Changing name after marriage is a common practice amongst married couples. Legally, you are free to keep your name, take your spouse’s name, or keep both names by hyphenating it. If you are considering changing your name after marriage, you must know that it involves a lot of legal formalities and paperwork.
It is a lengthy process, so remember to give it a good thought before making your decision. If you have made up your mind, we bring you a step-by-step process to change your name and some important factors you need to consider.
Important Things To Consider Before Changing Your Name After Marriage
Before you make the big decision, look at the following legal options you have.
1. Keep your surname
Keeping your surname is the easiest thing to do because it saves a lot of time and effort to change your name. However, when you have to prove your marriage to your spouse, it can get tricky if you haven’t changed your name.
2. Add spouse’s last name
You can retain your surname and add your spouse’s surname after it. For instance, actress Jada Pinkett changed her name to Jada Pinkett Smith after marrying Will Smith. You can hyphenate your last name as it is considered legal if you have completed all the legal formalities of a name change. Opting for a hyphenated last name allows you to keep your name, also indicating your marriage.
3. Keep your professional name the same
If you have built a business with your maiden’s name, you can retain it professionally while officially taking your spouse’s name. For instance, model Jessica Biel has officially changed her name to Jessica Timberlake, and her professional name continues to be her maiden name. The only problem with this kind of change is remembering where to use the usual and professional names.
4. Create a new name
If you are unsure whose name to take, an amalgamation of both your and your spouse’s names can do the trick. Here, you both will have to keep the same new surname. For instance, when you blend two surnames Villar and Raigosa, you get the new surname Villaraigosa.
5. Take up your spouse’s surname
Lastly, you can opt for the age-old option of taking up your spouse’s surname. It does not matter who takes up the surname as long as the couple has the same last name. For instance, singer Victoria Adams took up her husband’s surname and now her name is Victoria Beckham after her marriage.
How To Change Your Name After Marriage: Step-By-Step Process
Here are the steps you need to follow to change your name formally and legally.
Step 1: Get your marriage license
You can start the process of changing your name by applying for a marriage license. Request for a few certified copies (duplicates of original certificates) and purchase them to use for your future reference, and keep the original document safe with you.
Step 2: Make changes to your Social Security Card
Update your name on your Social Security Card by applying for a new Social Security Card through the Social Security website or visit their nearest office (1).
As per the official website, you will need to present the following documents:
- Proof of citizenship: To prove you are a citizen of the U.S., you will need your U.S. birth certificate or your U.S. passport.
- Proof of legal name change: You need to present documents—marriage certificate and the court’s approval of a name change, indicating your legal name change.
- Proof of identity: You need the latest copy of a document with your name and date of birth or age mentioned on it. Your driver’s license or U.S. passport should be enough. If you cannot provide these documents, submit your employee identification card, school identification card, health insurance card (not a Medicare card), or even U.S. military identification card.
You will retain your Social Security number as only your name will be changed. If you have provided all the required documents, you will likely receive your updated card in ten business days.
Step 3: Update your driver’s license
Once you have applied for a new Social Security Card, visit the Department of Motor Vehicles and apply for a new license to change your name. You will need to present your old license, a certified copy of your marriage license, your new Social Security Card, and address proof. You may have to pay a nominal fee for the process, depending on the DMV.
Step 4: Apply for a new passport
The next important document is your passport. Visit the official website of U.S. Department of State to make a change in your name (2). You will be charged fees for name change if your passport was issued over a year ago. Fill and send form DS-82, a certified copy of your marriage license, current passport, a check issued with the fee amount, and your latest color photograph for the passport.
Step 5: Update bank account details
Updating bank details is important if you wish to have a joint account with your spouse. You have to visit your bank with your marriage certificate and latest driver’s license. Put in a request for new checks and debit/credit cards with your new name on it.
These are the most important documents you need after you change your name. Once you are done with these, changing your name everywhere else becomes easy because you have all the basic documents. Here are some more places where you need to update your name.
- Employee ID: Drop a mail or speak with your employer or HR to change your official name. Submit the necessary documents along with updated bank details, so your paycheck is deposited in the right account.
- Professional licenses: If you are a professional, then update your name by contacting the respective professional licensing board. Submit the required forms and documents, and you will be done.
- Mortgage company: Once your bank details are changed, update your payment information with the rent and utility companies.
- Change insurance information: If you have joint insurance policies with your spouse, update your name as soon as you can. Do the same for vehicle and home insurance too.
- Lease agreement: Present your marriage certificate and driver’s license to your landlord, so your information is updated on the lease agreement.
- Voter registration: Voter registration rules vary for every state. You can visit the official website (3) and follow the process specific to the state you would be living in.
- Property titles: For properties that you own, you need to submit the ‘Change of Owner Statement’ form, which differs for every city or county, and submit your marriage certificate along with it. This is important as you will need it if you ever decide to sell your property.
- Update auto-pay accounts: After you have changed your bank details, you will have to change your personal information on any subscription services that you use. You have to update your credit card and billing information.
Changing your name after marriage is an expensive affair and a time-consuming process. But having the same surname as your spouse gives you a feeling of belonging to each other. It helps you build a family as a single unit. However, it is entirely up to you how you want it for yourself.
- Social Security Number and Card;
- Change or Correct a Passport; U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs; Name Change for U.S. Passport or Correct a Printing or Data Error (state.gov)
- Change Your Voter Registration; Change Your Voter Registration | USAGov