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Your Ultimate Name Change Checklist

One of the first things you need to figure out after saying "I do?" How to legally change your name. Here, we break it down.

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Changing your name after marriage isn't as easy as saying "I do." The lingo, paperwork, state-specific rules can make it a jumble. If you're at a loss for how to legally change your name now that you're married, we're here to help. The most important thing to remember is that this process takes weeks, so make all changes in one fell swoop—that means on your social security card, license, and passport—to avoid confusion (or issues with your tax returns). Follow these steps to simplify the process.

 

Related: 5 Tips for How to Change Your Name After Marriage

 

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.

 

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.

 

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. 

 

Since you can't get a new passport until you've changed your name on your social security card, plan to travel under your maiden name during the honeymoon. "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."

 

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.

 

Stop by the post office.

Mail is sent where it's addressed, but the United States Postal Service recommends notifying your local post office.

 

And don't forget about these individual entities...

  • 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.