Changing your last name after your marriage takes a lot of work and requires a bunch of steps.
Like most newlyweds, I was so excited and happy about getting married but was quickly hit with the name change nightmare after my wedding.
I didn’t know how or where to start my name change, and I ended up making a ton of mistakes.
We started NewlyNamed to make your name change after marriage easy because we want to prevent other people from feeling frustrated like I was.
We created this handy guide to help anyone taking the DIY approach to their name change after marriage. As you’ll see, it’s a comprehensive checklist so buckle up.
Your name change will take you a while, so it’s important to be patient. If you’re diligent, you should be able to complete the process in a few months but we commonly see name changes drag out for over a year!
Our goal is to help you do your name change after marriage the right way. And that starts with following these ten steps!
Now let’s get started!
IMPORTANT: If you’ve made travel reservations in your maiden name, wait until after you get home to start your name change. Your photo ID must match your reservation(s). If you’ve already changed your name on your driver’s license or passport and your reservation is in your old name, contact your travel provider to make sure your reservation is honored.
Name Change After Marriage Checklist:
- Get your marriage certificate
- Get a new Social Security card
- Get a new driver’s license or state ID card
- Update your vehicle title and registration information
- Update your Passport
- Update your voter registration information
- Update your name with the United States Postal Service (USPS)
- Update your bank accounts and credit union accounts
- Request new credit cards with your new name
- Update other personal accounts
1. Get your marriage certificate
The first thing you need to do is get a physical copy of your marriage certificate.
A marriage certificate is a legal document that verifies your marriage occurred at a specific date and location. You’ll need to use it many times during your name change.
Your wedding officiant should send you the original in the mail two to three weeks after your marriage.
You’ll probably want to use a certified copy for all the name change paperwork. This way, you can keep the original safe at home.
A certified copy of your marriage certificate is an official duplicate of the original certificate issued directly from the county or courthouse where you received your marriage license. It has special seals to verify its authenticity; you can’t just make your own copy.
Luckily, getting a copy of your marriage certificate is straightforward. Simply call the office that issued the certificate and order one or more copies.
You will have to pay a small fee. Most offices will be able to process your request and send you a certified copy within five to seven business days.
Note, a marriage certificate is not the same as a marriage license. A marriage license shows that you are legally eligible to marry. A marriage certificate functions as a record-keeping document, proving that you have completed and registered your marriage.
TIME-SAVING TIP: If you need to order a certified copy, we recommend purchasing at least two copies. You may need to submit your marriage certificate by mail during this process, so having an extra copy will allow you to continue your name change without waiting for your certificate to return to you. This can also save you money as you’ll only need to pay the processing fee once!
Cost: Varies by your city/county/municipality
2. Get a new Social Security card
Now it’s time to change your name with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA is the issuing agency for your new Social Security card.
You need to start your name change here because all government agencies link to the SSA database. If your name change isn’t registered with the SSA, other government offices will not allow you to change your name.
You can get started checking out our comprehensive SSA Name Change Guide to see a complete list of the acceptable documents needed to make this change.
Or you can download Form SS-5 which is an application for a Social Security Card and follow the instructions.
You will need to submit Form SS-5 to your local SSA office.
We recommended waiting until you receive your new Social Security card before changing your name anywhere else. Your Social Security Number will stay the same.
Required documents: Original or certified copy of your marriage certificate and a valid photo ID (driver’s license, state-issued identity card, or U.S. Passport)
Government Resources: SSA Checklist
IMPORTANT: Do not file your taxes until the IRS is aware of your name change as it may cause issues with your tax returns. The SSA will notify the IRS of your name change, but it may take up to two weeks.
3. Get a new driver’s license or state ID card
After you receive your updated Social Security card, it’s time to head to the department of motor vehicles (DMV) to update your driver’s license or state-issued identification card.
We recommend applying for or upgrading to a federally compliant REAL ID, if you don’t already have one.
A REAL ID has added travel benefits and a nominal cost—most are the same price as a standard license.
Starting October 1, 2021, every air traveler will need to present a REAL-ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel.
Every state has a different application, documentation, and payment requirements, so check your state’s DMV website to see what you should fill out and bring with you before you go.
Most states will need to see your new social security card or receipt from the Social Security office, your current driver’s license, a certified copy of your marriage license, and a proof of address (a piece of mail containing your name and current address).
If you’d like to avoid the hassle of government websites, NewlyNamed has already done the research and knows exactly what each state requires. With our personalized name change after marriage kits, you will receive detailed step-by-step instructions on how to change your name in your state.
Tips: Apply online if applicable and always bring original documents.
Cost: Varies by state
4. Update your vehicle title and registration information
Updating your vehicle title and registration is another important item that varies drastically by state. Some DMVs cover both driver’s licenses and vehicle title/registration, but most states have separate driver’s license and motor vehicle departments.
We recommend visiting your state’s DMV website and researching the steps to update your car’s title and registration. A new title typically takes a few weeks to arrive in the mail, but you should get your new registration right away.
Spend the extra time researching what documents you need before visiting the relevant office. A lot of people get turned away because they lack the required identity documents or vehicle information when they arrive.
If this sounds stressful, don’t worry! NewlyNamed has already done the title and registration research for your state. Just like with your driver’s license, we provide personalized instructions to make this process quick and easy.
Cost: Varies by state.
IMPORTANT: If you currently lease or finance your vehicle, contact your lienholder and inform them of your name change. They will provide you with steps to update your title in your state.
5. Update your Passport
Your driver’s license or state-issued ID will work for travel inside the US. But if you’re planning to voyage internationally, you’ll also need to update your passport.
If your passport is less than a year old, you’re in luck—updating your name is free. But if your passport is more than a year old, you’ll need to pay a processing fee for the new passport.
You will need to fill out one of three different forms: DS-82 if your passport was issued more than a year ago, DS-5504 if your passport was issued less than a year ago, or DS-11 if your passport has been expired for more than five years.
Mail in the completed form along with the required proof of identity, a color photograph of yourself, and the applicable fees. For more details, see our Passport Name Change Guide.
Applications can take up to six weeks for standard processing or up to three weeks for expedited service.
You will receive your new passport in the mail, as well as the old passport back with a hole punched through the center.
Cost: $0-$235 (varies based on your situation)
Government Resources: Forms and instructions
6. Update your voter registration information
- New Hampshire does not accept this application. You will need to visit your local election office in person.
- Wyoming requires residents at their local election office.
- North Dakota does not have voter registration—just show up to the polls with your current ID.
7. Update your name with the United States Postal Service (USPS)
While you don’t necessarily need to tell the USPS about your name change, you will want to update your name and address if you moved after your marriage. Visit moversguide.usps.com for more info.
8. Update your bank accounts and credit union accounts
To change the name on your bank account, most banks require you to visit a branch office with an updated photo ID (driver’s license or passport) and your marriage certificate.
While you’re there, ask for new debit/credit cards and blank checks.
If you want to add your spouse to your account or open a joint account, make sure your spouse goes with you.
If you don’t live near a branch location, call the bank’s customer support phone number or the number on the back of your debit card.
9. Request new credit cards with your new name
For all major credit cards, the best place to start your name change after marriage is by calling the number on the back of the card. Every card issuer is different, so don’t expect the same process for each card.
Most will want you to mail, upload, or email a photocopy of your photo ID (driver’s license or passport) and a photocopy of your marriage certificate.
Unfortunately, only a few issuers—like American Express—allow you to change your name completely online. Most require you to talk to someone over the phone.
10. Update other personal accounts
In other words, update your name everywhere else!
Once you have the most important stuff updated, it’s time to tackle the smaller things.
Your name appears in more places than you’d think, so you may want to fire up a spreadsheet and start creating a list.
It may take you a long time to fully update your name everywhere, but don’t let it stress you out too much. Many of these changes are not time-sensitive, and you can deal with them as they come up.
Personal accounts name change checklist:
- Employer/work info – talk to your HR department
- Military and government employees – contact personnel in the payroll and benefits offices
- Professional licenses and associations (nursing, teaching, doctor, therapists, etc.)
- Home mortgage or lease
- Insurance (health, life, term, disability, car, renters, homeowners, etc.)
- Investment accounts
- Medical providers (doctor’s office, therapists, pharmacy, etc.)
- Loyalty programs (airlines, hotels, retail stores, etc.)
- TSA PreCheck and Global Entry
- TV and internet
- Online subscriptions
- Email accounts
- Social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram)
- Gyms/fitness studios
- Internet browsers (Chrome, Safari, etc.)
- Children’s school
- Alumni associations
You’ll remember other accounts and subscriptions along the way. Just update them as you encounter them. It will all come together eventually.
NewlyNamed makes your name change easy
Changing your name can be time-consuming, stressful, and confusing. I started NewlyNamed to change this.
Our personalized name change kits provide everything you need to change your name after marriage.
Each kit is customized to you and includes applications and step-by-step instructions for your state/federal documents and personal accounts (banks, credit cards, frequent flyer programs, hotel loyalty, investment accounts, nursing license, etc.).
The average person going through a name change will need to update their name in 20+ places. NewlyNamed will save you time and frustration!
Hopefully, this guide makes your name change after marriage a little easier. Good luck!
Founder & CEO, NewlyNamed
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve already booked our flights for our honeymoon. Should I update my passport before we go?
It depends on which name you used to book the flights. The name on your passport must identically match your boarding pass. If you booked your trip using your maiden name, then you should delay changing your name on your passport until your return from your trip.
What’s the difference between a marriage license and a marriage certificate?
A marriage license is a document you receive from a county courthouse which allows you and your spouse to marry. A marriage certificate is a document that states you and your spouse are married.
Does my name legally change after my marriage?
No. Your name legally changes when you update your name with the Social Security Administration.
Can I change my first name after getting married?
No. To change your first name you will need to file a petition for a name change through your county court.
When should I start my name change?
It’s completely up to you. You can start your name change at the Social Security Administration immediately after receiving your marriage certificate or you wait until a more convenient time.
I got married a long time ago. Can I still change my name?
Yes. As long as you remain married and have your marriage certificate you will be able to go through the marriage name change process.
Is there a deadline for name change after marriage?
No. Your marriage certificate doesn’t expire. As long as you remain married and have your marriage certificate you will be able to go through the marriage name change process.
Can I change my name in the United States using a foreign marriage certificate?
Yes, you can use a foreign marriage certificate to change your name if it’s issued by an official government and written in English. If you’re unsure, call your local Social Security office.