Your Guide to Getting a Name Change in New Jersey
If you're planning on adopting a new moniker after your Garden State nuptials, here's everything you need to know about getting a name change in New Jersey.
You worked hard to plan and execute your wedding day, so now that it’s over, you’re probably more than ready to relax. But there’s one more task you may need to complete before you can call it done, and that’s changing your name! If you’re wondering how to change your name in New Jersey, know that it’s a pretty straightforward process.
Not up for it? We totally get it. After all, you’ve worked hard, now it’s time to let someone else handle the boring details. That’s why a service like HitchSwitch is such a great idea. They can handle the whole name-changing process for you. HitchSwitch does all the work involved with filling out forms and going to various agencies so you don’t have to. Choose from three different levels of service—a little bit of help, a lot of help, or have them handle the whole darn process. Regardless of the path you choose, here’s our guide to how to change your name after marriage in New Jersey.
These are the steps you’ll need when figuring out how to legally change your name in New Jersey.
1. Choose your new name.
There are lots of different options you can consider when it comes time to change your name. Surprisingly, the state of New Jersey is a bit more restrictive than other states when it comes to this: you won’t be able to make your maiden name into your middle name in this state without a court order. Once you have your marriage license (see below for more on that!), HitchSwitch can help you determine if your new name choice will indeed require a court order.
Outside of that, though, changing your name in New Jersey is simple. It’s even okay to start calling yourself by your new name without making any official changes. But you should still make things legal if you want to display your new name on documents like your driver’s license or health insurance card.
2. Obtain your marriage license in NJ.
If you’re wondering how to change your name after marriage in New Jersey—as in any state—your marriage license is the first step. If you’ll be getting married in New Jersey, you can obtain your marriage license from any county in the state. A marriage license costs $28 across the state, but do be aware that there’s a 72-hour waiting period between obtaining the marriage license NJ couples need and getting married that must be observed.
Head to the county clerk’s office with your government-issued photo ID (a driver’s license, state identification card, or passport will work). If one or both of you resides in New Jersey, bring proof of residency. Note that if neither of you live in the state but your wedding will be held in New Jersey, your marriage certificate will only be valid in the town in which it was obtained, so be sure to get it at the correct location.
After you’re married, you’ll need your marriage certificate as you navigate your name change. In New Jersey, there’s a nominal fee to obtain a certified copy, which can be done using this form. It’s a good idea to request several certified copies of your marriage certificate—it will serve as proof of your marriage whenever and wherever you change your name.
3. Get married!
After you obtain your marriage license, it’s time to get married! Your New Jersey marriage license is valid for six months. Once you head back down the aisle, your officiant will sign your marriage certificate and return it to the County Clerk (the same one who issued the certificate). And that’s it! You’ll receive your official marriage certificate and the certified copies you’ve requested by mail.
4. Head to the Social Security office to make a legal name change in NJ.
Next step to making a legal name change in NJ? Updating your Social Security card. You can head to your local Social Security office to do that, with form SS-5 in hand. Be sure to include both your birth name and your married name when you fill out the form. Bring it, along with a certified copy of your marriage license and photo identification (driver’s license, state identification card, or passport) to your local Social Security Office.
This process can be done by mail, too, if you choose. Simply send the form along with your certified marriage license and original ID. The process takes a few weeks.
5. Head to the MVC to change your last name in NJ.
A not-so-quick trip to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission is next on the list. Here, you can add your new last name to things like your driver’s license (most importantly), but also your voter registration card and and your vehicle’s title and registration cards.
When figuring out how to change your name in New Jersey, you’ll need to present your current driver’s license along with your marriage license, which will serve as proof of your new last name. Be sure to also bring your new social security card, since the MVC will require this in order to obtain a new license.
Note: New Jersey is a REAL ID-compliant state, which means your new ID should meet the requirements for this federal program that goes into effect on October 1, 2020. Now is the perfect time to get compliant.
7. Need a passport? That’s next on the list!
If you’ll be honeymooning after you exchange vows, you should think about how to change your name after marriage on your passport. In short, you have to apply for a new one. Luckily, you can tackle this step through the mail; there’s no need to do it in person unless upcoming travel plans require you to use your passport. But if you're traveling immediately following your wedding, you can still you use your old passport—you'll only need to change your name on your passport after you've made the switch with Social Security.
When it comes to changing your name on your passport, how to do it depends on how long you’ve had it. If it’s been a year or less, you can use the Department of State’s website to download and fill out all applicable forms, and send them to the National Passport Processing Center. Be sure to include your current passport, a certified copy of your marriage certificate, and passport photo. There’s no charge for this service. But if you’ve had your passport for more than a year, you’ll have to pay a nominal fee for your new document.
Traveling in less than two weeks? You’ll need an expedited passport. Fortunately, the state of New Jersey has several offices you can visit. You’ll pay a steeper fee for this speedier process, and you’ll have to show proof of identification, name change, and your travel plans.
8. Change your name with providers and other important documents.
When it comes to how to change your name after marriage in New Jersey, your Social Security card, driver’s license and passport are considered the “big three”. Once you’ve tackled those, the rest is pretty simple, and much less official. If you’re interested in how to change your name after marriage in New Jersey and make a complete switch, it’ll involve everything from your credit cards to your local dry cleaner. It seems like a lot, but don’t worry—these tasks are much less pressing (and yes, HitchSwitch is here to help!). Here’s a list of things you’ll need to change your name on:
- Bank and credit card companies
- Immigration documents
- Lease agreement
- Car title and registration
- Utility companies
- Doctors’ offices
- Voter registration
- Social media accounts
When it comes to how to change your name after marriage in New Jersey, there’s certainly a lot of work involved. But it doesn’t have to be stressful. Check out HitchSwitch to start your name change in New Jersey if you’d like some help. They’ll take the guesswork out of the entire process!
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