After a whirlwind day of romance, vows, and scrumptious cake, you and your sweetheart have finally settled into the first days of married life. While the two of you may still be basking in newlywed excitement, there are still some real-world obligations you’ll need to attend to, especially if you wish to change your name.
First thing’s first: how long does it take to change your name?
The name-changing process will greatly depend on whether your state operates the process through common law jurisdiction or civil law jurisdictions. The latter, which is present in Louisiana, is typically more restrictive, and therefore will take a longer time.
In your case, you’ll want to acquire the surname of your sweetheart by petitioning a state court. That said, don’t fear—marriage is a universally accepted reason to change your name, so you won’t have to provide much evidence for your name change appeal.
How Long Does the Name Change Process Take?
The name change process can look like a lot from the outside looking in: You’ll have to change your last name on numerous legal documents, including your social security card, your passport, your birth certificate, your driver’s license, and your voter registration.
While the processing period differs from state to state, you can count on a general outline of two to eight weeks, though in some states it may take upward to five months.
Also, you must be sure to match your IRS information to the new information on your social security card and change any banking or insurance information in accordance.
Furthermore, you will encounter a few fees during this process. The fees you’ll acquire will differ from county to county; however, the general cost is anywhere from $50 to $500.
The first step to legally change your name is acquiring your marriage license and certified copies. Typically, when applying for your marriage license, you’ll want to inquire into getting certified copies in advance of getting married. This will expedite the process exponentially.
You’ll then need to change your social security card before any other identification, which will make it easier to acquire the further documentation needed to change your name. To change the name on your social security card from your maiden name to your new name, you’ll need to visit your local social security office.
Remember to bring records such as:
- Proof of citizenship (valid passport or certified copy of your birth certificate)
- Certified copy of your marriage certificate (to prove your name change)
- Proof of identity with your date of birth, full name, and recent photograph (such as a valid driver’s license, passport, or-state-issued identification card)
- Social Security card (your SSN will not change)
Getting your Court Order
If for some reason, a marriage license is not an adequate document to initiate a name change, you’ll have to file a court order to change your name. Some states require a name change petition to go through the local court clerk.
Laws vary state by state, so be sure to research the name change instructions in your state and locality to figure out how to change your new last name.
Visit the website of your state or local judicial branch to identify the documents you’ll need to fill out to petition the court. Typically, the court will run a background check to identify any criminal history. In this petition filing, you will need to provide the reason for your name change.
After you’ve adequately followed state instructions and delivered the required documents, your court date will be set.
The Hearing Process
On the day of your hearing, it’s recommended to show up to the courtroom roughly 10 minutes early, as court staff will need to collect your ID and validate your current legal name. The county judge will then arrive and you will need to stand and swear under oath before proceeding.
You will be called up to the podium where you’ll state your current legal name. The judge will confirm the spelling of your new name and ask why you wish to change your name. Considering no problems or disputes arise (which is unlikely), the judge will then sign your order, legally changing your name.
You’ll then need to collect your ID from court officials and get a certified copy of your name change in the clerk’s office, which will aid the process of changing additional documents. With this legal document, it will be easier to complete other change of name forms for things like your credit cards, utility companies, and more.
Changing Other Documents
Following your legal name change, you’ll need to contact various government agencies to change your name with other organizations, including:
- Social Security Administration
- Bureau of Consular Affairs
- Federal Communications Commission
- Selective Service System
- Department of Motor Vehicles
You’ll want to wait at least 24 hours to contact these organizations to ensure your legal name change has been processed.
The following is a list of documents you’ll need to change:
After you’ve visited your local Social Security office, you can use your new card to change the name on your driver’s license at the DMV.
Before visiting, print and fill out your state’s driver’s license renewal form. You’ll also need your social security card, current driver’s license, proof of address, a certified copy of your marriage license, and a checkbook or cash for any renewal fees that may arise.
Passport and Travel Documents
You can correct your name on your passport by applying through the mail. You’ll need to complete the DS-82 form and mail it to the National Passport Processing Center with your certified marriage license copy, current passport, a recent 2”x2” color photograph, and a check for the fee made payable to “U.S. Department of State.”
Bank Account Information
Bring your updated identification to your local branch to update your name on all banking information and accounts. You’ll need your marriage license, your new social security card, and your new driver’s license.
Credit Card Information
Check in with your credit card provider to identify the proper process to change your name. It’ll vary by credit card company: some allow online changes, while others require documents to be mailed in. Be sure to have each of your documents on hand.
Insurance, Mortgage, and Utility Information
Contact your insurance and utility providers as soon as possible to notify them of your name change to avoid any penalties or lack of coverage. You’ll need your marriage license on hand, as well as your credit card number and banking information. In most cases, these changes can be made through the companies’ online portals.
How to Speed Up the Name Change Process
To expedite the name change process, research ahead of time and fill out any applications or forms before visiting your state court or other governmental organizations. Most importantly, make sure you register for certified copies of your marriage license as soon as possible—and get more than one.
You can also consult a name change service that will do the job for you and handle your change of name. Hitch Switch is a popular name change service that can help you expedite the process!
Changing your name after marriage is a common tradition, but that doesn’t mean it happens automatically. Make sure you take the proper steps to change your name on legal documents after the wedding!
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