Not all couples choose to share a last name these days, however, if the couple does decide to use a shared last name, a good amount of work is in store for the person changing his or her last name. Below, learn how to make this sometimes-lengthy process as quick and painless as possible.
The best piece of advice to follow when changing your last name is to start thinking ahead, even before the wedding. Before getting married, try to get a state I.D. or some other form of picture identification, in your maiden name. Inevitably, there will be a situation where not all forms of your name match up, such as a new driver’s license but a plane ticket in your maiden name; and having official (and current) government photo identification with both last names will be extremely helpful.
Once you have your maiden name photo I.D. and have actually gotten married, the first thing you need to do is get a copy of the marriage certificate. While only one copy of the certificate is necessary, you may want to get two, just as a safe guard. After you have a copy of your marriage certificate, take yourself down to the social security office and get yourself a new social security card.
Next, update your driver’s license. A word to the wise: if you are not one of those people who combines your first name with your significant other’s last name, practice that signature before you hit the DMV. You really don’t want your new signature to look like you are writing it for the first time. Even if you have written your significant other’s last name many times, still practice combing it as part of your signature before signing your license. You will be glad you did.
After the DMV, go to all of your banks and change your accounts and order new cards and checks. Helpful tip: remember to sign those new cards with your new last name. Bonus tip to those who already forgot and signed their old last name: add a hyphen in there and keep the cards with both last names. Once changes have been made to the important things, work your way through the smaller items as you come across them: gym pass, library card, frequent flier rewards cards – most of the things that you use on a regular or semi-regular basis. Use the guide below to help get organized and create your plan of attack.
Steps to changing your name after the wedding:
1. Get certified copies of your marriage license (2 should be enough)
2. Start with the Social Security Administration (bring your certified copy of your marriage license, your current social security card, and a government issued photo ID)
3. Get a new driver’s license (bring your new social security card, current driver’s license) helpful tip: in Chicago if you are just changing your name/address, you can go to an express DMV and save yourself a lot of time
4. Update work records and benefits – bring the certified copy of your marriage certificate and your new social security card
5. Contact your bank – usually you have to go in with the certified certificate and new photo ID to change the name on your account, credit cards, and checks
6. Notify creditors in order to link credit files
7. Contact the other places on your list, such as:
• Landlord or mortgage company
• Other insurance accounts (auto, life, home, etc.)
• Doctor and dentist offices
• Professional licensing boards
• Investment accounts
• Your attorney (to update legal documents)
• Passport office
• Post office
• Rewards Programs (specifically airlines and hotels)
• Voter registration board
• Alumni association
After getting through all the important updates, it will be a matter of changing your name as you come across miscellaneous accounts and subscriptions.
Congrats and good luck!