You’ve taken the plunge and decided to either take your spouse's last name or create your own last name with your partner after the wedding. So, er, how do you change your name after marriage, exactly? And how do you make sure you've covered all the name-change-after-marriage bases? Don't sweat it, we've got you covered.
The first step in legally changing your name after marriage is to make your new name official on all of your legal and personal documents. To do this, you’ll need a few certified copies of your marriage certificate and your old IDs (including passport, driver’s license and Social Security card). Once you have those documents together, you’re ready to start tackling the project of legally changing your name after marriage! Know that the name change process takes time — for many people it could take a year or more to fully switch over — so don’t feel frustrated if it seems like this is taking forever. (Another great option is HitchSwitch, a service that literally takes care of all this name change paperwork hassle for you.)
Changing your name after marriage? Here's exactly where and how to do it.
Not all of these will apply to you, but feel free to print this out and cross off relevant items as you complete the process.
Social Security Card
The first stop on the journey of changing your name after marriage should be the Social Security Administration (SSA) office; in some states, the DMV and other offices will require you to show a Social Security card in your married name to move forward. Check this link for a step-by-step guide to correcting the name on your Social Security card; you’ll need your marriage certificate, ID, this form and possibly proof of citizenship (learn more here) to make the change.
Next up: the DMV. Driver’s license name-change requirements vary from state to state, so Google “changing my name on my [state name] driver’s license” and you should find everything you need to know. Be sure to visit your state’s official DMV website (it will have a .gov address). You’ll need your marriage certificate and photo ID, along with an official form and possibly your Social Security card.
The requirements for changing your name on your passport vary according to when your passport was issued, so check here to see which category you fall into. Be ready to show proof of citizenship, your marriage certificate, a color passport photo and possibly your photo ID.
Bank Cards and Credit Cards
Changing your name with your bank or credit union could require an in-person visit, but you may be able to make the switch over the phone, too. Call your financial institution and let them know you’re newly married and have changed your name—they’ll help you figure things out from there. Remember to change your name on all of your accounts, including your credit cards.
If you have a green card, visa or other immigration document that lists your pre-marriage name, you’ll need to change it before you can travel again after your honeymoon (always book your honeymoon using the name on your passport and immigration documents. You won’t officially be Mrs. or Mr. New Name until you’ve visited Social Security, the DMV and other offices on this list!) Google “changing my last name on [name of immigration document]” to find out the steps you need to take to update your documents. If you have an immigration lawyer, they can help you with this.
This one’s pretty straightforward: Call your landlord! They may want to see your marriage certificate and driver’s license, but they’ll let you know over the phone.
You will likely need to show your marriage certificate and new Social Security card to update your loan documents; call your creditors and ask them exactly what to do, where to go and if you can change your name by mail or phone.
This process will vary state by state but will, at the minimum, require you to show your marriage certificate and fill out a form. Google “changing my name on my car title/registration in [state]” to find your local DMV’s requirements.
Once you have your new Social Security card, you’ll need to show it to your employer and have them update your last name on their payroll accounts. That helps ensure that the SSA keeps accurate count of how much you’ve paid into Social Security. Your employer will also need to update your name on your health, dental and other benefit accounts to prevent any gaps in coverage.
Insurance Accounts (car, life, home etc.)
Your insurance broker can help you update things like your auto or home insurance, and the HR department at your workplace can help you update any life insurance plans you have through your job. If you have health insurance through a state or federal agency, or have health insurance directly through an insurance agency—and not an employer—let them know you’ve changed your name.
If you have a home loan that lists your pre-marriage name, call your lender and talk through their requirements for making a name change. You may want to add your spouse to the mortgage (if he or she is not already on it) and refinance your loan. Go over all of these options with your lender.
Contact your county’s deed office to find out how to change the name on your property title. You may need to fill out a “change of owner statement” (or the equivalent) and show your marriage certificate. This will be important if you ever decide to sell your house. You can also ask about adding your spouse to your deed at this time.
This is your gas company, water and power, internet service provider, cell phone provider and any other services that bill you, including Netflix! Call them all and let them know you’ve changed your name.
You’ve already told your insurance providers about your new name, now it’s time to let your doctors, dentists and vets know, too. This will help prevent any difficulties at the front desk the next time you need to see a medical professional.
If you have children, stop by their school(s) and let them know you’ve changed your name, that way they have the right name on the pick-up list and know how to address you if they have to call or send home a notice.
Doctors, lawyers, nurses, notaries public and anyone else with a professional license will need to contact the relevant licensing board and get your certificates updated with your new name.
If you have a financial planner, give them a call and ask for help updating the name on your investments. And if you have a 401k or other retirement savings account, be sure your employer or financial institution updates their records accordingly.
Don’t get caught out in the cold on Election Day! Google “change name on voter registration [state]” to find out the name-change requirements in your state.
If you’re active in your alumni association, let them know you’ve changed your name so that they can address you correctly and pass on the right name to others who might be looking for you.
Airline Frequent Flyer Programs
Each airline has a different policy when it comes to changing your name for their frequent flyer programs, so be sure to call the individual carriers where you have accounts. You may have to mail or fax in a copy of your marriage license. And if you're traveling on your honeymoon immediately after your wedding day, remember to book the ticket under your maiden name.
Social Media Accounts
These are a little less important than your Social Security card and driver’s license, but they’re easiest to change—so you’ll probably update them first! Even if you don’t want to change your handle, you can update the full name associated with your account. Don’t forget to change the name displayed when you send email, and the name on your LinkedIn account if you’ve changed your name professionally.
You’ll definitely come across smaller accounts and subscriptions with your old name as time rolls on—feel free to update those as you encounter them. Once you’ve gotten the important stuff out of the way, the rest will fall into place.