?

      You'd just use the marriage certificate as-is.

      Can we choose any surname, or do we have to choose mine, his, a hybrid name (like Whick), or a hyphenated surname (e.g. White-Black)?

      Universally accepted options would be to hyphenate or to take his last name. Hybrids, or composite names, are rarely accepted.

      If we get married in a state where there is no place to put intended new last name, would we each have to go to court to change our last name to Gray or Whick as if we did not ever even get married?

      You'll just use your marriage certificate as-is. No need to go to court.

      Reply
  10. Nikki

    I got married last year.. On my marriage certificate I put my dad's name and my husbands name…. like an hyphenated surname…

    Now I really want to stop using a hyphenated surname..I just want to use my husband surname. How do I go about doing that?

    What's the first step??
    Please help me…

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nikki. If you've not already formally changed your name, your DMV may be willing to honor just taking your husband's surname. Depending on the state/agent/office, how strict or flexible they'll be can vary. If you've already changed your name with the SSA and DMV, then you'll have to get a court order to change it again.

      Reply
  11. Darinka

    Hi, I'm trying to get married in Louisiana. When applying for marriage license on application it says last name and then last name before first marriage. Under last name do I put new last name? I was married before and I don't want to see that last name anywhere on this certificate. I still have his last name I didn't change on my drivers license or ss due to immigration. And will I have a problem since my dl still has my ex last name but I don't want to put that name anywhere on the application?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Darinka. Last name before first marriage would not be your ex's. It's typically your maiden name. If you've undergone a non-marriage name change prior to your first marriage, then you'd put that instead of your maiden. So, to be clear, if the name you had just prior to your first marriage was your maiden (birth) name, then put that.

      Reply
      1. Darinka

        All I have with my maiden name is my birth certificate and expired passport. My driver license shows ex last name. Do you think they'll give me trouble to obtain marriage license? Also I don't know if you'd know this but is Louisiana one of those states that allows you to change to husband last name on marriage application.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Do you think they'll give me trouble to obtain marriage license?

          No, I don't see where you'd face a problem.

          Also I don't know if you'd know this but is Louisiana one of those states that allows you to change to husband last name on marriage application.

          I don't believe Louisiana marriage license applications have a space to specify a new name, although it may vary from parish to parish.

          Reply
  12. Renata

    Hi I get married 2 years ago but back then I did not get my husband last name and now I register my marriage on the Brazilian embassy because we from Brazil and I did get his last name so what I have to do know change my marriage lincense here too and after that change all the other documents ?

    Reply
  13. Lizbeth Shanklin

    Hi I got married last year in Illinois and I changed my last name to my husbands last name. We live in North Carolina now I want to hyphen my maiden name with his last name… will I need to file for a name change decree.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      will I need to file for a name change decree.

      No, just get a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the Illinois county vital records office.

      Reply
  14. Mayumi

    Hi! I just got married last month. In my marriage license I signed my first name and my new last name. When I got back home, I didn't have a chance to change my last name whatsoever. Now, I just want to stick to my original name… how do I go from here? Please help, I am getting overwhelmed.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Now, I just want to stick to my original name… how do I go from here? Please help, I am getting overwhelmed.

      Just don't do anything. Your name will remain unchanged.

      Reply
  15. Megan

    I got married in October in California. i reside in Arizona. I am going to back to California in January. can I go a Social Security office in California to change my last name, or do i have to go to a social security office in Arizona?

    Reply
  16. Samantha

    Hi, I changed my new last name as my maiden name hyphenated with my husband's name. Now that we've settled in and everything, I want to change my last name to just my husband's. Do I need to go back to court and change my now last name to just his last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need to go back to court and change my now last name to just his last name?

      That's right. You have to go to court to change it a second time.

      Reply
  17. Jen

    I am from Canada (BC). Instead of taking my husbands last name or him taking mine. Can we just take a different one? Example – His/Smith Mine/John Married Last Name/Gibbler

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I am from Canada (BC). Instead of taking my husbands last name or him taking mine. Can we just take a different one?

      Not through marriage. In British Columbia, you'll have to undergo a legal name change.

      Reply
  18. Belkis Ramos

    Hi,

    I got Married in Puerto Rico; in Puerto Rico we do not change last name at marriage. Over a year ago we relocated to FL, how do I go about changing my name to my husband's name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I got Married in Puerto Rico

      You'll need to obtain (if you don't already have one) a certified copy of your marriage certificate from Puerto Rico to change your name in Florida.

      Reply
  19. Jen

    I got married in Texas back in 2008. I never changed my name to take on my husband's name (I was too lazy to change all the documents.) When we were pregnant with our first child he asked me to change it. I went to SSA in Oregon and they said it had been too long and I needed formal ID in the new name. So I went back to Texas, got a new DL in the married name. I went back to SSA and showed my DL and they turned me away (I really cant remember the reason why). I got frustrated with the process and never went back to SSA. I recently had to renew my DL and I had to go back to my maiden name b/c my DL and SSN did not match. I want to make one more attempt to change my name. What documents will I need?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      What documents will I need?

      Certified copy of marriage certificate and driver's license.

      Reply
  20. A

    Hello,

    I was married 4 years ago in the state or Florida and I wrote/sign my marriage license using my Maiden name. I took my marriage license to my local social security office and had my name changed to my first/middle/his last. I am still married but I would like to resume my Maiden name and just hyphenate my husbands name at the end. How do I go about doing this?
    Thank you for your time and help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I am still married but I would like to resume my Maiden name and just hyphenate my husbands name at the end. How do I go about doing this?

      You'll have to undergo a general adult name change to change it again. Using your marriage certificate won't do you any good, as it's already been used. The FL name change page details the process of going to court.

      Reply
  21. Eli

    Hi, we just got our marriage licence few days ago and didn't change my last name on it. Can i correct it before the ceremony? I would love to have my future husbands last name!!!. Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      we just got our marriage licence few days ago and didn't change my last name on it. Can i correct it before the ceremony?

      Yes, you can typically amend a marriage license before you get married. You may be charged a small fee though. Contact the office that issued your license for instructions on how to do so.

      Reply
  22. Ellen

    Hi there. I married in Georgie in late July of 2016, and changed my name to first/maiden/his. I moved to South Carolina August 1st, however I claim residency in Georgia as I am only a student in South Carolina (and wanted to keep a Georgia driver's license). I successfully changed my name with the SSA here in South Carolina in August, but have yet to get back to Georgia to update my name on my driver's license. The DDS/DMV website for Georgia says I have 60 days to update my name, but it's been about 5 months. Will I encounter issues at DDS/DMV when trying to update my name if I go there now? Do I need to go to court to eventually get my name changed on my driver's license? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ellen. You should be fine to change your name as your normally would (without court).

      Reply
  23. Alex

    Hi, I just got married in Georgia. When we applied for the marriage license they asked for my full name and I gave them my legal name (maiden name) and there was not a spot to indicate what my name was going to be after marriage. Will I still be able to change my name with the social security office and DMV? Or will I have to have it changed on the marriage license/certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Alex. Yes, you'll be able to change it fine. Not every state has a space on the application to specify a new name.

      Reply
  24. Clare

    I got married in Las Vegas this year, the certified marriage certificate only shows the maiden name. I live in ND and was wanting to have a double-barreled last name, but I'm unsure if the marriage certificate will suffice to get it changed to that or if I will have to go through the courts? So it would be first middle maiden married. It's hard to know where to start. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Clare. Consider contacting the ND DOT to inquire if they'll even accept a double-barreled name change. Hyphenation, sure, but the prior is not guaranteed. If they will, your NV certificate will be sufficient without having to go to court.

      Reply
  25. Qian

    Hi, I got married in Las Vegas 14 years ago and didn't change my last name then. My marriage certificate shows my maiden name. Now I want to change my last name to my husband's. Will my marriage certificate be sufficient or do I have to go through the court? We live in California since married. Thank you!

    Reply
  26. Vanessa

    Hello I am currently a Florida resident, my soon to be husband lives in Virginia. We are getting married in Florida and moving to Virginia immediately after, as far as the whole name change thing goes… do we have to be present in person here in Florida for copies or the marriage certificate/name change process? Are there other ways around this where it is possible for us handle the process in Virginia or Is this something you suggest us stay extra time to do?

    Reply
    1. Vanessa

      Also, if I have no middle name
      Can I move my maiden last name in place of a middle and take his last name?

      Reply
    2. Valera

      do we have to be present in person here in Florida for copies or the marriage certificate/name change process?

      No, you can order certified copies remotely.

      is possible for us handle the process in Virginia or Is this something you suggest us stay extra time to do?

      You can get it done in Virginia.

      Reply
  27. Quianna

    Hi. I'm Quianna, I just wanted to know if God forbids anything happens to my husband. Will I be able to take over everything? We do have a marriage license. I just never changed my last name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Quianna. I don't know what you mean by "take over everything?" Changing or not changing your name doesn't put you at an advantage/disadvantage when it comes to things such as property, insurance, joint accounts, etc, if that's what you're referring to.

      Reply
  28. Jade

    Hello. We were married in NY in April. I hyphenated my last name and my husband's last name on our marriage certificate. I haven't changed my name with SS or DMV yet but I would like to change it to only my husband's last name. Would I be able to to change my last name to just his at the SS office and the DMV without a court order? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jade. You may be able to. You can contact the DMV to confirm. If they wouldn't accept it, you can try to get your marriage certificate amended or opt to get a remarriage marriage license.

      Reply
  29. Tatyana

    HI, just got married in CA,ready to file my docs through your agency tomorrow. How long does it take to change my last name, to be able to purchase a plane ticket to fly over US?

    Reply
    1. Tatyana

      HI! This is Tatyana again. Can I change my driver license separately in person to speed up the process, and do all other changes with you?

      Reply
      1. Valera

        Hi Tatyana. SSA first, in case the DMV queries the SSA database for a name match/mismatch. If you complete it with the SSA, it's worth waiting at least 24 hours for their database to refresh. Then you can go into the driver's license office and get it done there.

        Reply
    2. Valera

      Hi Tatyana. Turnaround time is around 2-6 weeks, depending on how many documents need to get changed, how you go about it (mail vs in person), sequence, queue/backlog of the departments, time it takes to get a copy of your marriage certificate, if you don't already have it in your possession.

      Reply
      1. Tatyana Agnew

        Hi Valera!
        Shall I wait first from SSA, getting my SSN changed, and than send applications to all other places? I'm planning to come in person only to DMV office.

        Reply
  30. Jaclyn

    I got married in Wisconsin where there is no line for married name on the certificate, only for my maiden name. I reside in Illinois so that is where I will be changing my name. Will I be able to do it even though the certificate has me listed as Jaclyn Higgins but my husband's last name is Walsh, so I want my name to be Jaclyn Walsh?

    Reply
  31. Maria

    Hi Valera,

    I Changed My Name in my passport When I Got Married and Then I want to Chang It Back to my single surname.
    The reason is i found out that my ex husband is married before we get married. :(
    do you think is possible to change back my surname? do have any ideas the procedure.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maria. You'd need a new document to authorize another name change. Something such a certified annulment or divorce decree. Other than that, you'd have to get a court order.

      Reply
  32. Jessica

    My husband and I got married in 2010. On my marriage license my name is hyphenated but on everything else including my SS card, drivers license, it only had my husbands last name. Apparently NY state will not fix the marriage license unless we re-marry! We currently live in VA. Is there anything I can do so that EVERYTHING has just my husbands last name on it? Will a legal name change work?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Apparently NY state will not fix the marriage license unless we re-marry!

      That wouldn't "fix" or replace the old document. They're just issuing you another document. Both would remain publicly recorded and available for copy requests.

      Is there anything I can do so that EVERYTHING has just my husbands last name on it?

      Not really. At this point, your marriage license (or certificate, if that's what you're really referring to) is just a historical document. The clerk's office isn't going to correct it unless there's a mistake (e.g., typographical) that's their fault.

      Will a legal name change work?

      No. A legal name change would just be another document allowing you to change your name to something else. It wouldn't amend your marriage license.

      Reply
  33. Stephanie

    Hi Valera,

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ANSWERING ALL THESE QUESTIONS.

    I got married in September in New York. I did not indicate a "new surname." There is no "new surname" on my marriage certificate. It only says "stephanie madian name" was married to "husband's name."

    Can I use this marriage certificate to change my name at the social security office in New York? Or does New York require that a new surname is indicated on the certificate.

    Please help! And thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I use this marriage certificate to change my name at the social security office in New York? Or does New York require that a new surname is indicated on the certificate.

      You should be able to still change it even though your certificate doesn't reflect it. Failure to specify your new, intended surname during the NY marriage application process doesn't forfeit your right to ultimately change it later. That goes for your middle name as well.

      Reply
  34. Jessica

    My husband and I just recently got married on December 12, 2016. When I filled out our marriage certificate I didn't realize I had to write down my name, middle name and my new last name, instead I filled out the marriage certificate with my full legal name so now on my marriage certificate I don't have my husbands last name, but my dads last name. How could I change my last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jessica. You can contact the office where your marriage certificate is filed to see if they will amend it, but it's unlikely they will unless it's an error on their part.

      Reply
  35. Shirra

    I Just Recently Married On December 31, 2016 & I Was Wondering Can I Use My Certified Marriage Certificate I Applied In Tennesse In Another State For Name Changes

    Reply
  36. Sonya Blizzard

    I got married in California just over a year ago and I have not formally gone thru the process of changing my name as I just can't seem to give up my last name. How do I go about changing and adding back in my maiden name to my middle name ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sonya. If your marriage certificate has your maiden as middle, then you'd use your certificate to change your name. If didn't specify this choice during the application process, then you'll have to petition the court for a name change. More info can be found on the California name change page.

      Reply
  37. Tran

    I got married to my husband on July, 2016, but I didn't take his last name. Now, I really want to change my name on very paperwork that I have, including my marriage certificate. I want my new name stated in my marriage certificate as well. I'm living in Virginia. Will my marriage certificate be changed with my new name on it? And will I have to remarry?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will my marriage certificate be changed with my new name on it? And will I have to remarry?

      It's unlikely you'll be able to modify your certificate. Amendments are for mistakes, such as typos.

      Reply
  38. Katherine Marie Belt

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    I got married 18 months ago and my marriage certificate reflects my new name. I also have a D.L. with my new name. However about a month ago I got a new S.S. card with my first name, former married name as middle (for business reasons) and new last time. I am now dropping my former married name from use.

    Is it possible to get a new S.S. card with my new name even though I just got one?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Katherine. You wouldn't be able to reuse your marriage certificate for a secondary name change. You'll need a new document signifying another name change event. You'd be looking at petitioning the court to get it done.

      Reply
  39. Sonya

    It says you can use your spouses name personally and your maiden professionally but doesn't say how to go about that ? I'm ca. If also says that I would of had to of put my maiden as my middle on my marriage certificate in order to do this – can we just get married again for $98 or no?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      H

      It says you can use your spouses name personally and your maiden professionally but doesn't say how to go about that ?

      What are you referring to here?

      I'm ca. If also says that I would of had to of put my maiden as my middle on my marriage certificate in order to do this – can we just get married again for $98 or no?

      You'd have to contact your county clerk/recorder's office, but I'm not aware of a remarriage option in California. You're likely looking at having to petition the court.

      Reply
  40. Nicky

    Hi I just got married in New York on my marriage certificate my husband last name was not hyphen beside my last name which I think was my error,however how can I go about adding his last name to mine and can it be done at any court house in NY or I have to go back to the court house where I got married?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nicky. If you're referring to getting your certificate amended, you'll go to where your certificate is filed. If you're talking about petitioning the court, any will do.

      Reply
  41. Nicole

    Hello, I'm in Minnesota. When I got married 2 yrs ago I kept my maiden name but now I'd like to take my husbands last name. Can I still use my marriage certificate and just go to the SS office and DMV to change it? What if my maiden name is what I wrote on the marriage license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nicole. The name change would have had be specified on the marriage license application so that it would be reflected on the certificate.

      Reply
  42. Basit

    I'm in Maryland and got married in oct 2012 and legally changed my name in April 2015 is it possible to get certified copy of my marriage certificate with new name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      is it possible to get certified copy of my marriage certificate with new name?

      No, it's not possible. It's a historical snapshot, and cannot be changed unless there was a typographic mistake on the clerk's/office's part.

      Reply
  43. Kaitlyn Warf

    I got married in Punta Cana in December, and they sent me my marriage certificate. It has my maiden last name on it. Will this be a problem when I want to change my last name to my husbands last name?

    Reply
  44. Viki

    Me and my husband got married a few days ago and I just got the marriage certificate in the mail from the register of deeds but it has my maiden last name instead of my husbands. Not sure what went wrong, does this mean I have to file a petition to change my maiden name to my husbands last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Viki. It can depend on the state. For some, it's binding, others not. If the mistake was on the part of the clerk's office, you can request an amendment/correction.

      Reply
  45. Clara

    Hi! We applied and picked up marriage license last week. Now we have 90 days to get married. I took my husband's surname as my last name…. I really want to keep my last name as middle name and his last as my last name: first name, my last, his last.
    Can I still change it if we did not have ceremony yet? If I will wait over 90 days without ceremony, can I reissued marriage license and apply again and then add my last name as middle one? Thank you for your help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I still change it if we did not have ceremony yet?

      You may want to check end of the maiden to middle article for a list of states where this is not recognized.

      Some states require the new name be specified on the application, so you may need to get it reissued with your preferred name.

      If I will wait over 90 days without ceremony, can I reissued marriage license and apply again and then add my last name as middle one?

      You can get it reissued now; you don't have to wait until it expires.

      Reply
  46. Jennifer

    I already filed my taxes, but the IRS declined it because I used my married name and I haven't changed it at the social security office yet. Do I just go to the social security office and apply for a new card and they will submit it to the IRS or are there other steps I need to take?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jennifer. The SSA won't resubmit your taxes. If you update with the SSA, they'll notify the IRS of the name change. Afterwards, you'll have to refile in your married name. Alternatively, you can refile in your maiden name, which is what will currently match what's on file with the SSA/IRS.

      Reply
  47. Lisa

    I got married 2.5 years ago in Hawaii and took his last name. I have never changed my social security card, drivers license, etc. in Missouri. Is there a time limit to do so?

    Reply
  48. Shy

    Hello,
    I have been reading the comments to try and get an answer to my question but I'm not sure if I am correct.
    I got married in Hawaii 2012 and at the time I decided to take my husband's last name; but not in it entirety. My husband has two last names hyphenated, consisting of both of his parents last names.
    Example: (moms last name-dad's last name)
    On my marriage certificate I have firstname/middlename/husband'sdadlastname as my declared surname.
    So I did NOT pick up his moms last name.
    I never went to get a SSC or DL so I still have my maiden name. However, I want to take his full last name since our future children will also have that name. We now live in Virginia.

    Is taking his full last name possible?

    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Shy. I don't believe Virginia recognizes that sort of partial hyphenation. You can contact the VA DMV, then SSA for verification.

      Reply
  49. Jody

    I got married 9 years ago in NV (we live in CA). I have recently decided I want to change my last name so that it's the same as my husband (and children). However, my marriage certificate contains my maiden name. Will I need to file a petition for name change with the court in order to change to my husband's last name? (I would like to move my maiden name to second-middle, and add his last name as my new last name.) Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jody. No, you don't need to go to court. Your NV certificate should be sufficient. If you were married in CA and your California certificate didn't show your new married name, then you probably would have had to petition the court. But even for that, it depends on when your marriage took place, and how the California marriage licenses/certificates were designed nine years ago.

      This is a point of confusion many have. They live in California, hear that they must specify their new, change-to name on the marriage license, which will ultimately be reflected on the certificate. If they didn't do this, then they'll have to petition the court. But, if a California resident gets married in another state, that rule doesn't apply. So they get their marriage certificate from, say Nevada, which doesn't reflect any new name choice, so they're left wondering if it'll pass muster. It will.

      Reply
  50. Karina

    Getting married in the next 15 days. On marriage license I chose to take: my first & husbands last name. I'm not sure I want to change any official documents yet (ss#, DL,etc)..
    Do I have to change my official documents? Or can I continue to use my maiden name as I have been without changes? I'm in CA. Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Karina. You don't have to change any documents. It just gives you the option to do so later.

      Reply
  51. Nelly Ahoudji

    My spouse and I got married in Dec 2016 in PA (same sex couple). We both kept our maiden names on the marriage certificate. I am now thinking about hyphenating both names. How can I do that? Do I have to go to court or can I just change it at the SS office.

    Reply
  52. Melissa

    My fiancee and I are getting married in NY in April. I want to have a dual last name, so maiden name husband name without a hyphen. When I went to the NYC clerk's office today, I had filled out the marriage license with my new surname as above, but then they hyphenated it. I told the clerk I didn't want it hyphenated, and he said it could only be hyphenated. However, I know people who have gotten married in NY and have dual last names without a hyphen. Should I go back and get it amended without a new surname to make it easier to change to a dual last name after I have the marriage certificate, or does it not matter at all? Please help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Melissa. I believe the clerk gave your correct information. Hyphens are allowed, but I do not believe spaced names are. It's one thing to have a space reflected on your marriage license and subsequent marriage certificate, it's another getting it recognized when it comes to changing your name with the necessary institutions.

      Reply
  53. Ebony

    The new name change field was not law at the time of my name change, I got my SSC changed but not my license. When I went to Change it the law change (months after I was married) and now I have to get a court order to fix it (very expensive) is there a way around that?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ebony. Did you attempt to change it and had your request rejected? If so, did you explain the law wasn't active at the time?

      Reply
  54. Gregory

    Hello, thank you for any help you can provide!

    My wife and I got married in Rhode Island in 2015, and she kept her maiden name for business recognition. We now live in North Carolina, and want to change both our last names to a completely new last name (combining last names from our ancestors). Can we use our RI marriage certificate to prove our marriage and get new documents (social security, dmv, etc…) with our new desired last name? We each want to keep our current last names as new middle names, do you think this is possible? or do we need to go about doing the standard name change procedures for our state? or could we get remarried in North Carolina and fill out a new marriage certificate here with our desired names? Thank you!!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Gregory. You would both have to apply for a general adult name by change by petitioning the NC Superior court. You can read more about changing your name in NC, specifically the general adult name change section.

      Reply
  55. Alyssa

    Please help. When my husband and I went to apply for the marriage license, the County clerk asked for all kinds of information, SSN, DOB, parents maidens names etc and had us (very quickly) look over the information for no mistakes and now i am worried that i did not look over my SSN for any errors. Does the County clerks office authenticate that the SSN i gave them is an exact and correct match to me through the system? They did not ask me for a SS Card copy, they just wanted word of mouth..i used to have trouble remembering this number, so i just want to know that My SSN is authenticated.
    Thank you for helping!

    Reply
    1. Alyssa

      forgot to mention that i am pretty sure i know my correct number, just want to know if it is accurate and checked to my information and put my paranoia to an end.
      THanks

      Reply
    2. Valera

      Hi Alyssa, it's not likely to be an issue that would result in the invalidation of your license and subsequent marriage. If you're concerned about it, you can contact the clerk to determine if they'd want you to provide verbal or written confirmation of the number. The SSN solicited during the marriage license application process is typically used to perform look-ups for delinquent child support payments.

      Reply
  56. Rebecca

    Hi. Got married a year ago. On my marriage license i intened on taking my husbands last name. After a year i havent gotten around to it and dread it. Changing home title, nurse licensure, dmv, banks credit cards is a lot of work. I wanted to keep using my maiden name. Can i legally do that in Massachusetts? Without doing a name change.

    Reply
    1. Rebecca

      I havent changed my ssc or dmv. Nothing yet. Can i keep using my maiden name?

      Reply
    2. Valera

      Hi Rebecca. Changing your name is not required, regardless of what you intended at the time. You can do nothing and keep everything as it is.

      Reply
  57. Lexi

    Hi Valera,
    My husband and I are residents of New York but got married several years ago on the island of a wahoo in Hawaii. On the marriage certificate my declared last name was a hyphenation of my maiden name and my husband surname. I did this as a nod to my in-laws but have not, and do not intend to, change any of my official documentation such as Social Security card, passport, drivers license, names on financial accounts etc.

    Since I know these things can sometimes be state specific I'm wondering technically what my legal name is in case I have to sign future contracts such as loans or mortgages and also when I reapply for a new passport if they will insist on the hyphenated surname?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I'm wondering technically what my legal name is in case I have to sign future contracts

      Your legal name is not what's on your Hawaiian marriage certificate. It is your current name, or the name you had prior to getting married. For instance, if your name prior to marriage was your maiden name, then that's what you'll sign. That is still your legal name.

      also when I reapply for a new passport if they will insist on the hyphenated surname?

      No, they will not insist on it. They shouldn't even know about it, as you wouldn't need to present them with a copy of your marriage certificate. You'd only provide your marriage certificate with a passport renewal if you're changing the name on your passport as a result of marriage. Even if you did unnecessarily show your marriage certificate, they still wouldn't insist upon it.

      Reply
  58. Silvanus reeves

    I got married in Lousiana 3 years ago but I guess I was unsure of how to fill the paperwork and it has my maiden name in it but when I signed my marriage license i used my husbands last name. I still haven't changed any of my documents and now I want to. Will they change it even if my marriage license says my maiden name. I live in Georgia now.

    Reply
  59. Jennifer

    When I married 12 years ago I changed my name (just included his last name to my last name, no hyphen). I'm rolling over a bunch of older retirement plans and I need to fill out a Notice of Change of Name form. It asks the date of my name change and the court name. I live in the state of Washington (Seattle) how do I find this information out?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      It asks the date of my name change and the court name.

      Court name? What are they referencing?

      Reply
  60. Kristy

    Been married 12 yrs. I took Husbands name. Now 12 yrs later I am wanting to hyphenate with my maiden name. How do I do this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kristy. You'd have to petition the court for a general adult name change to change it a second time.

      Reply
  61. Kerry

    Hello, I am getting married and like all of my names and want to keep them but I also want to take his last name. Both of our last names are a mouthful and would not be a good combo to hyphenate. My plan is to take his last name, move my maiden name to my middle name and change my first name to include both my first and middle name. So instead of FN: Kerry MN: Lynn LN: Pennington it would be FN: Kerry Lynn MN: Pennington LN: Rolverston. Could I just change it all on the marriage license or do I have to go to court to legally change it this way?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kerry. You can change the last name as you'd like with your marriage certificate. Same with the the middle, as long as you're not in one of the following states: NJ, OH, PA, WA. First name change would require petitioning the court.

      Reply
  62. Chinnie

    Hi, my question is, how can I switch my middle name and first name on my marriage certificate. After we got our marriage certificate, we found out that my middle name is written as first name while my first name is written as middle name.
    Please what are the steps to take to switch them back to how it appears on my Green card but with my husband's last name as my last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Chinnie. You'll have to contact the office where your certificate is filed to inquire about getting it amended, how much it costs (if any), and if there's an affidavit requirement. If there must be an affidavit ask if they provide a fill in form that you can use or if you have to compose it yourself. If you have to compose it yourself, what details must you include.

      Reply
  63. Julie

    Hi. We got married in Belize and we live in Idaho. It will take two months to get our certificate, unfortunately. On the certificate, they put down what matched my maiden name, clearly! How do I change that after it arrives in the states? Additionally, can My husband begin the process of putting me on his work insurance before we have the marriage certificate using my maiden name and then update it later? I'm hyphening my maiden name to my husbands name. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How do I change that after it arrives in the states?

      You'd have to contact their registrar for an amendment, which isn't guaranteed will be provided. It wouldn't be necessary to change your name anyway.

      Additionally, can My husband begin the process of putting me on his work insurance before we have the marriage certificate using my maiden name and then update it later?

      Yes.

      Reply
  64. Luciana

    Hi….I got divorced in NY and kept my husband's last name. I got married in CT again 3 years ago and still using my previous husband's last name. I want to use my actual husband last name. Can Social Security change my last name again. And what do I need to do that.
    Thanks for your help

    Reply
  65. Marie

    Hi, I'm filling out an application for a marriage license in the state of NY. I want to hyphenate my name on the marriage license but I want to keep my maiden name on all other legal documents, ie. Passport, driver's license, social security card. Is it mandatory that I report my new hyphenated name? If I want to change the name on the legal documents listed above will I be able to do so at a later time if I don't do it right after marriage. Is there a time restriction in the state of NY?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it mandatory that I report my new hyphenated name?

      No, you don't have to report anything; it's not mandatory.

      If I want to change the name on the legal documents listed above will I be able to do so at a later time if I don't do it right after marriage.

      Yes, you can do it later.

      Is there a time restriction in the state of NY?

      No, there's no time limit.

      Reply
  66. Vivian

    Greetings,
    My fiance is an American citizen and I am officially not yet. I am in the country under a J1 visa. We will get married in a couple of weeks. How should I sign my marriage licence and certificate then ? I know my US residency process will take several months, but we decided I will take his last name. Also, can I start the process to change my name at the DMV, bank, Social Security, etc, even if I don't have a green card yet? Lots of questions, but I want to do everything right. Thank you kindly.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Vivian. Sign your marriage license how it specifies. For the name field, use your current name as it will stand at the time. If it has a blank space for a new name, specify the new name you intend to change to. It's a good idea to change your name during the green card process.

      Reply
  67. Brandy

    I'm getting remarried in July but always kept my last name from my previous marriage. We had children and wanted to have the same last name. What name do I use for my marriage certificate? Do I use my madien name since I'm divorced or do I have to use the name that is on my SS card and drivers license?

    Reply
  68. Anastasiya Sherstiuk

    Hello, I'd appreciate your help. I've been married for 4 years now and hasn't changed my last name (IL). I have a fancy copy that we got at the day of marriage. As I understood, my first step would be to get a license and certified copies at the Clerk Office, correct? So after that I'd go to SS office and request a new card with new name, then DMV etc. First concern I have is I want to change my last name AND correct my first name (there is one extra letter that needs to go away), where would I do that and if it needs to be done before all this hassle with my last name or there is a way to do it simultaneously?
    Secondly, I'm a legal resident and not a citizen yet, so I do have some additional paperwork like work authorization card and green card and foreign passport. Is it possible and how complicated it is to change the name on all of those documents? Is there a different process? Will it affect my out of US travel (since I have a foreign passport with old last name)?

    Thank you very much for your help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      As I understood, my first step would be to get a license and certified copies at the Clerk Office, correct?

      Correct.

      I want to change my last name AND correct my first name (there is one extra letter that needs to go away)

      If there's a typo in your name, you can bring an identity document showing the correct spelling. Something such as a birth certificate.

      is a way to do it simultaneously?

      You can do the correction and changing of your last name together.

      I do have some additional paperwork like work authorization card and green card and foreign passport. Is it possible and how complicated it is to change the name on all of those documents? Is there a different process? Will it affect my out of US travel (since I have a foreign passport with old last name)?

      USCIS handles names changes on your work authorization and green card. It's not difficult to do. They provide forms for such cases. For your foreign passport, you'll have to consult your country's procedures. As far as travels, your marriage certificate can be used to bridge your old and new name. Carrying your birth certificate with you may also help to bridge the names.

      Reply
  69. C

    In California, what would happen if I were to get married and not get all of the name changes? For example, if I changed SS and license and bank, but didn't change it at work?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi C. If you didn't change it at work, it can lead to a mismatch with the IRS when your employer submits tax-related documents. The name they report wouldn't match what the SSA and IRS have on file.

      Reply
  70. C

    Hi I got married 2 weeks ago in Vegas we are both from the UK it was a same sex marriage on the marriage certificate, I would like to take my husbands name but the certificate shows both our names with our separate last names can I just use my certified cirtificate for proof? and take that to my bank ect.

    Reply
  71. Ashleigh

    We live in Illinois, but are getting married in California. I still have my California license but will change after marriage as I don't have time to get a new license before our wedding next week.

    Do I need to put my maiden name on my certificate since I won't be changing my SS or license in CA but in IL or do I need to put my new name? I'm super confused. I was told illinois won't recognize my marriage certificate if it doesn't have my maiden name?

    Please help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ashleigh. When you apply for your marriage license, put your new name on the part of the form that asks for your new name. It'll be mirrored on your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  72. Shadybrook

    Aloha…. I'm currently seeking information about marriages in Vegas and name changes in Hawaii. I live in Honolulu Hawaii but getting married in Vegas. I've heard that Hawaii doesn't recognize legal name change when Married in Vegas. Therefore you must petition with the Lt. Gov of Hawaii for legal name change after the marriage in Vegas… is this correct? Can you shed more light for me please? I'm Planning on an October Wedding in Vegas and trying to figure this out ahead of time and save me some headache!! Thank you for any insight you are able to provide!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Shadybrook. I've not heard of this, nor found any reference to it.

      Reply
  73. Carol Davis

    How do I get an original marriage licence if I was married at the court house.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Carol. Contact the office where you license was recorded, which is typically the same that issued it. If you specify the state, I can provide more detail.

      Reply
  74. Emily

    Hi, I am in NYS, recently got my marriage license, and have not done the ceremony yet. At the time of applying for the marriage license, I haven't decided to change my surname, or do a hyphenated last name yet. Will I still be able to make the change on the day of the ceremony?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will I still be able to make the change on the day of the ceremony?

      No, it has to be done on the application, before you're issued the license.

      Reply
  75. Erica Lowe

    When I filled out the marriage license I hyphenated my name with my husband last name (lane-smith) and I want all my legal documents ( SSA, etc.) to have the hyphenated name but on my driver's license, credit cards, bank accounts, and etc. can that just be my husband last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      HI Erica. Perhaps you can work it out with your bank, but it's unlikely to work with the others.

      Reply
  76. Rebekah

    Hi! I live in Georgia and got married a year ago, May 2016 here in GA as well. I haven't changed my last name and I would like to do that soon. When we applied for marriage license I informed the clerk from the courthouse that I would take my husband's last name but when I received my marriage certificate it has my maiden name still.So it's my first name and maiden name. What do I need to do now in changing into my husband's last name? Do I just go to SSA or do I need to do another process to request for a name change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rebekah. Georgia ask this on the application, so not having it reflected on your certificate can be a problem. If the clerk made an error, you can request an amendment. Trying to use your certificate without the change reflected may not go through.

      Reply
  77. Terry

    Hey Just got married in nys..didn't take my husband last name..he is about to peption for me..will it be a problem when I go for my interview at immigration..or should I try and change my last name to his..just worried please help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Terry. Name change is optional. Not changing it wouldn't cause a problem.

      Reply
          1. Valera

            So it's ok then

            Yes, as name change is optional.

  78. Elena

    Hello,
    I live in NY but was just married in NC on the 16th of may and I am pretty sure I screwed up the last name. When I filled out the license information I put my maiden name and then my maiden name again.Will I need to have my license amended before I can change my last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Elena. If there's a typographic error in on your marriage record, you can contact the country register of deeds about obtaining a correction/amendment.

      Reply
  79. Melanie

    Lived in Florida since 1989, married in Vegas in 1999. After marriage I went to SS and got a new SS card with my married name only. However at the DMV I hyphenated my name with the two (at the time my mother was ill and did not want to go through changing my name on her documents). I file my taxes under the married name. My Passport, W-2 and nursing license come under my hyphenated name.One bill/title/insurance under my maiden name, some under my married name and some under my hyphenated name. Anyway, will I have any problems at the DMV because of the new REAL ID compliant check since my SS card is different than my passport, current DMV license and registration. Or because it is hyphenated I am ok to carry on as usual? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Melanie. There's a possibility you may be able to carry on considering you have supporting identity documents reflecting your hyphenated name, but you may also face a problem with the name mismatch with your social security card. Consult the Florida Real ID and the supporting gather go get website for further information.

      Reply
  80. Genesis Torres

    Hi, I got married 2 years ago in New York. I did not change my last name at the time , but now that I am done with school I am ready to change it . The problem is i moved to New Jersey. What is the process that I have to do to be able to change my last name ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Genesis. Get a certified copy of your marriage record, then go to change your name with at a New Jersey SSA office, then MVC, passport office, etc.

      Reply

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