How to change your name after the wedding (including an account checklist!)

How to change your name after the wedding on @offbeatbride
Mrs. & Mrs. invitation by The Print Room Design

If you're planning a name change after your wedding, the process can be a smidge daunting. But it's only a few steps in total and requires just a little organization. You can handle this! Here's how to change your name after the wedding. (Note: these steps only apply to US weddings. If you're outside the US, check out some country specific guidelines here.)

Get an official marriage certificate

Snag an extra copy or two of your certified marriage certificate from your county clerk. When in doubt, get the "long-form" marriage certificate, which contains your parents' information and places of birth. You'll need that one for the Social Security office.

Apply to change your name with Social Security

You'll want Social Security form SS-5, which will net you a new Social Security card. Talk about feeling official! You'll need a few original documents (not photocopies) besides your marriage certificate, proving your age, identity, and US citizenship or lawful immigration status (like a driver's license or passport). Feel free to download the form and fill it in before you go to save some time, since it may be super busy there anyway.

Social Security will notify the IRS, which means you'll be able to file your taxes with your new name.

Update your driver's license

The DMV will want to know your new name, too. Google your state's DMV with a quick "[your state] Department of Motor Vehicles" to grab the forms you'll need. It varies from state to state, but you may need to re-apply for a new driver's license and change your vehicle title/registration. As in most of these steps, have a certified marriage certificate with you.

Clean house with the rest of your accounts

Once you have your new ID/driver's license, you can change your name elsewhere, which can be a hefty job. If you've ever had your credit card stolen, you probably already have a big list o' accounts where you need to change your information. Here's a name change checklist for after the wedding for all those other accounts:

  • Your employer (gotta keep getting those checks, right?)
  • Unions and professional organizations
  • Post office
  • Banks
  • Investment account providers
  • Assets such as property titles, deeds, trusts
  • Credit card companies
  • Passport office
  • Your attorney
  • Your landlord or mortgage company
  • Homeowners association or management agency
  • Insurance companies (health, home, fire, flood, vehicle, renters, life, etc.)
  • Doctors and dentists
  • Utility companies (cable, phone, Internet, gas, electric, etc.)
  • Mobile and home phone and cable companies
  • School and alumni associations
  • Student loan companies
  • Voters registration office
  • Club memberships (stores, gym, grocery stores, etc.)
  • Social media accounts, if you're planning on re-branding yourself online

Timing your name change after the wedding

Resist the urge to change your name prior to any honeymoon/travel plans. You'll want all your documents to match for this. There's no rush to change your name, so wait until you won't be traveling anywhere for a bit and you have the time to tackle all of the contacting at one time.

Are you changing your last name? Share your tips in the comments!

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  1. Awesome post! Could have used it earlier this year, but I'm sure others will find it useful.

    Cook County, Illinois offers wallet-sized marriage certificates. You get two for the price of a full one, and was accepted just fine at the SS office.

    Also, some states let you change your first and last names when you get married. Illinois is NOT one of those states. If you plan on changing any part of your name in addition to your last name, and you're in Illinois, just do it all at once via the regular name change process. No need to stand in all those lines twice.

  2. This was super helpful!! One question, does marriage certificate = marriage license?

    • Probably not the same thing. In Nevada, the marriage license is the document you get before you get married that is like telling the government your intent to get married. After the wedding, the wedding has to get legally filed with the state, then you can pick up your certificate. It usually takes some time after the wedding before the certificate is ready (it took 15 days here in Las Vegas)

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  3. YAAAAAS this is so so helpful!! Question: will the marriage certificate that's necessary to get all these balls rolling have to have the updates name(s) on it? Maybe that's a dumb question.

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    • It might vary state to state, but in Massachusetts I know you put the name you are going to have post marriage on the license, and that is what you bring to the social security office to change your name there.

  4. Is this also accurate if you're stepping outside the norm and adding your partner's last name as an extra middle name? I haven't done the research yet because we're still 11 months out, but now my curiosity is piqued!

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    • Hopping along for the ride on this thread. I want to add my partners name as my last and move my current last to the middle and I'm having a hard time finding Washington state info on this.

      • I just went through this today! In King County, WA I had to go through a court ordered name change to add a second middle name. I submitted a name change petition to the county clerk and got a court hearing time. Came back at the appointed time, swore I was telling the truth, and had the judge sign off on the paperwork. It cost $175, but was overall pretty painless. If I had just been replacing my last name, it would have been free and really simple, but the extra cost was worth it to me.

        I also had a tiny bit of trouble at the DMV changing my license – they didn't have enough space to fit both middle names, so I had to shorten my first middle to an initial 🙁

    • I don't know about where you live, but I added my maiden name as a second middle name and it was not a problem. Once you change it as the SS office, they give you a printed out temporary "SS card" (a sheet of paper) which you take to the DMV, then most everything else goes off of what your lisence says.

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  5. Thank you Catherine! I'm bookmarking this for future reference!

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  6. I just shared this to my fiance's facebook and said "This looks tedious, are we sure Brink and LastName flow well together? ;)"
    Seriously though, this is a great post and I will be bookmarking it for future use. I am a very methodical person so I really like that this post lays it out like a step by step process. SS, DL, then all the rest of the crap!

  7. Thank you for this list! I changed my name three years ago when I got married but my trans husband will finally be changing his name at the end of the year and this is a great reminder of all the places we will need to notify. Sadly not changing gender marker so that will be lots of fun, especially for insurance!

  8. Omg, that link has NZ instructions! That makes me so super duper mega happy! <3

    Fusband and I are both changing our names, but we're waiting until it gets a little closer to our passports expiring, then we'll go ahead and make it official. Until then, we'll go by our new surname socially. 🙂

  9. This might be a dumb question, but I've never found a clear answer: If you're changing your name, what name are you supposed to sign on the marriage license / certificate — your maiden name or new name?

    • That varies state by state. In Nevada, everything has your maiden name on it. I had a friend have to sign their marriage license with their new name not having practiced it yet. You'll have to look up the laws in your specific area for the answer.

  10. I am in the process of doing this. I just got my new SS card last week so I can start the process with all the rest of these groups and agencies. Joy of joys. I have been working on filling out all the paperwork through a website called missnowmrs.com. I am not sure if it really is helpful or not, but it seemed like a good way to consolidate everything. We will see if it was worth it soon enough.

  11. It may vary from office to office, but here in TN, the SS office didn't need my parent's info. I just left it blank on the application, they took my regular marriage certificate, and changed it. The certificate had my maiden name on it, but the SS office and DMV just took my H's last name and changed mine with that. I dropped my maiden last name entirely.

    Car title/registration is another one. When I changed mine, I had to bring in the original title and my marriage certificate.

    I've done everything except my passport. I'm dreading the $140 and 8 week turn around *groan*.

  12. My fiance and I have decided that we would like to create a new last name instead of my taking his or him taking mine or a hyphenated name. We live in Chicago, IL. Does anyone know how we go about doing so? From what we have gathered, it sounds like you need to ask permission from the court to make a last name change which is quite a process. We can't figure out if he would do that and then I would take his new last name at marriage OR if we both have to go through that process to change our last names as individuals to the last name we chose and then don't need a name change at marriage. Make sense? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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    • This is from the Social Security Administration website.
      https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0110212055 I think what you're trying to is a somewhat tricky thing and lengthy process but the first option you described (one of you changing it prior to marriage and the other taking it after) sounds like the easiest course of action.

  13. Omg! Wish I had seen this even just one week ago… Cuz I changed my name at the DMV first, and now the social security office won't take my temporary licence… So now I must wait for the new one *facepalm*

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