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The Nest 101 Series

How to Change Your Name

Getting a new last name? Follow these fast steps to make it legal.

When you get hitched, changing your name may be one of the last things on your list. Well, stop procrastinating and get on it! Here's how to speed through the process.

How to Change It

If you've decided to change your name, it's time to make it official after the wedding. (Contrary to popular belief, obtaining a marriage license that uses your new last name doesn't automatically mean you've changed it.) Here's a list of the four basic steps you'll need to know.

1. Get Proof
Arm yourself with a certified marriage license -- be sure it has a raised seal, which means it's authentic. Call the office where your license was filed to get copies if they aren't automatically sent to you.

2. Set Social Security Straight
Contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213; an automated system will talk you through the name change process. Your new card will be free -- if you're contacted by a company that claims to do this for a fee, don't buy it. These companies have nothing to do with the SSA and should be reported to authorities.

3. Motor on Down to the DMV
Visit the Department of Motor Vehicles, which requires you to make a personal appearance (read: wait in line). Bring a book to read and every form of identification you can lay your hands on. No matter what, do not forget your certified marriage license.

4. Fill in the Blanks
Once you have a Social Security card and driver's license in your married name, other changes should be fairly easy. Some institutions only require a phone call; others may ask for a copy of your marriage certificate or Social Security card. Be sure to notify:

  • Friends and family
  • Employers/payroll
  • Post office
  • Phone company and other utilities
  • Banks and other financial institutions
  • Credit card companies
  • Schools and alumni associations
  • Voter registration

And don't forget to get your new name on these documents as well:

  • Passport: Do not do this before the wedding -- your passport name must match the name on your ticket and all other travel documents! It's easier to take your honeymoon with your maiden name.
  • Mortgages and leases
  • Wills
  • Insurance policies

Download our handy Changing Your Name Checklist!
Get answers to more of your money questions from the experts at The Nest.

Don't forget to take care of these other post-wedding to-dos.

-- Cindy Hobson and Hope Reeves

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