How to Change Your Last Name After Getting Married

What you need to do to take your spouse's name.

In addition to the romance and excitement of getting married, there are also legal steps to go through. Not everybody chooses to change their last name after the wedding, but for some women it’s the final step to becoming a family unit.

There are options for this situation – some people choose to hyphenate, some use their maiden name professionally and married name legally, and some brides turn their last name into their middle name and then take their spouse’s last name (think Hillary Rodham Clinton). However, in certain states you won't be able to use the standard married name-change forms and will instead have to go through the process of legally changing your name. Another thing to keep in mind is that relocating to a new state right before your nuptials could be an issue, as different states have residency requirements for name changes. "Most times this just means you’ve lived in the state for six months to a year," explains a representative of LegalZoom.  

how to change your name after getting married
Photo by Maya Myers Photography; Floral Design by Lillo Bello

Even going through the more simplified married name proceedings can still be an arduous task, which is why we’ve decided to give you a bit of a head start by explaining what needs to be done. 

- Marriage certificate. First, you will need a copy of your marriage certificate. Some people ask for multiple copies so they can go through several steps at once to expedite the process, but note that there is a fee for each copy you request. The fees will vary by state.
- Social security card. Next, you have to apply for a new social security card, but this part is free! Just mail in your application and you should receive a new card in two weeks.
- Driver's license. You will have to obtain a new driver’s license or government ID at the DMV, which requires you to bring your marriage certificate and new social security card.
- Consider travel plans. If your honeymoon has been booked under your maiden name, wait to change your name until after your travels. You will need to replace your passport with your new surname. If it's under a year old, it's free – otherwise you have to pay for a new one. The name on your passport must match your ID for your trip.
- Cover your bases. Once the major legalities are taken care of, it’s time to notify important businesses of your new name: Your employer/HR for your paycheck, your bank, the post office, etc.
- Protect your career. Update your résumé and LinkedIn pages with your married name, but add a note with your maiden name as well, so prospective employers will be aware when calling for references.

Still undecided? Read the pros and cons of changing your last name. Discover what you need to know about marriage licenses here. 

Authored by: Emily Lasnier