Changing your name isn't as easy as saying "I do." The lingo, paperwork, state-specific rules can make it a jumble. Follow these steps to simplify the process.
What to consider:
Changing your name takes weeks to begin with, so make the change in one fell swoop to avoid confusion (or issues with your tax returns).
"Book all of your flights in your maiden name—and let your fiancé know," says Danielle Tate, founder of MissNowMrs.com. "Your spouse-to-be may get excited and list your married name on your ticket, but most airlines will make you re-purchase a ticket if it's under a different name, even if you have a marriage certificate on hand."
Spread the word
Tell your relatives and friends of your decision to change your name before your wedding. "I've heard endless stories from friends and clients who received monogrammed gifts with the wrong letters," Tate says. "Receiving silver with the wrong initials on it is painful."
And how to do it:
1. Get marriage certificates from your town or county clerk
Your marriage certificate is the number one tool you'll use during the name change process. Unlike your marriage license (which you receive before your ceremony), your certificate states that you are legally married. Request multiple copies so you can send them simultaneously, as most changes will require a certified version.
2. Make it official: Change your name with the Social Security Administration
The number on your social security card won't change, but you'll need a card with your married name to change your name elsewhere. Gather your marriage certificate, an application for a social security card, and proof of citizenship, age, and identity (a passport should do the trick). Submit the documents via mail, or drop them off in person at a social security office. Once your new card arrives, it's official: Your name is changed. Next, it's time to update your personal documents and notify any businesses with your name on file.
3. Update your passport
Passports have the slowest turnaround time (up to six weeks, though you can pay a $60 fee to expedite the delivery), so apply for a new one as soon as your social security card arrives. If your current passport is more than one year old, a $110 fee is required. Mail in your current passport, marriage certificate, and either the Form DS-5504, Form DS-82, or Form DS-11 (check travel.state.gov to see what you qualify for), and they'll return a new passport in the mail.
4. And your driver's license
You'll likely need to go to the DMV for this one, so make an appointment in advance to avoid a long wait. Bring your marriage certificate, proof of identity, and vehicle registration, and double check your state's DMV website for any additional fees or required documents. While you're there, update your voter registration, too.
5. Stop by the post office
Mail is sent where it's addressed, but the United States Postal Service recommends notifying your local post office.
6. And don't forget...
You will need to contact these entities individually:
- Bank account: You'll receive new credit cards, but be sure to request new checks, too, as many banks will not honor checks with your old name.
- IRS: The name on your social security card will need to match up with the name on your tax returns in order to receive them.
- Email: Some domains, like Gmail, will let you change the name that appears when you send an email, so you don't have to start fresh.
- And anywhere else your name is on file: Insurance, gym membership, social media profiles, luggage tags, etc.