When changing names after marriage you must be able to prove your new name. Marriage certificates are the first step to getting your records updated. All marriages are filed with the county registrar. They hold your original marriage license, and on request will issue a certified copy of your marriage certificate.
The first organization to change names with is the SSA. We recommend completing the online form, if you are eligible, as there are fewer identification documents to show the SSA. You may instead complete the paper form SS5-Application for a Social Security Number. Paper applications require full evidence of identity documents to be shown. No matter which form you complete, we recommend attending an SSA office in person to show your identification documents. This saves you from mailing in sensitive documents like your birth certificate, marriage certificate or passport.
Once your SSA records are updated you can get your license updated with the DMV. Other organizations set their own proof requirements – some may ask for a copy of your marriage certificate, others need to see updated photo ID.
Our service provides information on how to order a marriage certificate in your state, including forms, fees and how to apply. While most states have centralized ordering through Vital Statistics, it is usually quicker and cheaper to order a certified copy of your certificate from your county registrar.
Religious versus government certificates
If you were married in a religious ceremony you are issued with a religious marriage certificate. This can be used in most places to change names, however a few state DMVs may insist on an official government-issued marriage certificate. If you hold a US driver’s license and want your name changed it is recommended you order a government-issued marriage certificate from either your clerk of court or state Vital Statistics/Dept. Health.
Apply at the country clerk’s office
Before the ceremony, a couple obtains a marriage license from the county clerk’s office. Once the wedding is performed, the minister or officiant returns the completed license to the country registrar for filing. If in doubt which county your marriage was recorded in, ask the person who conducted your ceremony. Turnaround for certificates and costs can vary, but in general, a wedding certificate will cost between $5 and $30. Check ahead if you plan to order a certificate in person, in which case marriage certificates are often issued on the spot. Many counties also have online ordering, or you may be able to return a form and apply by mail. The county registrar needs to allow about 2 weeks for your completed license to be returned and filed, so certificates are usually only available from 2 weeks after your wedding.
Or apply from the Department of Health – Vital Statistics
All marriages records are eventually centralized with the state. The county registrar sends all marriage records to the Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics. This ensures records can be centrally accessed. Some state offices can take up to six months to enter the marriage into their records. It is recommended that newlyweds apply to the county for their marriage certificate as they are usually much cheaper and available much faster. Only apply at the state level if your wedding was more than two months ago, or if you know the current turnaround time for your state. Check our name change kits for advice on where to apply for your state.
Who can apply for a wedding certificate
No matter where you live, wedding certificates are always made available to the spouses named on the certificate. In some situations, third parties can apply with permission from the couple. Many states allow anyone access to a marriage certificate, but the certificate will be clearly labeled ‘not a valid document to establish identity’.
How to apply for a wedding certificate in your state
Easy Name Change explains how to order a marriage certificate for all US states. This information usually includes what you can expect to pay for a certificate, how to apply and the marriage certificate application form, if your state has one.
Get your records changed
Once you have your wedding certificate, start updating your identification, bank accounts, phone account, membership cards and more. Save yourself hours of research and waiting on hold – we deliver all the information you need in just minutes! Receive detailed filing instructions along with ready-to-send forms, letters and emails. Just sign & send! Our kits will save you hours or your money back!