Mr. & Mrs.

Steps to changing your name
Words by Rebecca Mitchell + PHOTOGRAPHY BY Michelle Erwin

While some brides elect to keep their maiden name, for those who choose otherwise, knowing when and how to change your name can save you time and headaches. Begin the name-changing process after you are married. While you may want to get a jump start on what can be a lengthy course of action, starting before you are officially married is a waste of time.

Tackle the most important entities first, and then work your way down the list.

Step One: Marriage License Copies

Once you are legally wed, obtain at least two certified copies of your marriage certificate, and make several noncertified copies, too.

Step Two: Social Security Card

To change your name on your Social Security card, you will need to complete Form SS-5 and submit it to the Social Security Administration, along with proof of your U.S. citizenship, identity, and legal name change. You must submit certified copies of documents like your birth certificate, passport, and/or driver’s license. Roughly ten days after the records at the Social Security Administration are changed, your Internal Revenue Service records will be updated.
To obtain Form SS-5 and get further details on acceptable proof documents, visit or call toll-free 800-772-1213.

Step Three: Driver’s License

Visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles office with a certified copy of your marriage certificate and your current driver’s license. You will likely have to pay a fee for your new license. And while you’re there, update your vehicle registration with your new name.

Step Four: Passport

Having updated your Social Security card and driver’s license, now is a good time to update your passport. There are two different processes for updating your passport with a name change—one for name changes occurring within one year of passport issuance, and another for name changes occurring more than one year from the issuance date. Each situation requires a unique application form (either DS-5504 or DS-82), both of which can be obtained online at
The completed form, a certified copy of your marriage certificate, one recent two-by-two-inch color photograph, your current valid passport, and any required fees must be mailed to a processing facility, the address of which is found at the above-referenced website. The normal turnaround time is four to six weeks, but if you need to receive your passport sooner, you can pay an additional $60 per application, plus delivery costs, to have it expedited. This reduces the turnaround time to two to three weeks.

Step Five: Benefits Plans

If you are employed and have company benefits, such as health insurance or a retirement account, you’ll need to update those plans with your new name and any new dependents and/or beneficiaries. These tasks can likely be completed by your company’s human resources or accounting personnel.

Step Six: Odds & Ends

The remainder of your list should include personal accounts like credit cards, banks, mortgages, investments, insurance policies, utilities, and personal memberships. Be sure to update your will and other legal documents, medical records, and voter registration. And, let the post office know your new name, so mail can be correctly sorted.

Photo by Katy Gray
Share This Story With Friends