The Nitty Gritty of Changing Your Last Name!

Posted by morningglory on Oct 11, 2012

Let me start off this post by saying this: the boys get off SO easy when it comes to marriage! They really aren’t required to be full-fledged into wedding planning, they don’t have to deal with groomsman drama and most importantly the biggest pain – changing their name on EVERYTHING! All they really have to do is show up!

A lot has changed (at least in the state that I live in) when it comes to getting married and changing your name. I’m going to warn you that it is all very overwhelming! I got lucky in the fact that my MOH got married 2 months before me, so I basically knew what all had to be done.

The first thing you should know is, you will NOT be able to get all of your name change errands done in one day. Just get it out of your head right now! I figured one day off work would be good, but no I’ve been married for a month and it seems like I haven’t made much progress. Here is a prospective list for you of what you need to change and the order in which to do it.

Before I start, let me warn you that you should keep an original copy of your marriage certificate with you for all these errands! It will save a lot of headache!

1. Social Security Administration: This is definitely your first stop. My experience was pretty easy, I was in and out in 20 minutes, but I’ve heard it depends which area you are in. You will get your card in the mail within a week, so that puts your name change at a standstill until then.

2. Work: This includes federal and state tax forms, (don’t forget to change your filing status to married! It will get you a few extra bucks in your paycheck.) which need to have the same name as what’s on your Social Security card because IRS is really cracking down on people having different legal names than the name on their paperwork for income taxes. Funny story is that my mom has been married for 30 years and two years ago the IRS just told her she had to change her name at SSA if she wanted to get a tax return! Also, you will need to go to Human Resources and ask for name change forms.

3. Insurance: Whether it be through work for health insurance, car insurance, homeowners, etc. make sure you do this ASAP. Some companies will just change it when you say you are married, but some may ask for ID or at least a copy of the marriage certificate to be sent in, so call ahead of time to ask what you need if you are like me and like to get as many things accomplished in one sitting! Also, for health insurance if you plan on picking up your husband or he picks you up on his plan it HAS to be done within 30 days or you have to wait for Open Season which is generally in the fall, but doesn’t take effect until January 1st. P.S. A small tip: Make sure to change your status to married on your car insurance and add your husband (if he’s not already on the policy) because your payment goes down! Mine went down $30 a month!

4. MVA/DMV (aka the dreaded license change): In my state, you are now required to bring a certified copy of your marriage certificate to change your name on your driver’s license. They will make you sit there until your number is called and then laugh at you when you say you don’t have a certified copy of your marriage certificate (as you fill up with steam because of all the time you wasted). This means you have to go to the courthouse in the county or city where you got married and pay a small fee for them to “certify” your marriage license and give you copies. Luckily for me, MG Bear is on shift work, so I got him to go during regular business hours to accomplish this task. Make sure to go to the website for your local Motor Vehicles Administration to see what rules your state has for name changes due to marriage. It will save a lot of headache.

5. Any place that doesn’t require formal paperwork to change your name: Aka the gym, tanning salon, doctor’s offices, etc. I’ve been doing this as I go in, but it’s something you can definitely do over the phone all in one day and it’s pretty easy. You can actually do these right away if you want that giddy feeling when someone asks you what your last name is!

6. Banks/Credit Cards: This has been a royal pain for me. I have my bank that I use on a regular basis, the bank I have my mortgage with and then two separate credit cards companies. The banks require that you come in person with photo ID and your marriage certificate to change your name, which of course, I have a 9-5 job and of course, there are no branches near my work. Sigh. More time off work. My mortgage and credit card companies were easy enough, but with owning a home comes the fact that the title and deed to the house are in my maiden name which supposedly is okay to stay the same as long as when you sell the house, you have your marriage certificate to prove the name change. This is something that will probably be a headache a few years from now.

7. Passport: If you had a passport in your maiden name, this is easy. For me, I had never had a passport and was told to wait until after we were married since we aren’t going out of the country until January. To make a long story short, more time off work.  You also need a lot of paper work. Birth Certificate, photo ID with married name, marriage certificate and application (coincidentally, the most of any name change duty) and most post offices require an appointment, so don’t pull a ‘D’OH’ moment like me and take off work to do this only to find out that you can’t even get an appointment in that day. Sigh.

Luckily, I haven’t had a lot of problems but that might be because my maiden last name is now my middle name making it easier to prove my name change. I know for some people, changing your last name is exciting, and you want to do it the second you get married, but my suggestion is to wait until you get all the forms you need and to make a list of what you need to get accomplished and when. I wish I had done that to begin with because now I am scatter brained and trying to put the pieces together as to what I still have left over to change!