Today, many women are opting to forgo the tradition of legally changing their last name after marriage, citing a variety of personal and professional reasons for keeping their maiden (given) names. For new brides that do wish to change their last name after marriage, the process is a bit more arduous than simply signing the marriage license. To make sure you have all your bases covered, Olivia Restaurant has put together a step-by-step guide to legally changing your name to reflect your new status!
Step #1: Make a Decision
Deciding whether or not to keep your maiden name may be one of the most difficult marriage-related decision a woman can face. Some new brides feel the practice is archaic or misogynistic and experience a loss of identity when asked to change their names, while other women consider taking their husband’s name as a point of pride and feel the practice inspires unity in the relationship. If you do plan on changing your name, even if it’s simply changing your middle name to your maiden name, be sure to do it immediately after you return from your honeymoon – many states have time restrictions on changing your name after marriage, and waiting too long can create unnecessary headaches.
Step #2: Obtain Your Marriage License
Before you can begin the official name-changing process, you’ll need to get your hands on your official marriage license. If you your marriage license wasn’t automatically sent to you after your wedding, you can obtain a legal copy from your county clerk’s office. Remember: the Social Security office won’t accept a Xeroxed copy of your marriage certificate, so be sure your license has the raised seal before you proceed with Step #3!
Step#3: File For a New Social Security Card
Take your new marriage license, along with two forms of identification (one with a photo) to your local Social Security office. To expedite the process, visit the Social Security Administration’s website and download the SS-5 form, then bring the completed form with you when you go to file for a new Social Security Card. (Don’t worry, your number will stay the same, only the name on the card will change!) The administration will return your documents immediately, and your new card should arrive in the mail within a month.
Step #4: Get a New Driver’s License & Passport
With your new Social Security card, marriage license, proof of address (like a current phone bill), and old driver’s license in hand, take a trip to the much-dreaded Department of Motor Vehicles (D.M.V.) to receive a new driver’s license. Though you shouldn’t have to take a new picture (unless you want to), you will need to surrender your old I.D.!
Step #5: Notify Your Bank & Financial Entities
Now that you have your marriage license, Social Security card, and driver’s license, head to the local branch of your bank to get your name changed on all your accounts – personal checking accounts, savings accounts, IRAs, business accounts, credit cards, student loans, mortgage company, etc. Many couples like to set up a joint bank account when they first get married, and (surprise!) you’ll need all the necessary documentation to do this as well. Also, don’t forget to order new checks, debit cards, credit cards, and any other money-related thing that bears your new name.
Step #6: Tie Up All Other Loose Ends
Now that you have all the major things out of the way, we at Olivia Restaurant recommend making a list of every other relevant organization, club, or association, from your local post office to your frequent flyer miles account, and calling them one by one. Most reputable entities will have protocols in place that makes name changes easy, but prepare to spend a fair amount of time on hold. Don’t forget to contact your:
- Employers/Human Resources Department/Payroll Office
- Post office
- Utility Companies
- Schools and Alumni Associations
- Landlords or Leasing Agents
- Insurance Companies
- Doctors’ Offices
- Voter Registration Office
- Your Gym
- Your Attorney’s Office