How to Change Your Name

Although times have changed and some women are deciding to keep their last names, some still take their husband's last name. If you have decided to change your name, here are some tips on how to get started. 

Before you do anything, you will want to decide what your new name will be. Are you going to take your husband's last name? (Ex: Sarah Jane Smith changed to Sarah Jane Jones) Keep your last name as your middle name? (Ex: Sarah Smith Jones) Hyphenate your last name with this? (Ex: Sarah Jane Smith-Jones) Figure out what you like best and then make sure to keep this constant on all new forms of identification. 

Once you decide on your name, the first thing to start with is to get a few copies of your certified marriage license. If you didn't receive a few certified copies when you applied for it, you should be able to call the office and get a few copies sent to you for a small fee. Most places like the Social Security Department and DMV will need a certified copy, not just a photocopy. A certified copy has the raised seal.
The next step is to work on getting your new Social Security card. You can find the application to change your name online here. You will need a certified copy of your marriage certificate for this process along with a few other personal documents. I would suggest taking the paperwork directly to the Social Security Administration office so they can verify you have all the correct information. Once they receive all the correct information, you will receive your new Social Security card with your new name. Also, once your new Social Security card is issued, the SSA will update your new name for the IRS for tax purposes. 

The next step in changing your name is to get a new drivers license/identification card. You will have to go to the DMV in person to change your license. Check with your local DMV to see if you will need your new Social Security card for this process or if you will just need a certified marriage license. Also, check to see if you can update your voter registration, vehicle registration and title while at the DMV. If not, this is as simple as going online and submitting changes. 
Another change you will want to make is with your bank or credit union to update your account. You will most likely need to do this in-person and show your new drivers license and a copy of your marriage certificate. This is a great time to order new checks with your new name. 

Once your Social Security card and drivers license are updated, the rest of the changes should be relatively easy. Besides the bank, most changes should be able to be changed online or over the phone. Some credit card companies may need a copy of your marriage certificate. 

Start by going through this list to update all your information:
-Credit card companies
-Utility companies (phone, electric, internet, etc.)
-Mortgage & leases
-Insurance companies (car, home, etc.)
-Employer (HR)- Update your information so that your paycheck and insurance/benefits and tax with-holdings are updated with your new information. You may want to change your work email address as well. 
-Passport- Don't change until after your honeymoon! Your passport needs to match your ticket and other travel documents so you will need to keep it in your maiden name until after the honeymoon. 
-Professional licensing board (real estate, nursing, etc.)
-Physicians- You can do this as you go to each new appointment

After updating all the important things, here are some other accounts that you will need to be changed. These can be changed as you come across them:
-Magazine subscriptions
-Personal email address- this is up to you, some may want to slowly change this over the years
-Friends and family
-Schools/Alumni Associations 

There are a few websites and companies on the internet that offer to help you change your name. However, they usually involve a fee. I think that if you take your time and follow the above lists, you should be able to do it on your own and with no cost. The process of changing your name is not an easy task, don't get discouraged! Don't expect everything to change in a quick time period. It's going to take a while for everything to switch to your new married name. I guarantee that you will still get something that was never changed a few years down the line!


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