510 Comments

Before you can do much to change your name, you need to get your name changed with the Social Security Administration. That social security card is the key to getting through other name changes (like at the DMV, your bank, etc) smoothly and with as little hassle as possible. So how do you ensure that changing your name with social security is as painless as possible?

Before You Do Anything Else

You'll need to complete the SS-5 application, which is a form made available from the Social Security Administration. A social security card name change begins at this document.

Now What?

If you'd like to change your name online, you may use our name change application to complete the social security form, among others.

Updating your social security card through the mail

Okay, you've got your form filled out and in front of you. Now what do you do?

This is where you make a very important choice. See—you can easily drop your form and supporting paperwork (marriage certificate, etc) into an envelope and mail it off. Then you just sit back and wait for your new social security card to show up. The Social Security Administration will mail you your new card as well as your supporting documents back to you… in about two to six weeks, or so. Yes, how long it takes for your name to change can vary a considerable amount, depending on how heavy their queue or backlog is.

Remember, the Social Security Administration is a huge, sprawling organization that deals with a multitude of issues, of which name change is just a part. If you don't mind waiting up to six weeks to really dig in to changing your name, this is the way to go.

Changing your name, in person, at your local Social Security office

If you don't want to wait that long and would rather (for lack of better terminology) bang it all out in a day or two, there is another route you can take: you can actually gather up your forms and pay a visit to your Social Security Administration Office. You'll get a temporary card that you can then take with you to the bank, the DMV, etc.

But isn't the Social Security office a nightmare?

You probably have visions of Joe-vs-The-Volcano like lines of people all trudging forward an inch at a time to take care of their business. This is certainly the stereotype and, if you've been down the Social Security Google rabbit hole, you've undoubtedly read a few horror stories about what visiting the office was like.

Here's some good news: it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, if you approach it well, the entire process shouldn't take much time at all.

Here is how to ensure that your visit to the SSA goes smoothly and is incident free.

1. Make sure you have all of the proper forms filled out

The primary form the SSA provides (Application for a Social Security Card) is there specifically to have your name changed with social security. Use that. This way you won't have to worry that you've found an old form or, worse, a totally wrong form. Also, don't sign nor date the form just yet. If you're going in person, it's better for you to apply your signature when you're in front of the clerk who's working on your application, so that he/she can witness the act.

2. Get all of your supporting documentation together

You are going to need to have the following documents with you:

Legal documents proving your name change: This is almost always going to be your marriage certificate (or divorce decree). This point requires repeating—you need your marriage certificate. Specifically, a certified copy of your marriage certificate, and not your marriage license.

Marriage license or Marriage certificate? What's the difference?

There's been a longtime point of confusion, that's been going on forever, regarding these two documents. The Internet is littered with various articles, Q&A help sections, and forums conflating the two by telling folks a marriage license is an acceptable document to serve as proof of name change. That's false. A marriage license is the document you receive before you get married, which provides you legal authorization to get married. The marriage certificate is a document you receive after you are married, and it's what the Social Security Administration is expecting in order to change your name after marriage.

You'll also want to make sure it's a certified copy. Whether you're mailing in your name change forms or doing it in person, if you end up bringing in a photocopy of your marriage certificate made on your home office copy machine, you'll be laughed right out of the building. Well, you may not face ridicule, but you'll be politely told to supply an authentic, certified copy before you're sent packing.

You lie! I used my marriage license to change my name

Ok, you're right, and you're wrong. And it's not what you think. There are some counties and states where the marriage license and marriage certificate are actually one and the same. The heading's the same. Whoever officiates the marriage will file it with the county recorder's office. The only difference is, the status changes. Once you're married, the document is now considered your marriage certificate. Like a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.

But I got a certified copy of my marriage license?

Ok, we're getting deep into the rabbit hole, but there is such a thing as a certified copy of a marriage license. It's typically referred to as a marriage record, which isn't the same thing as a marriage certificate. Marriage records (photocopy and certified) are typically issued by a county clerk's office (where you apply for a marriage license), while a certified copy of a marriage certificate is gotten from the county recorder's office.

Just get a certified copy of your marriage certificate and all will be well. Moving on…

Non-marriage-related name change, for you other folks

If you're changing your name for reasons that aren't marital, you'll need the paperwork from the court that approved your name change. If you want to change your name in a way that your state doesn't recognize as part of the marriage name changing process, you'll need to petition the court. For instance, if you want to also change your first name, you'll have to get a court order granted by a judge.

Identity documents—Are you who you say you are?

Your current driver's license, state ID or passport should be sufficient.

Still, not everyone has a driver's license or state ID or passport. If that's who you are, don't fret, the door isn't going to close on you. The SSA will work with you by asking for alternative, secondary documents, such as a health insurance card or Medicaid card. Or even a school ID or employee badge.

Sometimes military IDs and other forms of identification will work, but before you visit the office it's a good idea to call ahead and make sure they will accept what you want to use.

Your citizenship

This can be your birth certificate or your passport.

If you aren't a citizen, you'll need to provide proof of your immigration status.

3. Grab a folder

This will help you save time. No, really—it sounds stupid but think about it: do you want to be the person who finally gets up to the window only to have to dig through her bag for a half an hour because she didn't keep all of the things she needed together and half of them have been buried or lost or, worse, left in the car (or even worse—at home)? Nobody wants to be that woman. Or guy… everything we're talking about works for you too, if you're changing your name.

The folder will serve as the catch all location for all of the things you'll need to provide when you want to change your name: the forms you've printed or picked up and the supporting documentation you've gathered. Keeping everything in one location saves everybody time.

Put all of your forms and the supporting documentation mentioned above in the folder. Put the folder in your bag (or your briefcase—which is totally gender neutral, btw).

4. Visit your local Social Security Administration office

Yes, this is a silly bullet point with a microscopic accompanying paragraph, but it's one of the most important, because it give us the opportunity to point to the handy Social Security office locator that'll pinpoint exactly where you'll need to go.

5. Be prepared to wait

Sadly there is no real way to help you avoid a long wait. The SSA office is like most other places: traffic ebbs and flows. It's a good idea, though, to avoid going at lunch time, first thing in the morning or right before the end of the business day. Mid morning and mid afternoons are typically the best time to go. Mid week is also a good bet.

It's a good idea to bring a book or magazine with you to read as most SSA offices frown on people using their cell phones or using handheld gaming devices (as these can be loud and wearing earbuds could cause you to miss your turn).

You could try to phone them in advance to determine if you can make an appointment. The SSA does provide appointments for various services, but name change may not be a sufficient enough rationale for them to allocate you an appointment spot. It certainly doesn't hurt to ask, especially if there are extenuating circumstances (e.g., health-related, disability).

6. Access your reservoir of patience

Remember that the line at the Social Security office is not usually the fault of the people working behind the window. Many offices are understaffed these days and the employees are just as stressed out about the number of people who are waiting as the people waiting themselves. The calmer you are, the less irritating your visit is going to be.

You can be sure that you will spend more time waiting than you will actually working with someone. The time you spend in front of an employee will probably only be a few minutes. Your case worker needs to only verify the authenticity of your documents, enter in the new information and then print out your temporary card. If you have everything prepared ahead of time, you shouldn't have to worry too much about the process taking an extended period of time.

7. Take your "temporary card", thank the person who worked with you and go!

You are now all set up to change your name everywhere else… which, if you stick with in person visits, should only take the rest of the day (maybe part of the second if the wait at the SSA office was extraordinarily long)!

You'll get your real card in the mail about a week after you visit the office. Sign it and store it somewhere safe!

Next stop: Changing your name at the DMV

Going to the driver's license office right after getting your name changed with the Social Security office is the typical, next go-to route for most folks. You may want to do yourself a favor and wait 24 hours before doing so. Reason being, the DMV may query the SSA database to confirm your name change, and if there's a name mismatch (due to the SSA database not having been updated yet) they may not be able to process it… yet. It's a quirk of timing, but something to keep in mind for the impatient amongst you.

If you've got a great, or awful, social security story, share it in the comments section. If you've got any questions or need some help making heads or tails of name change, feel free to ask. We're here to help.

Good luck. And happy name changing.

510 Comments

  1. Renee

    If I go to the SS office in person to change name to my new married surname will they still keep the original copies of my Birth Certificate, passport etc and mail them back to me or will I be able to take with me when I receive my temporary card? I dont feel comfortable leaving those documents to be mailed back.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Renee. They won't retain your documents, so you'll be able to take them back with you.

      Reply
  2. Natalia

    Hi,
    Would really appreciate your advice, I got a bit of situation. I live in MA. After marriage I’ve changed my last name on every document except SSN. I honestly totally forgot about it since my hasband handles our taxes and I never got a visual reminder:/

    I received a letter from RMV saying that my lisence won’t be renewed because of mismatched information with SSA. Realizing that it was my last name I went to my local office to change it. Unfortunately they were not able to process the update because I have a 1 year extension letter to my 2y green card that I received. I’m still waiting on my permanent card and never had a problem traveling or using this letter for any other purposes.

    Was it the office worker who didn’t know how to process my docs correctly? Anything I can do to resolve this? My license will expire in a month and getting my permanent green card might take another 3-4 months..

    I have to drive for work so this situation worries me a lot. Also is there anything else I can use to beard an airplane instead of lisence. Someone suggested to get specual stamp in my passport ( it’s like the other version of my extension letter) thank you in advance.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Natalia. The RMV should accept other official immigration documents if you don't have a permanent resident card. Contact the RMV to get a list of acceptable documents. You can also contact USCIS regarding documents they may be able to provide you to satisfy RMV requirements.

      Reply
  3. Gabriela Sanchez

    I married last year in December and kept my last name hyphenated with his last name. Do I have to change it on my social security card? It is currently a work authorization number only but we are planning on applying for green card in 2018 and will also be filing jointly on our taxes for the 2017 season, and I need to reapply for my Mexican passport as well in 2018.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I married last year in December and kept my last name hyphenated with his last name. Do I have to change it on my social security card?

      No, you do not.

      Reply
  4. Jessie Daly

    I got married about 2 weeks ago, and I am going tomorrow to get my name changed with the social security office, and then the day after I will go to the DMV. I live in NC and I wanted to check to see if when I go to the DMV will they take my old license, or will I get to keep it? I have a weird time thing where my honeymoon is the 13th and my passport has my maiden name, so I have to have my license with my maiden name as well- but I start a new job on the 29th when I get back and I need my new license with my married name at that point. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jessie. If necessary, you can request that your license be retained for travel purposes. You can also order a duplicate license online with your maiden name and by the time it's mailed you'll be able to forfeit your old license when you go in office.

      Reply
  5. Shauntel

    I received my official marriage certificate but it does not include my married name, just my previous legal name. I’ve successfully updated my name with SSA and DMV and received those new documents as well. My question is, do I need to get some kind of document stating both my original and married names? Though the names are not too different (my previous last name is now my middle name), my SS and DL do not match up to my birth and marriage certificates. Will this cause issue down the road?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Shauntel. You don't need an additional document. Since you've successfully changed your name already, you shouldn't face any problems later on.

      Reply
  6. Sharon G

    I just got married and need to change my name with Social Security. I live in Kentucky, but work in Ohio,
    there is a Social Security office close to my work, can I go there to change my name? Or do I need to go to the office located in my state?

    Note there is not an office in the County I reside in.
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I live in Kentucky, but work in Ohio, there is a Social Security office close to my work, can I go there to change my name? Or do I need to go to the office located in my state?

      You can go to the Ohio office.

      Note there is not an office in the County I reside in.

      It doesn't matter. You can go to whichever office is closest.

      Reply
  7. Ashley

    I just got married and need to change my last name on my SS card and license , but I don't have my birth certificate, what do I do?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ashley. Acceptable identity documents include a driver's license, passport, or state-issued ID card.

      Reply
  8. Michelle

    Hi, I got married in 2012. I changed my name in 2014 through social security but I still had my old ss card and never changed anything else. It is now 2018 and I’m still going by both names. Is this wrong? Can there be any legal repercussions because of it? I know I need to actually finish the process soon.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Michelle. Your legal name is what you changed it to. Your name on your old SS card is no longer valid. You'll have to use your legal name for legal purposes and filling out government forms. Unless one were to use another name to commit fraud or evade debts, it's unlikely to result in serious trouble. That doesn't make it a good idea though.

      Reply
  9. Maria

    Just recently I changed my last name in the social security office since I got married however I want my maiden name back but I’m still married, how do I change that? Is that against the law?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maria. You can go back to your maiden name, but you'll have to present the SSA with a court order that restores it.

      Reply
  10. Chasity

    When i got married i changed my last name to my husbands at the ss administration got a new card and license all of that…but when applying for credit or anything with my social they can not do it. It is still coming back to my maiden name. Can you tell me whats going on and what i need to do?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Chasity. While it shouldn't normally be necessary, you may have to write the credit agencies alerting them to your name change. Include a copy of your marriage certificate with your letter.

      Reply
  11. Zaza

    Hello,
    I recently got marries. Do I need to n pay for a new passport after I change my last name? Does Social Security send out the new last name change to my credit cards, bank, dmv, or do I have do do that myself? Also what information do I need to bring to the SS office besides my Marriage Certificate, and Drivers License?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need to n pay for a new passport after I change my last name?

      There's a renewal fee if your passport was issued more than one year ago.

      Does Social Security send out the new last name change to my credit cards, bank, dmv, or do I have do do that myself?

      You'll have to do that yourself.

      Also what information do I need to bring to the SS office besides my Marriage Certificate, and Drivers License?

      That's all. Make sure the certificate is an original or certified copy and not a photocopy.

      Reply
  12. Kaitlin

    Hi,
    I got married in July of 2017. I have not changed anything to my spouse's last name. I have seen in above comments that it doesn't matter if the marriage certificate originally says I was going to change my maiden to his name. If I decide I want to keep my maiden name and just add his last name. Do I legally need to change my social security card, drivers license, insurance, etc?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I have seen in above comments that it doesn't matter if the marriage certificate originally says I was going to change my maiden to his name.

      That's not a given. If there's a new name specified on the certificate and you're looking to deviate from that, it may not be accepted, especially at state-level institutions such as the DMV.

      Do I legally need to change my social security card, drivers license, insurance, etc?

      Notifying these institutions is relevant once you've decided to move forward with a name change.

      Reply
  13. Shanna

    Hello I got married October 6th of last year well I can not find my original social security card, will that affect me on changing my last name?

    Reply
  14. Nena

    Hello, I live in Texas but will be marrying my first cousin in California (since it is legal in Cali) will the marriage be valid in Texas? And do I have to make any changes or notify anyone even if we have the same last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I live in Texas but will be marrying my first cousin in California (since it is legal in Cali) will the marriage be valid in Texas?

      Yes. Such a marriage would only be susceptible to voiding if established in Texas.

      And do I have to make any changes or notify anyone even if we have the same last name?

      No, as there's no change.

      Reply
  15. Myranda

    Hello,
    Can I use a copy of my birth certificate or does it have to be the real one?

    Reply
  16. Katilyn

    How long do I have after getting married do I have to change my last name if I choose to do so?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How long do I have after getting married do I have to change my last name if I choose to do so?

      There's no time limit. Change it when it best suits you.

      Reply
  17. Audrey Rodriguez

    Does anyone know the address I can mail my application and original documents to? I live too far away from a local social security office to take a whole day off work, so I'm mailing my application and my original marriage cert and driver's license to have my name changed due to marriage. I cannot find the mailing address anywhere online. It should be on the application, but it's not.

    Reply
  18. Christen Page

    Hi Valera – I was planning on going to the Social Security office today to change my name; however, I have a domestic flight booked for next week. Can I wait to change my name on my drivers license at the DMV and use my ID with my maiden name for purposes of flying (since the airline ticket is issued in my maiden name and I've heard it is pretty much impossible to get the name changed on the ticket without purchasing a new ticket)?

    In other words, if I change my name with Social Security, am I going to have a problem checking in for a flight with my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      In other words, if I change my name with Social Security, am I going to have a problem checking in for a flight with my maiden name?

      No, you can delay the change until afterward.

      Reply
  19. Alexis

    Hello,
    When I got married I did not change my last name to my husband's on our marriage license. We just welcomed out first child and now I want to change my last name to match my husband's and child's. Can I still go to SS with the marriage certificate and other required docs or do I need to file a name change with the court since my marriage license only reflects my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Alexis. If you live in a state where the marriage license application did provide a blank space for you to specify a new name after marriage and you chose not to do so, there's a good likelihood you'll have to go to court. Some states are quite strict interpreting these rules, while others are more ambiguous.

      Reply
      1. Alexis

        Do you know if California is one of the strict states? Also is there a time frame for changing my name if it is allowed to just go through SS? We got married 4 years ago. I appreciate your help!

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Do you know if California is one of the strict states?

          Yes, it is.

          Also is there a time frame for changing my name if it is allowed to just go through SS? We got married 4 years ago.

          There's no time frame/limit.

          Reply
  20. Michelle

    i am divorced and remarried almost 6 years ago but never changed my ss info. I am now in the position of wanting/needing to apply for an enhanced drivers license. I have all of the document to trace my name changes from birth, first marriage, divorce and re marriage. However, on the SSA website it says something about needing additional info if the name change took place over 2 years ago in the form of an identity form in my old name, which I do not have. If there something else that I can submit? I have a drivers license in my new married name. Not sure if this would suffice.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Michelle. If you don't have an identity document in your old name, they'll accept an identity document in your new name. It must be unexpired.

      Reply
  21. Cynthia

    Question: When I got married, I chose to hyphenate my maiden and husbands last name. Now that I have considered going to SSA, I want to just include my husbands. Is this possible or do I need a court document in order to just put his?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Cynthia. It's possible it'll be accepted as-is. How the DMV might react is less certain.

      Reply
  22. Lesley

    Hi,

    Im on a visa and changed my passport to my married name.
    Before I could get my SSN I had to get my EAD for some reason there was a section missing I believe.
    Do I need to update my EAD first before changing my name with SS?

    Thanks

    Reply
      1. lesley

        Sorry its confusing, no I was given my EAD with my maiden name.
        Have a new passport with my married name but after one year the EAD needs to be updated so they have said it will be another 2 months until my new EAD is ready.
        As I couldn't get my social security number until I had my EAD last time, Im wondering If I have to wait for the updated EAD before updating my social security

        Thanks

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Lesley. You don't have to wait. Just bring a certified copy of your marriage certificate with you when going to SSA.

          Reply
  23. Katherine

    Hello, I will be getting married in a couple months, and currently live overseas. My fiancé and I will come to America for our wedding and than return overseas two days after the wedding. If I change my name at the SSD can I continue to travel on my passport and visa with my maiden name? We’re trying to save some money and time in not doing a new passport and apply for a new visa to the country we live in.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If I change my name at the SSD can I continue to travel on my passport and visa with my maiden name?

      Yes, you can. The maiden name on passport article elaborates on why this makes sense for situations such as yours.

      Reply
  24. Lesley

    I have to wait another 2 months for the EAD update for my name possibly.
    Do I need to wait for it or can I change the name without.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lesley. EAD typically comes before the social security card, if that's what you're asking.

      Reply
  25. Jessica

    Hi. I got married last April but never changed my last name. I was getting ready to do it tomorrow until I realized all of the things that I will need to do to change right away. I am moving to Florida in 3 months and wondering if it makes more sense just to change everything over there all at once. Starting from the Social Security office, to the DMV, to the bank, Etc. However, I am worried that I will not have sufficient enough paperwork to change my license such as bills in my name since I'll be living at home with parents. Also, to get a license there you need to have proof of insurance. If I change my name over with the Social Security office but go to the DMV with my maiden name or my car insurance and registration will that cause any issues? I hope you can understand this and appreciate any help thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If I change my name over with the Social Security office but go to the DMV with my maiden name or my car insurance and registration will that cause any issues?

      No, it shouldn't be an issue. One's federal and the other's state. You could do your SSA now in your current state of residency or wait until you're in Florida.

      Reply
  26. Christina

    Hi Valera,

    I live in NY and got married last month. I went to the SSA today to change my last name to my husband's last name; can I go to the DMV tomorrow, or do I need to wait until I receive my new SS card? Also, will I need to change my name with the post office? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Christina. Going to the DMV the next day is fine. USPS focuses on changes of address.

      Reply
  27. carmen villasenor

    Good Morning,
    Someone is going to change her name after Marriage, but when she adds maiden plus husband's last name, the new last name has 3 words, my question is, how long can a name be in the SS Card? is there a limit of characters to include?

    Reply
  28. Shawuan Johnson

    Hi- I live in NY and am getting married in March. I want to add my husbands name to my name without a hyphen. (First, middle, maiden, spouse last name). I was told when we got our certificate I had to hyphenate it. I don’t want to do this. Is there a way around this? Can I just file my request with the SSA after we are married? If so, what should I put on our license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Shawuan. You could either hyphenate or combine surnames without a space. Space-separated surnames aren't acknowledged. You can obtain a court order if you're adamant about the space.

      Reply
      1. Shawuan Johnson

        Hi-

        If I changed my middle name to my maiden name would I have to get a court order?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          If I changed my middle name to my maiden name would I have to get a court order?

          No.

          Reply
  29. Alec

    Hello Valera,
    My wife recently got a SS card that says Valid for work only with DHS Authorization. The number on that card has changed from her original card (she got several years ago when working in the US temporarily). Is it okay that her number changed?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Alec. The SSA does assign new numbers under certain circumstances, so it's not unusual. It's even possible to request a new one under certain situations.

      Reply
  30. Jaclyn

    Hi I was wanting to know if by mailing my ss5 form to change my last name is ok to do

    Reply
  31. Maggie

    Hello,
    I sent in my documents to the local Social Security office about 8 weeks ago and I’ve really messed this up. Since almost every website explaining the process wasn’t as helpful as yours, I sent in a copy of my license, rather than the actual ID. I haven’t heard from the office at all and I’m getting worried. Should I call them? What do you suggest I do? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maggie. Yes, you can contact them to find out where things stand. It's possible your packet may have been lost in the mail.

      Reply
  32. Nica

    Hi! I entred as an F1 student and I have my 1 year EAD. I just got married and I file the documents with my husband last name as my surname for my for Green Card and to Renew Work Permit as not for student anymore. Can I just change my SSA after I get my GC and other permits? Or I need to change it now?

    Reply
  33. Amy

    Hi there! I am a U.S. citizen that married my foreign husband in his country a few years ago. Our marriage certificate is certified but in Spanish. Will we need to get that translated to English in order to pr sent that to SS and change his name to mine due to our marriage (he's decided to take my last name)? Also, since then, we have also gotten married here in the USA in the Catholic Church and have a marriage certificate through the church too (but I don't think that one is certified–just issued through our Church). Thanks for your help.

    Reply
  34. Erica Sherman

    When changing my name with social security, do they have database that will share my name change with the social service administration?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      When changing my name with social security, do they have database that will share my name change with the social service administration?

      Yes, as it's the same organization.

      Reply
  35. Jean

    Hello, when I got married I changed my maiden name to my married name by obtaining a social security card with it, but never applied for my driver's license. Now 3 years later, I am separated from my husband and went to get a driver's license and put it in my maiden name. Was that a mistake?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jean. It's not so much a mistake, but something that can lead to problems renewing down the road due to a name mismatch with the SSA.

      Reply
  36. Brandi

    Hello, I’m hoping you can help with this. I have changed my last name through social security already, they had no problem processing my marriage certificate. However, when I went to the CA DMV, they informed me they could not process the name change because we did not request a name change on our marriage certificate. Now my last name is different with the SSA but still my maiden name on my drivers license. What can I do? I appreciate any advice!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Brandi. There's not much you can do with your current marriage certificate. The California marriage license application provides a space to specify a new name after marriage that's mirrored on the subsequent marriage certificate. If the new name isn't specified, the DMV isn't likely to change it. In this case, you'll have to obtain a court order.

      Reply
  37. Brittany farris

    Hi I'm fixing to get married but my partner wants to change his name before the wedding. Where do we start this process?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Brittany. Your partner would have to file a name change petition with the court to change his name prior to marriage.

      Reply
  38. Gloria Garrett

    If I present the marriage certificate will the SS copy it and return it to me or do they keep it?

    Reply
  39. Misty

    Hey, so I have the divorce decree, stating I change my last name back to my birthname. I was adopted, so I do not have anything else with that last name on it. With the judge approving it in the divorce decree, will that be enough? I have my birth certificate and social security card from the last name of when I was married.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      With the judge approving it in the divorce decree, will that be enough?

      Yes, that's enough.

      Reply
  40. Candra Marsh

    So I'm about to get my last name changed to my husbands, Can I change my middle name to a family name? Even though it's not my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Candra. You should be able to if it's your current legal surname.

      Reply
  41. rachel ebgi

    Hi I got married and changed my last name to include my husbands last name separated by a hyphen. Is it OK to have this name change only on the marriage license and keep DL, passport and SSC name as it is, with just my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it OK to have this name change only on the marriage license and keep DL, passport and SSC name as it is, with just my maiden name?

      Yes, it is OK.

      Reply
  42. Rachelle

    I got married in Hawaii and they sent me a temporary Marriage Certificate. It has the certificate number and shows it is from the State of Hawaii Department of Health, also including an expiration date. it also has all our information like my previous name. Will I be able to use this to change my name to my husbands name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rachelle. Your temporary marriage certificate can be used to change your name. It expires 90 days after issuance.

      A certified copy of your marriage certificate should be mailed to you free of charge before your temporary copy expires.

      Reply
    2. rose

      no , the dmv will send u away if it doesn't have a seal , I just witnessed this today

      Reply
  43. Louise

    My husband wants to change his first name on SS card because it was printed wrong 30 years ago (he never noticed until now), The SS officer would not accept passport and told him he needs certificate of naturalization which he can't find. Can he use our marriage certificate instead to prove ? The marriage certificate has the corrected name.
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Louise. The marriage certificate isn't likely to work. You'll have to contact them about which secondary identification would be acceptable (e.g., driver's license, state ID, birth certificate, insurance card, medical record).

      Reply
  44. Cheryl Carmichael

    I mailed in the documents to have my social security card changed to my new name. Is there a way to check to make sure they received it and that is is being processed?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Cheryl. You can phone to try and get the status of your documents by calling 1-800-772-1213.

      Reply
  45. Brianne

    If you perform all the changes through the mail (wait time 2-6 weeks), what's the impact, if any, to any flights you may have booked with your old name between the time of submission and receipt back from the SSA? Or will there only be a conflict if you change your DL before you travel?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Brianne. As long as your ID matches the name on your airline tickets you're fine.

      Reply
  46. Anne

    I got married and just got my ead, i want to apply work but my ssn id is still single name..do i need to change it first to married name before applying for work?

    Reply
  47. Larissa

    Can I go to any SS office to change my information? Or does it need to be the city where I live (my current Post Office address/ the address on my driver's license?)? Can I request the card be sent to a different address as well?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I go to any SS office to change my information?

      Yes, you can go to any office.

      Can I request the card be sent to a different address as well?

      Yes.

      Reply
  48. Peggy

    My name on SS card doesn't match my CA driver license. Can I just go to DMV in CA and ask for the name update based on the SS card?

    Reply
  49. Shanna

    Hi, I want to change my name with the SSA but I have both domestic and international flights booked in my current name through December. Would it be okay to just change my name with the SSA and hold off on my drivers license, passport, bank, etc. until after my travels? I know the name on my tickets must match my license and passport.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Would it be okay to just change my name with the SSA and hold off on my drivers license, passport, bank, etc. until after my travels? I know the name on my tickets must match my license and passport.

      Yes, that would work.

      Reply
  50. Marlene McLean

    Have 2 social security cards….one with my maiden name and the other with my married name….i am now divorced with a court order to change my name back to my maiden name…do I still need a new card or can I use the one with my
    maiden name on it…

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Marlene. Even though you have an old social security card with your maiden name, that's not the name on file with the SSA. That ID isn't valid.

      Reply
  51. Miguel G.

    Is it possible to transfer a drivers license from one state to another with the SS printout?

    Reply
  52. Jennifer

    I was divorced in 2014 and have kept my married name. I want to go back to using my maiden name. I have a certified copy of my marriage license showing my maiden name as well as soc cards in both my maiden and married name,birth certificate with maiden name, and drivers license in married name. Is this sufficient documentation to return to my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jennifer. What you'll need is a divorce decree that contains an order that restores your maiden name. If no such order is included in your decree, then you'll have to file a name change petition at the appropriate courthouse.

      Reply
  53. Haydee Rivera

    I’ve been married for 15 years social security card has my married name the passport agency put both my maiden name and married name how do I go about changing my social security card

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Haydee. You'd have to present another document that justifies another name change, such as a court order.

      Reply
  54. Nancy Knott

    Is there a way to know if my name change has taken affect prior to receiving my card in the mail? I'm recently divorced and have already changed my name at the DMV and on my bank accounts; I'm waiting for a credit check to be performed for mortgage pre-approval to purchase a home but can't do so until the update at SSA is complete.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nancy. You'd have to phone your SSA office for a status update.

      Reply
  55. Ashley Feasel

    Hello, I have been married now for 7 years and at the time of marriage I thought I had changed my name everywhere as my passport and drivers license are in my married name. I recently realized that I maybe never changed my SS card. Is there a way to check before going through the whole process. I live full time in Switzerland and it is really not practical sending the types of documents they need back to the states. If I don’t change it for another year can I continue to file my taxes with my maiden name without penalty? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ashley. You can try phoning or writing a SSA office to verify the name that's on file. Presumably your tax filings haven't been rejected for the past several years, so you can go on filing in your maiden name. If you truly never changed your name with the SSA, filing in your maiden name is what you should be doing anyway.

      Reply
  56. Lisa

    How long after a marriage do I have to change my name with the SS office?

    Reply
  57. Marie Schultz

    I live in NY and have been married for almost 30 years. I took my husband's surname at marriage and kept my original middle name. (Marie Anne Schultz) I would like to change my middle name to my maiden name. (Anne to Jacobs) Currently, some documents (SS, license) have my middle initial. Marie A., while my passport has my original middle name, Marie Anne. Our marriage certificate only has our birth names listed.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Marie. You'll have to get a court order to change your middle name. Such a document will allow you to update your middle name across the necessary institutions.

      Reply
  58. Mary Ann Miller

    Hi, I am planning to get married in May, I now receive SSWB & am 64yrs.old. I would like to know if it is legal for me to keep my name & not have to change anything with SS? I live in AL Thank You.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I would like to know if it is legal for me to keep my name & not have to change anything with SS?

      Yes.

      Reply
  59. Natalia Nor

    I’ve got married (In NJ) about a month ago and just a week ago I went to the SSA to change my name by taking my husband’s last name. I filled out the forms as indicated and had all my original documents proof of my marriage however, today I got my new card and it has the same name and last name as the original one. Meaning they didn’t change anything. I found odd that marriage license and certificate applications don’t ask for change of name or anything related to it. Did I do anything wrong? What should I do?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Natalie. The SSA form asks you to specify the name to be shown on the new card. It doesn't specify "new name," just "name." Is it possible you simply didn't specify your new name within this space? If you did, then it's possible a mistake occurred with whoever processed your paperwork. In that case, you'll have to contact the SSA office to inquire what went wrong.

      Reply
  60. Mary Ann Miller

    I plan on getting married in May & I am having my husbands last name put on our marriage license but is it legal for me to keep my name now, without notifying SS?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      is it legal for me to keep my name now, without notifying SS?

      Yes. You don't ever have to change it for real.

      Reply
  61. Shannon

    Getting remarried in a month. Want to use my current last name as my middle name and add my future husbands last name. Is this possible.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Shannon. It's possible in some states, while others may only allow the maiden name or have ambiguous rules.

      Reply
  62. Jessica olivares

    How long does the social security take to update in the DMV system?

    Reply
  63. Anne

    I already sent my documents to social security office to change my name, after a month i called them to follow up my ssn card, but they said need more 2 weeks, the problem is i have a flight goin to michigan and i dont hv any ID with me, is there any way to get my documents to social security office so i can travel..

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Anne. You may want to visit a local SSA office for assistance. Otherwise, you can look into getting a duplicate driver's license or state-issued ID card. Also considering contacting the airline to determine what alternate forms of ID would be acceptable.

      Reply
  64. Julie Sall

    Hi your lead statement is misleading….you do not have to change your SS name to make changes at the DMV etc…just a marriage certificate.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      you do not have to change your SS name to make changes at the DMV

      Some DMV's may process a name change independently of the SSA, but many of them will query the SSA database first and will refuse to process a name change when a mismatch occurs.

      Reply
  65. Marlen

    I've been married for 7 years now and I currently have my last named changed only on driver's license with my maiden name as middle name but haven't changed my ss card yet . I do want to change it ,but would they take my DL as identification or would it be a problem?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I do want to change it ,but would they take my DL as identification or would it be a problem?

      If you don't have an identity document in your old name, they will accept one in your new name.

      Reply
  66. Carmen Castillo

    My son changed his last name to his stepfather’s. He is 18, still in high school. Can I go and do all the paperwork for him at the social security?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I go and do all the paperwork for him at the social security?

      No, he'd have to accompany you or go on his own.

      Reply
  67. Mari

    Hi, just curious do I sign the SS-5 form with my original name on my ID or my married name?

    Reply
  68. Christine

    I'm currently in the process of changing my last name to my new married last name. I'm also trying to apply for a credit card and I'm wondering, would applying for a credit card, during the name changing process, affect my chances of getting accepted for the credit card? So far, I've only submitted my application to the SSA (I was not given a temp SS card, I was given a receipt of my application) and I have not changed my name anywhere else or on anything else. The bank I am currently trying to apply for a credit card at is a bank that I am currently a member of. Do you have any insight on this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Christine. It's a good idea to wait until the SSA has updated your name in their records before applying for new credit. The bank, or any financial institution for that matter, will want the name you submit to match what's on your social security record.

      If you'll be interfacing directly with your bank, they may be willing to accommodate you, but it's up to each bank to decide how flexible they'll be.

      Reply
  69. Dan

    Hi.
    My wife's green card was approved and been mailed to our US address just fine. However, we didn't realize she could have put her name with my last name on the green card application. E.g., she is Hanako Yamamoto. My last name is Doe. She wanted to change her name for life in the US to Hanako Doe, but we didn't realize we were just supposed to write that on the green card application, so now she is still Hanako Yamamoto.

    To do a green card name change, you have to fill out the form and pay the fees (I-90). One of the required documentation is evidence of legal name change. But we have only the Japanese official document as documentation indicating our marriage, and her name, as legally required in Japan, retains her last name, not mine. OUR QUESTION: should this marriage certificate be enough for the name change of the social security card? how about for getting her CA drivers license – can she just put her desired name eg., Hanako Doe and show her marriage certificate as justification for this? or will the DMV just look at her green card or social and simply put her name as written on those cards?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      However, we didn't realize she could have put her name with my last name on the green card application. E.g., she is Hanako Yamamoto.

      You can have the green card renewed, but USCIS does charge a fee.

      should this marriage certificate be enough for the name change of the social security card?

      The name on her green card and social security card should match.

      how about for getting her CA drivers license – can she just put her desired name eg., Hanako Doe and show her marriage certificate as justification for this?

      This likely wouldn't work, as the DMV may query the SSA database to confirm her surname matches.

      or will the DMV just look at her green card or social and simply put her name as written on those cards?

      That's likely.

      Reply
  70. Allison

    Hi – recently married in CA and when we filled out form for marrige certificate I hyphenated my current last name and my new one. Now I wish I had just made my old last name part of my middle name. Am I stuck now that I've done that at Social Secuirity and DMV or can I process differenlty there? Can't seem to find an answer anywhere.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Now I wish I had just made my old last name part of my middle name. Am I stuck now that I've done that at Social Secuirity and DMV or can I process differenlty there? Can't seem to find an answer anywhere.

      Yes, you're stuck. To change your name again you'll have to file a change of name request with the Superior Court as if you were do a typical adult name change.

      Even if you hadn't changed your name with SSA or the DMV you'd still have to go the court route as California county clerk offices are unwilling to modify or amend recorded and issued marriage certificates unless there are errors or a court orders it be done. Wanting to change the name on a certificate wouldn't be an acceptable reason.

      Reply
  71. Judes

    Had my folder with my birth certificate and marriage license. Got a copy of my birth certificate from the county clerk’s office to avoid being forestalled by SSA. Completed the SS-5 (the clerk said I didn’t have to but it’s faster to input the information in the computer if it’s already completed). Came in 3:30pm. Office closed at 4pm. Was out of the office in a little under 20min. Great experience at SSA. Super fast and the staff were surprisingly pleasant.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Judes. Thanks for sharing your experience of changing your name in person rather than through the mail. You must have gotten in on a good day or hour.

      Reply
  72. Rose

    I want to hyphenate my last name with my spouse's, but I heard that social security cards replace hyphens with spaces and I do not want to end up having two last names. How can I make sure that my new legal name is hyphenated?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rose. Although the Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) may not like hyphens or special characters, that doesn't necessarily prevent a hyphenated name change from being accepted and stored properly. However, it's possible your card may be printed with only alphabetic characters.

      Reply
  73. Sue

    If I already sent in an application for a name change because of marriage and its taking longer than I thought, can I go in now with all my documents and try to change it that way? Or will that cause more confusion now?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sue. If you mailed in your documents, you can still go into your local SSA office to determine what's causing the delay. Their systems are synced.

      Reply
  74. Kerilee

    15 years ago when I married I went to SS office and combined my first and middle name and took my maiden name as my middle. Was the ok to do? Was I supposed to have a legal name change document besides a marriage certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kerilee. They were either more flexible back in the day or you got a malleable agent to handle your case. Either way, your name change request was accepted and it's done. Nowadays, such a first name change request wouldn't likely be accepted without a court order.

      Reply
  75. Mary

    On my marriage license it shows Surname After Marriage as my fiance's last name only. Would I still be able to hyphen it with my last name when I go to the SSA to change my name or is it too late?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mary. It can vary by state and how flexible an SSA clerk you come across.

      Reply
  76. Brenda Krajewski

    I went in to my local social security office to do a name change due to marriage. I had the application filled out except I didn't sign it yet, I read that it is best to sign it in person, but the lady never asked me to sign it, and I completely forgot also…so what will happen with my card. She gave me a receipt for it.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Brenda. Unless your application is returned to you with a signature request, you're fine.

      Reply
  77. Martini B

    Hi, Do you think they approve my SSN I applied last 5 weeks? What happened is my Indonesian passport still on my name without my husband last name. But my Green Card and my marriage certificate with my husband last name.
    First they said not guaranteed because my passport and my Green card different name, than they said wait for 2- 4 weeks to make SSN. Tomorrow will be 6 weeks. I’m so frustrated about it, do you think they will rejected because my passport not same name as my Green Card\marriage certificate?
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Martini. You'll have to contact a local social security office to determine the status of your application. If there'a problem with on of your supporting documents, there's usually substitutions that can be made.

      Reply
      1. Martini B

        Thank you so very much for your adviced, I called the local security office they said the Homelands Security office didn’t have verified yet my documents and they told me to call them back another 2 weeks. Just wondering where is Social Security Card process? In Homelands Security office or Social Security Administration office
        Thank you

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Just wondering where is Social Security Card process? In Homelands Security office or Social Security Administration office

          Processing is done through the SSA.

          Reply
          1. Martini B

            Thank you and much appreciate for all your information

  78. Jordan

    Hi. My husband and I are planning on going together to get everything settle at the social security office . Would they be able to just get everything out of the way for both of us at once? ( stupid question , I know , but I thought I’d ask.)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Would they be able to just get everything out of the way for both of us at once?

      Yes, you can take care of business together.

      Reply
  79. Karen

    I will be getting married in a few months. I plan on hyphenating my last name but I wasn't planning on making the change until a month or 2 after the wedding & honeymoon. Due to hotel reservations and flights that are already booked using my maiden name I don't want to change my name right away.

    I was wondering how long can I go before changing my SSN and CA DL with new hyphenated last name? As I understand in CA you can apply for your marriage license 90 days prior to your wedding and you must place your name how you will have it after you are married or else you have to have a court order to change it later on. I don't want to go through that but I didn't know if there was a specific time frame on when you have to have the name updated through SS office. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I was wondering how long can I go before changing my SSN and CA DL with new hyphenated last name?

      There's no time frame to abide by.

      As I understand in CA you can apply for your marriage license 90 days prior to your wedding

      You don't have to apply for a marriage license 90 days before your wedding. The license can be applied for the same day as your wedding. It's just that the license expired 90 days after issuance.

      and you must place your name how you will have it after you are married or else you have to have a court order to change it later on.

      Correct.

      I don't want to go through that but I didn't know if there was a specific time frame on when you have to have the name updated through SS office.

      There is no time frame.

      Reply
  80. Dreux

    Hi, I legally changed my first and middle name 3 years ago, so my question is, why do I get mail with my old name and also when my social security number is put in sometimes my old name still comes up, I also had a background check ran on me about a month ago and they kept referring me by my old name, any help?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      why do I get mail with my old name

      Changing your name with the SSA only changes it with the SSA. For everyone else, you have to notify them of the name change so that their records can be updated as well.

      and also when my social security number is put in sometimes my old name still comes up

      The SSA maintains a history of changes to your social security record.

      I also had a background check ran on me about a month ago and they kept referring me by my old name, any help?

      SSA and credit bureaus maintain name histories. Nothing out of the ordinary.

      If there's an organization in particular you're concerned about, you can write them a letter notifying them of your name change.

      Reply

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