The Wedding Name Change Process


2 Comments// Posted in Uncategorized by on 04.12.10.

Hell. I want to subtitle this post “Hell”. I had heard the horror stories about post-wedding name changes… and I figured, I’m not stupid, I know how to deal with paperwork. Most of these problems are caused by people not knowing what to expect, right?

Hah.

A good friend of mine is getting married coming up rather soon, and recently posted about changing her name. Now I never had any of the feminist agenda hangups about changing… personally, my maiden name trips up my minor speech impediment and I was happy to get rid of it. But I do have some advice for those looking to go through the name change process in the future.

1) Social Security.

This is step one, and where all of my troubles began. You essentially need to change with S.S. before you can do ANYTHING else. First of all, go at the middle to end of the month- if you try to go at the beginning of the month, you’re competing with a completely different crowd. As with any government agency, I recommend bringing something to distract you from the unfortunate crowd you will be sharing intimate space with. Anyway. For Social Security, you need to have:

  • Application for a Social Security card. This is the form you fill out either when you get your first card or when you are changing your information.
  • Identity. Current identity. This can be your drivers license, state-issued ID card, or U.S. passport.
  • Citizenship. U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport.
  • Proof of name change. Marriage document, divorce decree, or court order for name change.

Just a point of clarification for those thinking about changing names BEFORE marriage. You can start changing in a lot of ways, but going through the system and starting to change documents might not be the best idea, and step 1 is the first reason why. A marriage certificate is the easiest way to prove name change, and it’s one less step you have to go through in the process. I can’t personally say I know how easy or difficult it is to get a court order for a name change, but I can’t imagine it’s easier than just waiting until you have your marriage license. On ANOTHER note, I spoke with another friend on a similar topic when he spoke about changing both his future wife AND his name. Does anyone have any clarifying information they can give on how difficult this is? The marriage license is considered a universally accepted proof for changing a woman’s name… what about both changing to a combined name, or the man changing his name as well? I’m not sure, but with my proven track record of government agency inconsistencies, I foresee some difficulties trying to get that accomplished… and it might require a court order as well.

PRE STEP 2 NOTE:

Social Security can take at LEAST 24 hours and up to a week to update in their system before other agencies (i.e., the DMV) can verify the name change. Apparently whether or not they tell you or agree with this is based on the person you get that day, but in my personal experience, it’s the truth. Some may tell you that the print out you get telling you to expect your new card is enough to get a license. It isn’t. You don’t necessarily need your new social security card (which can take up to a few weeks to get to you… mine took about a week and a half) to go to the DMV, but it definitely does not hurt, because at that point you know your number is updated in their systems.

2) DMV

Congrats, you have a name! Now, get a license. Note that this section will vary depending on state, and my experiences are with Florida. Which sucks. You need to bring:

  • Citizenship. U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport.
  • Proof of residency. You need this whether or not you are changing addresses, but if you ARE changing, this can be tricky. Make sure to check the DMV’s Gather Go Get website for a list of acceptable forms of proof and MAKE SURE you have AT LEAST two, if not more, when you go. Now, if the home is not currently in your name or you don’t have any proof of address (say, you are moving in with your new husband), you have to bring two forms of residency in HIS name, plus a signed statement saying that you are living with him. This… is ridiculous. I could have signed it myself in crayon and they wouldn’t have known the difference. But it’s required if you currently don’t have any acceptable proof.
  • Proof of Social Security number. This is where that above part gets tricky. If you don’t have your new card, you need your old card, and they’ll look it up. But if it doesn’t match, you won’t be able to change your license. When my social security number had not yet updated when I visited the DMV, they offered to make my drivers license hyphenated. DON’T. DO. IT. Apparently, having things not match like that can affect how easy it is to do a lot of things in the future.
  • Proof of name change. Same issues as with Social Security, you need a marriage license or court order.

My advice for the DMV? Make. An. Appointment. There are multiple “lists” at Florida’s DMVs, and which one you end up on affects how quickly you are called. If you make an appointment, you end up list A. Walk-ins are on list C. I have no idea what list B is, I think it might have something to do with a driving test or something. List A goes the fastest, and if you’re like me and the ticketing system goes down while you are there, they will only accept from list A until all of the A’s are taken care of. AND, if for some horrible reason they can’t take care of you that day, ask them for a slip of paper so you can return without an appointment. I got onto list A as a walk-in with it, and I was incredibly thankful for it.

Oh, another note! This is a good opportunity to become an Organ Donor if you aren’t already. I tried to and they completely didn’t pay attention to anything I asked them and I just now realized I’m NOT a donor, but if you’ve been on the fence about it, changing your name is a great time to go ahead and get it done!

3) Health insurance.

This was fun for me to figure out as well. I get married, and suddenly… am I still covered under my mom’s policy? Do they continue it automatically? How can I sign up under him if my name change isn’t completed yet? He eventually added me to his policy under my new name (once it went through with social security of course) and they extended my policy back to my wedding date to avoid any potential coverage gaps. But we ALMOST missed the deadline for a qualifying event – check requirements, we had to notify them within 30 days of the event, and after a two week honeymoon that date came pretty quickly.

4) Everything else.

I am currently working on changing over my bank information. Interesting note for those pre-marriage: Have you thought yet about depositing post-wedding checks? Ask your bank about their policies, because most are surprisingly annoying. It’s fun trying to cash a check in your new name when your ID and account are in your old name! Or cashing checks made out to both of you when you don’t currently share accounts. Apparently all banks handle this differently, but it was quite the headache for us. “You have to sign. I mean, you both have to sign. Wait, his signature needs to be last. Can you sign in both your maiden name and your new name? Thanks. Oh wait, some of these might not go through but if they don’t we’ll send them back.”

I read somewhere that you shouldn’t start your name change until you return from your honeymoon. Interesting things happen if you try to travel and your passport doesn’t match your license or your ticket or what have you. It’s generally a much better idea to keep your name until you return… but have all the paperwork and requirements ready to take care of before you go back to work, or you end up stuck like I did. It’d be absolutely heartbreaking to not have your passport back to you in time to leave, or to not have a new debit/credit card with your new name on it.

Everything I’ve talked about so far is to do with changing your name legally… Social security, DMV, bank information, passports, debit cards, credit cards, car insurance, health insurance, etc. But also remember that you will possibly have the need for a new e-mail address, domain name, Twitter name, etc. My online presence was changing long before my legal name did; I had to protect the territory! Keep these things in mind as well and plan accordingly!

Best of luck to anyone starting off on the process, and I hope maybe this helps a little. Or maybe it just made you appreciate your maiden name just a little bit more. Either way… congratulations, the worst that can happen is that you end up married. 😉


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2 Responses to “The Wedding Name Change Process”

  1. Sheila says:

    Wowww! Thanks for the good info! Yea austin and I had already concluded to wait until after the honeymoon due to passport fun.

    But the bit about the insurance could have messed us up. Luckily we don’t leave right away for our honeymoon.

    Thanks Lauren!

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