138 Comments

New York offers a number of generous name change options. It's important to note that while you can unofficially adopt a new name in this state just by using it, in the vast majority of circumstances, a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order will be required to make it official, such as in governmental, academic or professional documents. Here are a number of facts you need to know before you decide to seek a change of name within the state of New York.

First Step… Getting Your Marriage License

If you are intending to get married in the State of New York you have to apply for a marriage license in person in any of the state's city or town clerks. Remember the license application has to be signed by the applicants before a city or town clerk. You cannot send a representative to apply for the license for you (acting as a proxy) whether he/she has the power of attorney or not. Even a marriage license affidavit that has been notarized cannot substitute personal appearance of the applicants.

The issuance of a marriage license is immediate in New York, but the marriage ceremony itself might not happen within a day/24 hours after the issuance. Applicants who are 16 years old and above can have the 24 hour marriage ceremony waiting period waived by a Supreme Court justice in the County Court where any of the applicants live. If any of the applicants is less than 16 years old the Family Court judge within the county where the individual resides has to give the order. The marriage license given is usually valid for two months starting from the day it was issued.

The cost of the marriage license varies depending on where you are applying for it. Those living within the State of New York but outside the City of New York will have to part with $40. A Certificate of Marriage Registration is included in the fees. The marriage certificate will be sent automatically to the applicants by the town or city's issuing clerk in 15 or less calendar days once the officiant has completed the license and returned it to the town clerk.

For those in the City of New York, the license is issued by the City Clerk and the fees to be paid vary from time to time. Contact the office of the New York City Clerk for the requirements and current fees.

Remember, proof of identity and age has to be provided, especially for teenagers/young adults who wish to get married. Such proof includes a Census record, naturalization record, record of baptism and birth certificate. Identity documents that must be produced also include an immigration record, picture ID of employment, passport, and driver's license.

A marriage license in the state of New York is only valid within the state. If you intend to get married outside the State of New York the marriage license offered in the state cannot be filed with any New York city or town clerk.

To get copies of a marriage license that has been issued within the State of New York, except within the five New York City boroughs, the marriage record's certified copy can be obtained in the city or town clerk's office who issued the marriage license or from the Department of Health of New York. The cost is $10 per certified copy, if you obtain it from the city or town clerk who issued it. Those applying from the Department of Health in New York have to part with $30 per certified copy.

Your marriage certificate will serve as the primary document used to facilitate your name change after marriage in New York.

Marriage Name Change

In New York, you are permitted to change the surname (last name) after marriage. However, the law does not allow you to change a first name through the union of marriage. You must remember that while the surname can be changed after marriage, if you want to, it doesn't happen automatically. The law doesn't force anyone to change their name after marriage, as it's a personal, non-binding choice, nor is it a legal requirement to have a similar surname with your spouse.

New York does allow changing your middle name to your maiden name. This has been a point of confusion for several years, with some successfully completing a maiden to middle swap, while others running into a brick wall of opposition. Specifically, difficulty with changing the middle name on your NY driver's license. However, since 2014, a procedural change pushed by NY Assemblyman David Buchwald clarified rules to make certain that applicants wanting to drop their middle name by replacing it with their maiden name is allowed as part of the regular married name change process.

If you decide to change the surname, know that the change is believed to take effect right away after you have completed the marriage ceremony. The spouse willing to change their surname will simply enter it in the application form. However, the new name will have to conform to four main options for the surname. The first option is taking the surname of either the wife or husband, any previous surname of the wife or the husband, a new name combination forming a single surname, and combining the surname with the last name but separating it using a hyphen as far as every part of the surname combination is a pre-marriage last name or a previous last name of any of the couple.

Essentially, this means you will end up with a clear legal record showing you decided to change a surname via the act of marriage. The marriage certificate is a proof that your new surname is lawful. Failure to change your name through marriage certificate or doing it does not mean you cannot adopt another surname in future through usage; the state of New York allows you to adopt a new name that you want just by using it as frequently as you can without any bad intention, such as defrauding the public.

As much as the marriage certificate allows you to legally change your name in New York, you must notify the right governmental and non-governmental agencies of the change, such as the Social Security Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles of the State, credit card companies and loyalty clubs, among others.

Divorce Name Change

After divorce, you can change your name legally if you have a certified copy of your New York divorce decree, identification such as passport or driver's license, and proof of your age such as a birth certificate. Look at the divorce decree to ascertain if there is a name change provision on it. In case there is, the document is the legal proof you need to change your surname.

Sometimes this is usually left out and you need to contact the New York court that handled the case and request an amendment be made on the final divorce document. Since not every court in the state allows amendments, the request could be denied, but you can always complete the process by filing an adult name change petition. In New York, you can ask the court to allow you to resume your previous name. In fact, the maiden name resumption request includes any kind of surname you might have been using in the past. This includes the use of a last name from a prior marriage, whether through divorce or from being widowed.

In case you have made the decision to revert to a birth name or previous name, you might want to request your attorney to ask the court to have the name change order as part of the divorce judgment. The certified copies you receive of the divorce order can then be used to change your name with the Social Security Administration, DMV, and other nongovernmental institutions. A name change order specified directly within your divorce decree prevents you from having to go through a court petitioned name change afterward.

General Adult Name Change

You can request a name change that's not related to a marriage name change or change of name through divorce. The adult name change is done by filling out a form to petition the New York State Supreme Court to effect the name change. In New York, you can only do this if you are at least 18 years of age, not incarcerated, on parole or probation and you don't need to have the change of name kept private for any reason, including safety. However, those applying for a name change due to their own safety should go through their lawyers or, in case of domestic problems, seek the help of a domestic violence counselor.

It's also important to note that only residents of New York City can request a name change in the Civil Court of New York City. Residents of the wider State of New York must use the Supreme Court within their respective counties.

Name change in New York is done through a birth certificate and a petition. Enter personal information and complete the name change petition accordingly. You need to also publish the name change in a newspaper unless the judge asks you not to due to safety reasons. After signing the petition using the legal name you're using currently, ensure it has been notarized. In case you do not have a birth certificate copy, request one if you were born within the state of New York.

Immigrants with status within the United States and living in New York can change their names in the state legally; immigrant documents can be used if the birth certificate is not available.

Take the papers to the court clerk and pay the $65 fee and receive a hearing date from the clerk. Depending on the judge hearing your case, the proceedings can be completed really fast. If you are asked to publish your name in a newspaper, the court clerk will provide a name change order copy a judge has already signed and you must publish the order within two months of the signing of the order. Provide proof of the publication within 90 days after the signing of the order.

Sometimes the name change order indicates the specific newspaper to publish the order, but in most cases you have the choice to choose the paper you want. Take the proof of publication to the court clerk, and if it's accepted, the name change process is done. Buy a number of certified copies for about $6 each, which you can always acquire additionals if you need more. The certified copy is what you use to request name change on diverse governmental bodies, such as the Social Security Administration and DMV.

Child Name Changes

In New York, a minor is a person who is 17 years of age and below. Child's name change can only be requested by an adoptive parent, biological parents, next friend or legal guardian but it's not an adoption. It's also worth noting that changing the name of a child to the domestic partner's or spouse's name can be done legally but won't make any of you the child's parents, legally. For instance, children from previous relationships whose names have been changed to the names in the current relationship doesn't make the new spouse the legal parent of the child, which is only completed through adoption.

The judge must be furnished with good reasons why the child's name needs to be changed and has to be in the minor's best interest. The facts the judge will consider include the parents motives or interests, what the minor wants, while considering the experience and age of the child, the effect of the change of name to the relationship of the child with that of either parent, the period the name has been used by the minor including any harassment, embarrassment or problems the child might have gone through from the use of the new or present name.

Note that if a biological parent is alive, including a legal guardian or adoptive parent, they must provide written permission allowing the court to continue with the process. A child who is about 14 years of age and below 18 can give name change permission to the court by signing the Minor Consent before a notary and handing the name change petition together with the Minor Consent form to the court clerk.

Essentially, you need a Name Change Petition and Judicial Intervention Request filed, including a signed Change of Name Order, publication notification on an agreed or any local New York newspaper, Publication Affidavit and changing the name of the minor with such agencies as the New York DMV and Social Security Administration.

Name Change on a Birth Certificate

If you were born in any county outside New York City you need a court order to effect a name change on a birth certificate. The order should have the seal of the court and court clerk certified; a publication proof is needed. Ensure the order also has the place of birth, date of birth, and name clearly indicated.

Submit to the Bureau of Vital Records within the New York State Department of Health a completed Correction of Certificate of Birth Application and a notarized affidavit or certified copy of your current birth certificate to confirm you are at least 18 years old. Nonetheless, a court order might not be required to correct a mistake on a birth certificate.

Changing a Passport

If you want to change your name on your passport after a successful name change process, the procedure is very clear. Remember, spelling or printing errors such as place of birth, gender or incorrect name is done free if the validity of the passport is not in question. However, if you have changed your name due to marriage, adult name change or divorce you must send an application for a fresh passport. Depending on the time your current passport was provided, the cost and the process vary. For instance, if one year after the issue of the current passport is not over, processing fees won't be required.

If you're in a time crunch and in need of getting your passport updated quickly, you can requested expedited processing for an additional fee. This fee would be applied to any passport application, regardless of the age of your passport. Be aware, that if you have immediate travel plans you may want to consider the continued use of your maiden name on your passport until after you have finished your travel plans.

Social Security, DMV, IRS Name Change

Before you can change your name with the Department of Motor Vehicles in New York, you need to report the legal change of name to the Social Security Administration, since the DMV needs to verify the Social Security Number and database record name change first.

Change of name with the social security office can be done via mail or in person. Make sure you have a Social Security Card application dully completed, document certifying the name change, such as a court order, divorce decree or marriage certificate, including proof of identity through documents such as ID cards issued by the state, a United States passport or a driver's license.

U.S. citizenship proof is also required, such as a birth certificate, naturalization or citizenship certificate. It's important for all documents to be either certified copies or originals. Once the Social Security Administration records are updated, approach the New York Department of Motor Vehicles in person to change your name on your vehicle registration, ID card or driver's license and the vehicle certificate of title. These changes cannot be done via email, by phone or mail.

Name Change on Non-governmental Institutions

Once you have clearly updated all your government issued documents from state IDs, SSA, Internal Revenue Service and your Driver's License, go ahead and update information on non-governmental institutions as well, such as medical documents, banks accounts, loyalty club memberships, credit card companies and insurance, among others.

If you have moved, you'll also want to notify the USPS (United States Postal Service) of your change of address and new name. This will allow the forwarding of mail addressed to your old name to be sent to your new address. When you get mail addressed to your old name, be certain to contact those organizations and have your name record updated.

If necessary, be sure to change the name on your professional documents and diplomas. Some professions require notifying your respective New York state licensing boards to determine if a change of name requires notification and reissuance of your business documents. While some may require your professional license be updated within state record, that doesn't necessarily mean you will be required to have your diploma, license, or certificate reprinted and reissued.

You may be able to continue using your prior or maiden name in your professional life while making certain your state licensing board is made well aware of your official name change.

Remember, apart from the divorce decree, marriage certificate, or a name change court order, you might be asked to provide extra documents of identification.

Name Change Recognized Documents

While seeking a name change in New York State, there are a number of documents you should have among others. These include:

  • Certified copy of marriage certificate for marriage name change.
  • Certified copy of divorce decree for divorce name change.
  • Court order for general adult name change.
  • Proof of identification, such as a driver's license, NY state ID or passport.
  • Proof of age such as an adoption decree, birth certificate or certified hospital record.

138 Comments

  1. Anna Ziskend Daniel

    I got married and now, because of checking the box on the marriage certificate, my legal last name is now my husband's last name However, I want to change my middle name to my maiden name – how do I go about doing so?

    Thanks,
    Anna

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Anna. If your NY marriage application had a spot for you to specify a new middle name, but you didn't specify it, you may be looking at having to petition the court.

      Reply
      1. HM

        Anna, Valera is mistaken because there is no place on a NY Marriage License application for a change of a middle name. Under the Domestic Relations Law of New York, the marriage license cannot change a first or middle name. Valera is also mistaken about the possible need for a court order. Anna, bring your New York marriage certificate to your local DMV office and they will give you the appropriate form to change your middle name to your maiden name. Although it may not be required, I recommend you bring additional documentation in case it is requested, to avoid having to return home for any necessary documents. Such documents I would bring include: W2 form issued by your employer, recent bank statement showing home address, your passport, and your birth certificate, if you have any/all of those.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Anna, Valera is mistaken because there is no place on a NY Marriage License application for a change of a middle name.

          Thanks for chiming in HM. I did stipulate "if" her "marriage application had a spot for [her] to specify a new middle name" as some states do and some do not. For some it is binding, and others not. It also wasn't clear if her marriage license was issued in NYC or in another part of NY state, which does vary.

          Reply
  2. AKAnole

    I got married September 2016 on the license where it says new surname, I wrote my husband's last name. I haven't taken any action since then. I have now decided that I want to have two last names my maiden name plus his last name with no hyphen. Since we live in NYC I believe my only option is to have a hyphenated last name. Can I do an adult name change in NYC to get a double barrel last name with no hyphen.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I do an adult name change in NYC to get a double barrel last name with no hyphen.

      Yes, you can, if you opt for a court petitioned name change.

      Reply
  3. Amy

    I am getting married in August and want to change my last name. However, we are going out of the country in November and it is required that my passport be at least 6 months old before traveling. Can I change my name on my marriage certificate but leave my passport until after we travel in November?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I change my name on my marriage certificate but leave my passport until after we travel in November?

      Yes, you can wait to change your name on your passport. You can read more about the rationale in the maiden name on passport article.

      Reply
  4. Lauren

    When my husband and I got married last year, I did not take his name. Now, I'd like to have my maiden name become my middle name and take his surname as mine. Is it easier to just get re-married in the state of NY to do this (I know that they do re-marriages at city hall here) or do I need to go through the formal non-marital name change process?

    Reply
      1. Brianne

        Hi Valera,

        I am in the exact same situation as Lauren (got married last year and didn't take my husband's name… now I want to make my maiden my middle name and take his last name). I was confused at the time and thought that I could easily change it later, but is this not the case? Will the SSA and the DMV not accept my marriage license as proof since I didn't take his name at the time?

        Reply
  5. Ivette

    HI Valera,

    I am getting married and want to drop my first name (i have a first name and a middle name). I have always gone by my middle name and just initialed my first. I'd like to make my second name my First name, move my maiden last name as my second name and take his last name. Can i do that?

    It would be First name=my second name, middle name = maiden last name and last name=his last name.

    Can i do this? I'm from NY.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I have always gone by my middle name and just initialed my first. I'd like to make my second name my First name, move my maiden last name as my second name and take his last name. Can i do that?

      No, you cannot do this through a marriage-based name change. You'll have to get a court order instead.

      Reply
  6. Pong

    I have been married for a couple years and while I changed my surname to hyphenate my husband's last name to my maiden name on my NYS marriage license, I did not proceed to change my name with the SSA and DMV. Is it considered that my name has been legally changed through marriage or does the marriage license just make it legitimate to file the name change without a court order or petition with the SSA and DMV? I'm confused as to whether changing my last name with the SSA and DMV are required after the change on the marriage license.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it considered that my name has been legally changed through marriage or does the marriage license just make it legitimate to file the name change without a court order or petition with the SSA and DMV?

      A certified copy of your marriage record is what authorizes the name change to take place. If you don't go forth and change your name with those institutions, then your name hasn't legally changed.

      Reply
  7. Anna

    Hello.
    My marriage certificate does not have my new surname. At the time, I didn't want to do it right then and there. I was a bit confused in the process as well Now I would like to. My marriage certificate just says my name married my husband (his name) on so and so etc… Would it be a problem if I go to th social security office with it.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Anna. Yes, it might be a problem as the original application provides a spot for a new surname. Even if the SSA were to accept it, you'd likely face greater friction with the DMV.

      Reply
  8. Jessica

    Hello. I live in NY and wanted to make my maiden name a second middle name and take my husbands last name. How could I do this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jessica. I believe you'll have to petition the court to append another name to your existing name.

      Reply
  9. Indira

    How do I get a certified copy of my passport so I can change my name at SS departmetn?

    Reply
  10. Stephanie

    Hello,

    I am travelling to New York City from Canada to get married, I did the online application already and checked off that I want to change my name. I was doing some research and saw that when the marriage ceremony is done your name is legally changed…but would that still apply if I'm from Canada?/would I have to do anything in my country as well for a name change?

    Also if my name legally does change will I have any difficulty coming back to Canada with my maiden name on my passport?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Stephanie. It wouldn't automatically change. Your marriage certificate authorizes you to change your name, but you'd have to initiate the process yourself.

      Reply
  11. Mrs. Reyes

    Question I just got married and my certificate came in the mail but it does not have my new surname on it , what do I need to do ? I'm taking my husbands lsst name. Help !

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mrs. Reyes. If there's a spot on the certificate where you new surname should have been, contact the office that issued it for an amendment/correction.

      Reply
  12. Alexis

    Thank you for helping so many people with our requests!
    I understand the marriage license allows you to initiate the name change process, but is there a limit as to how long this is possible?
    For example, if I were to elect my husbands surname on the license, but waited 5 years or so to begin legally filing, would this still be permissible? I currently live abroad and won't have enough time to make the legal change in the foreseeable future. That being said, the court-order process seems more difficult so I wonder if it makes sense to make the election now on the license so I can complete the process more easily later.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I understand the marriage license allows you to initiate the name change process, but is there a limit as to how long this is possible?

      No, there isn't a time limit to change your name.

      For example, if I were to elect my husbands surname on the license, but waited 5 years or so to begin legally filing, would this still be permissible?

      Yes.

      I wonder if it makes sense to make the election now on the license so I can complete the process more easily later.

      Yes, it keeps your options option.

      Reply
  13. Kari

    I was married 11 years ago to my husband and did not take his last name at the time,
    but I would like to change my last name to his now. What do I have to do to make this happen? We live in NY state and were married in NY state as well. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kari. Order a certified copy of your marriage certificate and change it as your normally would with the various federal and state institutions.

      Reply
  14. marlenny H

    when i got married i did not annotate on the marriage application it does not states that i took his last name, but i still went ahead and changed all my documents now in my husband insurance they won't use my married name because it does not state in the marriage license that i actually took it and all my document show my married name. do i need a legal name change for this? does any body known

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Marlenny. Yes, you may need to obtain a court order since your new name change choice was specified on the license.

      Reply
  15. Janice

    I used my husband last name when married. I have been a widow for 28 years. I want to go back to my maiden name. I live in NY. How do I go about the change or is it easier to hyphen my maiden name?

    Reply
  16. Hannah

    Hi Valera,
    If I choose the name change on the marriage license but did not actually do the name change with Social Security office and DMV. After several years passed, I go to Social Security office and DMV to initiate the name change (with the marriage certificate which has my name changed). Will I get punished (pay a fine or something) for waiting so long (over a couple of years) to have the name change? Or the Social Security office and DMV won't let me change the name since I waited for too long? I live in NY.

    Reply
  17. Max

    Hi,
    I changed my name during my marriage, however I have not notified govt agency so my passport/driver license remain in my old name, am I required to change my name on my passport/license? If I don't, and am not required to, does that mean I can also leave my professional licenses in my old name.

    thank you so much!

    Best,
    Max

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I have not notified govt agency so my passport/driver license remain in my old name, am I required to change my name on my passport/license?

      No.

      If I don't, and am not required to, does that mean I can also leave my professional licenses in my old name.

      Yes.

      Reply
  18. Toni

    Hi,
    I got married last year and on the marriage certificate, my wife hyphenated her last name by adding mine to the end. I didn't originally change my last name, but now I would like to. Our marriage certificate indicates the change in her name only, how would I go about changing mine?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Toni. If your marriage certificate doesn't reflect a name change for you, then you're looking at having to petition the court.

      Reply
  19. Karol

    In New York State, if a woman marries a first time and takes her husbands last name, then divorces her first husband, gets married a second time and takes her new husband's name, then divorces her second husband – can she change her name back to her first husband's last name? She originally kept the first husband's last name because they had small children, but now the children are all over 20 years old. She has been divorced from the first husband for 17 years.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      can she change her name back to her first husband's last name?

      It can be done if the request was made to restore the first husband's name during divorce proceedings.

      Reply
  20. SetMeFree

    Three years ago, I mistakenly took my husband's last name (and my husband) , it is as a hyphenated on marriage certificate; I now want to drop his name (will keep him… for now…)

    I have never changed any legal documents, however, some well-meaning HR employee added his name to my payroll when she found out I was married.

    Q: What is the procedure for legally recovering my maiden name.

    Thank you!!!

    NYS resident – not NYC

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I have never changed any legal documents, however, some well-meaning HR employee added his name to my payroll when she found out I was married.

      If you've never changed your legal documents, then you'll have to take this up with HR. They're using a name which isn't your legal name, so they'll have to update their records.

      Reply
  21. AC

    Hi,
    My fiancé wants to fix the spelling of his last name (when his parents immigrated, the spelling was botched in translation) and then I want to take his surname. Do we have to go through court petition or can we just put the correct spelling of the last name on the marriage certificate?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  22. Erin Robinson

    Hello, I was married in NYS (still live in NYS) and added my husband's name to my maiden name with a space- no hyphen. I only legally changed by bank account and use my maiden name for everything else. I want to officially drop his name from the official marriage certificate. What is the procedure for changing this and legally only having my maiden name as the official record of my name?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to officially drop his name from the official marriage certificate.

      That sort of amendment isn't likely to be accepted.

      What is the procedure for changing this and legally only having my maiden name as the official record of my name?

      If you've only changed your name with your bank, then you'll only need to request your bank restore your maiden name. Everything else can be left as-is and untouched.

      Reply
      1. Erin

        Ok, thank you- clarification- I don't mean dropping his name off of the certificate- I meant dropping his surname from mine- as it is now two last names and I want to go back to just my last name. Would that likely not be accepted as well?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Erin. If you've only changed your name with your bank, you needn't worry about changing it anywhere else (e.g., certificate, SSA, DMV) other than your bank.

          Reply
          1. Sia

            Valera,
            I have similar question. – was married in NYC (still live in NYC) and added my husband's name to my maiden "Hislastname-Mylastname". Now I want to drop my last name and just keep his. I didn't change any documents yet since we got married 3 months ago. do I need to change marriage license to be able to use legally just one (my husbands) last name? or I can show the marriage license as it is (for example, at Social Security office) and tell them to use just my husbands name? Thank you

          2. Valera

            do I need to change marriage license to be able to use legally just one (my husbands) last name?

            It's highly unlikely they'll entertain such a change.

            or I can show the marriage license as it is (for example, at Social Security office) and tell them to use just my husbands name?

            Unless you get a clerk that's particularly flexible, that's unlikely to work. You're probably going to have to petition the court.

  23. Christina

    Hello Valera!

    I have a question for you, which might seem redundant, but I would like to ask just for my own peace of mind. My husband and I had a NYC courthouse wedding last week (ceremony not until possibly 2019) because he is currently in the military and we needed to make things legal so that I could be entered into the system. On our license and certificate, I changed my name to his and most sites I've read say that I should immediately go ahead and report my name change etc, but I actually do not want to do that just yet since we haven't actually informed our families yet (both are somewhat traditional and well.. a sped up courthouse wedding is not their thing).

    Is it necessary for me to report the name change (ie. SSA, etc) right now or could I could I wait a while to do so? Would there possibly be any complications if I don't?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it necessary for me to report the name change (ie. SSA, etc) right now or could I could I wait a while to do so?

      You can wait until it's most convenient for you.

      Would there possibly be any complications if I don't?

      No.

      Reply
  24. Michelle Luna

    Hello,

    I got married in May 2017 and decided to hyphenate my last name and husbands. However, I see it can be a hassle and I wanted to know if I can drop my last name and just have his. What can I do?

    Thank you,

    Michelle

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Michelle. If your marriage certificate reflects the hyphenated name, it may or may not be honored by the DMV. The SSA and passport office shouldn't give you a problem, but you'll have to contact DMV to determine if they'll allow the first half of your surname to be dropped.

      Reply
  25. Chrissy

    Hi. I'm in NYS, can I write my fiance's last name as my new surname on my marriage license but not change anything legally? Do I need to report it to anyone?
    This sounds worse than it is but I'd like to take his name on the license to make him happy continue using my maiden name legally on everything else, credit cards, retirement accounts, etc. Is this possible?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Chrissy. Everything you've proposed is possible and lawful. You don't have to report anything to anyone.

      Reply
  26. Mina

    Hi. Two questions. First, I got married in NJ but live in NY and want to change my name by going to NY offices rather than NJ. May I bring my NJ marriage certificate to the SSA in NY? Additionally, I've seen a lot of conflicting information on whether dropping my middle name and instead moving my old surname to be my new middle name and taking my husband's surname is straightforward (i.e. go to SSA directly) or requires a court petition. Please could you clarify? Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mina. You can change your name in NY using your NJ marriage certificate. Replacing your middle name with your maiden name should not pose a problem.

      Reply
  27. Rebecca

    Hi,

    I have a middle name question. I've listed my new last name on my NYC marriage license and it states the new last name on the my certificate.
    I'm looking into the forms needed to be filled out for DL, SSA etc to change my last name.

    Is it possible to keep my middle name and turn my NEW MIDDLE NAME into a combination of my middle and maiden name?

    FIRST … MIDDLE-MAIDEN (doesn't need a hyphen) …. MARRIED LAST NAME

    Thanks!

    Reply
  28. Christine

    Hi good day. My sister got married and took her husband's last name on the marriage certificate. She was divorced in a short space of time and never change any of her documents to her husband last. Seeing she's divorce She just continued to use her maiden name on everything. Would she get in trouble for doing that?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      he just continued to use her maiden name on everything. Would she get in trouble for doing that?

      No, as that is her legal name.

      Reply
  29. Lauren

    I got married a few months ago in New York State, and on the marriage certificate I listed my new surname as my maiden name + my husband's last name, without hyphenations. I have not gone through the process of legally changing my last name because I recently decided that I want to completely drop my maiden name and only use my husband's last name. The marriage license lists me as having two last names. Do I need to get a new marriage license or will the SSA dismiss my maiden name and allow me to easily just use my husband's last name? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lauren. It's possible, but not guaranteed. It may very well depend on the agent you deal with. It's a good idea to contact the DMV beforehand to determine if it would be accepted, then SSA.

      Reply
  30. Debra Roldan

    I got married and my last name is last. Instead of it being maiden-husband name. It is husband-maiden. I want to drop my maiden and only have my husband last name. Is there a way to do so

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to drop my maiden and only have my husband last name. Is there a way to do so

      If you've already formally changed your name, you'll have to obtain a court order to change it again.

      Reply
  31. DARITZA PENA

    I got marries in 2011 and kept my last name. Can I change it now to my husband's last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Daritza. You can change your name to what you specified on the surname after marriage portion of the marriage license application, which would be reflected on the marriage certificate. If you didn't specify it then, you may have to petition the court.

      Reply
  32. Lauren

    I live in NY. Is it possible to retain my full maiden name, Lauren Elizabeth Smith, while also taking my fiancé's last name, Allen (no hyphen) and use the last names interchangeably; Smith professionally and Allen for personal life? So, a legal document would read Lauren Elizabeth Smith Allen. I'd continue to be referred to as Ms. Smith at work and Mrs. Allen by family. I'm hesitant to relinquish my middle name as it holds family history.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lauren. A legal document would have to apply your legal name: Lauren Elizabeth Allen.

      Reply
  33. Sam

    I am getting married in NYS next month. My fiance wants to take his fathers last name and use that as our new surname. Would we be able to change both of our names on the marriage license or have to change his name leaglly then apply for our marrige license? Thank you

    Reply
  34. Cecelia

    How does a person legally change their name through the courts in the state of NY? For instance if I want to change my last name to my boyfriends last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How does a person legally change their name through the courts in the state of NY?

      If you live in NYC, submit a name change petition with the Civil Court. Otherwise, submit a petition with the State Supreme Court.

      Reply
  35. CW

    Hi! How do I change my last name in NYC. I have a mass drivers liscense, a passport, and a NY marriage certificate.
    Can I change my name at the NY DMV?
    Thanks in advance for any help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi CW. You can use your marriage certificate to change your name.

      Reply
  36. JT

    Hello.
    I got married many years ago but I did not check the box to get my husband's last name, so on my married certificate does not show my new last name.
    But now I want to use his last name.
    What should I do?
    Can I get the remarried option and change the name? Or I need to get the court order?
    Thank you.

    Reply
  37. Tracey

    Hi,
    After I divorced, I kept husband #1s name (because of young children) although my divorce decree stipulated I could change back to my married name. When I got remarried in NY to husband #2, I didn’t check the box to take his name and still used husband #1s name. Now that my children are older, I would like to either go back to maiden name, or take husband #2s name. How do I do either?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tracey. Since you didn't specify a new name after marriage on your marriage license application, you'll either have to petition the court or look into a remarriage marriage license.

      Reply
  38. Victoria

    I am divorced but have not changed my last name back to my maiden last name.. Do I need to change it before getting married (to someone else)?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need to change it before getting married (to someone else)?

      No, you don't have to change your name before remarrying.

      Reply
  39. Sammy

    Hi, I got married in Costa Rica in 2016, the marriage certificate (translated into English by an official translator, Authenticated by the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Relations, Notarized by a Public Notary, Certified and signed by the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Sectionis) is legal in the U.S. but it does not have an option for name change, as according to Costa Rican law, women do not change their last name when they get married. So on my marriage certificate, my last name is the same as my passport. I live in NYC and now I would like to change my last name to my husband's or to hyphenate or have two last names no hyphen. Since my marriage certificate is not from the US, will I be able to do the name change with the SSA, Passport and DMV?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Since my marriage certificate is not from the US, will I be able to do the name change with the SSA, Passport and DMV?

      Yes, you will.

      Reply
  40. Chris

    My adult daughter (30) was recently married and is preparing to change her last name in NY. She is saying she needs my SS# and my wife's SS# to complete the process. Is this correct? Why would this be?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      She is saying she needs my SS# and my wife's SS# to complete the process. Is this correct?

      It's not mandatory.

      Reply
  41. sara

    When I married I left my name as is and simply hyphenated to add my husband's surname. This is what is on my marriage licence (NY but not NYC). (first name, middle name, maiden name-husbands surname.

    I would like to drop my middle name and use my maiden name as a middle name, and drop the hyphen – thereby using my husband's surname as mine also. So first name is same, middle name = maiden name, last name = husband's surname. The DMV allowed me to change it to match that of above if that makes a difference.

    Will I have to go through the court to do so? Or will SSA allow me to do this as is also.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sara. You should be able to swap out your middle name without going to court.

      Reply
  42. Ruby

    When I married in 2009 I thought I wanted my husbands last name when we married so on my marriage license it shows only his last name. But I never went on to change my last name at social security or dmv, I kept my maiden name. Now I want to add my maiden name to my marriage license as a last name in addition to his name. Do I need to get remarried and relicensed?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ruby. If a remarriage license is made available to you, that's one way to go about it. Otherwise, you'll have to go to civil court in NYC or the supreme court outside the city.

      Reply
  43. Brittney Nice

    Hi there! I live in upstate NY and was married in July of 2017. I am just now starting the process of changing my last name on my SS card, but I am worried I have made a big mistake after reading everything on here.

    Back in December 2017 I had to renew my Drivers license because it expired… I live in a small town and the woman at the counter knew me and went ahead and offered to change my last name since I was just married. I told her I had not changed it with SS yet and she said that wouldn't matter she would only need to see my Marriage Certificate. So to save me an extra fee she just went ahead and changed my last name at the same time she renewed my license.

    I don't have a passport or another NYS id other than my DL. So what am I suppose to do?

    Thank you
    Brittney

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Brittney. Name change with the social security office typically comes before changing your driver's license, but that's because it's meant to grease the wheels at the DMV "if" they perform a lookup against the SSA database.

      Changing your name with the DMV first isn't going to block you from changing it with the Social Security Administration. Now, by the default the SSA will want to see an identity document in your old name, but since you don't appear to have one they'll accept one in your new name as long they can use it to establish your identity in their records.

      So, even though you finished a portion of your name change out of sequence, it doesn't matter much in the grand scheme of things.

      Reply
  44. Jack

    Hello,

    My fiance and I are looking at the marriage license application for New York City. She wants to change her middle name to her maiden name and take my last name, so that her name will become "firstname maidenname husbandlastname". She will be removing her given middle name and taking her maiden name as her middle. Can you tell me how we should fill out the marriage license application so that this will be accepted by SS, Passport office and the NYC DMV? The fields we need to enter are…

    Surname:
    First Name:
    Middle Name (Optional):
    New Surname:

    Should I fill it out as follows…?

    Surname: Maidenname
    First Name: Firstname
    Middle Name (Optional): Maidenname
    New Surname: Husbandlastname

    or…

    Surname: Maidenname
    First Name: Firstname
    Middle Name (Optional): Originalmiddlename
    New Surname: Husbandlastname

    I just want to make sure everything is filled out correctly before we go to the SS office and so forth.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jack. Unless the application has a block to specify new middle name, she's put her current middle name. Even if she were to specify a new middle name, the city/town clerk would likely catch it and ask her to correct it if her provided identification doesn't match.

      Reply
      1. Jack

        Okay thank you very much. So then what is the actual process of changing her maiden name to her middle name?

        She needs to fill out the SS-5 form for social security, where she can change her first middle and last, will this be an issue to change her middle name if it is listed on the marriage certificate as firstname originalmiddlename newlastname? She'll show her photo id with all her original information as well as her birth certificate. She'll also show our marriage certificate showing her new last name but this is the stage when she changes her maiden name to her middle name correct? And that shouldn't be an issue?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Jack. Her marriage certificate, which will show her current middle name, can still be used to do a maiden to middle name switch.

          Reply
          1. Jeanne

            How?

            My marriage certificate has First – Middle – New Last. I want to replace Middle with Maiden.

            I was able to change my NY license & Social Security, but not my passport. They need my marriage certificate to be updated. But i can't find any clear info on how to update my Middle name in my marriage certificate to my maiden name. Thx for the help!

          2. Valera

            Hi Jeanne. You can't change your certificate, but you shouldn't have to. You should be able to use it as-is to replace your middle with your maiden.

  45. Oshane Gordon

    Hello, my wife and I are from a different country, we choose to get married in N.Y. when we were filling out the information she hyphenated my last name, now she have decided that she want to drop the hyphen and her median name and keep my name only, can this be done?
    2ndly, we both live in the Caribbean and don't own be green card or citizenship for the US, so can it be done online or on the phone without travelling to NYC?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Oshane. Since you're not a U.S. citizen nor live in the U.S., your marriage would be considered a foreign marriage. The laws of your wife's country (not New York) would determine what name change your she will or won't be allowed to follow. Without knowing her country of residence, not much more can be said.

      Reply
  46. Alanna

    Hello! I am a resident of New York, but I'm getting married in South Carolina in October. I understand that I have to get my marriage license and certificate in South Carolina, but what about changing my name? If I want to use my maiden name as my new middle name, can I do that in South Carolina? Or do I have to do it in New York?

    Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If I want to use my maiden name as my new middle name, can I do that in South Carolina? Or do I have to do it in New York?

      You can make the change in New York.

      Reply
  47. Mrs. Lebron

    Hello Valera, I am a NY resident, but we were married in 2017 in Pensacola, FL. Our marriage certificate does not show our "New Marriage Surname", according to the clerk at city hall, the state of Florida does not add the couple's new marriage surname to the certificate.

    My husband and I wanted to combine our surnames together and add " De " between our names instead of the hyphen ( ex… His last name De My last name); a new name combination forming a single surname.

    I thought in the state of NY, we legally had the option as long as our surnames were combined in any order. We were able to accomplish our name change only through the Social Security Office. I am having difficulties at the DMV office and the VA office. Three people from the DMV office stated that " By Law, I was not allowed to keep my last name and add his. I was told three different times that I only have two choices: hyphen the name with his surname last or just keep my last name w\o adding his… Is this true? I thought I read in your fabulous blog that we had 4 options for our married surname and a combination forming a single surname was legal, and taking the surname of either wife or husband is also legal or hyphen either way is also legal. Did I misunderstand your statements and the 3 clerks at the DMV office were correct? Please help me through this complicated task.

    I am completely confused. My husband did not have a problem at all changing his driver license to our desired last name.

    Please help, I really want to keep my last name, but add his. What should I do?

    Thank You in Advance,
    GL

    Reply
    1. Valera

      according to the clerk at city hall, the state of Florida does not add the couple's new marriage surname to the certificate.

      Correct.

      My husband and I wanted to combine our surnames together and add " De " between our names instead of the hyphen ( ex… His last name De My last name); a new name combination forming a single surname.

      No, adding "De" shouldn't be permitted as it's not a part of either's surname.

      I thought in the state of NY, we legally had the option as long as our surnames were combined in any order.

      You can, whether you use a portion of either's surname or the entire surname.

      We were able to accomplish our name change only through the Social Security Office. I am having difficulties at the DMV office and the VA office.

      It's interesting the SSA processed your request, even though a portion of the last name isn't inlcuded in either's surname. It's unsurprising the DMV gave you a tougher time.

      Three people from the DMV office stated that " By Law, I was not allowed to keep my last name and add his. I was told three different times that I only have two choices: hyphen the name with his surname last or just keep my last name w\o adding his… Is this true?

      You can print the pertinent portion of NY domestic relations law that states the following:

      a name combining into a single surname all or a segment of the premarriage surname or any former surname of each spouse

      Reply
  48. Simone

    Hi, I live in IN but I want to get married in NY and my S.O. also wants to change his last name and I want to know can we both change our last names while we're in NY or do I have to be a resident.

    E.g. we live in Indiana but we get married in New York, on our certificate in New York, we both change our surnames, has his last name been legally changed, as well as mine? (Of course going to the Social Security and DMV would follow)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Simone. Documents should be sent to your local office. Indiana's name change allowances aren't known to be as flexible as New York's, so even if you were able to change your name at a NY SSA location, IN's BMV office might not be as accepting.

      Reply
  49. Wendi

    Hello,

    I was married in May 2016 in Brooklyn, NY. At the time I wanted to change my surname to my previous marriage surname, and I was told I could not do that. The City Clerk Office website states you can. I was told I had to hyphenate my last name and my husband's last name or take his last name that is hyphenated. How can I have my surname changed to the one I actually wanted?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Wendi. You can try returning to the clerk's office and request your marriage record be amended. Be sure to bring a printout from their website.

      Reply
  50. Al

    I got married in NYC in 2013 and decided to not change my name using my husband's name then. We currently live in Florida. I am applying to US Citizenship with the option of changing my name, keeping my first name, changing my middle name to my current last name and adopting my husband's last name to be my last name. That's a common option to change name on naturalization to be a US citizen. Now, the problem is that my NY marriage certificate has my old name. What do I do to make the change in my NY Marriage certificate? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      hat's a common option to change name on naturalization to be a US citizen. Now, the problem is that my NY marriage certificate has my old name. What do I do to make the change in my NY Marriage certificate? Thank you.

      You could request an amendment, but it's not likely to be accepted since it's not an error. It's unnecessary anyway as your name change through naturalization would take precedence.

      Reply
  51. Fiona

    Hi,

    I got married in NYC and have adopted my husband's Surname as my last name.
    I have a question about my first name after marriage, could my new first name be first name + maiden last name? or should I still use my original first name and put my maiden name as new middle name?

    I'm currently applying a green card, but this confused me, I don't know which first name is correct for putting on the applications.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Fiona. You can't change your first name through marriage. You'd have to go to court for that. You could use your maiden as your middle though.

      Reply
  52. Odalis

    Hi all,
    I got married this past july in Vegas but live in NY. I do not have a middle name but wanted to make my maiden name, my middle name. How do I go about this?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Odalis. You'd use a certified copy of your Nevada marriage certificate to effect a marriage-based name change as anyone normally would.

      Reply
  53. Sam

    Hello i am marry have certificat after my spouse change her name and we have to remarry her name but date of marriage not the same can i use both can be use only date of marry change

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sam. I'm not sure what you're asking here. Could you please restate your question?

      Reply
      1. Sam

        I mean marry twice same spouse we are not divorce because my spouse change her name by court order marriage certificate date of marry change which one is count marry certificate i too confuse i think first date of marriage is court marriage date both can be count?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Sam. I'm still not quite sure what you're asking. Your marriage certificate isn't affected by your spouse's court ordered name change. A court ordered name change would take precedence over a marriage certificate. You wouldn't have to update the marriage certificate due to the court order.

          Reply
  54. Sam

    I want to know two of my marriage certificate is legalirst? First certificate have my spouse old name , after court order, second certificate have my spouse old name and new name but date of marriage not the same i think both legal to show

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sam. If your marriage date is incorrect, you can request the document be corrected and reissued.

      Reply
  55. Franciesca Guerra

    hi!
    I got married three years ago in nyc and I kept my last name.
    My husband’s mom changed his last name to hers when he was a child and now he wants to change it back to his dad’s last name. Both parents last names are on his birth certificate.
    1. can he change back to his dad’s last name if we remarried? or is there another process
    2. does him changing his last name make our marriage invalid?
    thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      1. can he change back to his dad’s last name if we remarried?

      You'll have to contact the clerk to determine the availability of a remarriage license option. If so, New York does allow either party to a marriage to take the current or a former surname of either party.

      2. does him changing his last name make our marriage invalid?

      No, it doesn't affect the validity of your marriage.

      Reply
  56. Caroline

    Hello Valera,
    I live in NYC. I have an out of state drivers license, my new SSA card, and my marriage license. Can I go to the NYC DMV to get a new NY ID with my new name as reflected on my NEW SSA card?
    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I go to the NYC DMV to get a new NY ID with my new name as reflected on my NEW SSA card?

      Yes, you can.

      Reply
  57. Kin

    Can i remarry my spouse new name becouse my marriage certificate don't have my spouse new name ,,,,

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kin. You'll have to contact your city or town clerk regarding the availability of a remarriage license.

      Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kin. The day you marry is static. Changing your name doesn't have any impact.

      Reply
  58. Jessica

    I got married in NYC city hall 2 years ago and kept my surname now I would like to change it to my husbands surname. Not finding much information on How can I do that? Any help?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I got married in NYC city hall 2 years ago and kept my surname now I would like to change it to my husbands surname.

      If your marriage license application provided a spot for you to choose a new last name after marriage and you chose your husband's, obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate to change your name.

      If that option was provided and you didn't specify a new surname, you can remarry by completing a new marriage license application and use the subsequent certificate to change your name.

      You could go to civil court as well, but remarriage would be faster and cheaper.

      Reply
  59. Gigi

    Hello, I married in NYC 2 years ago. I was a bit confused when it came to the name change. I ended up changing my last name to his instead of hyphenating it. I haven't taken any further steps since as far as changing any documents. I would like to get my maiden name back with his hyphenated instead. How would I go about changing that?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I would like to get my maiden name back with his hyphenated instead. How would I go about changing that?

      Option #1: Return to the NYC clerk, apply for a new marriage license to remarry, specify your hyphenated name on the application, then wait for your new marriage certificate to change your name.

      Option #2: Submit a name change petition with the NYC Civil Court.

      Reply

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *