Change Back to My Maiden Name While Still Married. Without a Divorce!

Change Back to My Maiden Name While Still Married. Without a Divorce!

Reversing your name change within your existing marriage is tricky. If you're grappling with this dilemma, know that you're not alone. Does a quick fix exist? Let's find out.

Right question, wrong answer

We've gotten thousands of name change questions throughout the years. Sprinkled amongst them are interesting edge cases. At first glance, they're not what they appear.

Here's a curious example:

  1. I want my maiden name back!
  2. Can I change back to my maiden name without a divorce?
  3. How do I change back to my maiden name while still married?

The first appears to be folks pursuing divorce and wanting their maiden name restored. Simple enough. Just ask the judge to restore it within your divorce decree. Done!

The last two questions are ambiguous. Are they separated or getting divorced, yet haven't finalized it? Are they getting antsy, wanting to get their old name back early?

But what about someone who:

  1. Is happily (or unhappily) married.
  2. Regrets their name change.
  3. Wants to get back their maiden name.
  4. Isn't interested in divorce, remarriage, or court orders.

Online queries (ignoring the nuances) will often yield two common solutions:

  1. Get divorced. (Sigh!)
  2. Petition the court for a name change. (Ugh!)

These suggestions aren't wrong per se. But they might be overkill.

You just want a reset!

Does it come down to regret? You feel sorry you changed your name. You want your maiden name and identity back. Your reasons could be personal, professional, or a mix.

It doesn't matter. You're tired of litigating your decision. You just want things undone. Maybe you'll change it again later. Maybe not. But, let's just start over.

Just petition the court. Right?

Bernard Baruch: "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

Conventional wisdom suggests you've got one shot at name change through marriage. Undoing it means petitioning the court for a second name change:

  1. Court forms
  2. Hefty filing fees
  3. Courthouse hearings
  4. Local newspaper publication
  5. Soul-crushing headache and time wasted
Play on words of Nathan Hale's famous quote: "I only regret that I have but one name change to offer for my marriage."

No wonder people bury their name change sorrows as lessons learned. It's too late. Take your medicine. Wallow in self-loathing. Because the fix is too much trouble!

But is there an easier way? A secret corridor? Yes!…

Name correction to the rescue

It's always great to share a bonafide name change trick. Not a loophole. But a real, sanctioned, unambiguous solution. Its existence is remarkable, dating back to 2011.

And now, without further ado…

The SSA offers a lifetime return policy on name changes. You can return your married name for your maiden name (or any prior name held). Or exchange it for another new name.

And here's the kicker…

You can use your marriage certificate to get back your maiden name on your social security card. You don't need to get divorced or petition the court.

Yes, you can reuse the same marriage certificate used to change your name after marriage to undo that regretted name change. The cert giveth and taketh away.

This remedy works well for those who use our online name change kit to complete the name change process. Same as an initial marital name change.

Correction, reversal, undo, revert, flip-flop, u-turn

The SSA calls this a name correction; it's more of a name reversal or reset. Name reversions for marriage resemble regular name changes and follow the same procedures.

Social Security Program Operations Manual System name corrections protocol, established April 11, 2011

You can return to your maiden name for marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships using your marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership certificate.

Starting the name reversal process

The process for getting your maiden name back is the same for initial marriage name changes. See our social security card name change guide for what to do. The basic steps are:

  1. Mail the SSA form.
  2. Include your identification.
  3. Include your marriage certificate.

Deadlines and time limits

There's no deadline or timeline to undo or redo your married name change. You can pursue it right after you've changed your name or years later. The procedure remains the same.

Paraphrasing SSA POMS: "There's no deadline to reverse or redo your marriage name change."

Start over or forge a new path

The allure of a name reversal is the flexibility and breathing room it offers. You're not limited to a single name change retraction. You can seek consecutive revisions.

For instance, if you're struggling with uncertainty, you can revert, get your new SSN card, then either stop or plow ahead with yet another fresh name change.

Maximum do-overs

The SSA allows unlimited social security card name reversals and revisions. But over three changes within the same marriage will raise red flags.

If the field office thinks something fishy is going on, they'll consult the regional office. Impetuousness isn't a crime; you're okay as long as your pursuit is legit.

Vast name change reversal options

You're not relegated to just returning to your maiden name. You can change to any of the following names, whatever your current name is:

  1. Birth or maiden name
  2. Any prior name
  3. Spouse's last name
  4. Hyphenated last names
  5. Space-separated last names
  6. Part of spouse's compound surname

We'll elaborate on each of the above with the following examples.

1. Birth or maiden name change example

Let's say your maiden name is Rose Garcia, married Jordan Moore, changed your name to Rose Moore, then back to Rose Garcia. This rollback sequence works.

2. Any prior name example

Imagine you're on your second marriage; both times, taking your spouse's surname. Name reversal lets you return to any prior last name: maiden or ex-spouse's.

3. Spouse's last name example

Suppose your name was Ryan Lee, married Josh Clark, then hyphenated to Ryan Lee-Clark. Now you wish to just take your spouse's surname as Ryan Clark. You can do this.

4. Hyphenated last names example

Let's say your name was Ann Hall, married Ari Smith, then hyphenated to Ann Hall-Smith. You can reorder surnames, drop the hyphen for a space, or restore your birth name.

See our extended article covering the pros and cons of hyphenating your last name after marriage. (Whether you may come to or from this direction).

5. Space-separated last names example

See the prior hyphenated example, then swap out hyphen with space. Same result.

6. Part of spouse's compound surname example

If you were Jane King, married Mark Allen-Hill, then changed your name to Jane Allen-Hill, you can later shift to Jane Allen or Jane Hill. The dropped part must be a whole word.

Will this truly work? Reassure me!

The strategy of reversing your name change is well-documented and approved in POMS RM 10212.150 and POMS RM 10212.155: the SSA's operations manual.

Old Russian proverb: "Trust but verify."

There's even a documented example of this "I want my maiden name back" scenario in POMS RM 10212.160H:

Ruth Gonzalez changed her last name on her SSN card to her husband’s surname, Scott, when they married years ago but has never used that name. She is requesting a change in SSA records back to her maiden name, Gonzalez.

Her marriage document shows Ruth Gonzalez married Lou Scott. The new name requested (in this case the maiden name, Ruth Gonzalez), can be derived from the marriage document.

In addition, Ruth submits her driver’s license in the new name (Ruth Gonzalez). Ruth's legal name and identity have been established following RM 10212.150C, and the name correction can be processed.

Name correction example quoted from POMS RM 10212.160H.

But we were still skeptical. Maybe these sources were outdated or deprecated. So we contacted several SSA field offices at random, posing this hypothetical:

If someone changed their last name through marriage, will the SSA let them return to their maiden name using the same marriage certificate?

Name change undo query posed to SSA agents.

Responses from SSA agents fell into two buckets:

  1. No, you need a court order to change your name again.
  2. Yes, it's doable using your marriage certificate.

When we brought up the relevant POMS article, nos shifted to either:

  1. Hold on, let me look that up.
  2. Hold on, let me speak with my supervisor.

Soon after, every no concluded with either:

  1. Yes, it's possible after all.
  2. Yes, this works. I hadn't heard of this before.

Don't take a chance; plan for success

Considering that several SSA agents weren't aware of name reversal protocols, do yourself a favor and include a note referencing the pertinent POMS articles when filing:

I'm submitting a name correction for my current marriage per POMS RM 10212.150 and RM 10212.155 and RM 10212.160H.

Example notice to SSA field office agent.

You can go further by printing each POMS article and attaching it to your paperwork.

Caveats, fine print, and gotchas

Reversing your marriage name change with the SSA is easy. But this technique is only guaranteed to work with them. For instance, your state DMV might not agree.

When should I use this?

Name change undo, redo, reversal, or switcheroos work best when the only agency you've updated is the SSA. This allows you to start with a clean slate.

When should I rethink my name do-over?

You may have gone too far down the rabbit hole to turn back once you've updated many IDs, such as your driver's license and passport.

This is the downside and danger. Changing your name with one government entity only to have another scoff. They may even want you to reverse your reversal.

Name change reversal concluding thoughts

Undoing the name change on your social security card for your current marriage is doable. The SSA paperwork is the same. If you're yearning for a reset, here's your chance.

If you're looking for an efficient way to complete your name change undo, redo, or reversal, our online name change kit can help guide you along the way.

Our name change kit helps you change your name, either before or after marriage.

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174 Comments

    • Hi Ana. You can use a certified copy of your marriage certificate to return to your maiden name. Specify your maiden name in the "name to be shown on card" field.

  1. Hello, I recently got married and decided to change my last name to my husband’s last name on the marriage license. Since we were planning to do international travels for the honeymoon, I proceeded with changing my last name on the passport. However, I am now having doubts on changing my last name.

    I have not changed my last name on any other official documents such as social security card, driver’s license, or personal information. The only document I filed for the name change was the passport when I renewed it.

    Would it be possible for me to change the passport back to my maiden? Do I need a court order for this? What do I at this point pertaining my social security card and driver’s license? (I live in California)

    Thank you

    • Hi Yvonne. This may be possible through Form DS-11, for new, lost, or damaged passports. You'd have to provide your birth certificate instead of your marriage certificate.

  2. In 2018, I got married and I hyphenated my last name to be my maiden name plus my husbands (ex: Jones-Smith). Now I am just trying to change it to only 'Smith' (my husband's last name). Basically take out my maiden name and the hyphen.

    I have this hyphenated last name on everything. All credit cards, my license, my passport, my social, etc. Would I be able to update ALL these documents to just Smith, without a court order? If so, please let me know which order I should go in with getting my new documents with new name. Thank you so much!

    • Hi Haley. The problem you'll face will likely stem from trying to update your license and not your social, passport, or other nongovernmental documents. You may need to petition the court for your license.

  3. Hello, I have been married a couple of years. I'm regretting changing my last name to my husbands last name. I've been waiting to see if this feeling would change but as time goes by my regrets about changing my maiden name is still there. Would this help me change my last name with having to go to court?

    • I feel the same way. It's been a couple of years for me as well. I am now using 3 different last names at work because in some cases I have to use my legal last name vs preferred last name which I hyphenated, since I cannot go back to my maiden name. I still have emails with my maiden name. It's a mess, and I still can't decide what I want.

      Just glad I came across this article… I was initially concerned about $500 hefty fee for name change in CA. Now I just need to decide.

  4. I was just married today (yay!) and on the marriage certificate my name changed to my spouse's last name. I now regret this and wish to remain married but have my last name reverted to my maiden name. Will this system work? I'm in Massachusetts and haven't changed my name anywhere except my marriage certificate.

    • Hi Elise. If your name has only changed on your marriage certificate, then you don't need to take further action. Your legal name is still your maiden name and will remain so. You can ignore what your marriage certificate says.

  5. I changed my last name to my husband's 4 years ago and would like to change it to my maiden name + his last name. Can I change it at the SS office using this and then apply for a new passport while leaving my driver's license the same for now? I live abroad, so don't use my US driver's license. I would like my passport in my new name though. I was married abroad and my marriage certificate does not have a new name listed on it.

  6. My SS card has my first, maiden, and married name, all unhyphenated, eg, Sue Jones Smith. I've been married for many years and have never liked using my husband's name.

    May I just use my maiden name only for my signature, employment, etc., without dropping my married name on my SS card? So, return to my maiden name without officially dropping my married name with SS, DMV, back, etc.?

    • Hi Dayne. Take a look at the using your maiden name after marriage article, which delves into this topic.

      In summary, you'll have to clear with HR the use of your maiden name over your married name, even though they'll have to file your W-2 form under your married name.

      You can sign using your maiden name on a case-by-case basis, but for legal or government forms, you'll want to sign your legal, married name.

  7. I have been married for a year and a half, and I decided to hyphenate my last name because I didn’t want to lose my maiden name. However, I have a baby now, and I don’t like filling forms because my last name is so long, so how can I change my name and make my maiden name my middle name and my husband’s last name my last name? FYI, I don’t have a middle name, and I still don’t want to lose my maiden name, so that is why I would like to put my maiden name as my middle name.

    • Hi Evelynn. You can resubmit your name change using a certified copy of your marriage certificate when going from hyphenated to your spouse's last name. You can review the maiden to middle name change page for details on if such a change is possible in your state.

  8. I just moved to OH from MI. I have wanted to change back to maiden name since I changed it 4 years ago. I’m wondering if since I just moved states if there’s a way I would be able to get my new drivers license to reflect my maiden name after changing it with the SSA. Do you have any ideas?

    • Hi Cate. You could use your social security card, birth certificate, passport, or any prior document that reflects your maiden name.

  9. Can I change my middle name back to my birth middle name with I get married? Even if it was legally changed through adoption when I was a child and my birth certificate was changed. I saw that previous names could be used. I have the adoption decree as proof of my previous name used.

    • Can I change my middle name back to my birth middle name with I get married?

      Maybe. Which state will your marriage take place in?

      • Georgia. So I did end up changing my name. Social security changed it, DMV, and so on. However, I’ve ran into a few issues.

        The tag/title office would not accept it because they said I needed a court order to change my middle name back to my birth name because it was previously legally changed and I could not go back.

        It doesn’t match my birth certificate but I have the adoption decree with my birth name and adopted name… I have the paper trail of my name.

        Social security said it was ok to change it back to any previous names even if legally changed with my marriage license.

        I tried to find a policy that would apply to my situation but couldn’t find one.

        • Hi Megan. In these cases, you're often limited by the clerk's interpretation. You could try another office, try another agent, or accept a slight deviation between the names on your social security card, driver's license, and car title.

  10. Unfortunately in my case, this totally did NOT work. I (desperately) want to drop hyphenated addition of my husband's last name & return to birth/maiden name.

    Went to Los Angeles SSA Office. Had all my documents (marriage license with maiden name & birth certificate). Clerk & supervisor insisted the only way to "change your name" (even though I'm returning to my previous one) is 1) legal proof of a divorce (might be getting one if I can't get this fixed…) or 2) a court order.

    Any suggestions? Try another office? They (SSA) seem only able to implement what's in their system. They were adamant that SSA can't do this without court order. Help…? Thank you.

    • Hi JT. You could try another office by mail or in person. If mailing your paperwork, consider attaching a printout of the aforementioned POMS references.

  11. This totally worked. I can't thank you enough for your insight! They were trying to turn me away at first but I came prepared with paperwork in hand an let them know it came straight from the SSA website.

    After talking to 3 associates, it was approved! They all were honestly just unaware of the situation because it's considered unconventional. The staff learned something new and I got my name change on my SS card.

  12. I started the process of taking my husband's last name and dropping my maiden name. Our marriage certificate reflects my new name. Now I want to go back and change it so that my maiden name is my middle name and my last name is my husband's. So far I have done my license and my SSA. Do I have to go to court to get it changed?

    • Hi Caitlin. When your marriage certificate cites your new name, the SSA may only change it to that name. You can revert to your maiden name using your marriage certificate. A court order is required for anything beyond those two options.

  13. If my husband took my last name. Can we still change it back to his last name? With just our marriage license? He changed it with SSA and on his license? Is it easy to go back to his last name? And can I change mine to his last name still?

    • Hi Marissa. Your husband can change his name with SSA, but his license might not be possible without going to court. You can change your name to your husband's name using the certificate.

  14. I am a U.S. citizen and got married in Brazil. I chose to take my husband's last name in the marriage certificate. After 7 years of marriage, I haven't changed any of my legal documents, and continued using my maiden name for everything.

    Now I'm going through a background check for a government position and they are asking if I've ever legally changed my name. I informed them that I've changed my name when I got married, but never used it for anything. Will I have problems being hired, because I never used my marriage name?

    • Hi Cc. Since you've only changed your name on your marriage certificate, then you haven't legally changed your name.

  15. Hi, I got married in 2021 and on the marriage certificate changed my last name to my husband's last name. I have not yet changed my last name on any identification (school, license, social security, passport, banks). Would I be able to change and go back to maiden name on my marriage certificate?

    • Would I be able to change and go back to maiden name on my marriage certificate?

      No, you cannot change the married name on your marriage certificate after it has been recorded.

  16. I am married but have been separated for many years. If I changed back to my maiden name with social security do I have to change the name in my driver's license and back account or can i just leave them in my married name?

    • Hi Limi. Most state laws stipulate that you must update the name on your driver's license when changing your name. Even if you deferred, you would have to complete the change once it became time to renew your license.

      How your bank would handle a name mismatch varies per institution. It shouldn't affect soft credit checks, since those typically do not reveal your first or last name. If a hard credit check were ever pulled, it might reveal a name mismatch if new credit accounts start showing up in your maiden name again. You can contact your bank to inquire for certain how they'll handle this hypothetical.

  17. Hi Tyrone – unique situation here,
    My wife and I, both of us women, got married in 2016 in Maryland, and I changed my last name to hers – Hernandez. I got a new SS card & license with Hernandez when we lived in MD. My wife now wants to switch to my maiden name – Schafer. We live in Delaware now. Am I able to switch my last name back to Schafer, and then us our marriage certificate so my wife can change her last name to Schafer?

    Does us living in a new state cause any issues? Would we have to go back to get this done in MD (my birth state)or DE or CA (wife’s birth state)?

    Does me changing my license to Hernandez make it possible?

    I’m not sure how we would be able to do this, a little complicated. Thanks I’m advance for your help!

    • Hi Hernandez-Schafer. Both you and your wife can complete your respective name changes at the same time using your marriage certificate, assuming your maiden name of Schafer appears on the certificate. (You would need to acquire two certified copies though.) Your new state of residence isn't a problem.

  18. Hi – The Colorado DMV website says that residents "may change their name to names present on their marriage/civil union certificate" and also lists certified birth certificates as "acceptable name change documents."

    I would like to change my hyphenated name ("Birthname-Spousename") back to my birthname. My birthname is the one on file with SSA and it is listed on the original marriage certificate. Decades ago, the DMV would not allow me to make this change (they wanted a divorce decree–but I'm happily married).

    My marriage certificate was recorded over 30 years ago. Are there any problems I should anticipate here? Thanks so much.

    • Hi October. You'll have to go into the DMV with a certified copy of your marriage certificate along with a certified copy of your birth certificate. It's important that your marriage certificate show your maiden name and spouse's last name to indicate how your hyphenated name was formed.

      Make it clear to them you have a credential inconsistency that has lasted years, where your social security record has not changed, but your driver's license is out of step with federal identification. Also clarify that you are not divorcing or planning to divorce. You just need your records aligned. Any supporting documentation showing the use of your maiden name is helpful.

      You may be able to get your driver's license matched up with these documents without resorting to obtaining a court order. But it may very well come down to the interpretation and leniency of the agent who handles your application.

      • Hi Tyrone. Thanks so much for this helpful detailed advice. You were right about the leniency of the agent–the one I just talked to (by phone) was fine with me changing my name with a thirty-year old marriage certificate… as long as that was the *first and only* change. However, she considered dropping the hyphenated name a *second* change rather than a restoration/alignment to my federal ID, therefore requiring a second document (a court order).

        Adapting some advice you'd given elsewhere on this site, we looked into Colorado's marriage licensing and learned we could be issued a new license (technically for a 'vow renewal') and self-solemnize it via signatures in a one-stop trip to the Recorder's Office for $30. This is much cheaper, faster, and less onerous than Colorado's court ordered name change procedure. Plus it amused our kids that our renewed vows are "we will outfox bureaucracy together."

        The new license will be issued in the hyphenated Birthname-Spousename shown on my state ID, but I'm making sure that Birthname alone is also present somewhere on the document, just in case ("Coloradans may change their name to names present on their marriage/civil union certificate") and will present this new marriage license to the DMV to change back to my birth name.

        In case it helps any other regretfully-hyphenated folks: though the Colorado DMV refused to let me drop the hyphenation on the name line of my license in years past, they did permit me to drop it in my signature shown ON the license, making my birth name my legal *signature* at least.

        Again, thank you so much. I wouldn't have thought to go the vow renewal route had I not read your site.

        • Hi October. That's great to hear. Please come back and report how your name reversal went after your remarriage takes place.

          • UPDATE: Success! The DMV did change my name back to my birthname (from birthname-spousename) upon seeing the new 'vow renewal' marriage license. Hilariously, though, after scrutinizing the 2nd marriage license (under birthname-spousename), the agent sighed and asked, "Did you happen to bring your birth certificate?" and once I handed it to her, she handed back the marriage license and instead elected to use the birth certificate for processing the name change!

            Also, when I offered her my social security card (under birthname), she scoffed and said, "We're stricter than Social Security – they allow all sorts of name changes that we don't."

        • Hi October – I am interested in this: "Colorado's marriage licensing and learned we could be issued a new license (technically for a 'vow renewal') and self-solemnize it via signatures in a one-stop trip to the Recorder's Office for $30."

          I am looking into this in California and keep finding it isn't necessary to have a license for a vow renewal and doesn't appear to be offered. Did you use other terminology when researching/requesting? This seems to be the best way to go if possible! Thanks for taking time to write your experience!

  19. I got divorced 6 years ago and kept my married name but now I want to go back to my maiden name, will the SSA process work and do you think the DMV would allow this? Will this work to change my passport? Do you know if I can petition the court to change it without having to pay the ridiculous fees since I got divorced or did I have to do that AT THE TIME of my divorce petition? I live in Florida.

    • Hi J. Hagen. If your divorce decree has an order restoring your maiden name, you should use that document for every government agency.

  20. Hello, my wife and I got married 4 years ago and she initially took my last name. However now she has decided that she wants to go back to her maiden name and we actually decided to double barrel our surnames. Is there a way for us to do this through this SSA process? Or does this require the courts to be involved?

    Ex. John Smith married Jane Doe then they were John Smith and Jane Smith. But now want to be John Doe Smith and Jane Doe Smith

  21. Hi,
    I am getting married and have to check the box if i want a name change. I will be moving to the USA soon (I’m European and will get a green card). It isn’t a habit for people in my country to change names and I haven’t decided yet. My fiancé says I can decide on keeping my name now and changing it later (after arriving). Is that via court order then or is there an easier way?
    Thanks!

  22. Hi there,

    I was married in 2019 and updated my name by dropping my existing middle name and replacing with my maiden name and took my husbands last name. So if my name was Jane Doe Kelly and I married Mark Green, my name is now Jane Kelly Green. We are happily married but I can’t shake the fact that I feel I have given up my identity, even though I still hold on to my Maiden name in some capacity as my new middle name …

    I’ve since updated my SS card and my passport, but not my drivers license. Am I out of luck now to easily completely revert?

    Do drivers licenses include middle names and can I still go by Jane Kelly for all intensive purposes since it’s technically my middle name now?

    Thanks for your input!

    • I’ve since updated my SS card and my passport, but not my drivers license. Am I out of luck now to easily completely revert?

      You can revert your SS card. Passport may be possible too using form DS-11, which can be used for first-time applicants, as well as for passports that are expired, lost, damaged, or stolen.

      Do drivers licenses include middle names

      Yes, your driver's license would list your middle name.

      and can I still go by Jane Kelly for all intensive purposes since it’s technically my middle name now?

      You can if you update your documents. Otherwise, you can go by it informally.

  23. Hello

    I was married a few years ago and told that I had to change my name in Georgia not knowing that was false Info. I hyphenated my last name and my husband's name. Well I just found out I could have kept my name.

    I never changed it on my marriage license or application. I tried to use my license at DMV and was denied even though the probate court where I got my marriage license told me I could use it and it should be fine. What can I do in my situation? I only want to change it for business purposes.

    Thank you

  24. What if you are a tourist that decided to get married in the U.S. but now want to go back to maiden name? I only care about changing it back in the U.S.

    • What if you are a tourist that decided to get married in the U.S.

      Are you a non-U.S. citizen wanting to return to your maiden name in another country? Are you looking to change your name on USCIS-issued documents?

  25. This worked for me for reverting to my maiden name without divorce/separation paperwork!! Pretty much went as the article said, with the office workers being completely unaware of this exception. POMS 10212.155 seems to be the more accurate one to reference. My experience:

    (1) I went into office, they looked up the POMS numbers referenced in the article, but cited that it didn't match the "name change/correction" rules. Despite the example in the POMS directly with my exact scenario. They said they'd escalate my case to a regional officer but I never heard back.

    (2) I returned another day with POMS 10212.155 printed out and highlighted. Got a more friendly person who looked at the printout and entered in my information (using my marriage certificate as the proof of name change). Got my card in the mail a week later.

    The second time I went, I didn't mention divorce/separation, as they got caught up in insisting on that paperwork without reading the POMS exceptions.

    Thanks a ton for this site, it was the only one I found with the right information (including the tip that you just have to return and talk to someone different sometimes!)

  26. Hi, I went to the social security office today and requested to update my name back to my maiden name.

    She told me that I will get my card within two weeks. However, I wasn't given any receipt or paper. Is that normal?

    I am concerned cause the person seems like she had no idea and when I showed her the POMs, she wasn't reading it. Thanks for your help!

    • However, I wasn't given any receipt or paper. Is that normal?

      Not getting a receipt after your in-person business is concluded is not unusual. Not everyone gets one.

      I am concerned cause the person seems like she had no idea and when I showed her the POMs, she wasn't reading it.

      She may have recognized your circumstance and procedure, where reviewing the extra POMS documents was unnecessary.

  27. Hi! Your advise totally worked and I was able to go back to my maiden name through social security. However, I went to the DMV, and they can’t change the name on my drivers license back to my maiden name even with proof I changed it through social security. They said I have to have a court order which is what I was trying to avoid altogether. Any advice? Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Yaima. While it's great that your name reversal worked for the SSA, it looks like you did get caught in the caveat referenced near the end of the article. To satisfy the DMV, you would have to pursue a court order. The alternative is to reverse your reversal to match your old driver's license.

      And a note about court ordered name changes… it may be more work than a simple marital name change, but it may not be as complex as most people imagine.

      The lengthiest part is fulfilling the newspaper publication requirement, but many states do not even require publication (see linked table). Of course, there's the filing fee, but not every state makes it expensive. And not every state even requires a hearing.

  28. I got divorced and opted to revert to my maiden name. Although for years after my divorce I kept using my hyphenated married last name, but then when I got my first passport they forced me to use my maiden name since it was on the divorce decree and I was also forced to update my ID and DL. But I’d still like to use my married last name (it’s hyphenated).

    How would I officially revert back to using my hyphenated last name? I think it starts with being issued a new SS card right? Will I need to go to court for that?

    • Hi Kay. You may be able to get a new passport using Form DS-11, which is for new, lost, and damaged passports. You would submit your birth certificate, not your marriage certificate.

  29. I got married late 2022. I kept my middle name and took my husband’s last name, but I’ve been thinking of turning my maiden name into my new middle name (and getting rid of my original middle name completely)

    I received my official Marriage Cert, and updated my SS, but have not updated my drivers license or passport yet.

    Does the same procedure apply? Would the original marriage certificate suffice, or will they say the names on the application and marriage certificate don’t match and decline the request?

    • Hi Marie. Does your marriage certificate specify a new name (middle and last)? Or does it just show your current legal name at the time of application, and perhaps your maiden name? It would help further if you could cite the U.S. state (or non-U.S. country) where you married.

    • If you didn’t do this yet please don’t do this. I did it any no one uses my middle name. I’m literally going to court tomorrow to revert to my maiden name, I’m an established professional and it has been a train wreck.

      If you want to use your maiden name hyphenate, have a two word last name, or don’t change your name. Just my two cents.

  30. Would I be able to change my last name to my mother's maiden name or my partners last name, without being married to that partner?

    • Hi Anny. No, would you need a formal name change event that authorizes your name change, such as a marriage certificate or court order.

  31. I filed for a name change in my divorce decree, but I have changed my mind and want to keep my married name. Am I allowed to do that? If so and you decide later on I want to change it since it's already in the decree can I?

    • Hi DeeDee. The name change in your divorce decree is nonbinding. You can go through with it, or ignore it. If you decide to revert your name later, your divorce decree is still good for use.

  32. I was married several years ago and changed my last name to my partner's on my social security and driver's license, but my passport still has my maiden name. I am not getting divorced, but I do want to switch back to my original name. Will this work even though I have changed my driver's license?

    • Hi Aimee. Yes, for social security. You may need a court order for your driver's license. Your passport isn't changing, so nothing to do there.

      • Hi! Specifically in Minnesota, if I go back to my maiden name only because I miss my maiden name, will it be difficult to change my drivers license as well? I am going to SSA to change it there, and I really really hope it’s just as easy to change it on my license

  33. Hi,

    I recently got married. When applying for my marriage license, I originally wanted to change my name from Ann (First Name) Marie (Middle Name) Johnson (Last Name) to Ann Marie (FN) Johnson (MN) Smith (LN/Spouse Name).

    However, at the California County Clerk’s office, I was told I couldn’t change my first name. I didn’t want to drop my maiden name either, so I had it done as Ann (FN) Marie Johnson (MN) Smith (LN).

    Is it possible to change my name to have my first 2 names as my first name with SSA using my marriage license only or will it need a court order?

    • Is it possible to change my name to have my first 2 names as my first name with SSA using my marriage license only or will it need a court order?

      You will need a court order to pursue a change to your first name.

  34. Hi, when I got married in California last year, I put my new last name as my husband's last name on my marriage certificate. However, I haven't changed my name with SS, DMV, credit cards, etc yet. Now, I've decided to keep my maiden name. It seems like I don't need to do anything since I haven't changed my name legally.

    However, my marriage certificate states that my new last name is my husband's last name. How do I change my marriage certificate to show that my legal last name is my maiden name and not my husband's last name? Thanks!

    • It seems like I don't need to do anything since I haven't changed my name legally.

      Correct.

      However, my marriage certificate states that my new last name is my husband's last name.

      You can ignore it. No federal or state entity will get pinged about your name not changing.

      How do I change my marriage certificate to show that my legal last name is my maiden name

      You can't. Such amendments are for errors and typos. The married name on your marriage certificate is nonbinding.

  35. I got married and took my husbands last name on my marriage certificate. I never filed with Social security, DMV or other agencies. My drivers license and passport still have my maiden name because I don’t want to take my husbands last name.

    Do I still have to file with social security and get a new card because my marriage certificate with the name change? I want my maiden name back.

    • Do I still have to file with social security and get a new card because my marriage certificate with the name change?

      You can skip your name change altogether.

      I want my maiden name back.

      You already have your maiden name back, since you have updated no identification documents.

  36. My SS card and my DL and birth certificate all have my maiden name. I regretfully changed my passport to have my married name. Can I get a new passport with my maiden name using all my original documents (SS, DL, birth cert) without having a court order? My divorce is going to take years sadly. thanks :-/

    • Hi Lucy. You may be able to do this by pursuing a new passport using form DS-11, reserved for first-time, expired, lost, damaged, or stolen passports.

  37. I got married but didn't change my license or social security card. Can I use my maiden name to file for a divorce since I never changed my last name from my maiden with the dmv or social security office?

    • Can I use my maiden name to file for a divorce since I never changed my last name from my maiden with the dmv or social security office?

      Since you never changed your name, you should use your maiden name, as it is still your current legal name.

  38. Thank you so much for your article. Can I use my old SS card with my maiden name instead of the new one? Or do I have to change the name back to my maiden name again and have exactly the same card but with the new date? Thank you!

    • Can I use my old SS card with my maiden name instead of the new one?

      If you don't change your name, your old SSA card with your maiden name would not be valid since it doesn't match your current SSA record.

      Or do I have to change the name back to my maiden name again and have exactly the same card but with the new date?

      This is moot, since they will send you a new card if you do change your name. You should use the new card anyway, just in case they've built in new security features since your last card.

  39. I am widowed 3 years now and want my maiden name back. How do I do this? I don't understand why using my name has to be so difficult and costly. I was born with that name?

  40. Why is it so difficult to change your married name back to your maiden name on your Social Security and license while still married? I'm in the state of North Carolina and I've contact the courthouse and everyone who I spoken to said no you cannot change your married name back to your maiden name while still being married.

    You have to have a divorce but why would I need to go through all that process just to change my name back if I'm continue to be with my husband?

    All I want to do is have my maiden name back my identity and I don't think it it's none of no one's business why but of course they're going to ask questions, but why is everybody making a big deal out of it??

    • Hi Denise. Those who work in the courthouse are not social security employees. They're taking a macro view of name change where the prime methods are marriage, divorce, and court orders. Expecting them to know the nuances of social security, driver's license, or passport name change procedures is too much to expect.

      The courthouse isn't the go-to for your situation. They're only concerned with name changes via court petitions. That's their lane.

  41. Hello, I haven't changed my married name to my maiden for years. How long will the process take? What are the legal fees to get started? Any information will help. Thank you.

  42. I got married a couple years ago and my name was changed to my husbands last name on my SS card and driver’s license. I want to revert to my maiden name without divorce. Is this possible? (Without the court order)

  43. I was with my husband for 24 years, we've been separated for 6. At first we didn't divorce because it was costly and we had one minor child still at home.

    He currently has many health problems and says he would like to stay married so that if he passes away I can receive benefits, to sort of make up for the years of not being able to help financially.

    We have an amicable relationship at this point. I have been in a relationship with someone for over a year and would like to change my last name to his. We have no plans to get married. Is it possible for me to do that without divorcing?

    • I have been in a relationship with someone for over a year and would like to change my last name to his. We have no plans to get married. Is it possible for me to do that without divorcing?

      Yes, but you would have to petition the court for a name change. You could use a marriage certificate, as it would only apply to your current marriage. You've ruled out a divorce decree, which leaves a court order as the only viable name change document available.

  44. Well, I was happily married for forty-two years, then widowed. I have been thinking about reverting to my maiden name. I think I can with SSA, but will it work with the DOL? I do have my husband's death certificate, our marriage certificate, an old passport with maiden name, current passport with married name, and birth certificate. Do I have a chance in Washington State?

  45. I only got the I.D. when I got married never changed the social. I'm not divorced after 10 yrs separated but I am trying to get my I.D. Now with maiden name, all food stamps and medical are under maiden name, but my I.D. isn't. How do I get the DMV to let me get a I. D. with maiden name?

    • Hi Bobbi. The procedure from over a decade ago is unlikely to be the same as today. You were able to update your ID before your social security card. These days the order is reversed: SS card first, then ID (i.e., driver's license or state-issued ID).

      You'll have to contact the DDS and ask them the procedure to match your ID with your current social security record. It needs to be resolved eventually as when it comes time to renew your ID, it won't match your social security record.

  46. I'm in California and would like to get my maiden name back with social security. I changed my name to my husband's when I got married in mid 1990's but don't want to pay for a costly divorce just to get my maiden name back.

    I have never used my married name and my drivers license, credit cards and everything has my maiden name. How can I get social security to change my married name back to my maiden?

  47. My husband ms ex wife took back her maiden name (in Oklahoma) when divorce was final, many years ago. Recently she has had some legal issues and we discovered she is now using my husband name again. Are both legal or should she be using name court granted her at divorce?

    • should she be using name court granted her at divorce?

      The maiden name granted to your husband's ex in the divorce decree is nonbinding. She isn't required to change her name to match.

  48. I am married but I want to change back to the name I had prior to getting married. I need to change all of my credit cards, passport and driver's license. I live in Maryland is that going to be an issue?

    • Hi Kiki. Yes, that will likely be an issue since you've gone all the way with your name change. Reversals work best when you've just crossed the edge with your social security card instead of updating everything.

  49. Today I changed my last name on my license to my spouse’s at NJ DMV, but after I left I regretted it. Could I go back tomorrow and ask them to amend the new license to reflect a hyphenated name? I did not yet change my social security card or passport, and haven’t received a hard copy of the new license yet. Thank you for your help.

    • Hi Marie. It doesn't hurt to try, but they'll likely require another name change document, which doesn't exist.

  50. Went to SS office today with documentation in hand ready for a fight. Rep. didn't even ask to see anything but photo ID. No hassle at all. I chose 2 last names with no hyphen. Next up…DMV!

  51. Hello, I am not divorcing but I want my maiden name back. I did change it with SS and passport, and DL in Texas. Do I need a court order to do this?

    • Hi Diana. Court order is more sensible since you've changed your name well beyond just social security.

  52. Hello, I changed my name due to marriage with the social security administration and with the DMV. Is it possible to change my name back to my maiden name?

    • Is there a way that I could get some evidence because when I went to the Social Security Administration they told me that there is no way I could get my maiden name back while being married.

      They told me I have to have a divorce although Google says that I have a unlimited time to change my name if I wanted to and that I can go back to my maiden name while being married but for some reason either the people are not update on their protocol or the law they're all telling me no I have to get a divorce.

      What can I do so that I can reverse it back to my maiden name correct my maiden name to my social security card because I regret change in my name when I got married

      • Hi A. You can return to the SSA with printouts of the two POMS sources cited in the article. Or mail your paperwork with the references attached.

  53. I’m not divorced but want to go back to my maiden name. I still have my SS card with my maiden name on it and my license are almost ready to renew. Can I just use my maiden name card to renew and change my last name on my license or do I still need to go through the SS administration?

    • Can I just use my maiden name card to renew and change my last name on my license or do I still need to go through the SS administration?

      If you've already changed your name on your social security record, you'll want to change it back there before handing your driver's license. The reason is the driver's license office will perform an electronic verification against the SSA system and will detect the name mismatch. Having your old social security card with your prior name wouldn't help.

  54. I changed my first name two year ago, about five years after I got married. All my documents reflect this change, except my marriage certificate. But now I want to revert back to my maiden name. I am not divorcing my husband! Just want my new first name and my maiden name. Will this service help me?

    • Hi Hercules. Did you undergo two name changes? One through marriage and another through court petition to change your first name?

  55. Hi,
    I got married 6 years ago and changed my last name to my husband's. I dropped my given middle name and my maiden name is now my middle name.

    Example:
    Given: Last, First & Middle>> Van, Christina Kay
    New Married Name >> Higgins, Christina Van

    I've changed my DL and SSN to my new married name years ago. But now I regret it and want to change it to add back my maiden name to >> Van Higgins, Christina

    My marriage certificate states, "Bride's declared surname: Higgins". Am I able to change my last name VAN HIGGINS with SSA office or would I need to pay for a name petition?

    • Hi Christina. You'd use your marriage certificate to change it with the SSA. The potential problem point is the driver's license office. Even though they'll query the SSA database for a name match, they don't follow the same name reversal rules as the SSA.

      That's why folks are often able to execute exotic or complex name changes with the SSA only to have the DMV question or reject it. It's also why reversals become difficult once you venture outside the SSA universe. You might end up having to petition just to satisfy the DMV.

  56. Any information about changing just my middle name and I haven't made any other document changes? I got married and let's say my original name is Jackie May Johnson and got married changed to Jackie May Washington. But now I want my name to be Jackie May-Johnson Washington.

    I haven't changed any of my records. The only document that says my married name is my marriage certificate/license. Haven't changed my SS card, license or anything.

    • Hi JackieMay. Does your marriage certificate explicitly list your new married name, separate from your current name or maiden name?

  57. Hi, I haven't officially changed my name with the social security office yet, however when filing my marriage certificate, I did put my spouses last name. I want to keep my maiden name, or hypehnate it. Because I haven't changed it with the social security office yet, how do I go about keeping my maiden name? And what is the cost? (In California)
    Thank you so much!!

    • Because I haven't changed it with the social security office yet, how do I go about keeping my maiden name?

      Take no action, and then your maiden name will remain your legal name.

    • DO NOT hyphenate your name!! This will turn into a TOTAL NIGHTMARE! I hyphenated mine 29 years ago and am attempting to get his name removed so I can just go by my maiden name… of which I never gave up!

      We have a wonderful marriage, but his family is very contentious and I am sick of dealing with them and refuse to die with "their" name attached to mine. Plus back in the 1990s, there was no issue as to how many characters your name contained; but now that we are in the 21st century, this has become another nightmare as companies do not permit as many "characters", so they take it upon themselves to abbreviate your name… which they usually drop the first part of the hyphenated name, thereby making you go by his name and NOT your own!

      Even though this website states you can revert back to your maiden name via a marriage certificate, I just came from the local SSA office and they treated me as if I was a criminal attempting to do something illegal. The rude clerk informed me that I have to have a court order stating my name has been legally changed back to my maiden name; but when I spoke with a different clerk yesterday at the same office, she told me all I needed was my marriage certificate, birth certificate, and driver's license… then stated I did not need a court order! The clerk today basically accused me of being a liar and attempting to commit fraud! Just PLEASE weight the pros and cons…which in my case it has become such a nightmare that this process is destroying my peace of mind!

  58. I still have my old social security card with my maiden name, how would I go about changing my name on my drivers license back to my maiden name without divorcing or showing a divorce certificate?

    • Hi Jasmine. It's more likely than not the DMV will need to see a new name change event document authorizing your new name change. That means obtaining a court order.

  59. I’d like to legally change my name back to my maiden name, not divorcing. I never changed it on my driver’s license, only with SSA. Can I use this kit and do this in person at a SSA office? I’m assuming they need the actual marriage certificate, and I don’t feel comfortable mailing that.

    • Hi. My marriage certificate says my maiden name when I signed it many years ago and I never revert it, but now I want to. It’s registered under my maiden name but my social security card is under my married name and drivers license as well.

      Can I use my marriage license to revert it to my maiden name at SSA office without an issue? I’m in the state of Florida. I am in need of reverting as a reset back to my maiden name 🙏

      • Hi Ruby. You can revert on your social security card, but your this standard doesn't apply to your driver's license.

  60. I'd like to change back to my maiden name (staying married). In addition to SSA, DMV and passport, will I also need to notify bank, retirement accts., insurance, employer etc.?How do I ensure that my bank and retirement accounts will have my name. Additionally, will my husband need to change my name as beneficiary on his insurance and retirement accounts?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Alice. You should update all mentioned documents, including bank, insurance, and retirement accounts. But keep in mind the caveat mentioned in the article that if you've changed your name beyond social security the reversal process using your marriage certificate may be out of reach. Your situation will likely require a court order.

  61. Hi. My husband and I are separated but staying married. I knew as soon as I agreed to take his name it would be a regret of mine but I didn’t think that it would be that big of a deal to change it back even if we did stay happily married. Apparently I was wrong. I live in New York. Any advice on what to do? Thank you.

  62. I called my local social security office (NC) and I asked if they could do this and they laughed at me. I was told that I have to go to court, file a petition, get finger printed, etc. this is ridiculous. I just wanna feel like my own person.

    • Hi Izzy. As mentioned in the article, this isn't a well known provision. You may be better positioned citing the pertinent POMS ID and marriage example so that they're aware of this stipulation.

    • I was told originally it wasn’t possible by the first person I spoke with. I came back the same day after researching, got a new person to talk to, and after citing the official policy that applied to me (just google POMS 10212.155), specifically “ Change from spouse’s or partner’s surname to numberholder’s prior name (e.g., maiden name)”, I was able to fill out the form with just my original marriage certificate and my ID (which still had my maiden name, the only thing I had changed since getting married was my social). I should have my new card in 2 weeks according to the person who actually helped me at the office.

      • I just went into the SSA and they did the same to me… now I have to leave and research it and go back to try again. But the problem is the POMS info doesn’t even make sense to me or lead me to believe this is possible, so how do I even begin to explain it to them? What can I say?

  63. Hi we got our marriage license and I hyphenated my name. It’s the same day and I don’t want to hyphenate my name anymore I just want to keep my maiden name. How do I do this? We didn’t even have the wedding ceremony yet I just don’t want to change my name and I want to keep my maiden name. What do I do?

    • Hi Melissa. You don't have to change your name, even though your marriage license and certificate says you'll hyphenate.

      If you still don't want your license and certificate to show the hyphenated name, you may contact the office that issued it to modify and reissue it. They may be willing to do this without additional fees. Otherwise, they'll require you to submit a new application, fees and all.

  64. When I got married, I changed my name to my husbands last name. Now, I'd like to hyphenate it to include my maiden name. Can I use the reversal process to switch back to my maiden name and then go to the social security office to hyphenate it with my marriage certificate?

    • Hi Danielle. You can return to your maiden name. Whether you can hyphenate depends on if there's an explicit new name after marriage block on your marriage certificate. If yes, that's the only name change they'll accept. If no new name section exists, you can hyphenate.

      If your marriage certificate supports this, you don't have to perform two subsequent name changes. You can go straight to hyphenate.

  65. When you change your name with SSA again, does that become your official legal name? Some DMVs state that you must get a court order to change your name again if it has been changed due to marriage the first time.

    For example: If Sara Smith married John Doe and initially changed it to Sarah Smith Doe (first, middle, last) and then realizes she wants to be Sarah Smith-Doe, she can use the bylaws with SSA using the same marriage license to become Sarah Smith-Doe. Then the SSA gives you a new identification card.

    To me, that seems like even if your name is now Sarah Smith-Doe with SSA, the DMV won't accept the new social and the same marriage license for a new drivers license? Also will the passport office give the same push back?

    Is it possible to be hyphenated with SSA, but not on the passport and driver's license? I imagine professional degrees will have issues because of the inconsistency.

    • When you change your name with SSA again, does that become your official legal name?

      Yes.

      Some DMVs state that you must get a court order to change your name again if it has been changed due to marriage the first time.

      Correct, assuming a name change took place with both the SSA and DMV.

      To me, that seems like even if your name is now Sarah Smith-Doe with SSA, the DMV won't accept the new social and the same marriage license for a new drivers license?

      If the only entity changed was the SSA, that makes things easier. If the driver's license was also changed, undoing the name change will likely require a court order.

      Also will the passport office give the same push back?

      Same situation. The end of the article mentioned how this approach becomes more difficult once you've begun to update an array of ID beyond social security.

      Is it possible to be hyphenated with SSA, but not on the passport and driver's license?

      Social security card and driver's license must match. The passport can be renewed under a current name, even if it deviates from the new married name.

  66. What if I never changed my Driver's License or Social Security card to my un-hyphenated, only spaced after, married name?

    Ex: "Jane FaTeeRay Doe". Maiden name FaTeeRay. I also got my passport and work license under my maiden name. The only place that still has my unhyphenated only spaced married name is the marriage certificate and my insurance companies, who will not change it, for what reason I'm not sure.

    In order to change insurance, titles, etc to my maiden name, (which I have been going by in employment, credit, everything else for over 15 years now), do I still use this "trick"? (Confusing bc my SS Card was never changed.) Please let me know.

    • Hi Julie. Your insurance companies go by their own internal rules. You'll have to resolve this with them directly.

      You can appeal to them citing your predicament as a name correction instead of a change. Explain how your name hasn't changed on your social security card, driver's license, credit bureaus, etc.

      If they deny your request, you can ask for their rationale and name change requirements in writing. You may want to dispatch your follow-up correspondence in writing as well.

      You could also contact your state insurance commissioner for advice, assistance, or to file a complaint.

    • I should been clearer I live in Michigan I got married 28 years ago in Fl to my second husband I always wanted my maiden name but was to told had to use my husband’s. Even when divorced my first husband wanted my maiden name but since I had two boys the judge didn’t grant it. So would this process work after all these years and does Michigan allow it?

          • I was told cannot change in Michigan without court order and then there’s fees for fingerprinting and to be printed In paper and not court fee. I get a divorce if he give it to me but I can’t afford this either 😞

          • Hi Marijo. It's not clear which entity you're referring to. The SSA, DMV, or another office?

          • For the Pom Rm # you said to use States Foreign marriage or foreign recognized same-sex marriage.

            But SSA said I have to have a court order to change back to my maiden name said that was standard for any state. This what you’re stating would only be good for newlyweds or who probably never accepted their spouse name but to claim they let you take our maiden name back is false.

          • States Foreign marriage or foreign recognized same-sex marriage

            There isn't a reference to foreign marriage in the POM ID or the article. Are you sure you're referencing the same ID?

            what you’re stating would only be good for newlyweds or who probably never accepted their spouse name

            There is an example referencing a name correction where the marriage (and accompanying name change) took place several years prior.

            This isn't an often used procedure. Name reversals are uncommon in practice, even though they're their use cases are documented.

            It may not be sufficient to reference the POMS ID alone or assume it's common knowledge. The full operations reference and supporting example page may be worth printing and including as attachments.

  67. Hi. I changed my last name into a hyphenated name (my maiden and my spouse’s name). I do now regret the decision and would like to change to just my spouse’s name since we have a child and it seems like everything would just be easier if we all had the same last name. However, I did change my NJ Driver’s Lic. But I did not change my US passport, which doesn't expire until Aug 2022.

    If I mail in all the required documents to the SSA and am granted a name do-over, do you think I will have trouble with my passport and/or my NJ Lic? Should I do my passport second and then my license, so that I have 2 documents with my new name?

    • Hi Marge. Your passport will be fine. You could face trouble with your driver's license, because you're lacking a subsequent name change event. You may want to email the NJ MVC and ask them if they'll allow a subsequent name change if your social security record will reflect the change.

      Or if they'll accept it if your SSA record shows your new name and you can present a passport with the proper name. So two points of supporting documentation. The latter would require you to wait for the return of your updated passport.

      Getting a response by email would provide you a hard copy response instead of a phone reply.

    • Hi Marge,

      I basically did the same thing in NJ. I have my license with the new hyphenated last name, but I would like to just have one last name. I was wondering what was the outcome for you at the DMV?

  68. What if I'm getting divorced? Can I use my marriage certificate to do my name change or do I wait until the divorce is finished?

    • Hi Vanessa. When do you anticipate your divorce will be finalized? And how many forms of ID do you need to update?

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