What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

A step-by-step guide on how to change your last name

One of the most common questions I get as a wedding coordinator is how to change your last name after the wedding. It doesn’t seem difficult until you start to realize ALL the cards, accounts and legal documents to which your name is tied. I have been married for 3 years and I still discover old accounts under my last name! So, here is a step-by-step guide* to changing your last name.

1. This is the hard part. Assuming you have already applied for a marriage license, completed the correct documentation and had it signed by a licensed officiant you will need to return the license after the wedding ceremony to the county clerk’s office from where you originally obtained it. This can prove to be problematic if you are married in a different county, state or even country from where you reside. You are permitted to mail your certificate to the county clerk’s office, but of course this means it will take longer for you to obtain a copy because they will have to mail you a copy in return. My suggestion to you: return your license to the county clerk’s office as soon as possible whether that be the day after your wedding (County Clerk’s offices are not open on Saturday or Sunday) or the day you get home from your honeymoon. Many resorts require a valid marriage certificate in order for you to receive the honeymoon rate so you might have to take it along with you. Furthermore, if you have booked your honeymoon travel in your new name (I recommend that you do not do this but if you have) you will need to take your marriage certificate along to prove your new identity. Some county clerk’s offices will issue you an official copy the same day you return the license but every state and county has different requirements regarding marriage licenses so be sure to ask the county clerk’s office when you obtain your marriage license how long they suppose it will take for you to get a copy. Regardless of whether or not you are in a rush to get your name changed, you must mail your marriage license in within a certain period of time (usually 30 days) in order for you to be considered legally married by the state. You should also order more than one copy if you intend to go ahead and change your name on your bank accounts and passport.

2. To change your driver’s license you will need to visit the nearest DPS office (Texas Department of Public Safety) with your marriage license. You will have to pay a small fee (around $10) for the name change. I also recommend bringing along your current driver’s license just in case.

3. Once you have received an official copy of your marriage license you can take it to the local Social Security office and the clerk can issue you a new social security card that reflects the name change. You will need to bring your official copy of your marriage license as well as a valid id (which can be issued in your old name and includes your driver’s license, a U.S. Passport or any other state issued identification). To speed up the process, you can print and fill out an application online before visiting the Social Security office. After processing your request the SSA will mail you a new Social Security Card.

4. Now you can change your bank accounts. This will vary depending on your bank but in order to ensure accuracy I recommend you visit the nearest branch location of your bank and handle the name change there. You may want to call your bank ahead of time to ask what type of identification you will need to bring with you. Many will require only your marriage license and a valid government issued ID but some may require your Social Security Card as well. I did not have all of my identification when I went to visit my bank and was forced to keep my maiden name and my married name on my new card until my bank was able to see my Social Security Card with my name changed.
Those are the major name changes you will need to make. Don’t even get me started on your passport, your company’s payroll and every single website you’ve ever registered for (amazon.com, ebay.com, gmail.com, etc.). Also, if you are a licensed professional you will need to contact the licensing board to request a name change as well.
I hope that helps and clears up at least a little of the confusion involved in changing your name. When in doubt, just call the appropriate government office and ask questions!

*This guide is for brides in the state of Texas only. Each state has different laws and regulations concerning name changes and marriage licenses.

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