713 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.

If you would like to change your name online, you can make use of our name change application to complete the required forms.

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)!

713 Comments

  1. shawn -harris-botha

    hi i got married did miy licence i did them my mew maiden name everything but stil when i recieve my license my old maiden name are on my license is that a problem but on my id my maiden name changed

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Shawn. If you're referring to your driver's license, you'll have to contact the DMV or equivalent to determine why they didn't update your name.

      Reply
  2. Vicky

    Hi I got married to my husband in las Vegas 3 weeks ago we are both from the UK. I didn't see anywhere when filing out the paper work to put my new married name down. I have just received my marriage certificate and it has my birth name on it and not my husband's name. I would like to take my husband's name. Can I still change everything even if my marriage certificate has my birth name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Vicky. Yes, you'll still be able to take your husband's name. Nevada/Las Vegas marriage licenses applications don't provide a space to specify a new name, which is why it's not reflected on your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  3. Mshell

    We just applied for our marriage license and in FL., you have to wait 3 days before you can have it officiated, if you have not taken the pre-marital course, which we had not. In the process of getting our marriage license, it only shows my maiden name and I did not see any space for name change. I want to change my last name, would I just take the final marriage license to the SS office and tell them I want to change my last name or should this have been noted on the marriage license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to change my last name, would I just take the final marriage license to the SS office and tell them I want to change my last name or should this have been noted on the marriage license?

      You'd take it as-is.

      Reply
  4. Dev

    We got married in Chicago, my wife is from Europe, she needs to change her last name in her passport, so she went to the passport office in her country. They are asking for a certificate or a letter stating that you will have XYZ last name after marriage. Is it possible to get such kind of certificate? I know in the US we only need marriage certificate as a proof to change names after marriage. We spend money on the ticket and everything, she is there and we don't know what to do. Please advice. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it possible to get such kind of certificate?

      No. Illinois marriage applications don't provide a space to specify a new name, therefore the marriage certificate wouldn't show a new name either.

      Reply
  5. Lauren

    Hi,
    My husbands last name was something else and he changed it. But on our marriage certificate it was under the old name.
    Does it even count that we are married? Just curious …

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lauren. Your husband's name change doesn't affect the validity of your marriage.

      Reply
  6. Kim

    Hi, i want to change my last name to my new not married yet to be husbands last name. We want to get married in vegas. I'm from Chicago, illinois he's from Dallas Texas. I'm going to move to Dallas to live with my new hushusband. I want to know before we gert married next year june 2018, what do i neee to change my name to his. I won't be using my maiden name. I want to do everything i need to do before i get married. How do i change everything, my name to his last name, first time getting a passport, and passport card, drvers license, i have my chicago il social security card, and my new state id. Do i need to do everything for illinois or for texas. Applying for the marriage liscense and marriage certificate in vegas or also in il or dallas texas? I'm confused on what to do with us from different states trying to get everything in order before next kune 2018. Can uou help me please tell me what to do in order thanks.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to know before we gert married next year june 2018, what do i neee to change my name to his.

      After you get married, obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate. Use that document to change your name.

      Do i need to do everything for illinois or for texas.

      It doesn't matter.

      Applying for the marriage liscense and marriage certificate in vegas or also in il or dallas texas?

      In Vegas. Specifically, the Clark County Clerk's office

      Reply
  7. Lindsay

    I was recently married and wasn't aware at the time that I was supposed to put my "new" married name on the license? I'm a bit concerned that I will now have to go and compete a name change petition to change my name on our marriage license. No one at the clerks office informed that I was to put anything other than my lawful name on the license. It's a bit confusing. Did we make a mistake and now more work for me to change it?

    Reply
        1. Valera

          I just did the same thing. State of Colorado

          You did put a new name or you didn't?

          Reply
  8. Senovia

    Hi, I got married June 7, 2017 and I hyphenated my last name (Maiden-His). Do I have to change my name on all documents? Also, will the DMV give me a hard time renewing my driver's license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I have to change my name on all documents?

      No. You don't have to change your name at all.

      Also, will the DMV give me a hard time renewing my driver's license?

      No.

      Reply
  9. Grace Inverary - Young

    Greetings, my husband and I got married in September 2017, he is an American citizen but I’m from another country , we haven’t filed any focus as yet is there a way I can change my name on my passport seeing I don’t have any if for America?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Grace. You can change your name on your passport using a certified copy of your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  10. Elisabeth

    My fiancé is in the military. And we are currently living in NC. But I have my permanent address listed in MI. We are going to get married in NC officially at a courthouse down here in January. I will be taking his last name on the marriage license. But I don't want to change my name on all my official document, SS card, Drive License, etc., until October when we have our family ceremony back in MI. Can I wait that long to change my name on all my official documents even though I will be switching it on the marriage license in January? I would rather wait until we are back in MI. But is that allowed. Or do I have to switch my name right away?

    Also, can I change my name from First Middle Maiden to First Middle Maiden Husbands? Would my Middle and Maiden then both be considered middle names if I don't use a hyphen? Like First MM Husbands kinda like George RR Martin has 2 middle names/initials? Or is adding a second middle name not allowed?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I wait that long to change my name on all my official documents even though I will be switching it on the marriage license in January? I would rather wait until we are back in MI. But is that allowed. Or do I have to switch my name right away?

      You can wait.

      Also, can I change my name from First Middle Maiden to First Middle Maiden Husbands? Would my Middle and Maiden then both be considered middle names if I don't use a hyphen?

      That would likely require a court order.

      Reply
  11. Michelle

    Married in GA Feb 2017. No option for my married name on certificate. I have not went to SSA to change name but i did go to the dmv and changed my last name. Can i go back to the dmv and have it changed back to my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Michelle. The DMV wouldn't process a followup name change without another authorized document, such as a court order.

      Reply
  12. Jowell

    Hello my name is jowell I recently got married on the 21st and I signed the marriage license wit my legal name but I want to change it to my husbands last name I gave the clerk the money for the name change but my certificate says my maiden name not my husband's the application for the license didn't ask for the new name I just want to know if we did it right cuz I do want my husband's last name but we r super confused if we did it right or not need help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jowell. Not all states design their marriage license applications to ask for you to specify a new name after marriage. It will not prevent you from taking your husband's last name.

      Reply
  13. Renée R.

    I go by my middle name and never use my first name and would like to drop it. When I get married at the NYC city clerk’s office can I just write my middle name and my husband’s last name or would I have to petition to have that change later?

    Reply
  14. Brittany

    I live in CA and on my birth certificate my 1st name is misspelled….if I were to get married then have my birth record amended how would that effect my marriage license? my name is BRITTANY and my birth certificate has BRITTEN…Social security card has Brittany (which is what I have gone by my entire life). thanks in advance gor your help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Brittany. Not all California county clerks will ask to see a copy of your birth certificate, so it may not even come up. If you can explain the misspelling and provide sufficient identification reflecting your correct name spelling, your license should match your properly spelled name.

      Worst case scenario, you can opt to amend your marriage license and certificate after you amend your birth certificate.

      Reply
  15. Mary Maise

    I got married last year but for got to trun my husbands green paper in to ss,office ,but then notice he put his step dad's name on it not hid real father, can I steal turn his green papers in ,I don't care if his step dad is on our papers, he don't care,

    Reply
    1. Mary Maise

      Just need to turn this paper in so I can do his taxes ,who cares about a dad on a marriage license,,,I did not marry his dad I marred him ,

      Reply
      1. Valera

        Hi Mary. Having his biological father's or stepfather's name on the marriage license/certificate doesn't mean much and shouldn't affect anything.

        Reply
  16. Lilly

    Hi I got married in Las Vegas and my marriage certificate and license have my maiden name. I live in Chicago and I was able to change my last name on my ID and SS card, I never did change it on my passport. Now that I want to change it, will I have a problem with that? Everything else but the passport reflect my married name. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Now that I want to change it, will I have a problem with that? Everything else but the passport reflect my married name.

      No, it won't be a problem to change the name on your passport.

      Reply
  17. ces

    hi Valera,

    we are applying for marriage license in San Francisco, We opted for confidential marriage license. do i need to change my current last name to my fiance's lastname upon filling up the form? i am confused on what to put on the forms.
    thank you in advance!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      do i need to change my current last name to my fiance's lastname upon filling up the form? i am confused on what to put on the forms.

      No, you don't "have to" change it. Name change is totally optional. If you do plan to change your name, specify it on the application.

      Reply
  18. erlinda alcano

    how will i correct and change my mariage certificate so that my surname in the birth certificate and my maiden surname in my mariage certificate entry match

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Erlinda. If there's an error in your marriage certificate, you'll have to contact the office that recorded it for a correction. You may have to submit an affidavit. If it's not an error, you'll likely need to submit a court order to force a correction.

      Reply
  19. Teresa Beard

    I'm in Alabama and I am about to change my name !! My documents are signed with my original name, is this right or did I sign my certificate wrong ?? Or do I just tell them myh husbands last name when I go down to the ss office ?? I keept asking them my name now and they said yes

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Teresa. You're fine. You don't have to tell them your husband's last name because it's already on the marriage certificate.

      Reply
  20. Mia

    I'm from Japan and I just got married 2 weeks ago at courthouse CA. That time, I didn't add middle name because Japanese don't have middle name but now I want to add middle name… it's been 2 weeks since we got married. Can I still add middle name? Or is it too late?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I still add middle name? Or is it too late?

      It is too late. Even if you were able to go back, you couldn't add a brand new name that had no prior reference.

      Reply
  21. Diane La Stella

    I was married in New Jersey on Jan 1, 2018. I was previously married for 39 years and became a widow and my legal name is Collins and my current Driver license & SS shows Collins. On the Marriage, the application it shows my legal name (Collins) and my name that was given at birth, (Famiglietti) But on the certificate of marriage is only is showing my birth name of Famiglietti. When I went to the DMV to change my name to my married name they were having a hard time with this. (I didn't get to change my DL yet since I needed a birth certificate from the state where I was born) I have it now. I have my previous marriage license. Do they need anything else to change my name to my new married name? Will Social Security have the same problem? Once my Driver License is changed how do I prove I was Collins so I can change everything else. Since Certificate of Marriage only shows my name at birth?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      But on the certificate of marriage is only is showing my birth name of Famiglietti.

      Correct. NJ marriage certificates only reference the maiden name.

      Do they need anything else to change my name to my new married name?

      No, your marriage certificate will do.

      Will Social Security have the same problem?

      No.

      Once my Driver License is changed how do I prove I was Collins so I can change everything else. Since Certificate of Marriage only shows my name at birth?

      What document do you believe will cause you further problems? If need be, you can reference an official document showing your prior name (e.g., insurance card, tax document, car registration).

      Reply
  22. Jenny

    I was married this past summer in New Hampshire and did not take my husband's name. I live in MA and want to take his name now. Do I have to petition for a name change or can I go to the SSA office with our marriage certificate (with my maiden name)?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jenny. It's possible you may have to petition the court as New Hampshire's and Massachusett's marriage applications ask applicants to optionally specify a new surname after marriage. It may very well depend on the flexibility of the clerk to accept your NH license as-is with this omission.

      Reply
  23. Britta Peters

    I live in Indiana and plan on getting married in June. My legal name is Brittany, but I go by a shortened version. Am I able to change that with my last name when we get married or are there extra hoops to jump through and charges to pay for that?

    Reply
  24. Jean

    I got married in CA five years ago and put my first name, middle name and his last name on the marriage certificate. I now live in Michigan and would like to have my maiden name back (for professional purposes) in addition to his last name (i.e., my first, middle, maiden name, his last name…no hyphen). How do I go about doing that?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jean. I don't believe that option is supported in Michigan without a court order.

      Reply
  25. Madeline

    Hi i am getting married next month & i wanted to know if i can drop my first name and have my middle name to my first name, his last name, & keep my last name as my second?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      i wanted to know if i can drop my first name and have my middle name to my first name, his last name, & keep my last name as my second?

      That's not possible through a marriage-based name change. You'll have to go through the courts to change your first name.

      Reply
  26. Kenzie

    Hey!! I’m getting married this month and I was wondering if I had to wait until the marrige license was official before I had to change my name? With our honey moon everything is under my married name, so I’m wanting to get it all changed before we leave. Is that possible? Or do I have to wait for everything to be signed?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kenzie. You can change your name once you received a certified copy of your marriage certificate. That doesn't exist until after your marriage ceremony has occurred and is recorded by the municipality/county (i.e., whoever has jurisdiction in your state).

      Reply
  27. Rina

    Hi, I got married recently in January 2018 in NY, and decided NOT to take my husband's surname. We live in California. I am planning to change my surname now before I take my RN board exam. I am confused if I need to file a name change petition or just show our marriage certificate to government issuing agencies. The marriage certificate has my maiden name on it since I declined primarily to change my name. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rina. If your marriage certificate displays a "new name" section that lists your maiden name, you may have to petition the superior court to change your name to anything different.

      Reply
  28. Victor

    My wife and I recently got married (ceremony so far) and we've yet to file for our marriage certificate because I was planning on changing my name first and then have my wife change her name to the new name. From what I'm reading here can my wife and I file the certificate and write our new names down and then go to the DMV and SSA and change our names without having to go to the court to file paperwork and put out a newspaper ad, etc..?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Victor. Can you clarify what you mean by "file for our marriage certificate?" The certificate should just be a reflection of your marriage application and license, while not containing any modified information.

      If you're trying to change your name to something outside the bounds of what a marriage-related name change would permit, you'd both have to petition the court and go through the newspaper route.

      Reply
  29. Bridgett

    If I got married will I have to tell the doctor at my next appointment ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If I got married will I have to tell the doctor at my next appointment ?

      Unless it affects your insurance status, you do not.

      Reply
  30. Shavon B.

    I have been legally married for 13 years, but I have never changed my maiden name to my married name. We were married in Louisiana, however, we currently live in Texas. I am now wanting to finish what we've started… and so my question is, can I start my name change here in Texas without going through Louisiana or will I be required to go through Louisiana to change my maiden name to my married name since Louisiana is the origin of our marriage?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      so my question is, can I start my name change here in Texas without going through Louisiana or will I be required to go through Louisiana to change my maiden name to my married name since Louisiana is the origin of our marriage?

      Where your marriage occurred doesn't matter. You can undergo the name change in Texas.

      Reply
  31. CB

    Can I visit a Social Security office in another state to update my name on my card or do I have to go to the office in my current state of residence?

    Reply
  32. Yasmine

    Hi!
    My question is when we say "name change" is that refer only to Last Name or the whole Name and Last Name? Reason, is that a client from other country got married and changed her name from (Xing Xing) to English (Ex. Mary) during the marriage ceremony. Can a judge or minister do that. They got married in KS. I thought that during marriage you can change you lastname to your husband or whatever name you want but when it becomes to name you have to petition court to change it legally. Your input is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Yasmine. First name changes require petitioning the court. Most states allow middle name changes (typically maiden to middle). Of course, surname changes are universally accepted.

      Reply
  33. Kimberly Rodriguez

    Hello I’m getting married in two months in California but we are moving to school for two years to Arizona two weeks later. After school we are planning to move back to California; my question is do I need to change my name in California before I move to Arizona since it won’t be my permanent residence or can I change my name in Arizona and keep my California license and address ??? Thank you

    Reply
  34. sara mayette

    hello i was woundering if i can get married in one state and get it all changed over in another state or do i have it get everything done in the state i get married in?we are in Bossier la and we are leaving in a week to move to ga

    Reply
    1. Valera

      can get married in one state and get it all changed over in another state

      Yes, of course.

      Reply
  35. Gabriela Gallegos

    Hello,
    I'll be getting married this May. I was wondering if i can change my first name when i'm going through the process of changing my last name. I've always been called by my middle name, so i would like to my middle name to be my first name and, first name be my middle name. Can i do that when i filing forms to change to my married name? Or is that something i need to file through court?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I was wondering if i can change my first name when i'm going through the process of changing my last name.

      You'll have to go to court.

      Reply
  36. Veronica

    Hello,
    I got married in California 20 years ago but now live in Texas. When we got married I signed the marriage certificate with my maiden name. I did not take on my husbands last name. I’ve been wanting to change it now to His last name. Do I have to go to court to get this changed?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I have to go to court to get this changed?

      No, you should be able to change your name using your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  37. Heather P

    I want to mail the SSA my marriage certificate to have my name changed that way (instead of going in person to the SSA). Will the SSA send me the certificate back?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will the SSA send me the certificate back?

      Yes, your certificate will be returned once they're done with it.

      Reply
  38. Susan

    Hi,
    I got married in 2011, and I hyphenated my last name
    from Mendoza to Mendoza-Smith. My social security number and driver license are Mendoza-Smith. Recently, I just want to change it to my husband's last name to Smith. Can I change it to Smith? Where should I start?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Recently, I just want to change it to my husband's last name to Smith. Can I change it to Smith? Where should I start?

      Yes, you can change it back, but it wouldn't be a marriage-based name change. It would be a court-based name change. You'll have to file a name change petition with the proper court in your state or jurisdiction.

      Reply
  39. Christina

    My fiance wants to change his last name to his step dads before we get married. Can he just write it on the marriage license? Or do we have to pay to change it?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Christina. Your fiance would have to go to court to change his last name to his stepdad's. Whoever will process the marriage license application will want to see identification to confirm the names, so placing another name on the license wouldn't work. Even if it were applied to the license, getting it changed with any federal or state institution is highly unlikely.

      Reply
  40. Ashley

    I recently got married and cannot take off of work to physically go to the ssa office. I know I can do this through the mail, but they do not accept photo copies. Does this mean I will have to send my drivers license through the mail? Of course I would send it certified, but I am still iffy about this. Has anyone tried getting their social security card name changed by mail? How long does it take and is sending my license safe?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I know I can do this through the mail, but they do not accept photo copies.

      Correct, no photocopies.

      Does this mean I will have to send my drivers license through the mail?

      Yes, that's the alternative.

      Of course I would send it certified, but I am still iffy about this.

      "Certified" only refers to your marriage certificate, not your ID. Certified copy, that is.

      Has anyone tried getting their social security card name changed by mail?

      It's a common practice.

      How long does it take

      It varies. It could take 2-4 weeks.

      and is sending my license safe?

      Perhaps USPS priority mail with signature confirmation and tracking would set your mind at ease? Alternatively, you can acquire a duplicate license from your state and send that instead. Or obtain a state-issued ID card and send that. Or send your passport.

      Whatever identity document you send will be returned to you.

      Reply
  41. Patricia Soderberg

    Hi, my husband and I were married 10 years ago and at the time I kept my maiden name. My husband changed his surname a few years ago because of some family issues. (He wanted to take his birth father's name instead of his step fathers) Now I would like to change my surname to his. I assume I have to go to court to do this? What court, where do I start? I live in Michigan.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Now I would like to change my surname to his. I assume I have to go to court to do this? What court, where do I start? I live in Michigan.

      You'll go to circuit court. You can check out the Michigan name change article that goes into detail about what you'll need to do.

      Reply
  42. Kevin

    I got married in Rhode Island 2 years ago, and my wife signed her "new" married name, which was my last name. She never changed her name on anything else, she is still using the name from her first marriage. She just filed for divorce, still using her previously married name. Since she never changed her name on anything else, is our married legally binding? I hope not now that I know she was never really invested.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Since she never changed her name on anything else, is our married legally binding?

      Yes, it is.

      Reply
  43. BSB

    Hi there. I just applied for a marriage license today and was caught off guard that New York State does not allow two last names without hyphenation. In a panic, I chose to hyphenate my maiden name and my finances last name. Is it possible to change my new surname to only his last name on the license BEFORE we actually get married and get a marriage certificate? Or, when I go to change my surname with Social Security, can they just use his last name instead of both mine and his hyphenated? If not.. what are my options at this point to change my new last name to be just his? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      what are my options at this point to change my new last name to be just his?

      It's easiest to just apply for a new marriage license and have the old one voided.

      Reply
  44. Jackie McMillian

    I was married in 2012 in NYC but kept my maiden name. Now I would like to change it to my husbands last name WITHOUT changing my birth certificate. Can this be done? If so how?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jackie. If you didn't specify your husband's last name as a new surname on the marriage license application, you'll likely have to get a court-petitioned name change.

      Reply
  45. Bani

    My Husband would like me to add his name on , when we get married on the Lic. Certificated. But he doesn't care if I change it anywhere else. How does that work? Can I add a name change to the Marriage Lic. and then not change anything else?- Thanks !

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I add a name change to the Marriage Lic. and then not change anything else?

      Assuming you're in a state where the marriage license application provides a spot to specify a new name, you could add his. Your marriage license and marriage certificate will reflect this name. After you're married, you can just ignore it. Whatever new name is specified on your license/certificate is nonbinding.

      Reply
  46. Michelle

    I got married 18 years ago in Ontario, I’m using my married name for bank, mortgage and taxes but I never changed my documents e.g. drivers license etc… I just have my marriage license proving my married name but nobody has asked me questions about that is that fine?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Michelle. It may not be causing you problems now, but it may later. It's like a crack in a glass that might (or might not) eventually splinter.

      Reply
  47. Jelisha

    I got married 2 years ago but did not change my last name. I used my maiden name on my marriage license and certificate. I now want to change my last name to reflect my husband’s. Do I have to file a petition or is there a way to change it using my marriage license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I have to file a petition or is there a way to change it using my marriage license?

      That depends. Which state will you be changing your name in?

      Reply
  48. Jelisha

    I got married 2 years ago in Washington but did not change my last name. I also kept my maiden name on my marriage license and certificate. I now want to change my last name to reflect my husband’s. Do I have to file a petition in or is there a way to change it using my marriage license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jelisha. You don't have to go to court. Just use your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  49. Victoria Longley

    I want to change my full name and I’m getting married I was wondering if I should legally change my name first or get married and do the full name change later

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to change my full name and I’m getting married I was wondering if I should legally change my name first or get married and do the full name change later

      I assume you're going to be changing your name through the court system. If you change your name before marriage, do you intend to change it again after marriage. If not, then it doesn't matter whether you change your name before or after marriage.

      Reply
  50. JoAnn

    Hi, I got married in VA three years ago, and after getting married, I didn't change my last name, I kept my maiden name, I did receive the certificate of our marriage, but now I want to change it to my husband's last name. What should I do? Is it too late?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      now I want to change it to my husband's last name. What should I do? Is it too late?

      Just use a certified copy of your marriage certificate to complete a standard name change through marriage.

      Reply
  51. Allison Robinson

    I got married in Maryland. I'm going to the Social Security office to change my name, and I have a certified copy of my marriage certificate. After I leave there, I'm going to the MVA to change my name on my driver's license. Do I need a second certified marriage certificate for the MVA? Will the SSA give me documentation that I can use to prove I changed it there?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need a second certified marriage certificate for the MVA?

      You don't need a second certificate. The SSA will not hold onto your certificate.

      Will the SSA give me documentation that I can use to prove I changed it there?

      You might be given a temporary card. However, if the MVA queries the SSA database, they may want to see your new name before processing your driver's license update. It can take around 24 hours for this sort of data refresh.

      Reply
  52. Sarah

    Hi Valerie – I live in California and am getting married soon. Is it possible to sign the marriage license to take my fiance's last name BUT not change it on my other legal docs? Can I just keep everything else as is and call myself Mrs. (husband's last name)? As long as my passport/ bank/DL/etc still match each other, do they have to match the name on my certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it possible to sign the marriage license to take my fiance's last name BUT not change it on my other legal docs?

      Yes, of course.

      Can I just keep everything else as is and call myself Mrs. (husband's last name)?

      You needn't change any of your documents. You can just use "husband's last name" informally/socially.

      As long as my passport/ bank/DL/etc still match each other, do they have to match the name on my certificate?

      You don't have to update these documents to match the name on your certificate.

      Reply
  53. Amber

    I was married in Arizona two years ago and I'd like to change my last name now. Even though my maiden name is on the certificate, I was actually never asked if I planned on changing my name, do I need to go through the court to change it or will my marriage certificate work?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Amber. I believe Arizona marriage license applications only ask for the current last name and not what you might change to. You wouldn't have to go to court. A certified copy of your marriage certificate will do.

      Reply
  54. Heather

    Hi. I was married August 5th here in Connecticut. I went to SSA yesterday and changed my ss card to heather, maiden name for middle name, husband's name. So now I wait for new card to go to DMV and change name on license. Then what? Am I legally changed? I know I still have to do passport, bank, etc. But is that really it? And I legally ditched my birthday middle name (absolutely my intention though)…
    Thank you :)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      So now I wait for new card to go to DMV and change name on license.

      Since your name change was processed by the SSA a day ago, you can go to the DMV anytime. If they perform an inquiry on the SSA database, your updated name should be visible.

      Then what? Am I legally changed?

      Yes, then it's really legally change.

      Reply
  55. Mary Bell

    Hello,
    We are getting married in a week, I'm from Brasil he is American. I do not want to change my name to his, to…… much trouble (2 citizen ship and politics). Can I only sign the married license with his last name and not all other docs. Or do I have too change then all in both countries. Please help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I only sign the married license with his last name and not all other docs.

      If your marriage application provides an area to choose a new last name, you could specify it. However, you will have to sign your current legal name.

      Or do I have too change then all in both countries.

      You don't have to change anything, regardless of what's on the license.

      Reply
  56. liz l

    Got married in LAS Vegas, NV live in AZ 2014 here we are 4 years later and I never changed my name. Can I still do so and how do I do this? He is not very happy that I never did. Also can he change his as well he wants to add mine to his so our baby has the identical last name as the both of us.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Got married in LAS Vegas, NV live in AZ 2014 here we are 4 years later and I never changed my name. Can I still do so and how do I do this?

      Yes, the same way you normally would: using a certified copy of your Nevada marriage certificate.

      Also can he change his as well he wants to add mine to his so our baby has the identical last name as the both of us.

      He'll need to get a court order.

      Reply
  57. Katherine Rojas

    Hi ! I live in FL & on my marriage certificate I do not see a space where I could’ve added my husbands last name . We’ve now been married for 2 years and I would like to add his to mine . So for example “ Mylastname-Hislastname” . Now I am wondering what is next ? Should I have added his name on the marriage certificate? Or can I use the one I have with my maiden name on it to make the change ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi ! I live in FL & on my marriage certificate I do not see a space where I could’ve added my husbands last name

      Florida doesn't provide such spaces, so no loss there.

      Should I have added his name on the marriage certificate?

      No, as the application didn't ask for it. It was only interested in your legal name at that time.

      Or can I use the one I have with my maiden name on it to make the change ?

      That's it. Just use your two year old certificate.

      Reply
  58. Jb

    I want to change my first and middle names. I plan going through the county clerk and judge and so forth. There is a spot where they notify the birth certificate. Is there a form i need to file to get it changed on the marriage license?

    I have to have the original judge decree stating it was changed for the bc and I'm assuming I'll need to send it along with a copy of the original marriage license and I'm keeping the same last name of my husband.

    And also there's a spot on the request to change name file asking if my name has been changed before then asks for court case number and so forth. All I did was go from maiden to his name when we got married. Should I put that down? Sorry this is very confusing.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to change my first and middle names.

      You must obtain a court order to change your first name. I assume that's what you're doing?

      Is there a form i need to file to get it changed on the marriage license?

      If the county clerk were to permit a name change on your marriage license (which isn't assured), you'd use your court order.

      I have to have the original judge decree stating it was changed for the bc and I'm assuming I'll need to send it along with a copy of the original marriage license and I'm keeping the same last name of my husband.

      The court order alone should suffice, but you'll have to contact the vital records office for certainty.

      And also there's a spot on the request to change name file asking if my name has been changed before then asks for court case number and so forth. All I did was go from maiden to his name when we got married. Should I put that down?

      It's not clear from your description if it's asking two questions (name changed before and applicable courthouse) or one (was name changed by court).

      If it's the former, then you'd answer that you changed your name while the inapplicable court case number question would be left alone. If it's the latter, then it wouldn't apply to you as a simple name change via marriage doesn't go through the court.

      The court clerk would be able to clarify any confusing aspect of your court filing before your hearing.

      Reply
  59. SSV

    I live in Hawaii. I took my husband's last name. He died. I married again. I signed the marriage certificate with my new husband's last name. I no longer want this new last name. I want to stay with my deceased husband's last name, which my life, my parent's will, and my entire legal identity is built around.

    I have not changed my social security card, driver's license, passport, etc. I do not want to change anything.

    Can I do nothing and stay with my deceased husband's last name?

    Will this affect beneficiary status on current husband's death with spousal social security benefits as I must prove I am his wife, but my name on all my ID does not match what is on the marriage certificate?

    Will it affect other legal situations when I need to prove I am his wife but my ID does not match how I signed the marriage certificate?

    Is Hawaii a state where my name has already changed legally anyway by signing the marriage certificate but I have not done the final work by going to DMV etc?

    I don't want my current husband's last name.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I do nothing and stay with my deceased husband's last name?

      Yes, do nothing and everything will stay the same.

      Will this affect beneficiary status on current husband's death with spousal social security benefits as I must prove I am his wife, but my name on all my ID does not match what is on the marriage certificate?

      No, as you'd be able to prove your identity if the need arises.

      Will it affect other legal situations when I need to prove I am his wife but my ID does not match how I signed the marriage certificate?

      No.

      Is Hawaii a state where my name has already changed legally anyway by signing the marriage certificate but I have not done the final work by going to DMV etc?

      No, you have to take proactivate steps to change it. It's not automatic.

      Reply
      1. SSV

        Thank you SO much, Valera! :)!!!

        You do a generous public service here by easing the minds of many. You change lives, really, and for the better.

        You are appreciated.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          You do a generous public service here by easing the minds of many. You change lives, really, and for the better.

          Thanks for your kind words, SSV. It's much appreciated.

          Reply
  60. Lindsay

    I got married 4 years ago in Texas, but I did not change my last name. I used my maiden name on my marriage license and certificate (and did not fill out the name change portion of the application). We are having a child, and I now want to change my last name to reflect my husband’s. I still live in Texas. Do I have to file a petition or is there a way to change it using my marriage license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I got married 4 years ago in Texas, but I did not change my last name. I used my maiden name on my marriage license and certificate (and did not fill out the name change portion of the application).

      I don't believe the Texas marriage license application even provides a name change section. Do you recall differently?

      We are having a child, and I now want to change my last name to reflect my husband’s. I still live in Texas. Do I have to file a petition or is there a way to change it using my marriage license?

      No, there's no need to petition the court. Use a certified copy of your marriage certificate to complete your name change.

      Reply
  61. ara mina

    I got married and started using my husband's last name. is it possible to not use my original last name anymore as a middle name? Because it is traditional in the Philippines to make my original last name as a middle name after getting married.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      is it possible to not use my original last name anymore as a middle name? Because it is traditional in the Philippines to make my original last name as a middle name after getting married.

      There's a good likelihood that you can. Take a look at the maiden name to middle name article for details. Pay special attention to the end of the article that points out the few state's where it's not possible through marriage.

      Reply
  62. Naomi

    Hello,
    I currently live in Arizona. I will be getting married in Texas soon then moving to Texas the following month. I would like to change my name to my husband's last name after we get married but I am not sure the best way to do it. If I change my last name before I move, I would have to get a new driver's ID, registration for my car, etc. Then i would have to do that all over again when I move to Texas. Do you think if I change my last name before I move and only change it for my ssc and wait to update everything else, I would have issues getting a new ID in Texas with my new last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do you think if I change my last name before I move and only change it for my ssc and wait to update everything else, I would have issues getting a new ID in Texas with my new last name?

      It's doubtful you'll face any problem, as you'll just be undergoing a garden variety name change.

      Reply
  63. Binh Nguyen

    Hi, I got married 4 years ago in Texas and still currently living in Texas. I kept my maiden name on the marriage license and now wanting to change it to my husband's last name. Will I have to go to court to file the name change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I kept my maiden name on the marriage license and now wanting to change it to my husband's last name. Will I have to go to court to file the name change?

      No, you don't need to go to court. You can use your marriage certificate.

      Reply
      1. Binh Nguyen

        can I use the license that was given to us or I have to obtain one from the clerk's office?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Binh. As long as your marriage license (which is the same as your certificate in Texas) is a "recorded" original or certified copy, then you can use it. Otherwise, you'll have to order a copy from the county clerk that gave you your license and subsequently recorded it.

          Reply
  64. Amy

    Hi Valera,

    I got married in Massachusetts but live in New York State. On the marriage license, and now on the certificate, I specified that my surname after marriage would be my husband's. Massachusetts is one of the states where the name change is therefore automatic after our wedding. What would happen if I never went to the SSA or DMV to actually change it? What does this "automatic" name change actually apply to?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Amy. It doesn't automatically change your name with the SSA and DMV. It provides you the authority to do so, but without you taking proactive steps to change it with those institutions, they have no way of knowing your intentions.

      Reply
  65. Marie

    I would like to change my first and last name after marriage. Would that be possible. To not only change my last name but my first as well?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Marie. You must obtain a court order to change your first name. Your last name can be changed through marriage.

      Reply
  66. Johanna

    Hi
    I got married in nj 8/27 there was no option on the marriage license that I would like to take my husbands name. Will I be able to do this when I apply for the certificate or do I have to go through the court?
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I got married in nj 8/27 there was no option on the marriage license that I would like to take my husbands name.

      You didn't overlook anything. New Jersey marriage license applications don't provide spaces to specify a new name after you're married.

      Will I be able to do this when I apply for the certificate or do I have to go through the court?

      You'll be able to change your name fine using your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  67. Zoe

    Hi Valera,

    My fiancé and I will be getting married in Ohio soon. My fiancé has two last names and we both would like to be known as Mr. & Mrs. his FIRST LAST NAME once we get married. Are we both able to make this last name change with just a marriage certificate?

    I understand that Ohio does not have a designated space to write in last names to use once married (is this correct?). Would the SSA/BMV accept both our last name changes as valid?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Zoe. Dropping half the last name would require a name change via court petition.

      Reply
  68. Chelsy

    Hi Valera, me and my husband got married in Philippines 8 years ago. I am planning to change my last name to his last name. Can I change my middle name with my maiden name without filing a court petition?. We live in Texas. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I change my middle name with my maiden name without filing a court petition?. We live in Texas.

      Yes, you can.

      Reply
  69. Rachael

    I would like to change my first name as well when I get married, completely new slate as it were. Do I have to do that separately from my marriage/last name change, or can I do it all at once?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rachael. You'll have to change your first name separately. If you're going to go for a first name change, you can change your last name, or really any part of your name, simultaneously.

      Reply
  70. D

    I will be married in Vermont but reside in Ma. Vermont marriage applications do not indicate preference for surname. I believe the actual license will also state my current surname. Would the Vermont marriage license be enough to change my surname to my husbands or would I have to go to probate court in Ma?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Would the Vermont marriage license be enough to change my surname to my husbands or would I have to go to probate court in Ma?

      Yes, sure it will.

      Reply
  71. Stephenie

    Hello! We were married 3 weeks ago in Florida (Brevard County). Our marriage certificate has come in the mail. My concern is that it does not state my new last name. Only my birth name. So how will they know my new last name without is stating it on the certificate? Do I just take the certificate to the Social Security Office and tell them the name change!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Our marriage certificate has come in the mail. My concern is that it does not state my new last name. Only my birth name.

      That's to be expected. Florida marriage certificates don't list new names after marriage. It's a non-issue.

      So how will they know my new last name without is stating it on the certificate? Do I just take the certificate to the Social Security Office and tell them the name change!

      That's what you'll need to do. Take the certificate as-is to the SSA to change your name.

      Reply
  72. Mick

    I was marry 2010 now i change my name and i remarry my name with my wife i got new marriage date 2018 can i use my 2010 marriage date

    Reply
    1. Valera

      can i use my 2010 marriage date

      Use it for what? I'm not sure what you're asking here.

      Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Mick. You'd have to use your the marriage certificate from your most recent marriage.

          Reply
  73. Mick

    Hello i want know when i remarry my name and get my marriage certificate but i not update in ssn it is legal marriage certificate

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mick. Yes, your marriage certificate is perfectly valid whether or not you update your name with the Social Security Administration.

      Reply
  74. Steph

    I live in VA and just got married. On the form to request additional copies of the marriage license, it has blank spaces for each spouses name. I put my husband's name, but I'm unsure if I put my maiden name or married name, or if it matters.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Steph. This assists in searching for your record. If your marriage license was issued in your maiden name, specifying your maiden on certificate copy requests will make it easier for the circuit court to locate and send to you.

      Reply
  75. Loulou

    Hello! I live in Virginia (Loudoun County). I got married 6/22 in Africa, and I would like to take my husband’s last name. I went to ss office and changed my last name. I received my new card in the mail recently. I planning on going the the DMV soon to get it changed as well. A colleague of mine mentioned that I would need a court order to change my last name at the DMV, since I did not get married in the US. Any info will be helpful as I was not asked at the ss office for a court paper just my marriage certificate from Africa which has my maiden name. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      A colleague of mine mentioned that I would need a court order to change my last name at the DMV, since I did not get married in the US.

      The Virginia DMV change of address or name page doesn't distinguish between a foreign and domestic marriage certificate. As long as it's an original or certified copy, you should be fine.

      Reply
      1. Loulou

        Awesome! Yes, it’s the original marriage certificate. Thanks so much for you reply.

        Reply
  76. Isac

    Can I drop my first name and just keep my middle name as my first name on my marriage license when I apply. I've never liked my first name. In getting married soon in Las Vegas. .I live in Arizona

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I drop my first name and just keep my middle name as my first name on my marriage license when I apply.

      No, that's not possible.

      Reply
  77. Sunny

    I am getting married in CA and want to change my first name and take my husband's last name. What is the best order to do this? Should I first change my first name with the court, then take is last name on the marriage certificate or keep my name as is on the marriage certificate and petition for the name change (new first name and new last name) after we get married?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sunny. Since you have to go to court to change your first name, you could kill two birds with one stand and just change both simultaneously.

      Reply
  78. Rachel

    When I got married a couple years ago in OregonI put a hyphenated last name on my marriage certificate (maiden-his). Shortly after we got married, I lost my driver’s license and when I went to get a new one I showed my marriage license and got the hyphenated name on my license. However, I never switched any other documents or accounts (SS, passport, banks, HR, etc.). I never ended up used this hyphenated name socially and have decided I’d rather just use my maiden name.

    I’m unsure what to do moving forward since I basically went partway through the name change process but now want to go back. Can I get a new new driver’s license with my maiden name if I show them my passport and/or SS card? Will I have to get a legal name change? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I’m unsure what to do moving forward since I basically went partway through the name change process but now want to go back. Can I get a new new driver’s license with my maiden name if I show them my passport and/or SS card? Will I have to get a legal name change?

      In this instance, you would have to go and get a legal name change through the courts. Doing it a second go round wouldn't work by showing your social security card or passport in your maiden name.

      Reply
  79. Amanda

    I was married in hawaii in 2012 and elected not to change my name at the time. I now live in nevada and would like to take my husbands name. Will i have to file a petition with the courts to do so?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I now live in nevada and would like to take my husbands name. Will i have to file a petition with the courts to do so?

      No, you don't have to go to court. It's not too late. There's no time barrier.

      Reply
  80. Andrea Scott

    I have some of the same issues other people have with no space to put my new last name on certificate.
    I also need to change our son's name….long story as to why he has my maiden name. I want to change his name to his father's last name. When his father finally signed for the birth certificate they did not change his last name 15 years later when we voted married i figured I'd look into it since I have to change my name. Why not do it all at once. What do I do?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Andrea. It's not clear what you'll be changing your last name to. If you're changing your name to your spouse, your marriage certificate would typically suffice. As for your son, you'll have to petition the court for a child name change. It's typically handled by the family court, but it varies by state.

      Reply

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