Changing Your Name After Marriage: The Complete Guide

Updated on February 15, 2018
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Kate is a researcher who has a knack for planning and executing memorable events of all sizes. From weddings to funerals, she does it all.

If you are like me, you probably didn't think about changing your name until after the wedding. I mean after all, you were busy with the wedding planning, the wedding itself, and of course the honeymoon.

It wasn't until you came down from your high of relaxing on the beach in the middle of the day, sipping margaritas, and getting your nice red sun "tan" that you even thought about the need to change your name.

One reason this task is easy to avoid is that there is no official single document, but rather a sometimes lengthy list of places at which to officially register the new name in order for it to become official. Not knowing where to start and feeling overwhelmed makes procrastination all too easy. Right?

Well let's stop the procrastination and get this task knocked out as quickly and painlessly as possible!

Where Should I Start?

Start with your driver's license and Social Security card. These are the items most often requested to change your last name. So let's start there...

Changing the Last Name on Your Social Security Card

The name on your Social Security card can be changed by visiting an actual Social Security Administration facility. However, since this facility can at times be as efficient as the DMV, you should probably complete the name change process online at the Social Security Administration's website.

It is a simple process that consists of filling out the application for a new Social Security card and mailing in the application to the local Social Security Administration office

Most cards arrive within 10 business days from sending. The name will be your new married name, but the number remains the same. Remember that most states require a marriage certificate, old identification, and the completed form. Some states will require additional criteria such as proof of citizenship.

Changing the Last Name on Your Driver's License

To change the name on a driver’s license requires a trip to the local Department of Motor Vehicles. In order to receive the license with the changed last name, it is advised to bring practically all legal forms of identification including the old license, certified marriage certificate, and if available, the new Social Security card.

However, in some cases, the name change and the new card can be issued practically instantaneously.

Since driver’s license name-change requirements vary so widely by state, an internet search could be a time saving action that can familiarize yourself with the process in your particular state. You may be able to have your name change form completed prior to entering the DMV to save you some time.

Time to Make a List!

After you have those two critical documents handled, it is time to begin the real name changing! So get out a pen and make that list! It might be a pain, but remember, hopefully you'll only have to do this once.

For changing your name at a majority of the below listed places, you'll need a Social Security card, a driver's license in your new married name, and a copy of your marriage certificate. However, some changes will be as easy as a brief phone call or a quick change in your online account.

Passports

Passports have the distinction of requiring a color photo because a new passport with the newly updated name will be issued. This photograph is in addition to official requirements like the new Social Security card and license.

The requirements vary for applicants depending on how long they have possessed the passport but you will likely need your old passport, evidence of your name change (marriage certificate), and new passport photos.

U.S residents can start this process online by going to the U.S. State Department's "Change or Correct a Passport" page here.

Driver's license, Social Security card, and passport (optional) are the first three items that you should take care of.
Driver's license, Social Security card, and passport (optional) are the first three items that you should take care of.

Banking

The next logical step is to handle the financial areas including establishing joint bank accounts. The quickest and most secure method by which bank accounts should be dealt with is to personally visit a branch location. You'll need your new driver's license along with a certified copy of your marriage certificate.

I designated one day as "bank name change day" and told myself that my only goal was to get all things bank related changed to my new married name. Three helpful bank representatives and one not-so-friendly representative later, everything was changed! This step is easy to accomplish in one day.

Changes Can Include:

  • Bank account
  • Debit cards
  • Credit cards
  • Loans
  • Checks
  • Switching to a joint bank account
  • Investment accounts

The name on the accounts should be changed, and checks with the new name should also be requested at this point. It is normal to have nominal fees attached to name changes on debit cards.

Insurance Policies

Insurance companies in all forms including life, auto and home have to be contacted and each may have their own methods by which this change is achieved.

Luckily, I found that most of this could be handled over the phone (unlike my "bank name change day"). Some companies might want to e-mail you a form to sign and send back to them. If you have a scanner and printer at home, you will likely be able to do all of this from the comfort of your home while still in your pajamas!

Changes can include:

  • Auto insurance
  • Home owner's insurance
  • Health insurance (if separate from your employer)

Name changes on auto, home, and similar policies are best directed to the insurance broker. Your broker is most capable of assisting in the name change.

Newlyweds who have health insurance issued through state or federal entities or health insurance directly through an insurance agency (that is not employer based) should notify the provider of the change.

If you have a health insurance plan obtained through your employer, your human resources department can assist you with that change (we will cover that in the next section).

TIP:

When signing your name change documents, you should always sign with your new (married) name.

Your Employer

It is important to update your employer promptly after getting married. This will be done through you human resources department.

Typically, employers will need the new Social Security card to update their payroll accounts to the new name. You may want to have your new driver's license and marriage certificate with you when you talk to your employer just in case. This allows the Social Security Administration to keep income information accurately.

Changes can include:

  • Payroll
  • Tax forms
  • Retirement accounts (401k)
  • Health insurance (including dental and vision coverage accounts)
  • I.T. related changes (e-mail address, employee rosters etc)

Names on benefit accounts must be updated to prevent any discrepancies in benefit coverage also.

Housing

For Home Owners:

Your Mortgage Loan

If the name on your mortgage or home loan is going to change with the new marriage name, newlyweds must call their specific lender and inquire the requirements in relation to name changes.

The new couple has the option of adding the new spouse’s name to the mortgage and even a refinancing of the mortgage loan in some cases.

Many couples decide on this approach because marriages also affect financial circumstances. This is especially true if you or your spouse demanded the 400+ person wedding with the "free everything" reception.

Updating the Name on Your Deed

Deeds require the new couple contact the deed office or deed authorities in the couple’s specific jurisdiction and inquire the procedure to change the name on the home’s title.

In some places, newlyweds will be directed to file a change of owner statement. This official change of owner statement or its equivalent may require the presentation of a certified marriage certificate.

Making changes to the deed is important especially if and when the couple decides to place the house on the market. However, adding a spouse to the deed can take place at the time of any sale.

For Renters:

Your Lease

If the happy couple are renters, changing the name on lease agreements is a straightforward process. Simply contact the landlord and request changes.

They may require the certified marriage certificate and any new driver’s licenses however. Calling ahead for a list of necessary items may be a time saver in this case.

It is very normal to feel like you are drowning in forms when changing your name.
It is very normal to feel like you are drowning in forms when changing your name.

Utilities

It is easy to forget about changing the name on your utilities, but it is important to do so. Here is a list of the most common types of utilities you will want to contact about changing your account to your married name.

Changes can include:

  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Water & sewer
  • Garbage service
  • Television
  • Phone (landline and/or cell phone)
  • Internet
  • P.O. Boxes or mail service

However, any bills that the couple will be paying in conjunction and or through joint accounts needs to be changed, and do not forget all other services that send a bill! This includes things like Amazon and Netflix. Give these companies a call or e-mail and ask them for their procedures when a changed name is involved.

Is It Over? Maybe.

The name changing venture often ends here, but in many cases, particulars like blended families and second marriages require a whole plethora of other changes and although somewhat less important depending on the couple, this information needs to be updated to reflect the couple’s new status.

Schools

One such place is the school or schools your kids will be attending that are effected by the name change. The new couple should drop in to their school and inform them of the changed name and circumstances.

This is really about security because the correct names should be included on things like emergency and non emergency pick-up lists, and besides, these are professionals, and they should know how to address the family in notices sent home and other correspondence.

Doctor's Offices

Name changes for the records in doctors’ offices are also on the list, and this is important because insurance providers have adjusted their records to reflect a new name, so it is important that the affected doctors, dentists and even veterinarians are cognizant of the new status.

These visits can always be stressful because of their very nature, but taking this step will help prevent any front desk issues when it becomes necessary to visit medical professionals.

The last thing you want to be doing is rushing into your dentist's office with your kid because they are having a dental emergency, and have to worry about additional paperwork or even worse, delays in care because you didn't update them after you got married!

Final Notes

Take heart, it is almost over.

However, there are many more places that the name change may be necessary depending on your situation, such as:

  • Professional licenses (contact the appropriate licensing board)
  • Voter registration
  • Social media accounts
  • E-mail accounts

Changing your name after getting married can seem like a daunting task. If you follow this guide you will accomplish much more than the average person who gets married. Most places will understand if there is some delay between marriage and the name change, but making an effort now can save you from many future headaches!

Would you pay for a service that handled all name changes for you?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Kate Daily

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      • Coffeequeeen profile image

        Louise Powles 4 months ago from Norfolk, England

        Yes, it's surprising how much there is to think about really when you change your name. I remember when I got married I made a list of all the relevant people to get in touch with about changing my surname.

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