bride signing marriage license
Annie Lawrence, NYC Wedding Officiant

It’s hard work planning a wedding! So as your big day approaches, you’re understandably ready to take a break and enjoy your honeymoon. But don’t relax too much before you start the process of changing your name. If you’re wondering how to change your name in New York, it’s a pretty straightforward process, but there is a bit of legwork you’ll need to do after you’re hitched. 

Of course, there are services out there like HitchSwitch that’ll handle the whole process for you. With three different levels of service to choose from, it’s a great option for busy couples just like you! Regardless of the path you choose, here’s our complete guide to how to change your name after marriage in New York. 

These are the steps you’ll need when figuring out how to legally change your name in New York.

1. Choose your new name.

There are lots of different ways to change your name after marriage, and the state of New York is open to pretty much anything you can come up with. In fact, it’s even okay to start calling yourself by your new name without making any official changes. But if you want your new name displayed on legal documents like your driver’s license or health insurance card, you’ll have to go through the process of changing your name in New York. 

Taking your spouse’s last name? Great! In New York, you can choose to legally make your maiden name your middle name if you’d like to hang on to it. Or, you could opt to have your partner take your name, or even hyphenate your last names. And some couples choose to come up with an entirely different last name that’s a unique blend of both their last names. Regardless of what you choose, you’ll need to fill out your marriage certificate with your new name, so you’ll have to nail it down pretty early in the game. 

2. Obtain your marriage certificate.

If you’re wondering how to change your name after marriage in New York, your marriage license is the first step. You can apply for a marriage license in any county in New York; it doesn’t have to be in the county in which you’ll wed, but your ceremony does have to take place in-state. Licenses range from $35 in NYC to $40 elsewhere, and you’ll need to show a government-issued photo ID (a driver’s license, state identification card, or passport). Note that in order to obtain a marriage license in the state of New York, you must both show up, in person. There are no exceptions to this. 

Once you’re hitched, you’ll need your marriage certificate as you navigate your name change. In New York, certified copies are $10 and can be obtained from the clerk’s office in the county where you wed. 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!

Once you’ve obtained your marriage license, it’s time to get hitched! Your New York marriage license will be given to you at the time you apply for it, and it’s valid for two months. However, one caveat: you can’t get married for 24 hours after obtaining your marriage license—so plan ahead! 

In New York, you don’t have to get married in the county where you file for your marriage license. In fact, you don’t even have to be a New York resident at all! Once you head back down the aisle, your officiant should sign your marriage certificate and return it to the County Clerk (the same one who issued the certificate). You’ll then automatically receive your official marriage certificate and certified copies by mail.

4. Change your name with Social Security.

Once you get your completed and signed marriage certificate in the mail, the next step in the New York name change process is to update your Social Security card. You’ll need to head to your local Social Security office to do that. Remember that this should be your first stop, because other government offices won’t recognize your name change in New York State until you’ve updated it on your Social Security card. The good news is, this process is free and pretty straightforward. begin, download and fill out the application for a new Social Security card—be sure to include both your birth name and your married name. Bring the form, 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. If you want to handle this process by mail, simply send them your form along with your certified marriage license and original ID. The process takes a few weeks.

5. Make an appointment at the DMV to change your name on your driver’s license. 

No one wants to visit the DMV, but if there were ever a reason to slug it out in those long lines, it’s for a driver’s license sporting your brand-new name! And that’s just what you’ll have to do, since the state of New York does not allow you to change your name via the internet or over the phone. 

When figuring out how to change your name in New York, 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 hit up the Social Security Administration to get a new social security card first, since the DMV will require this in order to obtain a new license. 

Note: New York 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. May as well stay ahead of the game so you won’t have to visit the DMV twice!

6. 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. To change your name on your passport, you actually have to apply for a new one. 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. 

When it comes to changing your name on your passport, how to do it depends on how long you’ve had your passport. If you’ve had it for a year or less, you can use the Department of State’s website to download and fill out all applicable forms, and mail them to the National Passport Processing Center, along with your current passport, a certified copy of your marriage certificate, and passport photo. This service is provided free of charge. But if you’ve had your passport for more than a year, there will be a nominal fee associated with mailing in the form. 

If you’re traveling in less than two weeks and need an expedited passport, the state of New York does have several offices you can visit. What’s involved? A steeper fee for this speedier process, and you’ll have to show proof of identification, name change, and your travel plans.

7. Change your name with providers and other important documents.

When it comes to how to change your name after marriage in New York, your Social Security card, driver’s license and passport are considered the “big three”. Once you’ve tackled those, it’s time to think about all the other places your name is listed. If you’re interested in how to change your name after marriage in New York and make a complete switch, you’ll have to change your name on everything from your credit cards to your local dry cleaner. It seems like a lot, but don’t worry—you can take your time on these tasks. Here’s a list of things you’ll need to change your name on:

  • Bank and credit card companies
  • Immigration documents
  • Lease agreement
  • Loans
  • Car title and registration
  • Insurance
  • Mortgage
  • Deeds
  • Utility companies
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Voter registration
  • Social media accounts

When it comes to how to change your name after marriage in New York, it’s definitely a lot of work. But it doesn’t have to be stressful. Check out HitchSwitch to start your name change in New York if you’d like some help. They’ll take the guesswork out of changing your name and make it a smooth and streamlined experience.

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