Changing your name after you get married!

January 12, 2014  •  Leave a Comment


blog by Leeann

Something super different in the blog today, as it has zero to do with photography.  It does, have to do with weddings.  To keep all this text from making you cross-eyed, I included some shots from my wedding portfolio. I figured it was better than stock photos of social security cards or mailboxes!

bride showing shoes If you are newly married or engaged, and plan on taking your spouse’s last name, I hope you will find this post helpful!  This gives you an in-depth run-down of how to take your hubby’s name, legally.  I altered some documents into forms so you can type into them, granted you have Adobe reader.  If you don't, its free to download here.  The passport renewal app requires mailed applications to be written by hand or done online.  For the uber-organized, you can fill the applications out now.  Just wait until you are married to sign, seal, deliver.  (yes, I sung that in my head)

Sooooo, you got married and you wanna change your name to Mrs. Charming (or Mr. Charming!  Since 2010, I’m pleased to report.)?  It’s actually not that tough!  Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Get your documents together. 

  • Original Birth Certificate.  Proves DOB and citizenship. It doesn’t have to be the one they handed your mom after you were born, just don’t photocopy it. If you need to get a birth certificate, you'll request it from the city you were born in.  Requirements are varied by city, but in general, the fee is $10-20 and requests can always be made in person at the town clerk.  If there is an option of a long or short certificate, the short is sufficient.  It doesn't matter really, as they are the same price.  Long are needed for passports, mostly.
  • Passport (if you have one).  Your passport proves both citizenship and identification, so it can be helpful to have.
  • If you are a widower, divorcee or have had an annulment, bring any original documents that pertain to the event.  Divorce decrees, death personalized hanger certificates, etc. Not photocopies.  
  • License, NH ID card, or military ID. (be sure it is not going to expire.  You can renew your license up to 6 months early if expiration will fall around the month you get married.)
  • Marriage Certificate!  7-10 days after your officiant sends in the completed marriage license, your certificate should be available.   Fill out this Marriage Certificate Request form and mail to the town clerk that issued the license.  Include a check for $15 for the first copy and another $10 for any additional.
    • PAUSE.  You haven’t been married yet?  Wanna know how you get the license?  Okay!  Here you go…
      • Both of you have to show up (unless one of you is deployed military) with your photo IDs, birth certificates, and $45.   You'll also need to fill this worksheet out, and you can complete it and bring it with you.
      • It will take about 45 minutes, for the whole process, so don’t show up 20 minutes before close or you'll have to come back.
      • Be sure to indicate your desired post-nuptial name. The license application will generate the license that, after you are married, is a legal, binding document.  
      • The license will not be valid until 3 days after it is issued (and you should leave with it the day you apply).  It expires 90 days after issued.  Get your license one month prior to the wedding date.
      • Give it to your officiant at the rehearsal.  He will want to make sure it is valid before he marries you.  He will complete and send back to the town clerk.

beautiful bride Start with the Social Security Office first.

  • This application contains all the info you need.  There are no fees.  Your social security number will not change.  You can apply in person or by mail.  You’ll need the birth certificate and your old social security card, as well as the marriage certificate.  If you mail the application, you have to mail the original documents too.  They send them back to you and they should process your card in 10 days.

Visit the DMV next.

  • You have to do all personal information changes to photo identification in person.  Its free, just bring your marriage certificate, old driver’s license, and give them this application after you complete it.  No fee, unless your license is about to expire.  They will keep your old license, give you a paper temp valid for 60 days and mail you the hard copy.  For this reason, I recommend waiting until you return from your honeymoon to visit the DMV!  Your license number will change since your last name makes up part of the license ID.

Tell your employer.

  • Obviously you’ll have to handle this according to the rules and regulations of your employer.  Don’t forget your retirement accounts!  401Ks newlyweds with officiant through your work should change along with the original request, but separate accounts probably won’t.   Also, make sure you call your health insurance so they can issue you a new card – regardless of it being a work benefit.

Bank Accounts

  • Get new checks, debit cards, open a joint account, and all that other fun, bill-paying stuff. The easiest way, is to visit a branch.  Bring your ID,  marriage certificate and have your account numbers handy.

Post Office

  • You aren't required to let your postmaster know about your name change.  However, if you and hubby are going to be moving into a new home after the wedding, remember to update your address.  You can fill out the info online and they will charge 1.00 to verify your identity by credit card.  You can also fill out the attached form and get it to your local post office for free.  They will send a letter of verification to the old address to confirm the mail forwarding.
  • Keep in mind that the USPS will only forward your mail for 60 days – they figure this is enough time to contact everyone that needs to know you’ve moved.  Besides bills, you will also want to let catalogs and magazines know where you’re going.  Some people like to send out postcards if they buy a home, as a sort of "We've moved" announcement, as well.

Get your Passport done, AFTER you go on your honeymoon. holding hands

  • A headache you don’t need is being detained by TSA because of a name change, so wait until after. 
  • For the sake of ease, I’m going to assume this is a straight name change due to marriage; you were at least 16 when your last passport was issued and you’ve had your passport less than 15 years.  If you don’t fit in this category, check out our friend, The Google. Mail this application with your current passport, marriage certificate, a fee (for this category only)  of $110, and a passport photo.
  • Passport photo requirements can be found here.  Problems with photos is the number one problem with applications and they already take a looooong time – so I recommend getting your photo done by a business that advertises passport photos.

first dance Doctor and Specialist Offices

  • The proper order to do this is to contact your health insurance first.  On the back of your insurance card, there should be a toll-free number for member services, customer service or something similar.  You may also be able to make the request online.  It might take time to process, after which they will mail you a new card with the same number.  Do this before you change your name at your doctor.  Insurances won’t pay for anything with your new name, until they’ve processed the change. Which means, you’ll get a bill for any medications or appointments.

Other Insurances

  • Homeowner’s, Rental, Car, Boat, whatever.  You don’t want to wait until you have to file a claim to find out its being held up because love information doesn’t match their records.


Those are the important ones, I think!  Did I miss anything?  If you have any questions or anything to add, leave me a comment below, or email me at [email protected].  Hopefully the blog post helped a few people, because it is way too long!






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