Now That You're Married... Civil ceremony abroad

How Exactly Do I Change My Name?

After receiving a certified copy of your marriage certificate, take this to your local records office (typically located at the courthouse) and put it on file. This is the first step you must take in order to complete any/all of the steps listed below!

  • This can usually be done by visiting your local records office and requesting a certified copy. It shouldn't take long for them to get it printed out and stamped for you.
  • You might order a couple of them, just to keep your bases covered. They aren't usually expensive to have printed out for you.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The fancy looking certificate that you signed at your wedding doesn't actually count as your marriage certificate.The legal document you signed and turned in when you applied for your marriage license and that your officiant had to sign and turn in after the ceremony are what make your marriage legal and will result in the production of a marriage certificate.

Changing Your Name: The Steps

Step One: The List

Start by making a list of everything that you have under your non-married name.

Typically your list will include things like:

  • Your ID/Driver's License
  • Your Social Security Card
  • Your Passport
  • Your HR Information at Work
  • Your Bank Account
  • Credit Card Accounts
  • Your rental agreement/Mortgage agreement
  • The title and registration for your vehicle (if you have one)
  • Your Library Card
  • Your Gym Membership
  • Store Discount Cards
  • Magazine Subscriptions
  • Online Profiles
Step Two: Prioritize

Obviously it is going to be more important to change some of these things than others. Your legal identification (driver's license or ID card), and your social security card should be at the top of that list.

Step Three: Take Action

While you are waiting to receive your new social security cards and photo IDs (this can take longer in some states than in others. You can get the ball rolling with your employer and at places like your bank. These will typically accept the temporary ID issued to you by the DMV as well as your marriage certificate as proof of the name change.

When you have your new photo ID and social security card, you can start to change things like the name on your library card, your gym membership and the name on your credit cards.

How Long Does This All Take, Anyway?

  • This is going to take some time to complete, especially if you try to do it all by yourself. You can probably get to the DMV and the Social Security Administration in a day, depending on where you live and how busy these offices are.
  • It might also be worth it to change the name on your vehicle registration and title while you are at the DMV changing your name on your license.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You are allowed to mail in your marriage certificate and other information to the Social Security Administration to get a new social security card; it is just a longer waiting process for the new card when you do it this way.

  • Bank: You are going to have to pay a visit to your bank to have your name changed on your accounts and, potentially to order new checks (though this can be done at any time online).
  • Mortgage or Auto Loan: You’ll have to pay a visit to those lenders to change your name with them.
  • Credit Cards: changing your name on your credit cards will need to be done through the mail or by faxing in a copy of your marriage certificate.

In Summary

Changing your name is a huge process. It is one of those things that, just when you think you've got everything done, you find a new account or a new piece of mail arrives that is still in your old name. It can be frustrating.

What matters is that you will get through it. Much like planning and carrying out your wedding, changing your name is something that you are more than capable of doing. It might not seem like it now but you had moments when you were sure you'd never get your wedding planned, right? You got through that! You can definitely get through this.

After all, what matters now is that you are married and you are starting a brand new adventure (stop gagging; it is true, you know that it is true and you love that it is true. It's okay to admit it)!

*Below we have included a link to a program that can help make the name changing process a little easier!

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