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Changing Your Last Name When You Get Married

Legally change your name after marriage

There is a tradition that many couples share in when it comes to getting married…that is taking the last name of either the husband or wife. Whether you simply assume the last name only or decide to hyphenate, to be legally recognized, there are legal steps that you have to take to change your name after marriage.

First and foremost, this is one event that has to wait until the marriage certificate is signed, sealed and in your hands. Once you have the certificate, it is time to record your name change with the Social Security Administration. Fortunately, this is a rather simple and painless process. To get this process started, visit ssa.gov/online/ss-5.html and download the Form SS-5. If you don’t have access to a computer, then you can pick up the form at your local SSA office. Be sure to complete the form, including signing where necessary. From there, you can drop it in the mail or take it to the local office.

It is important to note that you will be required to prove your identity, support the requested change and establish the reason for the change. 

Eligible documents for changing your last name after marriage 

When you have completed the Form SS-5 and are ready to take the final steps to changing your last name, you will be required to provide at least two documents that can prove you age, identity, and US citizenship or current lawful work-authorized immigration status. The following are lists of the types of documents that can be provided with your application.

To prove your age, in general, you should provide your birth certificate. There are some other acceptable documents that may be permitted in the absence of a birth certificate such as:

  • US hospital record of your birth (the one created at the time of your birth)
  • Religious record established before you turned five showing your age or date of birth
  • Passport
  • Final Adoption Decree (it must show that the birth information was taken from the original birth certificate)

To prove your identity, you must provide a current, unexpired evidence of identity in your legal name. These documents should include your legal name, biographical information (e.g., date of birth, age or parent’s names), and/or physical information (e.g., photo or physical description). Examples of documents that can satisfy these requirements include:

  • U.S. driver’s license
  • U.S. state-issued non-driver identification card
  • U.S. passport

If you run into a problem obtaining one of these documents and can’t obtain a replacement within 1o business days, they may accept other documents that show your legal name and biographical information, such as:

  • U.S. military ID card
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Employee identity card
  • Certified copy of a medical record
  • Health insurance card
  • Medicaid card
  • School identity card or record

To prove U.S. citizenship, you must provide a U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport. Other documents that may be permitted include:

  • Consular Report of Birth
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Certificate of Naturalization

To prove your immigration status, you are required to provide a current unexpired document issued to you by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) showing your immigration status. This can be demonstrated by Forms I-551, I-94, and I-766. In the event you are an international student or exchange visitor, you may be required to provide additional documents such as Form I-20, DS-2019 or a letter authorizing employment from your school and employer (F-1) or sponsor (J-1).