If you’re planning on changing your last name once you’re married, there are a number of steps you’ll need to take to ensure that the process goes smoothly. You’ll want to start getting everything together no later than 1-2 months before the wedding to give yourself enough time to track down all the paperwork that you’ll need.
We’ve put together the “how to” guide below to help you through everything. And don’t worry, it really isn’t as daunting as it sounds at first. It’s just a matter of getting organized and compiling the various documents you’ll need to fill out to legally change your name.
Tip: Even if you plan on using a hyphenated last name after marriage, you will still need to update your social security card and other government and state documents with your new hyphenated last name.
step 1: decide whether to “do it yourself” or use a name change kit
You may be glad to know that there are a number of bridal name change services now that will help you with this process and save you some time (do a web search for “name change kit” to compare some different options.) Keep in mind, though, that you’ll still need to fill out paperwork either way. What these services essentially do is provide all of the standard government forms that you’ll need to fill out in one place (based on your state and zip code), either online or as part of a kit that you receive in the mail. Also, they will likely provide pre-written letters that you can complete and send to your bank, insurance companies, etc. to notify them of your name change.
However, if you’d prefer to pull the paperwork together on your own rather than purchase a kit, read on and follow steps 2-5 below.
step 2: create a quick checklist of the items you’ll need to update
Here is a standard list of the documents you’ll need to update, and companies you’ll need to contact:
- Social security card
- Driver’s licence & registration
- Your employer
- Your local bank
- Credit card/financial companies
- Healthcare providers
- Insurance companies
- Utility companies (cable, electric, etc.)
- Landlord/homeowners association
- Attorney (to update any legal docs)
Feel free to edit the list if any items don’t apply to your situation.
step 3: collect all of the forms you’ll need to file
First, contact your company’s human resources department to notify them that your name will change, and find out what paperwork you’ll be required to fill out to update your employee record. You’ll also need new business cards and a new email address, so giving your employer as much notice as possible to begin this process will be beneficial.
Next, work on your social security card paperwork as you may need your updated card first in order to change other items such as your driver’s license. See the Social Security Administration’s website for how to change the last name on your social security card.
See the State Department’s website for instructions on how to obtain a passport with your new name.
Finally, contact your local DMV for driver’s license and registration change forms, and your bank, healthcare providers and other companies for their specific forms.
Note: If businesses such as credit card companies don’t require an actual name change form to be completed, they will likely require that your request be made in writing, along with a copy of your marriage certificate. Call each company to find out what their specific procedure is and prepare a letter ahead of time so that you can mail it out after the wedding, once you obtain your marriage certificate.
step 4: file for a marriage license with your local city or town clerk
Besides needing a marriage license to become legally married on your wedding day, you’ll also need it to obtain a marriage certificate after the wedding which you’ll provide to the entities above to prove that your name has in fact changed.
Tip: If you will be booking honeymoon travel, make sure to book everything in your maiden name since your passport, driver’s license or other documents won’t yet have your new name on them.
After the wedding, pick up your marriage certificate from your city or town hall (check with them first as there may be a short waiting period of a few days or more after the wedding while they process your certificate.) Also request at least 2-3 extra certified copies of your marriage certificate while you’re there as you’ll be required to a submit a certified copy of it when you update your social security card and passport (and possibly other items.)
step 5: fill out and mail each of the forms you assembled before the wedding
If there are letters that need to go out in addition to the other paperwork, don’t forget to include a copy of your marriage certificate where required. You should also check in again with your HR department as they will likely need a copy of your new social security card in order to update your tax and retirement documents.
Congratulations! Soon, all of your important documents will appear printed with your married name, and you’ll start receiving mail addressed to your new name as well; how exciting!