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You’ve said “I do,” danced the night away, and signed the marriage license. Next up: Changing your name. Whether you’ll be taking your spouse’s last name, combining your names, or creating something entirely new, expect a healthy amount of paperwork. “It’s still a bit of an antiquated process,” says Jake Wolff of HitchSwitch. “We found it takes the average newlywed about 15 hours of research to figure out what to do.”
Meet the Expert
Jake Wolff is the founder of HitchSwitch, a service that guides newlyweds through the name change process.
Per Wolff, there are five major categories at the state and federal level that’ll require an update, and a few fees are involved with procuring new documents. Here’s a look at the various costs associated with changing your name in these key categories.
Changing Your Name With the Federal Government
Social Security Card
You can apply for a new social security card by mail (find instructions here) or in person at a local Social Security office (click here for your nearest location). There is no fee for this service.
If your passport was issued less than a year ago, there’s no fee associated with changing your name. If you’ve had it for a year or more, the current fee for a new passport book is $110. Per Wolff, if you’d also like a passport card, that’s an additional $30, and costs for expedited shipping and processing can range from $19 to $60.
If you’re traveling internationally for your honeymoon shortly after the wedding, do not change your passport ahead of the trip. The name in the passport will need to match the name you booked the ticket under, which is likely your maiden name. The same goes for any domestic trips and your driver’s license.
Alerting the IRS
Even if you’re not planning on filing taxes jointly, you’ll need to alert the IRS that you’re no longer going by your given last name. This will minimize the risk of any errors or bounce-back during tax season. There is no cost to do this.
Changing Your Name With Your State Government
Driver’s License or Photo ID
After you’ve got your new social security card, you can begin the process of acquiring a new driver’s license or state-issued identification card. Per Wolff, this cost varies from state to state but typically ranges between $25 to $50. Fees for new vehicle titles and registrations will be separate from this.
Many states allow you to update your voter registration when you apply for a new driver’s license, so take care of both at once. There is no cost associated with registering to vote.
Changing Your Name to Something Entirely New
Many states take care of the legal process of basic marriage-related last-name changes (taking your spouse’s last name, combining your last names with a hyphen) right on the marriage license and certificate. If you’re after something different—like, say, an intertwining of your last names or a new last name altogether—you’ll need a court order.
Per Wolff, this process involves visiting a county clerk, filling out a name change petition, and securing a date with a judge for a name-change hearing. Between your filing date and the date of the hearing, you’ll be required to post notice of your new name and the hearing date in the classified section of a local newspaper (see, we told you—antiquated).
At the hearing, your judge will give you your name change order. This certificate is the one you’ll use in lieu of your marriage certificate when filing for a new Social Security card, passport, driver’s license, and so forth. Costs vary by state, but most range between $250 and $300. “Everything I’ve seen is under $500,” says Wolff.
Changing Your Name After a Divorce
The process for changing your last name back to your given last name after a divorce is the same as it is for changing your last name to your spouse’s after your wedding. The only difference is you’ll use your divorce decree in lieu of your marriage certificate as proof of the name change. Just be sure to note your desired name change to your judge, otherwise, you’ll have to go through the court order system described above.