Decide before you apply for a wedding license
Some states, such as California and New Jersey, require you to nominate your future name on your marriage license at the time of application. Give due consideration to your future name before filing for a license as once filed you can not make any changes to your nominated future name.
Once you are married apply for a certified copy of your marriage certificate. Most counties have this available anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after the ceremony. If your state lists your former and future names on the wedding certificate then you must use the name you have nominated. If your wedding certificate does not list both former name and future name, then you can choose what name you can use after marriage from the choices below.
How to make your maiden name a middle name
Brides are increasingly choosing to use their maiden name as a middle name. If you already have a middle name then your maiden name can either be a second middle name, or it can replace your current middle name. For example, if Sarah Anne Jones married Alex Jackson, her new name could either be Sarah Anne Jones Jackson or Sarah Jones Jackson. (where the underlined name is the middle name).
As with all name changes SSA records must be updated first. The SSA will allow your maiden name to become a middle name regardless of where you live (although the DMV might have a different policy – so check with them first!) Your driver’s license and passport must be in the same name as your new social security card. (continued…)
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State DMVs have varying policies on what names you can take after marriage. Proving your identity will be difficult if you have updated your federal ID, then find you can’t get your state driver’s license to match. Always confirm with your state DMV what their current name change policy is before applying to the SSA for a maiden to middle name change.
You may reside in a state where your marriage certificate clearly states what you have chosen as your future name. In these cases, you can confidently apply for your name change everywhere in that same name.
More advice on making your maiden name a middle name is included in our Easy Name Change guide, which comes with all name change kits. If your state DMV has special requirements to make a maiden name a middle name, we explain this in your personalized checklist which is included in your kit.
States where maiden to middle name is not possible
Bad luck if you live in Washington. These are the only state that requires a legal name change order if a bride wants to move their maiden name to become a middle name. Also check with New Jersey before applying as their policy has changed regularly over the years and customers have mixed success. While you will be able to get your maiden name recognized as a middle name on federal identification, the Washington State Department of Licensing will not allow it. In such cases you would be required to get the name on your SSA record changed into a format allowed at a state level before the name can be changed on your license.
If Washington brides are insistent on their maiden name becoming a middle name they must successfully file for a legal name change with the county court and pay $301.50 in fees. Read more on how to legally change names in Washington State.
States where you need additional proof
Some state DMV’s like New York and Pennsylvania allow you to move your maiden name to become a middle name, however you must have additional proof of this name already in use before applying. We therefore suggest changing names with SSA first, then filing your name change in a few other places, such as insurance, utilities or passport. Once you can present sufficient additional proof of your new name your driver license can be changed to match.
The exact proof documents will be explained by your state DMV so check with them before filing for your name change with the SSA. We provide detailed notes for these state DMV’s in your personalized checklist, included with all Easy Name Change kits.
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* Note that this guide was correct at the time of writing, however state laws are continually changing. For the most accurate information check your Easy Name Change kit or contact your state DMV directly.