So you’re getting married and you’ve opted to change your last name. Congratulations! But as you’ll soon find out, changing your name is not quite as simple as just signing the marriage license. You need to notify a number of different agencies about your name switcheroo. It’s a bit of work, but don’t worry—it’s not nearly as much work as planning a wedding.
Tip: You may want to order a dozen or more certified copies of your marriage certificate to make the name change process easier.
First stop—the Social Security office. Getting a new Social Security card is a good place to start because you can use your card to help you more easily change over other forms of identification. (You’ll keep the same number you’ve always had; only your name will change.) In addition, your Social Security number and new name will be used on your upcoming tax return, and they need to match in order for the IRS to process the return.
Fill out a name change application, found on the Social Security Administration’s website, and mail it in. You can also take your application and documents proving your identity (they’re listed on the application) to a local Social Security office. Allow a couple of weeks for your new Social Security card to arrive.
Department of Motor Vehicles. You’ll also need a new driver’s license issued in your married name. Check with your state’s DMV to learn what proof of identity it requires. In addition to your marriage license, you’ll need your current driver’s license and, most likely, a birth certificate and/or your newly minted Social Security card.
Your employer. Talk with your company’s human resources department about what you need to do to update your work records, including your name on your payroll check. This might also be a good time to consider updating other work-related forms, such as adding your new spouse as the beneficiary on your work-issued life insurance or retirement plan.
Your financial accounts. It’s time to switch credit and debit cards to your new name, along with checks if you still use them. You’ll also want to decide whether to add your spouse as a joint owner on any of your accounts. Even if you rarely set foot in your bank or credit union branch these days, you may need to do so in order to show your identity documents and marriage license. If you have a car loan, line of credit, mortgage, or other credit accounts, be sure to also notify those creditors of your name change. That way, your credit history will continue to build in both your maiden and married names.
Credit reporting agencies. You’re not required to notify the three credit reporting agencies (CRAs) of your marriage and new last name, but it’s not a bad idea. Your new name should be automatically reflected in your credit file as you notify bank and credit accounts. Pull your credit report six months after your name change and review it. Your married name should be listed on your credit report along with your maiden name.
Everyone else. It’s amazing how many organizations need your new name, as you’ll discover along the way. Some good ones to consider: the post office, utility companies, your doctor and dentist, insurance companies, the passport office, and more. Yes, it’s a lot of work. The one piece of good news, though: You won’t need to send these organizations thank you notes!
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