Changing Your Name After Marriage: A Step-by-Step

Did you just get married? Not sure where to get started to change your name? There are lots of “informative posts” out there that make changing your name look like a long and confusing process when really it can be straightforward with a set beginning and a set end. Let’s take a quick look at the steps:

  • Marriage license
  • Social security
  • DMV

That’s it! These items are the most important and once they are complete you just need to update your information with whoever else might need it, but we will come back to those. Alright, let’s go in on how to complete the first three steps.

Step One

  • Obtain copies of your marriage license.
    • Where: Your local Clerk of the Circuit Court
    • How: Once your officiant has filled out the official marriage license and you or your officiant has turned it into the clerk of the circuit court, you can go back in at almost any time and ask for copies.
    • How much: Small fee. $2-$3 per copy. I got married in Virginia and the cost may vary depending on where you live. Make sure to take a type of payment with you.

I purchased four copies because you never know who might need to keep it or what will happen to the copies you take out of the house with you. It’s always good to have one at home in safekeeping. Later this year I am going on a cruise and because I changed my name after purchasing my ticket I’m going to have to take a copy of my marriage license as proof that I really am me! Just one example of a time you might not think to take a marriage license. Once you have your marriage license you are on your way to a name change!

Step Two

  • Change your name with social security
    • Where: Your local Social Security office
    • How: Bring your ID and marriage license
    • How much: Free

According to the social security and DMV website’s you will need your birth certificate, driver’s license, marriage license, and a completed SS-5 form. However, when I went to the social security office all I needed was my driver’s license and a copy of my marriage license. It’s up to you how much you think they might ask for but it is always safe to call ahead and see. I recommend making an appointment as I did not and had to wait 40 minutes before being helped. I had the time but if you don’t, I suggest making an appointment.

You should receive your new social security card within two weeks. I got mine in the mail in just a few days. Your social security number will not change, just the name on the card. The great thing is you don’t have to wait for your new card to arrive before moving on to step three.

Step Three

  • Get a new drivers license with your updated information.
    • Where: Your local DMV
    • How: Bring your ID and marriage license
    • How much: Bring a form of payment. Varies by state. Approx $25 in VA.

Remember, the DMV is also usually a wait. You can’t make an appointment here so you will want to set aside time for the process. Some people wait for more than two hours at this department before being helped. It was a little under an hour for me. So bring a method of payment and a book along too! Just keep an ear open for your number to be called.

There you have it, the first important steps! Congratulations, after this, you have changed your name legally! You should receive your new license within two weeks. Once you have your new social security card and drivers license you can change your name on anything else you need. The chart below shows a few examples of companies you may need to alert of your name change. All of these are important but can be done in an order that feels important to you whereas the first three steps need to be done before the rest.

Last Name Change Chart

It takes some time and effort but in the end, you will feel great carrying around your partner’s name. Enjoy your life together with your spouse!


Looking for more information? At the bottom of this post, I’ve included some links that may be helpful to you! If you have any questions or want more posts like this one, comment and let me know what you step-by-step guide you need next!

Helpful Links

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