The choice of whether or not to assume the name of your spouse wasn’t a common concern even just a few decades ago in the United States. In fact, a vast majority of women throughout the English-speaking world naturally (and legally) assumed their husband’s name after marriage.

But that wasn’t the case throughout the world. To this day, countries like France, the Netherlands, Italy, and Greece either require a woman keeps the name on her original birth certificate or use her husband’s name only if she so desires.

There are a multitude of reasons why a woman, or even man for that matter, may choose to assume the name of a spouse (we’ll save all that for another article). However, you’re probably more interested in the “how” as opposed to the “why.”

Don’t worry, changing your name after marriage isn’t too difficult. In fact, it’s more time-consuming than anything else.

Here are the steps you need to take to get your name changed in the United States:

Obtain Your Marriage License

You’ll need your official marriage license before you get the ball rolling on your name change. Often, your local city or county will immediately mail a copy to you once the form is processed.

If this isn’t the case, go to your local government clerk or give them a call to obtain a copy of the license for your records.

Visit a Social Security Office

Next, visit your local Social Security office or mail copies of the supporting documents to the office. To find the one closest to your home, follow this link.

Make sure you bring your government-issued ID (driver’s license, state-issued ID, etc.), a name change application, and a copy of your marriage license.

*Helpful Tip*: The wait at the SSA can be long, especially if you arrive mid-day. To avoid lines, try to get to the office as early as possible.

Head to the DMV

Next up, it’s time to visit your nearest Department of Motor Vehicle branch. You don’t need your physical, updated social security card. However, you do need the printout of the change that the SSA provides you on your way out.

All you need to do is show the clerk the SSA update paperwork, pay any associated fees, and be prepared to take a new picture for your brand new identification card.

Say cheese!

Additional Changes

There’s a lot out there associated with your maiden/former name and EVERYTHING must be changed.


If it’s been more than a year since your last Passport renewal, you’ll need to pay renewal fees. Otherwise, you can change the name on your Passport free of charge. You’ll also need to mail the following into your nearest Passport processing center (mailing address found here):

  • This renewal form
  • Copy of your marriage license
  • Any applicable fees
  • An updated passport photo
  • Your old passport

Miscellaneous Changes

Each business/institution you contact will likely have different requirements for how to handle a name change. Sometimes, they take you at your word. Other times, you’ll need to send in a copy of your marriage certificate or your new identification card.

  • Banks
  • Mortgage and Loan Paperwork
  • Voter Information
  • Employer/W2/Payroll
  • Health Insurance

In all, the name change process isn’t stressful or overwhelming, it just takes some time. So create a spreadsheet, organize your paperwork, and stay focused.  In what seems like no time at all, you’ll be official!