399 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.

399 Comments

  1. Mayela

    Hi i have a quick question i just came from my local SSA Office, i changed my name due to marriage, they didnt gave my my old social security card back do they stay with it? Do they provide anything so you can have it on you meanwhile the new card arrives?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mayela. No, they don't typically provide a temporary card while they retain the old one.

      Reply
  2. jorge

    Hello!
    My wife is trying to get her name changed. We have our certified marriage certificate copies (the one we signed after the wedding), and on it it says before marriage name. No where on there does it have the new, desired last name. Is this an issue? We have NO documents that have her first name and new last name, so can we still get her a new drivers license and SS card?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jorge. In some states, the certificate you may receive immediately after the ceremony isn't actually a certified copy. It may say "marriage certificate" or "certificate of marriage," but it's not certified until it's been recorded and issued as a certified document from the proper office. Every state does it differently, so I can't say with much specificity if you can use that document to change your name just yet. What state did the marriage take place in?

      Reply
  3. LANI VENTURA

    Hello,
    I am getting married in September 2017, we applied for our marriage license and I told the clerk that i want to keep my last name and hyphenated his last name. Do I necessarily need to change my last name to his in my social security, drivers license and other documents? I want to keep my Dad's last name in his honor. Please advice.. Thank you

    Lani

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I necessarily need to change my last name to his in my social security, drivers license and other documents? I want to keep my Dad's last name in his honor.

      No, you do not have to change your last name, regardless of what you specified on your marriage license.

      Reply
  4. Victoria Byer

    Can I go to any social security office to change my last name to my new husbands last name or so I have to do it at my local office?

    Reply
  5. Nicole weaver

    Hi there! My husband and I married on June 26th 2017. We currently live in the state of Ohio but married in Jamaica. We did receive a certified marriage certificate. I spoke to a lady in our county to find out if we would need to register the marriage here in the states and she couldn't give me much info other than to the take certificate to the social security office and see if they would grant the last name change. Could you provide me with some info? I was guaranteed that this is a legal binding marriage but the last I spoke with said SS may not consider Jamaica as a county that would be validated. I've tried to google and came up with nothing. The certificate we received does have the raised seal. Should I take this certificate along with my identity documents? The lady I spoke with said we might have to be married here to make it official. Help!! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nicole. Just take the certificate to the SS office as you would any other certificate.

      Reply
  6. Brittany

    I got married in pa, but moved to ky before changing my name ID etc. I still have a pa license. Anyway I could change my name legally in ky with a pa marriage certificate and ID.

    Reply
    1. Brittany

      And if so, what would be my first step. Changing my license, then to the social security office then back to the DMV?

      Reply
    2. Valera

      Anyway I could change my name legally in ky with a pa marriage certificate and ID.

      Yes, you can.

      Reply
  7. Alexsis

    Hello. I will be getting married this October. I want to get my name changed as soon as possible. With that being said, we plan on going to our local Social Security Office as soon as we get back from our honeymoon. My question is…I am from PA and we just recently moved to CA 2 years ago. Even though I was not born in CA, but born in PA, am I able to still get this taken care of a our local Social Security Office in CA…or will I have to send off the documents to the Social Security Office in PA?

    Reply
  8. Taran

    My husband and I were married a little over 2 years ago. I didn't change my name right away because I'm a flight attendant and wanted to wait for my passport to expire (and also putting off the huge hassle of changing my name at work). Now that it's getting close to expiring, I'd like to change my name. Can I just take our marriage certificate to our local SS office and change it? It only states my maiden name. Our lisence is also from Virginia and we now live in Wisconsin.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Taran. Yes, just take a certified copy of your marriage certificate with you to change it.

      Reply
  9. Megan

    Can I send in my paperwork via mail to change my last name? It has been several years and I did not opt to change my last name when wed, but I want to now and my job does not let me off work unless it is an emergency. How do I go about requesting a name change through the mail without any hiccups.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Megan. You can submit your social security name change form through the mail or in office.

      Reply
  10. Maria

    Hi. I filed for a petition for my husband and it was approved. But i used my maiden name when i filed for it. Included is our birth certificates and marriage certificate. Can i just change my marital status at ss without changing my surname yet?i would love to change it but i worry that nvc might get confused with my new name and cause delay of my filed petition.

    Reply
  11. Nchangwi ingram

    Hi i got married so i went to social security and changed my last name into my husband's ,and i displaced the order of my first n middle name so de problem is they refused to give me a driver's license cus the displacement of my first and last name is not permitted.last week i went to social security and changed the first and middle name to its original order its been 12days to day but my new card hasn't come.please could dere be any problem with my situation?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nchangwi. Having processing time take at or longer than 12 days isn't unheard of. You can contact your social security office to determine its present status.

      Reply
  12. Carmen

    Ok so there was a similar question already but did not give me the answer I needed.
    I recently updated my Green Card ( not cheep to renew) and want to work on my citizenship which will take me a couple of years which will be expensive as well and I am getting Married in a couple of weeks.
    How long do I have to change my SSA info to what will be on the marriage certificate? I rather wait to update everything when I get my citizenship rather than having to pay for a new green card now and than again when I become a citizen.I know I can keep my current name and not change anything. I also know I can change my name when I get my citizenship. However what I can not find is, if there is a time frame by which it has to be done? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How long do I have to change my SSA info to what will be on the marriage certificate?

      There is no time limit. You can change it later, when it's optimal for you.

      Reply
  13. Nancy C Sherman

    I was married on July 15, 2017. We have a honeymoon in September, a cruise in February and a European trip in May. Plane reservations have been made. Since my passport has to match my plane reservation / ticket name exactly. Is there any time frame where I must complete the social security name change? Is it required for filing joint income tax returns? Can I change everything else after my May 2018 trip? Example change social security now but change drivers license, bank accounts, credit cards, passport after May? What is your advise?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is there any time frame where I must complete the social security name change?

      No.

      Is it required for filing joint income tax returns?

      No.

      Can I change everything else after my May 2018 trip?

      Yes.

      Example change social security now but change drivers license, bank accounts, credit cards, passport after May? What is your advise?

      Yes, you could do that, although some state driver's license offices mandate they be alerted to name changes within a certain period of time.

      Reply
  14. Heidi Wiebusch

    I am looking to change my name with the SS office through the mail. Can I mail a photocopy of my driver license for proof of identity or do I need to mail the actual license? Seems strange to me to mail in the actual document. Any info would be great. Thanks.

    Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Elizabeth. You don't have to use your driver's license. You can also use an employer, student, or state-issued ID card. You can also go into a local office and change it directly without having to forfeit any identification.

          Reply
  15. Sandra

    Hi. I recently got married and i have changed my name at social security office, but that's the only change I've done. I haven't change my at the MVA or anywhere else. I'm graduating from nursing school in December but I want to graduate with my maiden name, would there be a problem if I don't change my name in school

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sandra. That's something you'll have to take up with your school. Perhaps they'll allow the use of an alias, or using your preferred name publicly and legal name internally. If you don't want to disclose your identity, then you can inquiry anonymously via telephone.

      Reply
  16. Maryjane

    I got married but don't want to change my name. Do I have to? How do I link my ssn to my husband ( for survivor benefits, for example).

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I got married but don't want to change my name. Do I have to?

      No, name change isn't required.

      How do I link my ssn to my husband ( for survivor benefits, for example).

      The same as your normally would. Name change isn't related.

      Reply
  17. Tanya

    I recently got divorced and immediately ran to the ssa to change my name back to my maiden name, which was a mistake. But now I realize I want to keep my married name. What can I do?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tanya. If you've already went through the name change with the SSA, the you'll have to get a court order to change it again.

      Reply
  18. Jillian

    I recently got married (9/3) and I went to the SSA and DMV and changed everything; However I am just now learning that in Nebraska I cannot drop my middle name, and I can either drop my maiden name entirely, or just add my Husbands name on the end of it. I have to go and get my License adjusted to First Middle Maiden Last instead of what it is currently (the guy at the DMV messed my name up, so it just says First Maiden Last) – Naturally I went to the SSA first to change my name and my SSC now says First Maiden Last. When I update my License it will be First Middle Maiden Last, does my SSC need to match the name on my license, or can I leave it as is? – I also need to get my passport updated, should I provide them with the name on my License or the name on my SSC?

    Sorry this is a little long – I don't know what to do and I am very lost.

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      When I update my License it will be First Middle Maiden Last, does my SSC need to match the name on my license, or can I leave it as is?

      The SSA doesn't go by what's on your license. However, the DMV is prone to go with what's on your SS card.

      I also need to get my passport updated, should I provide them with the name on my License or the name on my SSC?

      Since your license will likely have to match the name on your SS record, it would make sense to have it reflected on your passport as well. This ensures consistency across your identity documents.

      Reply
  19. Joyce Arrington

    just got married i do not have a birth certificate to take to ss i just have id and ss card and marriage certificates will this be enough

    Reply
  20. Caitlyn

    I got married last November and when I went to renew my plates and license in April at the dmv I asked about changing my name, I had my marriage certificate with me and she let me change my name on my license without having my name changed at the SOcial security office. I still haven't changed my name on my Ss card. Is my ID already having my married name going to mess up changing my name on my Ss card?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is my ID already having my married name going to mess up changing my name on my Ss card?

      No, it will not cause a conflict.

      Reply
  21. Thuan Nguyen

    Hi!
    I live in Cali. I just got married last week and received our marriage certificate with request of changing my last name into my husband's last name. Now i change my mind not to take my husband's last name. Is it ok and legal if i don't change my new last name on any official documents. Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you very much.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it ok and legal if i don't change my new last name on any official documents. Look forward to hearing from you.

      Yes, it's fine.

      Reply
  22. Dawn Hanson

    hi i was married twice and didnt change my ss card at all. i cannot find my first marriage certificate or divorce decree, i am married now and i have proof to my current name from my previous married name but not from my birth name. What do i do for documents? i have my birth certificate and my Drivers license. insurance card etc….but my ss card is still in my maiden name. i just need to know what i need to bring to get this figured out.
    Thank you,
    Dawn

    Reply
  23. Brittney Joy

    Hi, I got married in 2014 and haven't changed my SS card yet.. on my marriage licence I put my maiden name but I want to change it to my husbands last name. Does it need to be his last name on the marriage licence? If so what do i need to do to fix it? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Does it need to be his last name on the marriage licence?

      Some states require your name change to match what's on the certificate, while others do not.

      If so what do i need to do to fix it?

      You can typically only amend a certificate if there's an error. Preferring a new name wouldn't count as an error unless the mistake was on the clerk's part.

      Reply
  24. Mary

    Hi!
    Just change my name to my husband's paternal name after our marriage at the SSA with no problem at all, but when I tried to change it at dmv in PA they did not allow me to just use his paternal name, they told me that I have to use both of his last name since he is latino and that is the way names are in our countrys, and that is how appears in out married certificate; they told me that SSA is federal and DMV is statal so laws are different. I only want to use one last name since that is how our daughter's BC is too, is there a way that I can get that change?

    Reply
  25. Yanai G.

    Hello, I live in Florida and I wanted to know if I change my name in my SS and my drivers license but my passport still has my maiden name will my passport still be valid? We have a trip coming up in a couple of weeks and another in about 3 months and I didn't want to go through the hassle of changing my passport just my drivers license and SS. But want to make sure my passport will still be valid with my maiden name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Yanni. Your passport will remain valid. Make sure the name on your tickets matches the name on your passport.

      Reply
      1. Yanai G.

        Thank you! I just wanted to make sure because I know you have 10 days to update your license but wasnt so sure about the passport

        Reply
  26. Kayla

    I got married back in May. I have not changed my name on my SS yet. Due to moving to Germany shortly after marriage, I was afraid I wouldn’t get it back in time. I was unaware I could do it at an office. Do you have any tips on how to change it from over seas? My husband is stationed here, I just got hired on base but they need my SSN. Is there ANY way to expedite the process? With all the things I had to do with the military, changing my SS was the last thing on my mind. I’ve been out of work for over 3 months and I Cannot afford to wait up to 6 weeks to get it back. Maybe I should go to the office on base and see what they say? I’ve noticed military doesn’t really like dependents much.

    Also, if you live in OK, they don’t need your SSC, just the marriage certificate, same with the banks. That’s how I changed it before I moved.

    Thank you

    Reply
  27. Suzanne

    After years of being married and having an identification in my married name, I came to find out that my name was never changed on my SSC. I found this out when I went to renew my drivers license even though my previous licenses have been in my married name. I had to change my license back to my maiden name. I cried thinking I am not legally married. How do I fix this? Please help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Suzanne. Whether or not your name was ever changed with the SSA doesn't affect the validity of your marriage. After all this time, you can still go to the SSA to change your name to your married name.

      Reply
  28. Brittany

    Do I also need to change my passport right away or will it be ok to use for a few months?

    Reply
  29. Melissa

    Hi,

    Do I need to mail my social security card with my maiden name on it with my documents to change my name and get a new social security card with my new last name?

    Reply
  30. Gelin

    Hi. I got married in 2016 and until now I haven’t change my name yet. Is there a time frame wherein I have to change my name? I’m in California by the way. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is there a time frame wherein I have to change my name? I’m in California by the way.

      No, there's no time frame.

      Reply
  31. Kristin Skosirev

    My husband and I just got married. He is Russian and in Russian culture, the wife takes the husbands last name, but adds an "a" to the end. I went to the Social Security office to change my name from my maiden name to his last name with "a" added to the end. I was told that I could only change my name to the EXACT way he spells it. I would have to change my name to the masculine form of his last name. Obviously he was not happy and felt insulted that I would have to use the masculine form. I was told that I would have to petition the court for a name change to add the letter "a" which includes a filing fee of $401, plus the cost of finger printing and a criminal background check. I ended up just changing it to the masculine form in the mean time and Ill have to go through the long and expensive process of adding the "a" at a later time. Are there no considerations for cultural differences for name changes in Social Security? I just want to make sure they are correct before I begin this whole process.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Are there no considerations for cultural differences for name changes in Social Security? I just want to make sure they are correct before I begin this whole process.

      No, there are no considerations made. You were given accurate information.

      Reply
  32. Ty Wren

    when changing your last name would that effect your taxes and my credit ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      when changing your last name would that effect your taxes and my credit ?

      No, it wouldn't.

      Reply
  33. Patou

    Good afternoon.
    I went to the social security office to change my name. I wanted to hyphenate my current maiden name with my new last name, but I was told that I can't since it is not showing on the marriage certificate. I am confuse…. How would my new name already be printed on the marriage license?
    I live in FL.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Patou. Were you trying to take in a copy of your marriage license or marriage certificate? Was there a spot for a new name choice to appear when you applied for your marriage license?

      Reply
  34. Joanna

    Hello,
    I live in New York, was married in August 2015 and have yet to change my name with SSA, DMV, etc.
    Is changing my name to the name on my marriage certificate with SSA what makes it "legal?" Or is my current legal name my married name even though nothing has been changed with SSA? Will the date of name change be on my new SSA card?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is changing my name to the name on my marriage certificate with SSA what makes it "legal?"

      Yes.

      Or is my current legal name my married name even though nothing has been changed with SSA?

      No.

      Will the date of name change be on my new SSA card?

      No.

      Reply
  35. Katie

    Do I have to mail in my actual drivers license or health insurance card as proof of identity? Or is a copy ok?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      It can be another original document, such as a passport, state-issued ID card, employee ID card, or student ID card or record. You could also order a duplicate of one of your ID's and send that. Your identity document should be returned to you after processing.

      Alternatively, you can take care of business in person at your local office.

      Reply
      1. Brittany Novitzki

        The document must have your birth date and not be expired…so if you do not have another document with all that information do you just send your driver's license?

        Reply
  36. Erin

    I am about to take my husband's last name 7 years after our wedding. Our children, 2 of whom were born before we wed, all have hyphenated last names. Can I change their names, basically just drop my maiden name the first part of the hyphenated name, or would I have to pay and petition to have their names be just their fathers. (he is listed on thier birth certificates)

    Reply
  37. Karen

    I have been divorced for over 20 years and would like to change my name back to my maiden name. Do I need to go to the SSA or Probate Court?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Karen. If your divorce decree contains an order restoring your maiden name, then you'll just need to obtain an certified copy of your divorce decree to effect a name change. If your decree has no such order, you'll have to petition the court for a name change.

      Reply
  38. Quennie

    Hello,
    I’m a GC holder married last month to my hispanic husband. I was planning to change my last name to his last name (SSN, DL) however, there was a bit of confusion on my part.

    1. My husband’s legal name (first, middle, mother’s last name, father’s last name)
    *this also appeared on our marriage license, as well as in our marriage certificate
    But he is using (first, middle, mother’s last name)

    He wanted me to use his mother’s last name as my married last name which did not appear as his legal last name in the certificate. He wanted also the same thing in our child’s last name once he’s born.

    How do I go about this, I want everything legal.

    2. I don’t want to change anything on my GC (I’ve read it’s expensive just to have the name changed in the GC) but do I need to inform the USCIS that I’m married.
    I wanted my GC and my foreign passport to have the same legal name (I renewed my foreign passport last month and will have to wait 8-10 weeks to get it- meaning, I still don’t have it with me but the details states my maiden name same as my GC)

    Once everything is resolved,
    3. Will my SSN,DL and other docs (with married name) affect my GC and passport (with maiden name)?

    Thank you so much for your help and for being patient in answering our queries.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      He wanted me to use his mother’s last name as my married last name which did not appear as his legal last name in the certificate. He wanted also the same thing in our child’s last name once he’s born.

      Your children's name may be changed as preferred, but you'd have to take on the full name reflected on the certificate. Otherwise, you'd have to petition the court.

      I don’t want to change anything on my GC (I’ve read it’s expensive just to have the name changed in the GC) but do I need to inform the USCIS that I’m married.

      Name changes should be reported.

      Will my SSN,DL and other docs (with married name) affect my GC and passport (with maiden name)?

      No, your green card is the primary. The other documents shouldn't impact travel.

      Reply
  39. Brittany Novitzki

    Do I need to send my actual driver's license in the mail to show proof or can it be a copy of my driver's license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Brittany. Other forms of ID are accepted, such as a passport or state/employer/student ID.

      Reply
  40. Christine M Judeh

    Hi ive already changed my name on my ssc. I lost that one and im getting a new one soon.do i still need to bring in my marriage certificate or do they still have it on file? Please help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Christine. You shouldn't need to bring it if you're just replacing a lost card.

      Reply
  41. Melonie

    This seems like a pretty useful post.

    Does anyone know if I can add 'De' and my husband's last name or will this be a problem? Where we come from when married you add De then the newly taken on last name. Instead of having so many names I will be dropping my middle and maiden name but wanted to know if anyone has had any issues with adding De. Explain: Judith Marie Hernandez is married and will now be Judith Marie Hernandez De Asencio..in my case Judith De Asencio since I want to drop my middle and maiden. Hope no one is too confused and maybe can help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Melonie. You'd have to get a court order to append something to your name.

      Reply
  42. Maria

    In our country we could use Ma for shortcut instead of Maria. All my documents has Maria except for my drivers license which is Ma. What documents do I need to take to DMV to have it change to Maria?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maria. You'd have to take a document that confirms you're legally eligible to change your name, such as a certified copy of your marriage certificate or court order.

      Reply
  43. Tyler

    I changed my name as part of a divorce 6 years ago but never updated my SS card or license. Is it to late? Do I have to do more to complete the process now?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tyler. No, it's not too later to change your name as long as your divorce decree contains an order restoring your preferred name. The process is the same.

      Reply
  44. C

    On my SS5 where it asks for my signature at the bottom, do I sign with my married name or the last name shown on my current SSC?

    Reply
  45. Amber Hoyt

    I was married before and separated when my then husband passed away. i was remarried last weekend and when i went to the DMV to have my name changed they said that i would need a court order showing that i could use the middle name that is on my birth certificate. i am confused because the social security office let me change my middle name to the one that was on my birth certificate. so who is right in the situation? doesn't your name have to match on your social security and your drivers license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Amber. They could both be right as the SSA is governed by federal law and the DMV by state law. Not all states allow flexible middle name changes or restorations due to marriage.

      Reply
  46. Jackie

    Hello,

    Sorry if this has been asked, I browsed quickly!

    I changed my name at the social security office on Monday; does it change in their system immediately? I was able to create a new account with mySocialSecurity using my SSN and my new last name, so I'm hoping that means it's been changed! (I won a jackpot at the casino and hadn't yet updated my married name, so I need my ID and SSN to match before they'll give me my money!)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jackie. You'll have to contact your local SSA office to determine if it's been fully processed or placed in a queue.

      Reply
  47. Teena Garcia

    I have been separated for almost 2 years from my husband and I would like to change my last name back to my maiden name on my social security card. Can I do that without filing for a divorce?

    Reply
  48. hataipat

    Hi, there.
    I came to the USA with student visa. In 2014, I got 1 year work permit after finished school, so I used the peemit to apply for the SSN.

    Now, I just got marriage and in the proceess of applying for Green Card. And I decided not to change my name.
    Couple days ago, I just got the work permit through marriage, so my question is…. do I have to do something with my SSN , or I can just use the same one.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  49. Linda McColley

    I remarried and once I received my marriage license I went to the SS office. He told me to wait a day and go to the DMV since I would be in the system. I did that and was refused because if I wanted a "Real ID" the federally approved one with the start, I had to show them my actual SS card. You may want to update your blog post's last paragraph to reflect that. I live in Wisconsin.

    Reply
  50. Veronica

    I changed my name through social security however, now USCIS is saying things would run more smoothly with my petition if I had left my maiden name on all my documents including my social security. Is it possible to change my name back to my maiden name?

    Reply
  51. 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
  52. 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
  53. 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
  54. 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
  55. 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
  56. 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
  57. 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
  58. 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
  59. 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
  60. 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
  61. 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
  62. 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
  63. 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
  64. 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
  65. Myranda

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

    Reply
  66. 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
  67. 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
  68. 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
  69. 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
  70. 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
  71. 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
  72. 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
  73. 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
  74. 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
  75. 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
  76. 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
  77. 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
  78. 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
  79. 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

Leave a comment

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