How to Change Your Name After Your Wedding
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Changing your name after getting married can be a lot of work. Seriously, there's a ton to do. My wife took my last name when we got married over three years and she still hasn't fully completed the process (Hey there sweetie! If you're reading this post, I love you!).
While more and more couples these days are choosing to keep their names after getting married, the majority are still taking their spouse's last name. In many cases, both spouses are legally changing to a hyphenated name (or a brand new name they create together), effectively doubling the amount of work that needs to be done (though, honestly, going through it with your partner makes it a bit easier and motivates both of you to get it done).
Today, we're sharing a step by step guide for how to change your name after your wedding.
Start with the easy stuff
While there's a whole lot of complicated legal stuff you'll need to do in order to change your name, try starting with some of the things that don't require any paperwork, so you can get the immediate satisfaction of checking off some items on your name change to-do list!
Facebook and Other Social Media - Whether you do it immediately after saying "I Do," or after returning from your honeymoon, switching your relationship status to "Married" and changing your name on Facebook and your other social media platforms takes so little effort! Just head to your profile, tap on "Edit", enter your new information, and hit save! Woot! The world now recognizes you as the new Mr./Mrs./Mx. [your new last name here]!
Email Signature - Another easy place to start is with the signatures in both your professional and personal email accounts! Some people may need to contact their company's IT department to make the change, but that's simple enough!
Voicemail - If your voicemail recording starts with, "Hi, you've reached the voicemail box of [FirstName] [LastName]...", it's time to go in and switch it to [FirstName] [NewLastName]!
Your Top Priority Official Name Change Stuff (Or, "The Big Four")
The following four things are the most important pieces in your legal name change puzzle. Be sure to do these as soon as you are able after your wedding and in this order:
1) Marriage Certificate - Your marriage certificate is the first step in processing your official name change. You can get this from the county you filed your marriage license in, but be prepared to wait for several weeks (sometimes up to two months) after your wedding before you actually receive it.
2) Social Security - Once you have your marriage certificate in hand, you'll need to fill out an application for a new social security card and speak with a clerk at your local social security administration office (if you live in the Twin Cities metro area, it's located at 1811 Chicago Avenue, Suite 2, Minneapolis, MN 55404 and it's open 9am - 4pm). If you have already established your U.S. citizenship with the social security administration, you just need to bring your marriage certificate and a U.S. driver's license with you, but I always err on the side of caution and recommend bringing more documents, like your birth certificate, your passport (if you have one), and at least one other form of photo identification (like a current employee or student ID). Just be sure you're bringing original certified copies of all of these documents; photocopies (even if they are notarized) will not be accepted. I recommend arriving about half an hour before they open to minimize long wait times, but in any case, be prepared to wait for anywhere between 1 and 4 hours and bring something to keep yourself entertained. Your new social security card should arrive within 10 days.
3) Driver's License / REAL ID - Once you've received your shiny new social security card, you can head to your local DMV/DVS office and apply for a Driver's License or REAL ID. Just like with the social security card, I recommend bringing more documents to this than you think you need. At the very least, you'll need your birth certificate, marriage certificate, social security card, and current driver's license. For a REAL ID, things get more complicated and you'll need at least two documents proving residency in your state. Click here for a full list of accepted documents in Minnesota. After submitting your application, be prepared to wait, especially for a REAL ID and especially in Minnesota, which is notorious for taking a long time to process these requests (sometimes up to six months!!).
4) Bank Accounts - The final step of the big four is to change your names on all of your bank accounts. It's a pretty quick and simple step as long as you pay attention to your bank's requirements for what you need to bring in before you go. Be sure to request new checks, debit cards, and credit cards in addition to just changing your name on the account. Also, if you are starting joint accounts with your new spouse, you'll likely both need to be present to meet with a banker.
All The Other Stuff
After taking care of the big four above, you can change your name in all the following places. Most of these are not urgent (remember when I said my wife still hasn't finished everything after three years of marriage?) and they don't need to be done in any particular order, so feel free to take your time and work toward checking them off the list as you are able.
Passport - If you have a passport with your old name or will be traveling internationally any time in the next few years, you'll need to get a new passport with your new name. It's pretty easy to do, but does typically require an in-person exchange.
Insurance - Okay, this one is a tiny bit urgent. You'll want to notify your insurance carrier(s) of your name change. Health, life, disability, vehicle, homeowner's, renter's, etc. If any of these are hosted through your employer, you may need to work with your HR department to process them.
Employer / Payroll - Speaking of HR, you'll definitely want to let your workplace know your new name so that your paychecks and benefits are sent accurately. This has a lot of benefits, including ensuring that your bank will accept your paychecks, ensuring social security payments are credited correctly, and avoiding raised eyebrows and auditing alerts when it comes time to file taxes.
Credit Cards - Usually a quick phone call or a couple of clicks online is all it takes to update your credit card companies with you new name.
Loan Servicers - Remember to contact all of your loan servicers, public and private, for student loans, vehicle loans, your mortgage, etc.
Landlord - If you rent property, you'll want to give your landlord your new name. They may need you to sign an addendum to your lease.
Cell Phone - Call your phone company and give them your new name.
Utilities - Every utility company you use should have your new name. Water, electric, gas, internet, sewage, garbage disposal, recycling, etc.
Investments - If you hold any brokerage, investment, or retirement accounts, you'll want to contact your financial services company to let them know of your name change.
Voter Registration - Don't get hassled the next time you try to vote. Contact your Secretary of State's office to update your voter registration!
Post Office - You'll want to be sure USPS knows your new name, and if you're moving after getting married, you'll want to process a change of address as well.
Professional Organizations - These may include professional licensure organizations like those needed for CPAs, lawyers, nurses, and teachers or professional membership organizations like WIPA, NACE, and ILEA for event professionals.
Professional Services - You'll want to be sure to give your new name to anybody who offers you professional services, including your healthcare team, your accountant, your lawyer, etc. While it isn't necessary until the time of your next service, it doesn't hurt to also update people like your plumber or pest control service.
Legal Documents - If you have a lawyer, they should be able to do this for you, but if not, you'll want to be sure to put your new name on any legal documents you keep, including your will, your healthcare directive, and any existing contracts you are a party to.
Loyalty Programs - This may be the most grueling on the list. If you have perks/rewards accounts at various businesses, you'll want to update all of them. This could include airlines, coffee chains, retail stores, grocery stores, and more.
Local Clubs and Organizations - Think about all of the local places where you are a member. These might include your local library, your favorite golf course, your gym, etc. They should all have your new name on file.
Anybody Who Sends You Mail - For years to come, you may continue to receive mail and email messages addressed to your old name. Whether they come from a business or a friend, be sure to notify the sender of your new name so they can update their records.
Alumni Associations - Are you a member of the alumni associations for your high school and/or university? They'll be interested in updating your name in their records (and maybe even sending out the announcement of your marriage in an upcoming alumni update newsletter). Also, if you were a member of any Greek-letter organizations or social clubs in school, they may like to stay updated as well.
Your Child's School - If you are the parent of a little one who is enrolled in school, you'll definitely want to provide the school's administration office with your new name.
As I said earlier, this process can take a long time, and it may be five years from now that you go to Starbucks and realize they still have your old name in their rewards system. Don't stress if you can't get to all of these things at once. Take your time, prioritize, and tackle just one or two every day until you're done. It is a process.
A Quick Note about travel
Until you've finished the "Big Four," I highly suggest traveling under your old name to avoid any hangups with airlines, TSA, hotels, car rental agencies, and more. While you may be excited to use your new married name, it can cause some pretty big headaches. And if you're planning on international travel, be sure to wait until you've received your new passport!
Is This All Too Overwhelming?
If you are looking at this list and you can't even, there are a few services out there that charge a small fee between $30 and $200 to automate most of this for you. Do a quick Google search for "Name Change Service" and several options will pop up!
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