How Long after Your Marriage Should You Change Your Last Name?


Taking on your spouse’s last name after marriage is not an uncommon tradition, especially in the United States. But these days it’s not just the women taking on a new last name, it is becoming more popular for men to take on their wife’s last name! In either case, you may be wondering how long you have to change your name after marriage. This article will cover the basics you need to know about the name changing process.

How Long after Your Marriage Should You Change Last Name?

If you are planning on taking on your spouse's last name after marriage, it can take up to one month for most agencies to be notified and make the necessary adjustments. Each state will have a varying timeframe for when this should or needs to be done by, so it is best to consult the related agencies in your area to ensure it is done in the appropriate amount of time. Here are some people’s experience, to give you a bit more of an idea about that:

“While in most documentations there is no set timeframe to change your name, on things like insurance policy, there usually is. My work required at least a 60 days’ notice of the name change for my insurance policy.”

“The only thing you need to change your name right away after you get married is any insurance policies. For my job, we had just 31 days from the date on the marriage certificate to change the name on the policy, otherwise we’d have to wait for the open enrollment period, which only happens once a year.”

“I started the name changing process a month after we got married, but we’ve been married for 4 years and I have yet to change everything to my new last name.”

How to Change Your Name After Marriage

State by State

Each state will vary as to how the name changing process must be done, so it is best to double check the regulation or rules that apply to your area. In most states you simply need to fill out a few forms and there is no court involvement. Keep in mind, however, that most states will require a formal name change petition depending on if it is a hyphenating name change, the husband’s taking a new last name, it’s a same-sex marriages, or if the couple is choosing a completely new last name.

Marriage Certificates

The marriage certificate is crucial documentation with regards to how long after your marriage you should change your last name. Without it, you will find it impossible to proceed with the name change. You will want to obtain a few certified copies of your certificate. If your state processes both short and long term certificates, long form is better.

Social Security

Once you have received the certified copy of your marriage certificate, you will want to start with changing your name through the social security office. You will need to fill out the SS-5 form from the Social Security Administrations. Bring this completed form along with the certified copy of your marriage certificate, proof of identity, citizenship or immigration status to your local social security office.

Driver’s License

The next place you’ll want to get your name changed at is the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). Since your license is most often your main form of identification, this is an important step to take. Each DMV’s rules will vary slightly as to how to go about the process, but in most locations you will only need your certified marriage certificate and your new social security card. Some states may require you to complete a new application as well as take a new photo. This can be the same when requesting a state-issued ID card. Since you are already at the DMV, it is a good idea to ask about how long after your marriage you have to change your last name on your vehicles titles as well.

Bank Account

A lot of couples tend to neglect to change their names on banks accounts right away but this can lead to major problems, especially if you are setting up a joint account. Changing your name on your bank's accounts can be done easily by going to your local branches’ office. You will want to have your marriage license, as well as your new driver’s license with your new last name already on it, in order to change the name on your accounts. You will be able to request new checks as well as a new debit/credit cards to display your new last name. Some banks may charge a fee for a new debit card.

Everything Else

After having your name changed on the three major documents mentioned above, there are a number of other documents you will want to have your name changed on as well, including:

  • Insurance policies

  • Mortgagees/leases/deeds

  • Utility bills

  • Credit cards

  • Phone bills

  • Student loans

  • Work payroll and retirement plans

  • Voter registration

  • State tax agencies

  • Doctor's office

  • Attorney offices

  • Professional licensing boards or associations

  • Magazine subscriptions

  • Library cards

  • Membership cards

FAQ’s About Changing Name After Marriage

When it comes to changing your name after marriage, there a number of instances you may still have questions about.

We are planning our honeymoon out of the country, do I need to have my name changed on my passport before we go?

You will want to wait to change the name on your passport until after the honeymoon. Make sure your flight reservations are made using your maiden name and that it matches your passport and driver’s license.

I am planning on adding on my spouse's last name to mine, either with a hyphen or non-hyphen married name, do I still need to go through the name-changing process?

Changing your name after marriage applies to hyphen and non-hyphen name changes as well. You will still need to take the necessary steps to notify all agencies about your new name. As for how long after your marriage you have to change your last name, ask localadministration for clear answer.

Is it possible to mail in my name change requests?

your named changed, with the exception of the DMV. You will still need to go personally to have your driver’s licenses or state ID card changed.

How long does it usually take to obtain all the records with the name change?

For most documentation, it can take between 4-6 weeks for the records to be updated and returned to you. Passports, however, usually have a longer turnaround time.