Names are kind of funny if you think about it. You’re given a name by your parents at birth, and it becomes a core part of your identity. And while a new baby’s first name gets all the attention, the surname is a time capsule to one’s ancestry, and frankly, way more interesting. Whatever your origin, whether French, Korean, or Mexican, surnames pack a whole lot of history and tradition in a small package. One of those societal traditions, if you’re a woman, is the expectation to change your last name after marriage. Luckily, norms are changing in a beautiful way, and taking on a married name is more of a personal and individual choice now. Yes, while many people do switch over, some choose to stick with their maiden name — and other times, the groom or other partner chooses to take on the new surname. There’s nothing wrong with any of these scenarios — in fact, the process and freedom to choose have taken on a more progressive and egalitarian structure.
That said, it can feel intimidating when you’re learning how to change your name after marriage. It seems like many people are quick to mention horror stories based on long waits at government offices, endless forms, and maybe even a little bit of doubt. But if you’re confident, here’s how to change your name after marriage — along with the important paperwork you’ll need to make sure the process is as flawless as possible.
How do I change my name on my Social Security card after marriage?
First, take a deep breath. While it may seem like a tedious process ahead of you, it’s also very important. With a new name comes a new sense of self. You’ve now been welcomed into another family — and if you choose their last name, there’s definitely an adjustment period. Here are some important steps you’ll need to take:
- Have your marriage license and certificate. The first thing you need to do to change your name after marriage is to make sure you have your marriage license, along with copies. You can ask for copies when you apply for the license before your wedding. Your marriage certificate that you’ll get after the wedding is also vital to bring with you.
- Take the right ID. Along with your marriage paperwork, you’ll also need some forms of ID. A passport or birth certificate will show the government employees that you are a resident of the United States. A driver’s license or military ID will also be required, along with your current Social Security card. Simply put, if it has your name on it and it’s from the government, it’ll be good to bring along just in case.
- Go to the Social Security office. The next step is going to the Social Security office with your paperwork. Going in person makes a lot of sense, since then you can make sure nothing gets lost in the mail. Going early also helps, since there can often be a long line. The sooner you check in, the sooner you can move on with your day. Your Social Security card is a very important document, so it’s important it’s up to date if you change your name. To update your name on your card, fill out Form SS-5 and return it to your local Social Security office. You must also hand in proof of identification that has your new legal name on it.
- Lost Social Security card? Nervous because you lost your original Social Security card? Have no fear. You can request another one by mail to bring with you. It’ll be temporary until your name change causes a new card to be generated, but it’s important to have for this big step.
How do I change my driver’s license or state ID after marriage?
The DMV is often known as another not-so-great location to sit and wait, but it often varies by state. It’s possible your DMV is more pleasant and quick to get customers out the door. The DMV stop is important, though, since you’ll need to change your driver’s license or state ID after getting things straightened out with Social Security.
This is also a step that needs to be done in person. Getting your name changed is the perfect excuse for a day off at work since there’s a lot to get done. Plus, getting everything filed in one day will be a lot easier to handle. Some DMVs might allow you to book an appointment ahead of time to lessen the wait, which is worth looking into.
How do I change my bank and credit card information?
It will be very important to contact your banks and make sure the name change appears on your accounts. You might want to try and see if you can put multiple names on your bank account, in case you’re worried that anyone will send a check to your maiden name. Banks are used to switching information, so it should be no hassle to visit your bank and make these changes.
Until you’ve changed your name, you may not realize how many things it’s attached to. It’s harmless to leave your maiden name on things like magazine subscriptions. But, documents like your voter registration and passport will need to be changed as soon as possible. You can change your passport after marriage by also submitting a copy of your marriage certificate. Again, it’s good to get plenty of original copies for all of the name changes you’ll need.
Is there a deadline for a name change after marriage?
The answer is no. If you and your partner are still married and can present your marriage certificate, you can take as long as you like to change your last name. Thankfully, marriage certificates don’t expire, so you can change your name years into your marriage. There’s no rush or deadline, which gives you time to decide if changing your last name is something you really want.
What are the pros and cons of changing your name after marriage?
There are plenty of benefits and disadvantages when you change your name after marriage. It’s a decision you might want to think hard about. If you choose to have children in the future, you might want to change your last name to match theirs, or at least talk to your partner about how you’ll manage their last names once they’re born. (One way couples do this is by hyphenating both surnames.) A benefit of changing names after marriage is that you might feel more connected as a family.
However, there can be disadvantages as well. You might choose not to change your name after marriage if you’ve excelled in your career prior to getting hitched. If your last name was “Smith” and all of your diplomas are for “Smith,” you may choose to keep it. It’s a logical reason why. Depending on the field of work, some people who change their legal last name continue to use their maiden name for work.
Once you figure out how to change your name after marriage, you may also decide that it’s not a big issue at all. Some couples choose to fully embrace their own individual identities. Make sure you never feel pressured to change your name if you don’t want to. But if you do, it’s a big step forward. Plus, when was the last time you had an excuse to change your signature?
How do I go back to my maiden name when married?
Let’s say you’ve changed your mind, or your partner’s last name doesn’t sound as magical next to your first name as you thought. You can change your name back to your maiden name by filing a change of name petition in superior court. After paying your fees and publishing specific legal notices, get a copy of the court order and documents. Make the proper changes to your ID and other documentation.
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