In the State of California, the name change process begins when you get your California marriage license. Thanks to the Name Equality Act of 2007, one or both parties can change their surname by placing their new name on the marriage license. Either party may take the other’s name or the name can be hyphenated or combined to form a new name. If the new name is chosen at the time that California marriage license is issued, there is no charge.
After your wedding, your officiant will return your California marriage license to the office of the County Clerk in the county in which it was issued; this must be done within 10 days of the wedding date. If you paid for a certified copy of your marriage license at the time that it was issued, you will automatically receive that copy within 6 – 8 weeks from the date that the original was received by the County Clerk. If you did not pay for the certified copy up front, you can either return to the County Clerk’s office to request a copy or you may request a copy by mail, but your mailed request will have to be notarized.
Now that you have your certified copy of your California marriage license in hand, what do you do next?
- Visit the Social Security Administration Office: The first step is to take your marriage license to the SSA and fill out form SS-5 to change your name. You will be issued a new Social Security card, with the same number, on the spot. If you wish to obtain a new Social Security card via mail, you will have to submit your request along with a certified copy of your marriage license. Do not expect to get this back, so make sure you have another certified copy of your marriage license.
- Get a new driver’s license: Now that you have your new Social Security card, take this, your current driver’s license and a certified copy of your marriage license to the Department of Motor Vehicles. They will process your name change request and you will receive a new driver’s license within a few weeks.
- Change your name at work: Take your new Social Security card and driver’s license to the HR department at your job. The HR department will complete the process of changing your name on work related records.
- Don’t forget to order your new passport: You can visit the U.S. Passport Website and complete Form DS-5504 if your passport is less than one year old or Form DS-82 if your passport is more than one year old.Then submit your printed copy to your local Passport Office in person.
- Now take care of everybody else: Now is the time to change your name with your banking institution, your credit card issuers, any other creditors, your medical and insurance providers and any other company that you do business with. Some of these companies may request photocopies of your certified California marriage license while others may not. Contact each company to find out their name change procedures.
- Take care of your social media accounts: Most of my brides do this the day after the wedding, but here’s a gentle reminder just in case you forgot.