‘Simple’ guide to changing your name after marriage

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

image of wedding ring being put on spouse's finger

To have and to hold… and to take thy last name?

To all of the newlyweds who have taken their spouse’s last name, here is a ‘simple’ guide to help you through the process.  You will need to do items #1 through #3 in order.  After you receive your new driver’s license in the mail, you will be able to change nearly everything else.  Don’t let the process deter you from making the name change – if that is something you actually want to do.  Nearly half of my married friends have kept their maiden names, but I guess I am just old-fashioned.

  1. Marriage License – Pick up your marriage license from City Hall.
  2. Social Security Card – Go to your local Social Security office to apply for a new Social Security Card.  Bring your marriage license  and old Driver’s License.  Be prepared to wait.  You can make an appointment, but I wanted to deal with the name change process as quickly as possible.
  3. Driver’s License – Go to DMV to change your driver’s license.  Bring the marriage license, your new Social Security card, and your old driver’s license.  Don’t forget your checkbook!  I also brought my passport and proof of address just to be safe.  If you have a point on your driving record, you must be prepared to take the written test again.  They stop the test at the SF DMV, so you don’t want to have to make two trips – like I did.  I recommend going early in the morning, about 30 minutes before they open.  You can make an appointment, but it is booked out 30 days.  I was in a rush, so I waited for 2 hours – twice!  it will come in the mail in about a week or less.
  4. Passport – You can apply for a new Passport without going into their agency.  You will need to determine which form you need: DS-11, DS-82, or DS-5504.  I needed the renewal form DS-82 since my passport was issued more than one year ago.  You can find these forms on the government website or at certain United States Post Offices.  You will need to mail in the application (use back ink only!) along with the following items: your current passport, your original marriage license (not a scan), a passport photo, and a check for the renewal fee of $110.  I recommend using USPS Priority Mail.  I had a scare when I tracked my package, and it said it was in transit with no updated information in over a month.   When I was making calls to the Post Office, someone told me that they might not always scan the passport applications upon arrival to their destination.  If you are feeling anxious, you can track your application status online or over the phone by calling the National Passport Agency at 1-877-487-2778.  They will mail your old passport and marriage license back to you, but you will receive this in a seperate package from the new passport.  My new passport arrived after about 8 weeks, but I am still waiting to receive the returned documents.
  5. Global Entry – After you have your new passport, you will be able to update your Global Entry card (GOES, S.T.E.P., Known/Safe Traveler).  I read so many different things about this online.  After looking on the global entry website and reading the 5th blog post with varying advice, I decided it would be quicker to drive to SFO and deal with it in person.  Surprisingly, it was.  I didn’t have an appointment, but I just let them know I needed to update my last name.  She initially told me I could do it online, but then I managed to get her to do it for me.  I didn’t see any way of updating it online myself, so I am not sure if that information is accurate.  She needed my new driver’s license, my new passport, and my old Global Entry card.  No need for marriage license or old passport.  I was back to my car in 20 minutes.
  6. Bank – Time to update your bank account, debit card, and checkbook.  I decided to go to the bank to do this in person.  I was impatient, so I went in with just my new social security card and my marriage license.  You might be able to do this over the phone and through submitting documents via email.
  7. Credit Cards – Just call them.  It almost felt too easy to do.
  8. Post Office – Fill out a USPS change of address form to get your last name updated.
  9. IRS – Fill out Form 8822 and mail it in to the Internal Revenue Service.  You will save on taxes when filing as a married couple.  Yay!
  10. Voter Registration – I believe this is updated when you fill out the paperwork at the DMV.
  11. Retirement accounts – I was able to update my last name on my IRA account by emailing directly with my financial advisor.
  12. Heath Insurance + Doctors
  13. EVERYTHING ELSE!!! Every website, bills + utilities, Comcast, Verizon, landlord, shop, yoga studio, memberships, monthly subscriptions, Netflix, ClassPass, app, Apple account, emails, pet stuff (groomer + vet + insurance), Costco, museums, renter’s insurance, college + high school alumni shit.  If you are on your parent’s will, this probably needs to be updated as well.  What else am I missing?

Be careful if you are purchasing airline tickets during your name change process.  We weren’t traveling for a few months after the wedding, so it was the perfect time to knock this out.  If you are booking a flight, make sure your license and/or passport will be ready in time to match your new name on your ticket.  The global entry was the final piece of the puzzle for me, so I was jumping for joy yesterday after completing that final step.   I am sure there will some lingering websites that need to be updated for online shopping and other accounts.  I am happy to say that I am now officially a Dewar!

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