How *Not* to Change your Name After the Wedding

 
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First things first: this is not a post about whether or not to change your last name when you get married! There are many options regarding your last name after marriage and each one is beautiful and valid!!

I personally decided to take my Hubby’s last name and make my maiden name my middle name. But that decision was made in the spur of the moment, at the Social Security office, with absolutely no research done. Big mistake.

And now I’m about to celebrate five years with my Hubby and I still haven’t been able to fully change my name.

While changing your last name after marriage is relatively simple, Pennsylvania state laws make changing your middle name waaaayyyy more complicated. I did not know this at the time and was not prepared.

So to prevent you from making the same mistakes, I’ve done the research for you and broken it down into the major ares where you’ll need to change your name, how to do it, what you’ll need, and a few helpful tips.

BUT FIRST, how NOT to change your last name…

Step One: Go to the Social Security office with all the right materials and decide - as your filling out the form - to make your maiden name your middle name. The man at the office will say nothing about it, and within minutes your name will go from Jessica Morgan D’Arcy to Jessica D’Arcy Garda. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Step Two: Go to the Driver’s License Center with what you think are the right materials, only to learn that changing your middle name requires an updated Passport.

Step Three: Realize your Passport is hella expired. Like, eighteen years expired. You’ll need to get a new one before you can update your Driver’s License.

Step Four: Go to the Post Office to renew your Passport. Have the cranky lady behind the counter tell you that renewing an expired Passport requires a Driver’s License. The name on your Driver’s License will need to match the name on your Passport.

Step Five: Explain your situation to the cranky lady at the Post Office. Try not to spew smoke from your ears when she asks, “Why the hell would you change your middle name?”

Step Six: Because you work crazy hours and government offices are only open when your working, and because you’re honestly at a lost as to what to do next, just keep your old name on your Driver’s License and your new name everywhere else. Because no big deal, right?

Step Seven: Realize what an idiot you were for thinking, “no big deal” when you’re held up at airport security for over an hour because your Hubby put your married name on the plane ticket and it doesn’t match the name on your Driver’s License.

Step Eight: Have hospital almost refuse to admit you to give birth to your child because you don’t have the same name on your Driver’s License, insurance card, and medical records.

Step Nine: Still at a lost for what to do, return to your local Driver’s License Center to change your last name on your Driver’s License, but not your middle name. It’s a good temporary fix to the issues you’ve been having, but still doesn’t resolve the Passport problem.

Step Ten: Put your plans for international travel on hold. Bang your head on your desk. Consider making your Hubby change out of some sort of misplaced spite.

 
THIS IS JESSICA. Jessica didn’t research how to change her name and still hasn’t done it right after 5 years. DON’T BE LIKE JESSICA!

THIS IS JESSICA. Jessica didn’t research how to change her name and still hasn’t done it right after 5 years. DON’T BE LIKE JESSICA!

 

For those of you keeping track, that means my Social Security card says, “Jessica D’Arcy Garda.” My Driver’s License says, “Jessica Morgan Garda,” and my expired Passport says, “Jessica Morgan D’Arcy”.

In order to get everything in order, I’ve been told that I’ll need to get a new Passport with the name on my Driver’s License (Jessica Morgan Garda), then update it with my new middle name (Jessica D’Arcy Garda), then use that new Passport to update my middle name on my Driver’s License.

But right now I have two jobs, two kids, and zero fucks. And let’s face it, I’m not taking an international vacation anytime soon (*sob*).

The takeaway for you is: Don’t be me. Have a game plan. You can use the breakdown below to help you along the way.

Note: If you’re simply taking your spouse’s last name or hyphenating, you can follow the order below. If you’re changing your middle name, you will need to update your Voter Registration and Passport BEFORE changing your Driver’s License.


How to Update Your Social Security Card

You will need to change your name on your social security card in person. You can locate your Social Security Administration office here.

What to Bring:

  1. Completed Application for a Social Security Card

  2. Driver's License or State ID

  3. A Certified Copy of your Marriage Certificate*

*Note: A certified copy of your marriage license should've been sent to shortly after your wedding, as long as you or your officiant submitted the signed license. If you need another copy, you'll need to contact the County Courthouse through which you applied for your marriage license. Sometimes certified copies are referred to as "triple seal" marriage records.


How to Update Your Pennsylvania Driver's License

TRADITIONAL NAME CHANGE AND HYPHENATED NAME CHANGE

You will need to change your name on your Driver's License in person. You can locate your nearest Drivers License Center here.

What to Bring:

  1. Completed Non-Commercial Driver’s License Application for Change / Correction / Replacement (DL-80)

  2. Driver's License or State ID

  3. A Certified Copy of your Marriage Certificate

CHANGING YOUR MIDDLE NAME TO YOUR MAIDEN NAME

According to PennDOT’s website, “If you desire to use another name, you must present your Social Security Card, together with two other sources issued in the desired name.” Changing my middle name to my maiden name constituted a “desire to use another name”. (*rolls eyes*)

What to Bring:

  1. Completed Non-Commercial Driver’s License Application for Change / Correction / Replacement (DL-80)

  2. Driver's License or State ID

  3. A Certified Copy of your Marriage Certificate

  4. Your Updated Social Security Card

  5. Your Updated Voter Registration (see below)

  6. Updated Passport (see below)


How to Update Your Pennsylvania Voter Registration

You can update your voter registration online or by mail. You do not need to submit a copy of your marriage certificate, but be sure to at least update your Social Security information first.


How to Update Your Passport

BY MAIL

You can update your Passport by mail if you meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • You can submit your most recent Passport and it is not damaged or mutilated.

  • Your Passport was issued when you were at least 16 years old.

  • Your Passport was issued less than 15 years ago

What to Submit:

  1. Completed Passport Renewal Application for Eligible Individuals (DS-82)

  2. Your Most Recent Passport

  3. A Certified Copy of your Marriage Certificate (they will return it to you)

  4. A Recent, Color Photograph

  5. A Check for Renewal Fees ($30 for Card, $110 for Book)

IN PERSON

If you don’t meet ALL of the criteria listed above for mail applications, you’ll have to update your information in person at your nearest Passport Acceptance Facility (typically a Post Office).

What to Submit:

  1. Completed U.S. Passport Application (DS-11)

  2. Your Driver’s License AND a Photocopy of Your License - Front and Back

  3. A Copy of your Birth Certificate with Raised Seal*

  4. A Certified Copy of your Marriage Certificate

  5. A Recent, Color Photograph

  6. A Check for Renewal Fees ($30 for Card, $110 for Book)

*You can order a copy of your Birth Certificate online here. The cost is $20 plus a processing fee. If you have time and want to save the processing fee, you can fill out and mail in an Application for a Birth Certificate along with a check for the fee and a copy of your Driver’s License.


Where else should I change my name?

Not too long ago, a bride shared her own experience in changing her name, as well as some super helpful tips, on Burgh Brides. It’s definitely worth checking out!!

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