Social Security, Passport, DMV, etc. - Name Change After Marriage

First Name Change? Last Name Change? Child's Name Change? Retake Your Maiden Name?

It Isn't As Hard As You Think

Name Change After Marriage is important. Period. You need to get this done, and done right.  Do you need 1 piece of Identification changed? Several?  Everything?  If you want this done right, with the least amount of time and wasted energy, study up and plan a little first. 3 pieces of your ID are really key, and you can do them all in a few days if you want. Everything else may take a couple of months, but not very much of your actual time.  There is no “button” to push. But, it’s completely manageable. This will help.

Name Change After Marriage   

Do You Have the Right Documentation?

15 minutes

Make a little list.  Put down each person whose name needs to be changed. If that’s just you, fine. If it’s a child, spouse, or a whole family…put it down on paper, even if it’s just you. For each person, you’re going to make a little inventory of what documentation you have and what you are missing. You may think you have what you need, but you may not. If you do, great! It’s 2 minutes. If not, this will save you a boatload of time later.

Now, for each person, you’re going to see if you already have a legal name change, or if you need one. And, for each person, what ID and Official Records need to be changed. Once you have the proper Legal Name Change Document, changing ID and Official Records isn’t as hard or time consuming to do as you may think before you dig in. So, chin up.

What are Name Change After Marriage Documents?  

There are only a few kinds of acceptable Name Change Documents. If you don’t have one of these to support your request to change ID and Official Records, your likely to be told to start over when you do have one. So, make sure you have this before you go to change ID. Here’s the 2 kinds of Documents, and their several acceptable types:

Certificates:

    • If properly done, certain certificates are proper Name Change Documents. A Marriage Certificate is a proper Name Change Document. But only IF it shows both your legal name before AND after your Marriage right on it. It has to be issued by a legally authorized government agency. And your New Legal Name After Marriage must be in compliance with the Name Equality Act of 2007. You’re going to need an Original or Certified Copy of that Marriage Certificate.
    • A Citizenship (or naturalization) Certificate is also a proper Name Change Document, if properly done. This too must show your full legal name before Citizenship and After. It must be signed by a legally authorized government authority who reviewed your background. That person must also have had authority to grant the name change. An original or Certified Copy of your Citizenship Certificate Name Change will be needed to comply.

Court Orders:    

If you don’t have the right Marriage or Citizenship Certificate, you need a Superior Court Order.
    • Your Court Order can be a Decree Changing Name from a proper Civil CourtFirst Name Change, (change of mind) Last Name Change, Child’s Name Change and Retaking Your Maiden Name (while still married or as widower) can all be done by Petition for Change of Name in Civil Court. You get this after filing a Name Change Case in the correct Superior Court of the county where the person changing Names lives now. Use this process to legally change the names for adults, children and families. A Certified Copy of this court order will have the Seal of the State, the signature of a duly authorized clerk or other officer of the court, and the judicial officer who granted the name change(s). It will also show the former legal name(s), side-by-side with the New Legal Name of each person changing names.

      Name Change Court Order Start Now

    • A Family Law Court can also issue Certified Copies of Name Change Court Orders. For instance, when a California Divorce is Final, the Superior Court will Order any Former Legal Name to be Restored of either (or both) spouses upon request. You have to formally ask for that AND be sure it’s part of your divorce judgement. Otherwise, you don’t have it. A Family Law Court can also Order a child’s name to be changed by Court Order in a Child Custody or Adoption Case. If that Court Order does not Order the Child’s Name to be changed From………… To……………., right there in the Order signed by the judge, it may not be an effective Name Change Document.

As long as you have one of these Name Change Documents for each person to be getting Name Change After Marriage, you are fully half way home!  If not, get them before trying to change ID if you want to save time and aggravation.  If you have what you need, let’s go on!

First, Change The Top 3 ID and Official Records 

3 days or less to do the Top 3

There is a Top 3, and Social Security is #1.  To get all this done efficiently (using the least amount of your time), gather up your existing ID and Official Records. You’re going to need them in different situations while getting your name changed after marriage. Plus, you can take a fresh look at them to see if there are any variations of your name that may have to be explained or documented. As long as you’re doing this, get everything fixed while you’re at it.

  1. Social Security Card –  Do this first. This will take an hour or less. Go to a convenient SSA Office. You must have your Name Change Document and a completed application. No fee for this.
  2. Driver’s License or State ID Card – It’s best to do this second.This may take 3 hours or so. You must go to a DMV Office to get name change after marriage for your Driver’s License or State ID Card. To get your new DMV ID to be REAL ID COMPLIANT, take a look at their Checklist before going in. DMV has a small fee for this (usually $31 or $28 per person), depending on the type of ID you’re applying for.
  3. Passport – Do this third if you can. You can do this by mail, go into one of their offices or a private service can assist you for an extra fee. It will take about an hour to initiate the process and then you will get your Passport by mail, usually in a few weeks.You’ll need a completed application, your current passport,1 color photo, and the applicable Fees. It’s free if you renewed within a year, $30 for a passport card and/or $110 for a Passport book

Name Change After Marriage – Bank, School, Job and Everything Else

About 2 months to do this. 

For EVERYTHING else, be practical.  Proceed at your own comfort level. Set up 2 groups: 1) Active Accounts (e.g., Professional Licensing, bank accounts, 401K, credit cards, School, etc.); 2) Inactive or Payment Accounts (e.g., property title, loans, auto club membership). Go to the main 3 or 4 of these and let all the others come to you. They all have periodic mail or email to you. So you can reply of follow their links to advise them of your legal name change. There are just a handful of these that are important in your daily life. Take care of those first.  Keep advising and responding so they know the change you want in each communication. Pretty soon, they will all have adopted your new legal name as the one they carry for you.

Each place will have its own process for accommodating your name change after marriage. They’re used to it. Your main bank and any school is likely to want to see the Original or Certified Name Change Document. So bring one with you when you do the bank. Until you have all the rest changed over (or almost all), keep a copy of your Original or Certified handy. Some places may ask to see it, others will just do as you ask. Check them off your list as each one gets done and you have confirmation. Before you know it, they will all be switched over.

Set Up a Mass Mailing To Speed Up The Process

If you want to go after your less important accounts, you can create a notification letter that can be used for them all. This will be a little more work for you, but will have the advantage of speeding up the whole process. You’ll also have fewer stragglers and complete records. Here’s a suggested sample Notice:

Sample Letter

This is to notify you of my name change after marriage. My Legal Name has been changed to _________________________________ from ____________________________. My account number with you is __________________________.  Let me know promptly if you have some form to be signed, or other request of me, in order for you to comply with this notification.

Please change my account name information to my new legal name at your soonest opportunity. I hope to have confirmation from you soon and see you use my new legal name when you next communicate with me.

Respectfully,

(Your New Name Signature), formerly (Your Old Name Signature)

Supply a regular copy of your Name Change Document with your note or email if you wish. That may expedite your request further. It’s also possible to hire a private service to do this for you. They charge between $30 and $100, usually. A private service may help you to be more organized about this for suppliers, household accounts and organizations, but they may actually cause you to spend more time to assist them in helping you than you would spend just doing it yourself.  Either way, this section of your name change after marriage issues has a lot of quantity, but isn’t going to take much time or stress to get done.

You can hire a private service to do the less important notifications for you. They usually charge between $30 and $100 and may help you to be more organized about this. But a service for this may end up taking more of your time to get them going than you would spend just doing it yourself.

Birth Certificate Name Change After Marriage

Your original birth certificate, together with your original or Certified Name Change Document, will be all you need to prove your legal name in every situation. That’s why most people never bother with getting a new or amended birth certificate. The exception is for infants. New parents have emotional reasons for getting an updated birth certificate after name change. If you want to get one, go for it:)

Full Enjoyment of your Legal Name Change After Marriage

Name Change After Marriage is manageable and liberating. If you make a priority list, prepare and go after it, it will all be done rather quickly.  And with a lot less stress than you think. It’s irritating when you’ve changed your name and someone gets it wrong. Or when you can’t get something done because your ID records aren’t straight. On the other hand, it’s pretty great when everyone knows you by the name you chose.

Name Change Document - Child Name Change After Marriage

Need Child Name Change After Marriage?

Name Change Document - Decree Changing Name of Child After Marriage

Maiden Name Change After Marriage - Name Change Document, Court Order

MAIDEN NAME CHANGE AFTER MARRIAGE?

Name Change Document - Court Order Restoring Maiden Name

General Name Change FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about NAME CHANGE after Marriage. Click on any of the links below.

What Documents Prove a Person's Legal Name?

ANSWER

A Birth Certificate Establishes a Person’s Legal Name To Begin With. In the course of your life, you will receive various pieces of ID, Official Records, Certificates and other documents reflecting your name or changing your name. Here’s the way to tell which is which…

  1. Birth Certificate: THIS ESTABLISHES YOUR LEGAL NAME. All other valid name changes or ID will have a connection or relationship to your name on your birth certificate. Usage is the exception.
  2. Social Security, DMV (Driver’s License/State ID Card), and Passports: THESE DOCUMENTS REFLECT (but do not change) YOUR LEGAL NAME, they don’t establish it or change it. Each of these documents should show the same exact name and match the person’s established or properly changed legal name.
  3. Citizenship and Marriage Certificates and Name Change Court Orders:  THESE ARE NAME CHANGE DOCUMENTS. They must be properly done to be effective. You will usually need an Original or Certified Copy of your Name Change Document when officially proving your current legal name and/or identity. A Name Change Document must be signed by a government official or judge empowered by law to change a person’s legal name, after review of your information, identity and background, and then to authorize the legal name change applied for. The authorized official must have signed a document that shows the person’s currently Established Legal Name AND the person’s New Legal Name right near each other on the document. Examples of Name Change Documents, properly prepared by the correctly authorized person or agency, area  Citizenship Certificate, Marriage Certificate, Divorce Judgment or Order, Adoption Order, Family Law Judgment, Decree Changing Name
  4. Usage:. Usually, all over the world, if a person uses one name exclusively, that Usage establishes a legal name change to the name being used. That’s a time honored rule sometimes called Common Law Name Change. HOWEVER, Government agencies and financial institutions can refuse to honor a Usage name change, and may insist that you get a proper Name Change Document.

Can I Just Start Getting My Id Changed?

ANSWER

YES, if you have the Original or Certified Copy of your properly prepared Marriage Certificate OR a Certified Copy of a proper Court Order legally changing your name.

NO, if you don’t have a proper Name Change Document. But, you just need to get a proper Name Change Document and then you can.

How Can I get my Kids Name Changed After My Marriage?

ANSWER

You just need to get a Court Order from Superior Court, and then you can change your kids name at Social Security, School, Passport and Birth Certificate.  Your Marriage License (or Divorce Judgment) won’t accomplish the name change for your kids.

If you’re in a divorce or custody case, you should request that of your judge.  If your family court judge signs an Order for you that states your child’s name now along side his new legal name after your divorce, then a Certified Copy of that Court Order will do the trick for you.

You can get a proper Superior Court Order through the California Civil Court with or without marriage or divorce. This Court Order is called a Decree Changing Name. If you follow the Child Name Change court process correctly, you can change all your kids names to exactly the right one for the family now.

Can I get REAL ID, With My New Name After Marriage?

ANSWER

Yes.  Check out this information and reference page about REAL ID for additional information

If you have the right Name Change Document, the name portion of your REAL ID Application will be fine.  You should check with DMV or Homeland Security to see what other kinds of information may be needed to prove your identity, besides your new name.

If I Have to Travel Before I Can Get My ID Changed, Am I going to Have a Problem?

ANSWER

No.

However, as everyone knows, the world is paying more attention to everyone’s identity, including your name. So, it’s best to have ALL your ID in a single name. Hopefully, it’s the name you want to use for everything going forward in your life.

If there’s not enough time to get your ID fixed and made uniform before you travel, wait until you get back safely and then do it all. It may take as much as a couple of months to get everything switched to your name after marriage. When you do have the time, be diligent and at least get the big 3 done right away: Social Security, DMV, and Passport if you have one.  Banking, Job, Professional Licensing and School (if that applies) are the next group to tackle.

It’s best to wait until you can change them all before you start any of the changes.  You may have unwanted questions or delays if you are traveling and your name isn’t the same on your tickets, DMV, Passport, or Social Security. If you’re in that situation, travel with a copy of your Name Change Document too.

Does My Marriage Certificate have to be From California?

ANSWER

No, but…

The Marriage License and Certificate process is different all over the United States and all across the world. To work with getting your Name Changed at Social Security, DMV and Passport, you’re going to need a certain kind of Marriage License, regardless of the State. And, you’re going to need an Original or Certified Copy of it, even if it’s prepared well enough for Legal Name Change.

To be universally accepted, your Marriage Certificate needs to:

  1. Have both your correct pre-marriage legal name on it, AND
  2. Your complete, clearly indicated new Married Name on it. Your New Married Name MUST not violate the Rules laid out in the Name Equality Act of 2007 ( e.g., No First Name Changes, etc.), AND
  3. Be issued by and signed by a government office authority, with legal authority to review and approve a legal name change as part of the marriage licensing approval function.

NOTE: A Nevada issued Marriage License, is probably not going to fly in California. Neither will one issued by a private Officiant. However a private Officiant can arrange a proper government issued license and Marriage Certificate that can be a proper Name Change Document in California for State and Federal ID.

Is My Divorce Judgment a Name Change Document?

ANSWER

It can be. In California, and in other states, you can obtain a court order restoring any name that you previously, legally had. However, if you didn’t ask for that, during your divorce, your divorce judgement alone won’t do the trick for your Legal Name Change Document.

Even if you asked for a maiden, or other name to be restored, your judge had to specifically issue an Order stating your exact full name to be restored. That spelled out former legal name must also be on the page signed by your judge and include the rest of your divorce case information AND your married name. To be an effective Name Change Document, you’ll need a Certified Copy of that Judgment page.

If you have the right Name Change Document after divorce, you can just go in and start getting your ID Changed. If you don’t have the right kind of Divorce document, you can still get it done by following to steps to get a Name Change After Divorce.

 

Can I Hire a Service to Change My Name on ID and Records After Marriage?

ANSWER

Yes, but….Only you will be able to Change your Social Security and Driver’s License. There’s a process to authorize a representative at Social Security but it’s elaborate and will take weeks or months to authorize.

  • There are inexpensive private services to help you draft requests to all your accounts. They usually cost under $100 and can help you with a comprehensive organization of the activity. However, it will take a lot of your time to provide your account information, monitor the progress and manage the project to it’s finish. These services will not help you with the top 5 or 6 of your ID and Official Records places.
  • There are many private services, and the US State Department itself, that will help you with Passport Name Change after marriage. The fees at these places can run into the hundreds of dollars and they have certain capabilities to expedite the process for you. If you have a particular rush, with international travel ticketed to start soon, your best best is to contact the State Department directly for expediting service.
  • If you need to get a court order Name Change Document, after marriage or after divorce, you can have a Name Change Specialist like EZ Name Change help you with Full Service or Maiden Name Change

Can I Change My Name Back to My Maiden Name AND Stay Married?

ANSWER

Yes:)

Women do that often for professional reasons. With the Name Equality Act of 2007, Men are eligible to do it now too. Either spouse can retake their pre-marriage name, for any reason. Some do that for family connection reasons too. This type of name change would be done in Civil Court and you’d wind up with a Superior Court Order called a Decree Changing Name. It’s the gold standard for Name Change Documents world wide.

NOTE: It is increasing the case that married couples retain their pre-marriage family names. Ever larger numbers of married couples live their lives well and comfortably without sharing last names.

I have other questions.

ANSWER
For other Name Change After Marriage information or for information about other types of Court Order Name Changes, see other articles on this page. Or, please feel free to contact us with your email or phone call questions