As you get closer to the big day, you’ll probably start thinking more about all the legal processes that a wedding and marriage entail. Although sending out invitations, discussing details with your wedding planner and designing menu cards are important parts of planning, you still need to prepare for all the paperwork that will make your marriage official.
Changing your last name can sometimes be a long and time-consuming process. To help you get acquainted with the task and figure out the different options you and your partner have, read our complete guide below.
Apply For A Marriage License
Depending on your state, you’ll need a certain amount of time to apply for and obtain your marriage license before the wedding. Be sure to check with your county registrar to have all the necessary paperwork taken care of by your wedding day. In most states, they require you to come in with a pre-filled application—which you can usually obtain online—a government-issued photo identification, proof of residence and birth certificate. Plus, you’ll be required to pay a license fee.
Once you have your license, your officiant will make sure that all necessary parties sign it on your wedding day. It’s common for states to require signatures from the couple, the officiant and two witnesses. When changing your last name, be sure to use your new last name on your marriage license.
Another one of the officiant’s duties includes turning in the completed marriage license to your county clerk either by mail or in person. If your officiant is a friend or family member who’s never conducted a wedding ceremony before, we recommend going over how to officiate a wedding about four months prior.
How To Make Your Last Name Change Official
To officially and legally change your last name, keep in mind that there could be a long list of places and people that you’ll have to notify. To make things easier, consider a gradual approach and start with the most important parties and institutions.
Change Your Social Security Card
Unfortunately, there isn’t a website where you can apply for a name change on your Social Security card. To complete this step, print and fill out a Social Security card application. Once completed, take or mail your application along with proof of citizenship—like a passport or birth certificate—to your local Social Security office. There is no fee and it usually takes about 10–14 days after your application has been processed to receive your new card.
Change Your Driver’s License And Voter Registration
Although the process to change your name on your driver’s license varies by state, you’ll most likely need to show proof of your name change. When setting an appointment at the DMV, be sure to bring your marriage license with you. Some states also ask for one or two utility bills to prove your name change so verify your state’s requirements before heading over.
Typically, the DMV electronically verifies your name with the local Social Security office but it’s always a good idea to bring your new card as well. You will then need to fill out the appropriate paperwork and pay any applicable fees. In many states, you can also re-register to vote at the DMV, so be sure to inquire for the correct forms during your appointment.
Change Your Passport
If you recently renewed your passport, you will not have to pay any fees unless you’re requesting expedited service. Be sure to mail the application, your most recent passport, the original marriage certificate and a color photo to the National Passport Processing Center.
If your passport is eligible for renewal, mail the appropriate application, your passport, marriage license and renewal applicant fees. Otherwise, you’ll need to send a new applicant form and fees. Keep in mind that you must mail through USPS, otherwise, your documents will not be received.
Update Your Bank Accounts And Credit Cards
At most, if not all banks, you will be asked to submit a copy of your marriage certificate. If your employer uses direct deposit, be sure to inform them of the change as soon as possible to avoid any delays in your paycheck.
Depending on your credit card issuers, you will either be able to file a name change request online or you’ll need to bring a photo ID and marriage certificate in person to a local branch. Call ahead or go to their website to plan accordingly.
Update Your Utility Bills
We recommend changing the name of your utilities or at least a couple of bills immediately after your wedding. Bills are easy to update with a quick phone call or submission form online. It usually takes one billing cycle to reflect your new name. They’re often used by other parties to verify the name change so once you receive your new bill, keep a copy as additional proof.
Notify Lenders And Insurance Companies
Be sure to update any shared accounts and contracts with your new name. These include loans, mortgages, lease agreements and property titles. Depending on the institution, they may ask for additional proof, so keep copies of your marriage license, updated utility bills, driver’s license and Social Security card on hand.
Notifying your car, health, life and renters insurance can help you avoid any delays on your claims. Whether you’re switching to your spouse’s insurance policy or keeping your own, you should still set some time to call each provider as soon as possible. We recommend not waiting more than 30 days after you receive your marriage certificate.
Update Social Media Accounts And Emails
Lastly, let your friends, family and acquaintances know about your new last name. Changing your name on your email and platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter usually just requires a visit to the settings pages, changing your current name and re-entering your password.
Other Options To Consider
Keep Your Given Name
If you’d like to avoid the hassle, many couples decide to keep their given last names. An option would be to keep all of your legal documents as they are and change your name on things like emails and social media accounts––giving you the best of both worlds.
Change Your Name Legally
If you like your maiden name but still want to make things official, you can always choose to change your name on paper but keep everything else as is. Changing your name on official documents while leaving your social media and email accounts with your given last name is another great way to use both.
Create A New Last Name
If neither you or your partner are particularly attached to your given last names, creating an entirely new last name can be a fun and exciting experience. Brainstorm some names that reflect you as a couple. Whether it’s a reference to the place you met or favorite fictional characters, the possibilities are endless.
Take Both Names
Hyphenated last names have increased in popularity recently. Whether one or both spouses hyphenate, be sure to use your new last name(s) when filling out and signing your marriage license. For couples who want to establish an equal relationship from the start, choosing to hyphenate both of your last names is a great option.
Although time-consuming, changing your last name is an exciting part of marriage as it can mark the beginning of a new journey with your partner. Whether you adopt your spouse’s last name or you both decide to make the change, you’re now prepared for every step of the process.