Changing Your Name After the Wedding: How to Do It and How Long Does It Take?

marriage certificate

Getting married is a process—and so is legally changing your name after you get hitched. After the toasts have been made and the honeymoon is over, you’ll want to get started on this process immediately (if you’ve chosen to do so, of course). It isn’t complicated and should only take you at most a couple of weeks to complete, but it can take a bit of patience and a lot of forms. Here is a short guide to everything you need to know about changing your last name after you get married.

To Begin, You’ll Need the Marriage License

Before you begin the process of changing your last name, you’ll need a copy of your marriage certificate. On your wedding day, you, your spouse, your witnesses, and your officiate all had to sign a document saying that a marriage did indeed take place, and then the officiate mailed it in to the County Clerk’s office. Once the state has received the license, they will certify it and you will be issued a marriage certificate. (Note that in some states this document may be one and the same, but the state must certify it in order for the marriage to be considered legal.) In some areas, they will simply mail you a copy of the marriage certificate once it’s been certified, but in others you will need to physically go to the county administrator and request one.

First Things First, Change your Social Security Card

social security card

Now that you have the marriage certificate golden ticket, the first step in this (somewhat lengthy and arduous) process is to change your name on your Social Security card. You know the one—the crinkly looking card that’s stuffed in the back of your safe that you occasionally need for legal documents. In order to change anything else—from credit cards to insurance to student loans—you’ll need to first change your name on your Social Security card. To do this you’ll need to fill out an application for a new card and provide two forms of identification that prove your age, identity, and that you are a U.S. citizen as well as the marriage certificate so that you can establish the reason for the change.

You can either take the filled out application plus your necessary documents to your local Social Security office, or you can mail it to them with the documents enclosed. (Don’t worry; they’ll mail them back when they’re done with them!) If you choose to go to the Social Security office in person, you might want to think about taking the whole day off work. These offices are somehow nearly always sparsely populated yet take a long time to actually call your name. If the wait time isn’t long and you’ve taken the day off, consider rewarding yourself with a Netflix binge day. Expect your bright and shiny new Social Security card in the mail about 10 days after the application has been processed.

Now, You’ll Need to Change Your Driver’s License

Now that you’ve gotten your Social Security card with your new last name (sidenote: even though your new name is very exciting, don’t be tempted to Instagram your newly minted card complete with your Social Security number!), you’re now going to need to make it official on your driver’s license. This unfortunately means you’ll have to go the DMV or your state’s equivalent. Even though the Department of Motor Vehicles is where dreams often go to die, it shouldn’t take you too long if you have everything you need with you.

The laws vary by state, but for the most part you can expect to have to fill out an application, show documentation for proof of identification and the official proof of the name change, and be prepared to pay for a small fee. They may take a new photo, so be sure to be prepared for that as well. Your new driver’s license will be mailed to you shortly once everything has been processed.

Be Sure to Update Your Passport


If you’ve traveled internationally and have a passport, you’ll definitely want to ensure that you change your name on it as soon as you can so that you can ensure easy traveling. What form you fill out will depend on when you were issued the original passport, so be sure to the check the State Department’s website for more details. In addition to the form, you’ll also need to submit proof of the name change—whether it’s an official ID that’s already been changed over to your new name or your marriage certificate—as well as your original passport and a new passport photo. You can either mail these forms and documents in yourself or you can visit an official passport agency or center.

Change Over… Everything Else

Now comes the fun part, which is making sure that you’ve changed your name in every other possible situation. Start making a list of legal places where you’ll need to change your name. Though everyone’s list is different, it will most likely look a little something like this: voter registration, bank information, credit cards/debit cards, mortgage, car title, car insurance, health insurance, student loans, any contracts at work, utility companies, doctor and dentist patient information, and pharmacy information.

The process to get your name changed on all of these other items will likely not take as long since you’ll already have an ID and a marriage license in hand to show them the change.

Skip the Lines and Hire a Service

If reading this short guide to changing your name makes you feel overwhelmed or you are just a very, very busy person, there are services that you can use to make this process as painless as possible.

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