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A Guide to Changing Your Last Name

There’s no denying that once the fun of the wedding is over, future planning can seem daunting. Should you decide to take your partner’s last name, a whole slew of paperwork and legalities come into play. We’ve compiled a list of steps to streamline the process for a smooth transition.

File For Your Marriage Certificate

On the day of your wedding, the couple, the officiant and witnesses will sign the marriage license. The marriage license is a document that authorizes a couple to wed, where the marriage certificate is a document that certifies the marriage is legal. After the marriage license is signed, someone, typically the officiant, files the marriage license so the marriage certificate will be sent to you. The timeframe in which the marriage license must be submitted varies by state, so be sure to verify.

Once the marriage license is filed, government issued marriage certificates will be available to be requested and purchased through the county clerk’s office where you filed. Requesting three copies is wise, to keep one in a safe place and others to send to entities that might need official copies.

Update Your Social Security Card

You can apply for a new Social Security card either by mail or in person at your nearest Social Security office. If you do go in person, you can speed things up by filling out the application beforehand. You’ll need to have the following information: proof of your name change (a certified copy of your marriage certificate); proof of citizenship (a valid passport or birth certificate); valid photo ID (driver’s license or passport); and your current Social Security card. While your name will change on the card, your unique nine-digit number will not.

A New Driver’s License

Once you get your new Social Security card, you can proceed with getting a new license. Changing your name on a license requires a trip to your local DMV. You’ll be able to take a new photo to pair with that new last name. Bring the following with you: your new Social Security card; proof of address (a bill, bank statement, mortgage document); a certified copy of your marriage certificate; and a form of payment.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Newman

Update Your Passport

For the purpose of a passport, a name change is considered a correction, which should be applied for by mail. You can use the U.S. Department of State’s interactive tool to help you complete the process. You’ll need to mail the following to the National Passport Processing Center: the completed DS-5504 or DS-82 form; a certified copy of your marriage certificate; your current passport; and a check made payable to the “The U.S. Department of State,” including your name and date of birth on the memo line.

If you are applying for a passport for the first time, you will need to apply in person at an acceptance facility and will need the following: the completed DS-11 form; a passport photo (taken prior to or at the appointment); proof of citizenship (birth certificate); proof of identity (photo ID); and form of payment.

Similar to banks, each credit card company is likely to have their own process, but all will require proof of name change. The best place to start is by calling the customer service line on the back of your card.

Change Your Bank Accounts and Credit Cards

Each bank’s process will differ, but all will require legal documentation of your name change whether that be your marriage certificate, new driver’s license or Social Security card. During this process, be sure to inquire with your bank about changing your name on debit cards and checks.

Update All Major Payments

Any regular and automatic payments, such as mortgage, utilities, car payments, student loans and health insurance, will need to be updated. In most cases, this can be simply updated online or over the phone.

Photo courtesy of Lily & Sparrow Co.

Update Your Insurance

Your home, car and health insurance providers will all need to be updated with your name change as soon as possible to avoid a lapse in coverage. Each insurance provider will have their own process, but all will ask for either your new ID or marriage certificate.

Update Service Providers

While not required, it makes life easier to update your accounts with service providers such as your pharmacy, doctors and dentist offices, rewards programs, grocery store rewards and streaming services. Most of this can be done online or in person.

Let People Know

Be it your work’s human resource department, an organization you’re involved in, your alumni organization or even friends and family — let them know your new last name and how you would like it to appear on any email accounts or documents.

Feature photo courtesy of Black & Hue Photography

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