How to Change Your Last Name

So you are wondering how to change your last name.

The two most common reasons for changing your last name are marriage and divorce. Changing your last name for other reasons is possible as well, although the process is generally much more complicated.

State Laws that Govern Name Changes

Laws regarding changing your last name for purposes other than marriage and divorce vary from state to state. Some states, for example, require that you submit a Name Change Petition in your local court and receive a court order. For this reason, it is wise to seek the advice of an attorney regarding the changing of your last name for reasons other than marriage or divorce.

Steps on How to Change Your Last Name

This article will therefore focus on how to change your last name due to marriage or divorce. Even if you plan on hyphenating your last name with your maiden name, you must take the necessary steps to ensure that your last name is legally changed on all important documents.

You can learn how to change your last name by taking the following steps:

  • You should begin the process by obtaining at least eight to 10 copies of either your marriage license or divorce decree. You may need to contact the county clerk in your area to obtain original copies of your marriage license or divorce decree.

Many judges, in divorce proceedings, will make a formal ruling regarding changing your last name, thereby making the process an easier one.

It is important that you receive a certified copy of your marriage license or divorce decree. A certified copy has been issued, signed and certified as an original copy. You can easily recognize a certified copy, as it will possess an imprinted seal.

  • Once you have obtained the certified copies of your marriage certificate or divorce decree, you will you need to contact the Social Security Administration to receive a new social security card. You can contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 for more information and locations.

  • Next, you will need to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state to have your name changed on your driver’s license. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state to see which documents they require for a last name change, as this can vary from state to state.

  • To change your passport, you will need to submit a Passport Amendment/Validation form, along with a certified copy of your marriage certificate or divorce decree and the related fees.

  • Although the number of things that must be changed to reflect your new name varies from person to person, the following areas may need to be addressed:

  1. Credit card companies
  2. Banks, lenders, retirement and investment documents
  3. Utility companies
  4. Health, vehicle, life and property insurance companies
  5. Employee records
  6. Internal Revenue Service
  7. Post office
  8. Voter Registration
  9. Magazine subscriptions
  10. Professional and social organizations
  11. Friends, family and business associates (Change of name cards are often an easy and effective means of announcing your new last name change to family, friends and business colleagues)
  12. New stationery, return address labels, etc.

Understanding how to change your last name is not difficult, but the process itself requires diligence and great attention to detail to ensure that all of your legal documents reflect your appropriate name.