Social Security Name Change 
Did you recently get married or divorced and need to change the name on your Social Security card? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
The name change process can be a pain, especially without proper guidance. It all starts with your Social Security name change.
This guide outlines the right way to change or correct your name on your social security card. Let’s get started!
The first thing you need to do after your legal name change (through marriage, divorce, or court order) is to update your name with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The SSA is the United States issuing agency for Social Security cards.
Your updated Social Security card is the gateway to your name change process.
Every federal and state entity links your identity to your SSA record, so you need to update it to get a new driver’s license and passport, and any other form of photo ID.
Updating your social security card is a fairly straightforward procedure, and the new card can take as few as ten days to arrive in the mail. However, you cannot apply online, so you must visit your local SSA office in person or mail in an application.
If the very thought of going to a government office is making you reconsider your name change, follow this guide to navigate you through the process and reduce the stress.
Social Security Name Change Checklist
- Gather the required documents
- Complete Form SS-5
- Mail your application in or take it to your local Social Security office
- Be patient
- Start changing your name everywhere else
1. Gather the required documents
To change your name, you’ll need to provide official documents as 1) proof of identity, 2) proof of your citizenship status and 3) proof of legal name change.
For each acceptable document, you need to provide either the original document or a certified copy (government-issued with raised seals). Photocopies will not suffice.
To prove your identity, you must provide one form of valid photo ID:
- U.S. driver’s license
- State-issued nondriver’s identification card
- U.S. Passport
- Employer identification card
- School identification card
- Health insurance card
- U.S. military identification card
To prove your U.S. citizenship, you must provide one of the following:
- U.S. Birth Certificate
- U.S. Consular Report of Birth Abroad
- U.S. passport
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Certificate of Citizenship
Note that if you bring your passport, it fulfills both identity and citizenship requirements—so you might only need one document.
However, if you don’t have an unexpired US passport, you will need two separate documents—one to prove your identity and one to prove your citizenship.
You also need to provide proof that your new name is official. Bring whichever of the following documents is relevant to your new name:
- Marriage Certificate
- Divorce Decree
- Court Order
- Certificate of Naturalization with your new name
With these three proofs in hand, now it’s time to fill out your application.
2. Complete Form SS-5
No bureaucratic process would be complete without paperwork!
Form SS-5 is an application for a social security card.
Because you changed your name, you will need to apply for a new social security card.
You can download it online here.
Print out Form SS-5, fill it out, and sign it in your new name.
3. Mail your application in or take it to your local Social Security office
The last step to your social security name change is to submit your application.
Start by finding the closest SSA office.
Click the ‘Locate An Office By Zip’ button. Then enter your ZIP code and click ‘Locate’.
The nearest SSA office will appear.
You then have two choices. You can mail your application and documents to this SSA office, or you can visit in person.
We suggest that you visit in person if you can. That way, you don’t have to mail in sensitive documents you may need before they return in the mail.
You’ll also receive a receipt listing the details of your name change—which means you can proceed to the next steps of your name change process that much sooner.
You will receive your new SSA card in the mail in approximately 10-14 business days, along with your documents if you mailed them in.
Your Social Security number will not change.
As an added bonus, the SSA will also notify the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about your name change. One less thing to worry about when tax season rolls around!
4. Be patient
If you mail in your application, we recommend waiting until you’ve received your new social security card in the mail before submitting a name change request at any other government offices.
If you submit your application in person, wait at least 48 hours for the SSA records to update before submitting a name change at a DMV or any other government office.
Important Tip: If you choose to update your name elsewhere before receiving your new Social Security card, remember to bring your SSA receipt with you.
Your new name and your social security number must be printed on the receipt to be accepted.
5. Start changing your name everywhere else
Now that you’ve completed your social security name change, we suggest updating your government-issued photo identification such as your passport and driver’s license. After you update your photo ID, then we suggest updating all of your personal accounts such as your bank, credit cards, frequent flyer accounts, etc.
We hope this guide helps you feel more confident as you approach the first big hurdle in updating your name.
Updating your social security card is the first of many steps you’ll need to take to change your name.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Does a Social Security name change cost money?
No, updating your name with the Social Security Administration is free.
Will I receive a new Social Security card with my new name?
Yes, you will be mailed a new card.
Do I have to pay for a new Social Security card after changing my name?
No, there is no charge for a new Social Security card.
What documents do I need for a Social Security name change?
You’ll need to provide 1) proof of identity (valid photo ID), 2) proof of your citizenship status (Birth Certificate or U.S. Passport) and 3) proof of a legal name change (marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order).
When is the best time to visit the Social Security office?
It varies by location but for the majority of offices, the best time to visit is mid-week (Tuesday-Thursday) during the morning.
Can I set up an appointment for a Social Security name change?
No, the Social Security Administration does not take appointments for name changes.
Can change my name with the Social Security Administration online?
No, Social Security name changes can only be processed by mail or in person.
Want to make the rest of your name change easy?
If you want to take the stress of this process completely out of the equation, NewlyNamed provides personalized name change kits complete with everything you need.
Our kits take a few minutes to fill out and help you with your social security card, driver’s license, vehicle title and registration, passport, and even all of your personal accounts like banks, credit cards, frequent flyer programs, and much more.
We even offer a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with your name change kit so there’s no reason not to learn more.
To do a name change after marriage, it says send in your divorce decree from previous marriage and marriage certificate from new marriage, is that right? Also, if I send my original driver’s license, what do I use to drive with?
Hi Shirley! Yes, in your situation the SSA recommends presenting your divorce decree and your new marriage certificate. Your proof of name change documents must directly link your name currently on record with the SSA to your desired new name. By providing both documents, you’re unlikely to encounter any issues. If you don’t have a second form of identity such as a valid U.S. Passport, we recommend waiting until your local SSA re-opens post-COVID-19 so you don’t have to mail in your driver’s license. -Colie
Hi! I was wondering if you are obligated to change your name after marriage (if you put a new surname)? What happens if you put the new surname on your license, but never go through with changing it? Are there any restrictions on the time you get married to when you need to start the legal process of a name change? Thank you!
Hi Nicole! There are no time restrictions on starting the name change process as long as you have a physical copy of your marriage certificate. You are not obligated to change your name at all even if you have a different last name on your driver’s license. However, if you want to apply for a REAL ID, Passport or any type of federally-approved ID, your name on record with the Social Security Administration must match the name on your application. -Colie
My daughter sent in her SS5 with Marriage Certificate and Passport for the name change. She received back the documents, but no new card. It’s been a few weeks since the documents were returned and no new SS card. is that normal?
Hi Terri! The SSA offices have been operating with reduced staff due to COVID-19 and it’s taking them longer to process new cards. So, the SSA has been emailing back the documents immediately after verifying them and mailing out the new SS cards at a later date. We’ve seen it take as long as 3 weeks for new cards to arrive. -Colie
For changing name after marriage….does the marriage certificate have to be filed wit the state or can you use the county/city certificate with the lifted seal seal?
Hi Tay – You can use a marriage certificate issued by a county/city government office. You’ll be good to go as long as you present the original document (photocopies are not accepted). -Colie
Hi, I changed my name last month and mailed all documents since offices are closed. I received a letter stating they could not issue me a new card because i sent a copy of my Driver License, does that mean i have to send my DL card? Thanks
Hi Juani! Yes, this means you must send in your actual Driver’s License. Photocopies are not accepted. Include the letter you received from the SSA when you mail your DL card back to them. -Colie
I Called the SSA office Abe spoke to someone directly there. I confirmed with them 3 times to make sure I heard correctly. They said all I needed to provide in the mail in documents was a marriage certificate and that if it had my FULL name along with how old I was, that was sufficient and a passport was not needed. I asked 3 times 3 different rays to be sure I heard this correct. So, two questions: 1. Have you ever heard of this? (If not, I hope that call is recorded because I will be super annoyed) 2. If they need an additional document, will they mail me back everything and I have to resubmit or will they just ask for proof of identity and I will then have to mail my passport?
Hi Lindsey! 1) I have never experienced the SSA not needing Proof of Identity to process a name change. 2) The SSA will mail everything back to you to resubmit if they do not have enough information to process your name change request. If you resubmit your name change request via mail, your marriage certificate and Proof of Identity document will be mailed back to you along with your new Social Security card. -Colie
Hi, I’m a foreign citizen and need to update my card to my married name. Do I need to send them the original documents (greencard, marriage certIficate,foreign passport) or photocopies will do? (I’m kinda hesitating to send original documents)
Hi Yui! Yes, you need to submit original documents – your updated Green Card, your original marriage certificate (or a certified copy) and your foreign passport. I recommend updating your name in person at your local SSA office since you’re hesitant about mailing original documents. -Colie
Hi, I know that social security offices across the country are closed for in person services right now. Do you know if they are still providing name changes if I mail my documents in?
Hi Suzanne, Yes, per the SSA’s website you are still able to change your name via mail. -Colie
If I’m doing just a name change, do I have to provide my parents’ names and Social Security numbers? Also, I have a Veteran’s ID Card, will that work as proof of identity?
Hi Denise! You need to provide your parents’ birth names. If you do not know their Social Security numbers or if they don’t have one, select ‘Unknown’ in Section 9 & 10 of Form SS-5. It is our understanding that a Veteran ID card will not work as proof of identity because it does not contain your biographical information such as your date of birth, age, or parents’ names, etc. Therefore, you will need to provide an alternative such as a valid driver’s license, state ID card, U.S. Passport, etc.
Hi! I mailed my application along with all of my documents 14 business days ago, but I still don’t have my new card. When should I start to be concerned/who should I reach out to if I don’t get it within the next few business days?
Hi Ashlynn – I’d give the SSA office a call if you don’t receive it in the next 7 days or so. 2-3 weeks is common for busy SSA locations. -Colie
Hi. I was wondering if I need to have a divorce decree from my previous marriage (because I didn’t have my maiden name returned) or is my marriage papers from my new marriage enough
Hi Christi! No, you won’t need your divorce decree from your previous marriage but you will need your marriage certificate from your new marriage. The name on your current Social Security must match the current/pre-marriage name listed on your marriage certificate. On another note, you will need to obtain your divorce decree if you’d like to obtain a REAL ID driver’s license, as you will need to provide proof of all legal name changes since birth (bring your birth certificate and all previous marriage certificates and divorce decrees). -Colie
When I go to the SS office for my name change, if I bring my original marriage certification, do I get it back immediately? Or do they hold on to it and it would be better to give them a certified copy?
Hi Vivian! You will receive your marriage certificate back immediately if you visit the SS office for your name change. -Colie
II’m mailing in my SS name change application. For the proof of identity and citizenship- can I mail in copies of my drivers license and passport or do I actually mail in my hard copy license and/or passport?
Hi Victoria! Great question – You will need to mail in your actual driver’s license or passport. You will receive your new SS card in the mail in ~ two weeks along with any documentation (driver’s license or passport) you submitted with your application.-Colie
Hi is there like a time limit after i change my name with social security to change my name everywhere? Like “you have 30 days to update all your information with your new name” kind of thing? Thank you
Hi Selina! No, there is no time limit. Take as much time as you need to update your name everywhere else! -Colie
Hello! If mailing in your application, is it recommended to send by certified mail? Also – when signing the application form, you should sign in your new name? I saw that noted above and didn’t realize that. Thanks!
Hi Katelyn! The SSA doesn’t have a preferred USPS delivery option so it’s completely up to you if you’d like to pay for certified mail. Yes, you will want to sign the application form in your new name! -Colie
Do you know whether a person can go to ANY Social Security Office to get a name change? All of the government sites reference “your local office” but I’m hoping it’s possible to visit a smaller, out-state office while out of town for the holidays to avoid waiting in line for hours. Thanks!
Hi Stefanie! Yes, you can visit any Social Security office to update your name. The SSA prefers you visit your local office but in our experience, any office will process your name change as long as you provide the appropriate documentation.