Guide to Changing Your Name After Marriage
by Lexus Sanders Njie
Getting married is one of the most special and important times in a person's life. It is a time of planning, partying, and gathering with the friends and family you love. But, what happens after you say “I do”? One of the next steps is deciding whether you want to change your name. If you decide to change your name, the process may seem unclear.
In most cases, from the time you were born, you were told what your name was. There were no filing issues, and no need for you to report your name to any bureau or agency. However, if you have decided to change your name, there is a multi-step process for North Carolina residents for changing their name after marriage and it is actually pretty simple.
To start, you will need to obtain a certified marriage license. No later than ten days after your marriage ceremony, you should have sent back your marriage license to the Register of Deeds in the county you received it in in order for it to be certified. When you are ready to change your name, you will need a copy of your certified marriage license which can be requested online, in person, or by mail.
Once you have a copy of your certified marriage license, you will need to apply for a new Social Security card. Social Security cards are essential for proving your identity so it is the first thing that needs to be changed in order to update other important documents. After receiving your certified marriage license, you have to show it to the Social Security Administration so that you can apply to have a new Social Security card that will reflect your new name. Along with your certified marriage license you will also need to show proof of identification and in some cases, proof that you are a current U.S. citizen or a legal noncitizen.
Next, after applying for a new social security card, you will then need to get a new driver’s license which reflects your name change. After waiting at least twenty-four hours after applying for a new social security card, you will then be able to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to receive an updated driver’s license.
Finally, after your social security and driver license are updated, you should then update your name on other important documents and records. These records include your bank accounts, credit cards, debit cards, medical documents, etc.
The process of changing your name after marriage is one that is not meant to be difficult, although it might prove to be time consuming. Once you have a copy of your certified marriage license, the steps to change your name are simplified because that license serves as proof of your name change. Hopefully this step-by-step guide makes the process of changing your name easier.
Keep in mind when reading these steps, that it may be possible to change your name legally, but keep your professional identity the same, even after marriage. This may be an option to consider if you are in business and have concerns about changing your name, especially if you already have a lot of clientele that know you by your maiden name. If you think this is an option for you, look into the rules on name changes by any licensing/professional boards in your industry.
Whether you decide to change your name after marriage or not, congratulations on this exciting time for you.
Wake County Register of Deeds:
North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles
Social Security Forms
About the Author
Lexus Sanders Njie is a current law clerk at Smith Dominguez, PLLC and a third-year law student at Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law. At Campbell, Lexus is involved in several pro-bono projects focusing on social justice and she currently serves on the board of the International Law Society. Lexus will graduate from Campbell in May 2021.