Wedding planning constitutes a lot of detail juggling, and one of the last things you probably want to think about is the hassle of going through the name-change motions after your wedding. But don’t sweep this stuff under the rug; this is the type of thing that can grow into a full-blown legal hassle if you don’t take care of it in a timely and complete fashion right up front. You need to know who to contact and what they’re going to want. Some entities, like the DMV and passport agencies, want to see an official marriage certificate (not a photocopy), for example.
The good news is that once you know the steps and requirements–which I’ll summarize here–it’s relatively painless. A lot of it is just common sense. And if you want more information, there’s plenty of help right at your fingertips: doing a Google search on the keywords “marriage name change”, for example, will give you a ton of informative links as well as a slew of “Name Change Kits.” The kits range anywhere from $20 to $50 and up for a packet, CD, or online service providing checklists, forms, and letter templates. The choice to purchase is yours, although the basic steps below will get you the same results.
Step One: Contact the Social Security Administration
The first hoop you’ll need to jump through is to get a new social security card. The DMV will require that you’ve already taken care of this. Once you’ve obtained your marriage certificate from your country clerk, go to www.socialsecurity.gov for the information and form download, or call 800-772-1213 to hear an automated walk-through of the steps. The new card is free, so don’t buy into online companies offering to do this for a fee.
Step Two: Amend Your Passport
There’s no fee for this service either, unless you take longer than one year from your wedding to get the form in. Go to travel.state.gov and click the Name Change link to download the form you’ll need. You’ll mail in your current passport, a certified copy of your marriage certificate (not a photocopy), and the application form to your nearest passport agency. They’ll send you the same passport back with your updated information printed on the inside cover.
Step Three: Visit the Department of Motor Vehicles
The DMV requires that you stop by in person. Call in to make an appointment ahead of time, if you can. Most states’ DMV websites also allow you to make the appointment online. Make sure you know what forms and information they want you to bring in; you’ll need your updated social security info and an official copy of your marriage certificate for sure.
Step Four: Letterhead, Cards, and Checks
Order replacements for documents that contain your previous name, such as checks, credit cards, and business cards.
Step Five: School and Employment
Have your employer change your name in their records. If you’re a student, do the same thing with your school so they update your registration information.
Step Six: Vehicle Registration, Mortgage, and Insurance
Change the name on your vehicle registration. Contact your bank, your mortgage, and insurance companies and inform them of your name change. Ask what documents or letters you may need to mail or fax in.
Step Seven: Registrar of Voters, Post Office, and Bills
Contact the Registrar of Voters in your county to update your voter information, as well as the post office and all those nice people you write bill payments to every month.
Step Eight: Inform Everyone Else
You can send specialized stationery to all your friends, associates, and acquaintances made just for the purpose of providing new name and address information, if you like. Put the information on all thank-you cards you send out, holiday cards, your wedding website, and other correspondence as well.