Changing your last name - What to do and how to do it

Congratulations on your new marriage! This is a fun and exciting time, but it can also be confusing on what to do and how to go about doing it.

I was excited to change my last name. Admittedly, though, it is a weird thing changing 1/2 of your name. When introducing myself to people I felt like I was playing pretend. But changing my last name also felt like a fresh start. I feel like it's symbolic of the new and exciting chapter of my life I'm beginning. But how to go about it and where to get started can be pretty darn confusing. So let me help you out the best I can...

Part of our engagement photos. Photographed by Mekina Saylor

Part of our engagement photos. Photographed by Mekina Saylor

Where to start

The very first thing you have to do before anything else is change your name through the social security administration. You can't do anything else before you do this. This part is a relatively easy process if you do it right, which of course I did not, but it helps me help you!


What do I need to fill out?

Here is the link to the form you need to print and fill out for social security. You only need to print page 5. You're welcome!


What do I need to send/bring?

You do not need to go to your local social security office in person, but you can. But if you work (the offices don't have great hours) and have no patience for government offices like I don't, then just mail it in.

It's hella confusing what documents you need. But I'll make it easy for you. If you're a U.S. citizen and have gotten married within 2 years then all you need to include is your new marriage certificate. That's it!

The thing I did wrong was that I sent a copy of it, when they needed the original. So make sure to mail your original marriage certificate/ document (the one with the raised emblem).

You do NOT need to include your birth certificate, license, passport or anything like that. Just your marriage certificate, which I suggest mailing in a manila envelope so it doesn't get folded. But I'm super anal like that, so if you don't care then fold away.


Where to send it?

Go here to determine the closest social security office to mail it to in your area. Type in your zip code and it'll let you know.


How long does it take?

It's a 2-3 week process. It doesn't take too long. Unless you mail in a copy of the marriage certificate instead of the original one and they put a huge X through it and you have to do it all over again. =/ MEH.


Now what?

Now you can get your name changed at the DMV. "Woohoo! The DMV!" -Said no one, ever


DMV forms

Unfortunately, you DO need to go to the DMV in person. As much as we all loathe going to the DMV, I'm going to tell you a trick that will save you hours. If you go to the DMV's website, there is now an option to make an appointment. Yes, seriously, make an appointment with the DMV. Here is the link for my New Yorkers. Make sure you have all your forms already filled out and ready to go for your appointment. I know, I'm the best.

This is the form you will need to print and fill out just to change your last name on your license. (MV-44)

If you own or lease a car, you will also need to change your name on the car registration info. Here is the form for that (MV-82). Make sure to fill out sections 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7.

P.S. On the forms where it asks for your full name, remember to write your new married name, since you changed it through social security and that is your new, full name. On one of the forms, it will ask for your former name on the second page. That is where you can write your maiden name.


What do I do when I get to the DMV?

If you made an appointment, and you definitely SHOULD, then all you have to do is find the machine, scan your ticket, and you'll be called. I was literally called in like sixty seconds. Hopefully the same will happen for you. I scanned my ticket, sat down, and once my butt hit the bench I was called. Although there were tons of people there waiting, I was in and out of the DMV in a half hour. The reason it took "so long" was because the first person who helped me was new, and didn't know how to process registrations. So I had to wait for another worker to help me. After the second person processed my paperwork, the system shut down and she literally had to start all over again. If that didn't all happen, I would have been in and out in 15 minutes. I also have to mention that the DMV workers at the Bethpage office were all incredibly nice. It was overall a nice and easy experience. I did not expect that at all.


When will I get my new license?

It cost about $12 to process my new license. They said it will come in the mail in about 2 weeks. (I'll report back when I actually receive it and let you know real-time stats.) They gave me a temporary card (that I will never use). It's a similar paper to the one I got when I received my permit 14 years ago, I mean, ummm a few years ago, since I'm so young and vibrant...

What else?

Now that your name is changed on your license, you should also change your name at any that applies to you:

  • At your bank (if you haven't already)
  • On your cell phone (for caller id purposes, too)
  • At work (W-2's)
  • Credit cards
  • Student loans
  • Your insurance companies (car, health, home, rent, life).
  • School
  • Doctors and pharmacy
  • Post office
  • Utility companies (electric, phone, cable, gas).
  • Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
  • State and federal tax departments
  • Your landlord / mortgage company
  • Library

If you have any questions, please comment below and I'll be glad to help answer any questions that I can! Good luck and congratulations!