Name Change Forms for Brides:

How to change your name after the wedding

What’s in a name? Plenty, in today’s world. Stop to think, and you’ll be surprised at how many government agencies and websites and offices know you by your birth name. After all, every modern woman by necessity creates quite a paper trail, from your first Social Security card to your latest credit card. But don’t think too hard, or you might feel daunted by the effort it will take to change your name with all of these folks when you tie the knot.

Fear not, brides. We’ve got you covered. Read on, and we’ll walk you through the process step by step. On the following pages, we’ll also outline the major agencies that you need to contact, and then provide you with a handy checklist so you don’t forget anything.

Remember, once you’ve taken the first major steps – getting a new Social Security card and driver’s license – the other steps should fall easily into place. Best wishes!

When to change your name

The first question is when to when to make the big change. We know you can’t wait to start signing your checks with your new name! Well, the short answer is: in a timely fashion, but not too timely.

Most states like you to alter your moniker on all government documents within a month or two of the wedding. But don’t start the process until after you return from your honeymoon (which is good, because you’ll have enough to do leading up to the wedding).

The logistics of your honeymoon will go more smoothly if you haven’t made the change yet, because your name needs to match every one of your travel documents. For instance, your airline may get nervous if the name on your passport isn’t the one you used to book your flight. Some hotels may be picky about this as well.

How to start

So, now you’re back from Bora Bora or Paris or a cross-country honeymoon drive, and you’re ready to take your husband’s name. Where to begin? With your shiny-new marriage certificate. Order several certified copies of your certificate – a dozen should be plenty – from the office where you got your marriage license. Depending on where you are, this may be a city or town clerk or a county recorder or clerk-recorder. When you’re changing your name, many agencies will want copies of the certificate.

Social Security

Social Security is your next stop. To get a new card with your new moniker (your number will remain the same), gather up your marriage certificate as well as your identity and citizenship documents, and mail or bring in your application to the nearest Social Security Administration office. Click here for details and a link to the application form. Expect to receive your new card within 10 business days.

Driver’s license

The next big change is your driver’s license. Rev up your name-changing engine by heading to your local motor-vehicle office with a slew of paperwork: a certified copy of your marriage certificate, your old driver’s license and your new Social Security card. (You don’t have to bring copies of your wedding photos, too, but you might coax a smile out of a busy DMV person if you do.)

Bank account

Plan another outing when updating your bank account. Head for your bank with your new driver’s license and one of your marriage-certificate copies. Life will be smoother if you order new checks and debit cards as well as just changing the name on your account. Are you setting up a joint bank account with your new spouse? This is a great time to do that, too.

Passport

You can change your name in your passport without leaving the country (or even your house). Simply mail in the appropriate form with your current passport, certified copy of your marriage certificate and a recent color photo. You won’t pay a renewal fee if your current passport was issued within the last year. Click here for details about this process.

Postal service

There’s no official name-change form for the U.S.P.S., so just fill out a change-of-address form, which you can find by clicking here.

Voter registration

Typically, your county will just ask you to fill out a new voter-registration form, with your old name listed in the area where the form asks for details about your previous registration. Check with your local registrar for more information.

I.R.S.

You don’t need to change your name with the I.R.S.; the taxman knows you by your Social Security number, so updating your Social Security card is sufficient. If you have a new address, though, be sure to tell the I.R.S. so you don’t miss your refund. A link to the address-changing form can be found by clicking here.

Other changes

Once you’ve gotten through the major changes and the major agencies, the other ones should fall into place more easily. Keep your marriage-certificate copies and new Social Security card and driver’s license on hand in case other offices ask for them, but sometimes the big switch is as easy as a quick phone call.

For the offices that want formal changes in writing, create a form letter to make the process go more quickly.

Other people you should notify about your name change include:

  • Employers
  • Credit-card companies
  • Doctors and health insurance, and other kinds of insurance
  • Utilities such as electric companies
  • Attorneys
  • Landlord or mortgage company
  • Investment and other financial offices
  • Schools or alumni organizations
  • Social-media sites where your proper name is important, such as LinkedIn

Order Name Change Forms

All of this can be very time consuming and if you want to save the time and trouble of printing out all the forms, you can order them here: New Bride Name Change Kit

Other situations

What if you’re not planning to simply take your husband’s name? Some couples combine their names or decide on entirely new ones. And sometimes a groom may take the bride’s name. You may also be part of a same-sex married couple.

If you fall into one of these categories, most of the processes detailed above will remain the same, but your state may have more requirements for types of name changes that are less traditional. These may require filing a court petition or publishing a notice in the local newspaper. Ask your city/county clerk or recorder, or an attorney, for guidance.