Changing Your Name
One of the myriad of changes that often takes place after a wedding is also one of the most obvious: your name! Is there anyone out there who didn’t scribble various new last names on their middle school binder, depending on the crush-of-the-moment, just trying them out to see how they’d sound? Nowadays, many women are still taking on their new husband’s last name, but some people (both brides and grooms) are adopting hyphenated names, and some couples are both using the bride’s last name. Whichever way you and your spouse-to-be decide to go, the steps are the generally the same. But please note: if you’re a man changing your name, some areas do require additional legal steps, so contact your local government to get the straight scoop.
Marriage License and Certificate.
First, check with your local county or municipal government to make sure you bring all the correct information and documentation with you when you apply for your marriage license. And while you’re there, make sure you order a couple of extra certified copies of your marriage certificate. They are generally only a few dollars and will come in handy as you work your way down this list!
Social Security Card
The most important document to update is your Social Security card, which is completely free. You can download the necessary form, “Application for a Social Security Card” at http://www.socialsecurity.gov. You’ll also need photo identification (your driver’s license or passport), proof of citizenship (a certified copy of your birth certificate or your passport would work for this, too), and proof of your legal name change (this is where you need a certified copy of your marriage certificate). You can either take the form and documents into your local Social Security office, or just mail them in; all the documents you send them will be returned with your new card. For more information, visit the Social Security Administration’s website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ or call them at 1-800-772-1213
Once your new Social Security card arrives, head over to the closest Department of Motor Vehicles or Driver Licensing office – whatever it’s called in your state. It’s best to see if you can schedule an appointment instead of waiting in line. Check online or call to find out exactly what form you need to complete and what your state requires for documentation. A certified copy of your marriage certificate may be sufficient along with your old driver’s license, but they might need other items like your birth certificate, Social Security card, or proofs of residence and some states require a thumbprint as well! Your state will probably charge a modest fee for the new license, generally between $10 and $30.
If you have a passport with your previous name, you’ll need to apply for a new one. Go to the State Department’s website at http://www.travel.state.gov and read up on the exact process. Basically, you’ll need to mail the nearest passport agency the correct form, your old passport, a certified copy of your marriage certificate, and, probably, two new photos. If your passport was initially issued less than a year ago, great news: there’s no charge! If your passport is older than a year, you’ll need to pay the full renewal fee and submit a different form. As a side note, make sure that any travel arrangements for your honeymoon are in your maiden name so they match your current passport and driver’s license!
Let your employer(s) know about your new name so they can update their records – which will include your paycheck, their tax reporting to the I.R.S. (you might want to consider changing the number of deductions you claim on your W-4) and a new I-9 form with your new last name for the Department of Security (formerly known as the Social Security Administration). Most Human Resources departments will want to see your marriage certificate or your new Social Security card to confirm the name change. You also may need to order new business cards, new name tag or badge, or a new name plate for your office, and change your work email address, if it includes your old last name.
If you’re still in school, check with the Registrar’s office. There’s generally a short form to complete and they’ll want to see some documentation, too. Ask exactly what proof they need so you can make sure to have it ready.
Contact your bank(s) and any investment companies you do business with to find out what their process is for updating your information and to add your new spouse on whatever accounts you have decided to own jointly. And don’t forget your credit and debit cards and checks! Those will need to be updated and the issuing bank will mail them to you directly.
Car registrations, medical and other insurance policies, utility bills, frequent flier programs, voter registration, the post office, your library card, alumnus groups, and any other organizations in which you participate will need to be updated. In most cases, a brief form letter including your old name, new name, contact information, account number (if applicable) and a copy of your marriage license should do the job just fine. Or you can simply take care of them as the opportunity arises.
The number of people, companies, and entities to be notified may seem overwhelming, but start with the most important and work your way through. In just a few weeks, you’ll be seeing your new name everywhere!
♥ Emily H. Geddes
Exclusively for WeddingLDS.com
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