So you just got
married. Congratulations! Now that the honeymoon is over, one of your first
priorities is to settle in with your husband and start a new life together. If
you choose to adopt your spouse’s last name, like most women do, you might want
to get started and change your name on all your official documents.

Changing your
name is a pretty straightforward process. However, you’ll have to deal with
tons of paperwork. Since each step in the name change process may take a few
weeks, we encourage you to start as early as possible.

For a better
understanding on how to legally change
your name
after marriage, we urge you to keep reading. Use this as a guide
to get the process started.

Get your marriage certificate

You won’t be
able to begin the name change process unless you have the original copy of your
marriage certificate on hand. This is the most important document you’ll need if
you opt to follow the tradition of taking your husband’s name.

The processing
of marriage certificates usually takes a month. Most states will send you the
original, signed and sealed copy after it has been processed. If not, you may
call or visit the clerk’s office where you filed your marriage license.

It is also a
good idea to get a few extra copies of your marriage certificate so you can
process different forms simultaneously. But make sure that each copy is certified.
Otherwise, they won’t be considered valid.

Start with your social security

To update your name
on your social security card, you’ll have to print out the social security card
application and fill it out with the necessary information.

The SSA has an
online service. However, you cannot apply for a card online. If you want to
legally change your name because of
marriage, you’ll have to either bring your application, along with your
marriage certificate to their office or mail them. In some cases, they also require
certain documents like driver’s license or passport to prove identity, as well as
proof of U.S. citizenship. You will not be charged a fee for a new Social
Security card. You can expect your card in 1 to 2 weeks.

Updating your
name with the Social Security is one of the most important steps. Once you do
so, all other agencies will recognize your name change.

Get a new driver’s license

You are required,
by law, to bring your driver’s license with you when driving. Your license
should also contain up-to-date information. While you are not obliged to update
your license when you change your address, you are advised to do so if you
decide to adopt your husband’s surname after marriage.

The procedure
may vary from state to state since driver’s licenses are exclusively regulated
by the state. However, most states will require you to visit your local DMV
office and bring all the necessary documents with you. To change your name to that of your husband, you’ll be asked to
present your driver’s license to confirm your identity, along with a certified
copy of your marriage license. You may have to take a written or a driving test
if your license is from another state.

Update your financial accounts

To change your name on your financial
accounts, you’ll be asked to provide a copy of your marriage certificate along
with your updated ID. In other states, you may also be asked to provide
additional documents reflecting your married name. As such, we recommend that
you wait until you have all the necessary documents and identification before
updating your financial accounts.

Don’t forget to notify
your employer or the HR department about the name change to avoid problems with
your salary and avoid delays with your tax refund. If you happen to receive a
check made out to your maiden name, don’t worry. Just bring it to the bank and
present an ID that bears your maiden name and they’ll let you cash it.

Update all official documents

Now that you’ve
already got your name changed in your Social Security card, driver’s license
and bank accounts, this may also be a good time to change your name in all your official documents. Some of you might
be tempted to take a breather after dealing with a lot of paperwork, but please
resist the urge to do so.

Request for a
name change on the following documents:

  • Professional licensing
  • State tax authority
  • Work or school
  • Utility bills
  • Insurance policies
  • Mortgage
  • Credit cards
  • Passports
  • Membership cards
  • Subscriptions
  • Voter registration
  • Doctors

Start using it

Now that you
have legally and officially changed your name to your husband’s last name, go
ahead and use it. It may sound a little bit weird at first, but you’ll get used
to it. Plus, everyone else will catch on once you start using your new last
name. Use your husband’s last name when you open new accounts, when you notify
change of address and in social settings.