How to Change Your Name

The wedding is over, the honeymoon has been enjoyed and you’ve finally transitioned into life with your new husband. And now among the many thank you cards you have to write and send, there’s one more thing on your list: Changing your name. If you’ve chosen to take your husband’s name as your own, you might be at a loss of where to begin. But don’t worry. It’s not quite as difficult as you may think.

Before you can start the process of changing your name, you must order official copies of your marriage certificate. I ordered two just to be safe, but you may need more or less. The first step in changing your name is applying for a new Social Security card. Thankfully, aside from the waiting time at your local Social Security office, this part is quite simple. To apply for a new Social Security card and change your name, you need to follow the simple steps found on the Social Security Administration’s website here. You simply fill out the form, bring the appropriate identifications, your official marriage certificate and wait for your turn in line. The longest part of this process is the actual act of going to your local branch and waiting. The paperwork took me a total of five minutes to complete and waiting in line at the office was the worst part, taking almost an hour so be prepared to put some time into this part.

Once you apply for a new Social Security card with your new legal name, it will take approximately two weeks to receive your new card. Luckily, once you complete the request for a new card, the Social Security Administration will print out a paper that will allow you to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and change your license. While it isn’t the actual card, this piece of paper does prove that your name is officially changed with the United States government and that you have legally changed your name. Before going to the DMV, I would recommend making at least two copies of this paper for additional places that may require a copy of your Social Security card. In most states, it won’t cost you anything to update your name on your license but do some research just to ensure that you won’t have to do so. Also, you may not be able to get an actual license right away from the DMV and have to wait for the actual license to be mailed to you.

After you change your name on your Social Security card and license, you still have a lot of work to do because you may not realize just how many things your name is actually on. From bank accounts, insurance documents, social media services and your job, there’s still a great deal of work to be done. The most important thing to do next is update your W4 at your job and officially change your name on your paperwork. If you don’t know exactly where to begin, contact your human resources department and your coordinator will be able to tell you exactly what to do. Changing your name on social media accounts is fairly easy and straight forward, simply update your personal information and you’re all set! The most tedious part of the process is changing your name with financial institutions that you bank with, have credit cards through and insurance documents. To make this as easy as possible, make a list of all the accounts that you have in your name and use this as a checklist to ensure that you make all of the appropriate changes. In most cases, you can update this information simply by calling each of them and speaking with a representative. There will be some institutions that will require a copy of your license, social security card or marriage certificate to assure that you have legally gone through the process. So keep in mind that each institution will have different standards when you contact them and be prepared to supply any documentation that they may require.

Changing your name is a long process that starts with a simple step and while it can appear overwhelming, keeping yourself organized and budgeting the time to do so will make the process smoother. In many ways, taking your new husband’s name is a lot of work but well worth it in the end. Just remember to stay on top of everything while you are going through this process and keep organized. Check and double check to make sure you do this as thoroughly as possible because a mistake in the long run could cost you.


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