Changing your last name is a big life decision. And it requires a lot of time and consideration. Indeed, there’s a lot to think about. Will you take your husband’s surname, stick to your maiden name or maybe use a hyphenated combination of both? In most cases, women choose the first option, which is the traditional and most common one. However, once you decide to take your spouse’s surname, be ready for some challenging tasks along the way, such as paperwork and legal practicalities. To help you figure everything out, we’ve made a helpful guide to changing your last name. Find it below.
Obtain marriage certificate
Before the wedding ceremony, couples get a special marriage license issued by the county clerk. What is this for? The document allows couples to wed. After filling it out, holding the anticipated ceremony, and getting the license signed, you should head back to the clerk's office. There you will finally obtain government-issued certified copies of your marriage certificate. The original certificate will likely stay on file with the county. Congratulations, you can now use your copies as proof of being married to the love of your life! Remember: without having a marriage certificate or its official duplicates, you won’t be able to change your last name, as the document is required almost everywhere.
Change your Social Security Card
Once you change your name, it’s important to update your Social Security Card information, as your new name and name on the records should match. Otherwise, you might get into trouble. Apply for a new Social Security Card by mail or in person at the nearest office. You can also print and fill out the application for a name change in advance — it’s available in PDF format on the official site of the Social Security Administration. Updating your Social Security card is free of charge and can take up to 10 business days. These are the documents you will need: your current Social Security card, proof of name change (yes, that certified copy of your marriage certificate), proof of citizenship, and valid photo identification.
Get a new driver’s license at the DMV
You now have your new Social Security card, awesome. What’s next? Wait at least 24 hours after changing your name with Social Security, and only then, head to the local Department of Motor Vehicles office. There you will have to update your driver’s license with your new name and photo. Don’t forget to research your state DMV’s website beforehand to make sure you bring the right paperwork. Most offices require the following: a current driver’s license, an updated Social Security card or a receipt from the Social Security office, proof of name change, proof of address, and photo ID. Be ready to pay a fee, so bring cash, a check, or a credit card.
Update your financial accounts
Now it’s time to notify your bank and credit card companies about the changes. Some institutions will ask for an in-person request, while others may allow you to mail or upload your documents. Of course, a certified copy of your marriage certificate will once again play a big role. The required documents may also include your new Social Security Card and your new driver’s license or state-issued ID. Once everything is updated, you should order a new debit card and checks bearing your new surname.
Update your passport
When it comes to updating your passport information, you have to consider important things like time and location of your honeymoon trip. The best option is to change your name after you’ve returned home. The reason is simple. The name on your boarding tickets should match the name on your passport. As honeymoon tickets are usually booked in advance, they still have your maiden name on them, so delay getting a new passport until you return. You will need the following documents: your current U.S. passport, a completed DS-5504 form, proof of name change, and your photo.
Notify everyone else
Your personal information appears in more places than you think. This means you should update a lot of other documents besides the ones we've already listed above. For example, your insurance policies (health, home, auto, etc.) and major independent payments (mortgage, utility companies, student loans, etc.) Plus, you have to notify your employer about changes. It's best to create a separate list to keep track of everything. This way, the process will be easier, faster, and less stressful.