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.