The Complete Checklist for Changing Your Name After Marriage in the US

March 25, 2024
5 min

Exchanging vows and rings is a momentous occasion, but for many newlyweds, the "I do's" are just the beginning. Traditionally, marriage has led to a number of legal actions, such as a name change for one partner, but these days, the decision is a personal one. Whether you've always dreamed of sharing a moniker or want to keep things separate, there's no right or wrong answer. This guide will walk you through the steps of changing your name after marriage in the US, but before we dive into paperwork, let's chat about the reasons why couples choose to (or not to) take this leap.

Understanding the Legal Requirements

Before diving into the name change process after marriage, it's important to understand that each state has its specific requirements. Skipping this step could lead to delays or even roadblocks down the line, so take some time to research what your state asks for.

Marriage certificates are also key documents you'll need to have on hand. This official certificate serves as proof of your marriage and is typically required by various institutions when processing your name change.

Remember, this is just a starting point! There may be additional steps depending on your location, so be sure to do your research!

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The Name Change Checklist

Immediate Steps

There are a few key places to start when updating your name after marriage. Here's a quick rundown to get you going:

  • Social Security Administration (SSA):  This is usually the first step. You'll need to fill out an application for a new Social Security card (Form SS-5). Don't forget to bring documents proving your identity, your new legal name, and your marriage. Be aware that many states require you to notify them of your name change within a specific timeframe after visiting the SSA.
  • Driver's License and Vehicle Registration: Once you have your new Social Security card, you can update your driver's license and vehicle registration at your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.  Each state has its specific requirements, so check their website or call them directly to find out what documents you'll need.

State deadlines for notification of name change

Some states require you to notify them of a name change event within a certain time frame after the change. The deadline is activated when you begin the name change process with the SSA. So before you begin the name change process with the SSA, make sure you are ready to follow through with your drivers license and vehicle registration soon after.

There are 12 states that have a deadline for changing the name on your driver’s license. These are Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Texas.

Please note: The information below may have changed since the publishing of this article. Please verify the requirements with your local government.

| State | Deadline | | :--- | :--- | | Alaska | 30 Days | | Arizona | 10 Days | | Colorado | 30 Days | | Delaware | 30 Days | | Florida | 30 days with $30 violation fine | | Georgia | 60 Days | | Indiana | 30 Days | | Minnesota | 30 Days | | Nebraska | 60 Days | | New Hampshire | 30 Days | | North Carolina | 60 Days | | Texas | 30 days with maximum $20 violation fine |

Financial and Legal Updates

Tying the knot can mean updating your name on a variety of accounts and documents. Here's a quick guide to get you started:

  • Bank Accounts: Contact your bank(s) to inquire about their name change process.  They'll likely ask you to visit a branch in person with your marriage certificate and ID to update your name on your accounts and check.
  • Credit Cards: Each credit card issuer has its procedure for name changes. You can usually update your name by calling the customer service number on the back of your card or by logging into your online account. Be prepared to provide documentation like your marriage certificate and ID.
  • Loans and Mortgages: Notify your loan servicer or mortgage company about your name change as soon as possible. They may require similar documentation to update your records.
  • Employment Records: Let your HR department know about your name change. This will ensure your name is updated on payroll and other work-related documents.
  • Insurance Policies: Contact your health insurance provider, car insurance company, and any other insurance companies you have policies with to update your name. They will likely ask for a copy of your marriage certificate as proof of your name change.
  • IRS: If you filed for a name change with the Social Security Administration, they will also notify the IRS. There's no need to take additional action.

Personal and Professional Updates

Now that you've said "I do," there are a few places to update your information to reflect your new name.

  • Passport: If you plan on traveling internationally soon, you'll need to update your passport with your new name. This process usually involves submitting an application form, your marriage certificate, and your current passport.
  • Utilities and Bills: Contact your utility companies (electric, gas, water, trash) and service providers (cable, internet, phone) to update the name on your accounts. They may ask you to show your marriage certificate as verification.
  • Email, Social Media, and Online Accounts: Most email providers and social media platforms allow you to update your profile information directly in your account settings. You can also update your name on other online accounts, like shopping sites or subscription services, by logging in to your account and finding the edit profile section.

Additional Considerations

  • Professional Licenses and Memberships: If you have any professional licenses or certifications (like a doctor, lawyer, or cosmetologist), you'll need to update your name with the issuing board or agency. They may have specific requirements for updating your information, so check their website or contact them directly.  The same goes for professional memberships.
  • Wills and Legal Documents: Don't forget to update your name on any important legal documents,  like your will, trust, or power of attorney. While these documents may still be valid, updating them will ensure your wishes are clear and avoid any confusion during probate.

Using a Name Change Service

Considering a name change service or kit can be a convenient option. These services typically provide you with the necessary forms and instructions to navigate the court process  for a fee.

However, it's important to weigh the pros and cons:

  • Pros: Convenience, can be faster than going it alone.
  • Cons: May not be suitable for complex situations, additional cost on top of court filing fees.

Courtly offers name change kits in the US, but their services may not apply to every situation.

It's always a good idea to research your state's specific requirements and consider consulting with an attorney to ensure a smooth name change process.

Tips for a Smooth Name Change Process

Changing your name involves updating a lot of information. Here are some tips to keep things running smoothly:

  • Be Organized: Make copies of your court order or marriage certificate (if applicable). You'll likely need them for several places.
  • Plan Ahead: Create a list of all the places you need to update your name, like government agencies, banks, credit card companies, and utility providers.
  • Notify People: Let your friends, family, and employer know about your name change. This will help avoid confusion.

By following these tips, you can make the name change process as stress-free as possible.

Let us handle the paperwork.

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