How To Change Your Last Name After Getting Married!

I actually think this post should be titled "How to change your name after getting married (and other adventures at the DMV)" but I thought that was a bit too lengthy. Really, though, I had quite the adventure of changing my name, and here are step by step instructions for you!

BEFORE I start: It can literally cost you NOTHING to get your name changed. Don't be tricked into paying for it to be done for a fee through a website-- you can handle this on your own, I promise! 

How to get a Social Security Card with Your New Name on It

1. Get married! (aka get a marriage certificate!)

Ok, this might seem self explanatory, but the marriage certificate-- the original one they send you with the seal and everything-- will be your best friend through this process. Your marriage certificate will suddenly become as important (if not more so) than your social security card or your license.

2. Fill out an application for a new social security card!

You can follow this link (Form SS-5) to find the form you'll need to fill out to get a social security card with your new last name on it, whether you decide to mail it in or go to a social security office. Having it filled out speeds up the process!

3. Gather the appropriate forms!

-Proof of Age (I used my birth certificate/drivers license)
-Proof of Identity (I used my drivers license)
-Proof of U.S. Citizenship (I used my birth certificate)
-Your ORIGINAL or a certified copy of your Marriage Certificate... NO photocopies!

4. Locate the closest Social Security office...

Use this link: Social Security Office Locator. Make sure you go when the office is open- it never hurts to call to make sure they will be open & to double check what documents you'll need to bring. When I got to the office, I took a number and waited for about 20 minutes until it was my turn to be seen by this very nice woman. Not bad! Your new social security card should be mailed to your home within 2 weeks.

Be sure to bring the following to the social security office:
-Your application for a new social security card
-Your marriage certificate
-Your license
-Your birth certificate (just in case- you might be able to get away with not bringing this?)
*I also brought my passport & current social security card... I like to be prepared!

5. OR mail in your application!

I didn't do this (I went to the office), so I can't speak from experience, but from what I understand, it can be done! You need to mail in the originals or certified copies of the original documents, and they're supposed to be mailed back to you after your forms are processed. This link should have more information on doing the process via mail!

How to Change Your Name on Your License

1. Go to the DMV!

Locate the closest DMV (click here for info. on PA DMVs). I'm honestly not sure how/if you can do this online. Bring your CHECKBOOK or a MONEY ORDER-- no cash or debit/credit cards are accepted! I paid $13.50 to get a new license-- you can get a FREE "update" card with your new name of it that you carry with your old license, but that seemed a little too involved for me, so I just paid for a new one. Now, I was under the impression that I would need my new social security card to get my name changed on my license... and they didn't even ask for it! What did they ask for? My marriage certificate. So make sure you bring that! This is also a good time to update your ADDRESS and VOTER REGISTRATION :) They'll give you your new license before you leave!

Bring these to the DMV:
-Your marriage certificate
-Your current license
-Your new social security card (they didn't ask me for mine-- apparently you don't need this to get your name changed on your license!)
-Your checkbook (if you decide to go with getting a new license printed vs. the free update card)

Be forewarned: DMVs are usually only open ONE day a week. They're usually very busy. They can be in random and/or remote locations. Don't go to the DMV when you have a schedule to adhere to-- you could (and probably will) be there for at LEAST an hour, but that all depends upon the day!

Other Name Change Fun

Change your bank accounts, passport, insurance information... etc. etc. The process for doing each of these varies. Google will be your other BFF in this process :)

And now... a short story about my recent adventure to the DMV :)

Today (Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012) I decided to go to the DMV to get my name changed on my license. I started this process by collecting my important documents (birth certificate, old social security card, new social security card, current license, marriage certificate) and putting them into a ziplock bag. Probably not the safest mode of transportation considering they're usually stored in a locked safe, but there's only so much you can fit into your purse!

Then, I went onto google to locate the nearest DMV. I found one! It was in Towanda, PA. And, it looked like, they were open 9-5, Monday through Saturday. "Wow!" I thought to myself, "This must be an abnormal and awesome DMV!" I was about to walk out the door when I thought, "Hmmm... maybe I should call."

Well, it was definitely a good thing I called, because I was about to go to a AAA insurance agency that for some reason was listed as a DMV. I still don't understand how/why this happened, but I would have definitely felt silly walking into a AAA office asking for a new drivers license!

Back to google.

Found another DMV.

This is the address it gave: Route 220 Bypass Towanda Monroeton Road, Monroeton, PA

Seriously, is that even a place?

According to google maps, it's not!

So, being directionally challenged and having a GPS that rarely gets me when I need to be, I decided that I'd better figure out where this mystery location was before I tried to drive to it. Upon close inspection of several maps, I narrowed down that the DMV had to be somewhere between the Bradford County Airport and a random road.

I got into my car, entered the name of a street near when I thought I was headed into my GPS, and guess what? That street (apparently) doesn't exist. I clicked on another street name that sounded decently familiar and decided to just go for it!

Thirty minutes later I was nearing my destination. I seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, when I stop a bright blue sign: Drivers Licensing Center. Yay! I'd made it. I drove past it on accident, turned around, and finally arrived at my destination. There was a sign in the parking lot that said, "Earplugs, hardhats, and goggles needed beyond this point." Did that apply to me? I guess I'll never know!

I parked and walked into the building. A grungy, windowless door to my left had a paper sign taped to it. "Drivers Licensing Center." I tentatively opened it and peeked inside, half expecting to be opening a door into a private office! Instead, I saw rows of chair in a waiting area. I'd made it!

Now there is something very awkward about going to new places. The secretary-ish people are busy, and there are several different numbers and (seriously) 100 different signs trying to explain what to do to check in. In a nervous rush, I reached for a yellow number when I hear a gruff lady ask,

"What are you here for?"

"Uhm- I need to get my name changed on my license."

"Do you have a photo card?"

Silence. "...A what?"



"Take a blue number. Not that one. The other one."

I reach up to take a blue number and sit in a corner of the room. Well, that was a good start! I nervously arrange my important documents in a ziplock bag and try to act calm. Seriously, doing things like this are NOT easy for  me. I get so nervous!

Somewhere behind the counter, I hear commotion-- "$29" and "Money Order" are mentioned. An older man, who looks a little worn out, is on display for the whole waiting room population. Everyone soon knows that he needs a $29 check or money order to complete whatever it is that he came to do, and that he only has $26-- cash. I think nervously to myself, "I could give him the money, couldn't I?" and before I even have the chance to consider the courage it would take for me to stand up and do this, a young woman in a white shirt is standing next to him offering to write him a check and lose the difference. The man is relieved, but feels bad that he can't pay her the full amount. "Please don't worry about it," the woman insists.

Meanwhile, the "gruff" secretary is seeming a little nicer. "You're a good woman- you'll be rewarded for that someday," the secretary says to the good Samaritan as she returns to her seat. "He's been here a while and has had a rough time-- we aren't allowed to give anyone any form of money or I'd have offered." While the man finishes his application, another woman steps up to the secretary and slips money across the table to her. "Please give that to the man-- for his bus fare." (Everyone in the waiting room had also overheard that the man had taken public transportation and that he probably didn't have enough to pay his way back home.) A few minutes later, another woman does the same. The "gruff" secretary is no longer so tough-- when she gives the man the money from the anonymous women, she whispers to them, "He had tears in his eyes."

I have tears in my eyes, too. How often does one get to experience that kind generosity? Never mind that it's among total strangers at a drivers license center. I am truly touched.

Soon after, my number is called. I make my way back to have my request to change my name and address on a new license processed. I can't help but notice that the DMV worker assisting a young foreign couple next to me looks to be in pain. "Sir, are you ok?" the foreign man asks. "Yeah, just having some pain..." the DMV worker responds. "Can you tell me where it is?" the man continues, obviously concerned. I immediately recognize that he's a doctor as he continues his assessment, asking the man about past pain, reflux issues, and current breathing problems. The doctor urges the worker to go to the emergency room (I'm assuming he thought the DMV worker was having a heart attack) while the DMV worked politely tries to ignore the doctor's advice and continue forward with the application. By the time I finished up and left with a new license, the doctor and his wife were still there, so at least if something DID happen, someone would know what to do!

On my way out, the not-so-gruff-anymore secretary said, "Have a good one, deary." And as I got into my car to drive away, I couldn't help but wonder about what an unexpectedly blessed experience my trip to the DMV had turned into.

I sure hope my little one gets to experience more of this side of the world...

The beginning...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

how could there be no comments?
this is such a nice blog, thanks for posting