In 2014, women were strongly rewarded with a decision by the Department of Motor Vehicles of New York State giving them one of the simplest processes of changing their middle names into their maiden names on their own drivers' licenses after getting married.

What the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) now requires is just a marriage certificate to help with the change. Before the change, the process was very time consuming and expensive. The decision is seen as one that's of huge benefit to married couples and women all over New York.

The pressure and motivation to have the new change effected in New York came from the new wave of women in the state and country at large within the changing contemporary society, wishing to hold on to the identities of their families at home, workplace and even as students. NY Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester) also put forth a concerted effort to push for this procedural change.

What the DMV did was modernize a procedure that was anti-women mostly and would now be of benefit to those getting married, particularly the increasing number of New York women who would like to maintain maiden names and middle names as the same. The idea of getting down to courts to make applications for name change was very discouraging. The new clarification would ease the process making it hugely affordable for married people all over the state. The change was also expected to reinforce the idea that both partners are equal in marriage while professional women's lives would be simplified henceforth.

In years past, the practice had been growing and culminated into the new change. Coretta Scott King, a civil rights leader and Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Secretary of State and a Democratic Presidential candidate, were some of the pioneers of the need for women to maintain their maiden names as middle names without any negative affect on their marriage, personal and professional lives. This change makes them maintain a very important part of themselves without really changing the sanctity of their marriage or disorganizing their professional careers and lives.

With the new policy, there is the realization middle names do change after marriage and the changes need to make it easy to alter names just like it is easy for newlyweds to do the same. In the past, before the inquiry was pursued, DMV accepted middle name changes only when the interested individuals followed any of two almost unattainable processes. In one pathway, the interested individual needed lots of documents that were virtually hard to get. It was also possible for people to change their names through the court system's legal process, which was very burdensome, so much that it took a number of months to effect the change and expensive since it attracted a minimum of $100 in fees. Through the inquiry, the system was updated allowing middle name changes to be done into maiden names just by providing a genuine marriage certificate.

Lots of women have waited for the change for decades. After marriage, they were only able to make their middle names into maiden names in virtually all areas of life from credit cards, travel documents, businesses to academics among others, except on their driver license in the State of New York.

Newlyweds had also been affected before the change and after effecting change on all other areas. The only problem was the driver's license. Apart from being burdensome, the process was also very confusing and too much for working parents who needed to be working and not following the matter in the corridors of justice. The new change would now bring honor to most families' legacies while simplifying their professional lives.

Procedure of changing names with the New York DMV

To change your name, including changing your maiden name into your middle name, you must avail yourself in person. In turn, you will be able to update your vehicle's certificate of title, vehicle's registration, and your ID card or driver's license.

Remember, you cannot effect or complete name change by email, phone, mail or online. You only need to visit the local office of the NY DMV closest to you.

As you visit the DMV office, do not forget to carry with you the current documents from NY DMV that will need to have the name changed and bring proof of identity, which can be a United States passport or passport card, New York photo driver license, ID or permit or a photo ID card of the United States military which can be from a retired, reserved or active personnel only.

You should also bring a certified document for name change such as a court order issued within the United States only, a decree of divorce carrying an official signature from the United States or simply a certified copy of your marriage certificate issued by a county, city or state within the country.

You need to bring an application for Non Driver ID Card or Driver License duly completed, which is form MV-44 or a Title Application/Vehicle Registration of application-form MV-82. Check the fees required to change your name within New York for guidance on whether there are replacement fee payments to be made.

Once you have provided all the required details, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles will then mail you the new driver's ID or license, title or vehicle registration in less than 10 days. It is important that before you start the name change process you check all the documents accepted for proof of identity.

Current name change fees on NY DMV documents

Changing name on the certificate of title and vehicle registration is absolutely free, while a non-driver ID card name change is only $5. Changing your name on the driver's license or the permit for learners is only $12.50.

Perhaps the important thing to remember for those newlyweds or married in New York is that the long, almost impossible, procedure that took time and money simply to have someone maintain their maiden name as their middle name on their driver's license is now the easiest it has ever been for decades.

It doesn't make sense to have every document you own changed except your driver's license and the new NY DMV name change clarification puts men and women on an equal footing.


  1. Jaine


    How would you fill out your marriage license to reflect your maiden name as your middle name?
    Would it be First middle husband last name or first maiden name husband last name?

    Thank you

    1. Valera

      Hi Jaine. Put first, maiden, husband last on the part of the application where it asks you to choose your new name.

  2. Esty

    Hi, will I be able to change my middle name if I hyphenated my name on the marriage certificate? Or will I have to go through the channels of a legal name change?

    1. Valera

      Hi Esty. You can do both, but specify your name change intent on the marriage license application.

  3. Lisa

    Hi! Great article.

    What happens with your existing middle name? Do you have to have two middle names- being original middle + maiden, or can you completely replace your old middle name with just your maiden name?

    For example does Jane Jessica Doe marrying John Smith have to be Jane Jessica Doe Smith, or can she get rid of/replace her old middle name completely to become Jane Doe Smith?

    Any help would be appreciated.Thanks in advance!

    1. Valera

      Hi Lisa. You'd just replace your middle with your maiden name.

  4. Jenna Murray


    Where does this leave you with Social Security? I was married last October in CT but I am an NYS born resident. I would like to DROP my current middle name and replace it with my maiden name. My marriage liscence/certificate did NOT have a space for a "new name" choice, just your current legal name.

    Should I change my name with the DMV and then take it to SS for a new SS card?

    Any help would be GREATLY appreciated! Thank you!

  5. Rosemarie Marronaro

    I am living and marrying in NY.
    I have not yet received my marriage license. When I apply for it will there be space to write my maiden in as a middle name? (I do not have a middle name so I would just be adding it).

    I suppose I would go to the DMV after the wedding to change it. Right?


    1. Valera

      Hi Rosemarie. It may or may not have a space where you can specify a name. When you're ready to change your name you'd typically go to the SSA before the DMV.

  6. Karen


    I updated my SS with my maiden as my middle name (I previously did not have one) and they accepted it. Then I went to the DMV and they did not allow me to do so, so my ID only has first and new last name. To avoid going back to the DMV and getting rejected again, do I have to go back to SSA to drop my middle (maiden) name? if not, what should I do to the rest of my name change application, match SS or match driver's license? (with or without middle name)


    1. Valera

      Hi Karen. Can you get clarification if they denied your request because you had no preexisting middle name? Can they document this rule? The SSA wouldn't change your name back without another name change event justifying it, such as a court order or divorce decree.

      When it comes to SSA vs driver's license, the SSA takes precedence.

  7. Sara Dean

    I did not know to indicate the change to my middle name on the marriage license but had no issue with changing my maiden name to my middle with social security. I took my new card to the DMV and was told that they could not change my middle name because it was not listed on the marriage license. Additionally, because I had used my middle initial previously in DMV records, they could not remove it and issue my driver's license as first and last name, only. The only option offered was to leave my birth middle initial and change to my married surname. I left without doing anything since it's already been changed with social security, but unsure of how to move forward.


Leave a comment

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