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The Ultimate Guide to Changing your Last Name

Advice // 03.19.2019

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After the big day is over and you are officially a Mrs., you can now take on your husband’s last name! While Phoebe in the Friends episode, “The One with Princess Consuela” made one quick trip to the DMV and bam she is Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock, the process is not quite that easy… The name changing process involves multiple steps and a heck of a lot of paperwork. While I was completing this process I could not find clear-cut directions or any type of checklist to explain what steps needed to be done and in what order. Rest assured I have created the ultimate guide to changing your last name so you don’t miss a single step and you too can become Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock in no time.

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Steps to complete before the Wedding

Before the big day you will need to apply for your marriage license by visiting a county clerks office, find the list of county clerks offices in Minnesota here.

There is often a lot of confusion around what county you need to file your marriage license with. Do you file with the county you live in or the county where your wedding ceremony will be taking place? The good news is if you are getting married in Minnesota you can file with any one of the county offices located in Minnesota. The rule to remember though is once you choose a county office to apply for your marriage license with, you must have your officiant send in the signed copy of the marriage license to that same county clerks office.

Be sure to bring your future hubby along with you to the county clerks office as it is much easier if both of you are present to complete the marriage license application.

You will also need to bring the following items with you to the county clerks office:

+ A photo ID for each applicant.

+ Payment – the application fee is $115, be sure to bring the correct form of payment, some county clerk offices only accept cash or check.
- Good news if you want a $75 discount on the fee, you can complete a minimum of 12 hours of premarital education and bring a qualified educator’s statement with you at the time of application.

+ A good pair of eyes! Be sure to TRIPLE CHECK everything on the application because once the marriage license is filed, no corrections can be made without a court order.

If everything checks out then you will receive your marriage license right then and there and it is valid immediately. The marriage license is only valid for up to 6 months though so don’t rush off to the county clerks office too soon after getting engaged.

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Steps to complete day of Wedding

On your wedding day the last thing you want to think about is paperwork, but trust me you do not want to forget about your marriage license and have the big day be for nothing! You will need to bring your marriage license with you and give it to your officiant on your wedding day. A little piece of advice to ease some stress is bring the marriage license to your rehearsal and hand it off to your officiant then; that way it is one less item you have to think about on your wedding day. After the ceremony and the big I Do’s are said, then your officiant and two witnesses (typically the maid of honor and best man) will sign your marriage license. I would recommend completing this step right after the ceremony so you don’t forget. This is also a very special moment to share with your brand new husband and take a moment to soak in that married bliss feeling. Once the license has been signed and handed off to your officiant, it is now their responsibility to return the marriage license to the county clerks office within the next 5 days.

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The Wedding is over, let’s get you a new last name!

You are married, hooray!! Time to become Mrs. (fill in the blank). I present to you the official guide to changing your last name, cue the dramatic music!

Step #1 – Facebook

You deserve a stress free step to changing your name so go ahead and complete the easiest step of all… change your last name on Facebook!

Step #2 – Marriage Certificate

After your officiant mails in your signed marriage license you will receive your official marriage certificate via mail in 1-2 weeks, this will be your holy grail over the next several months of changing your name. Meaning: keep it in a safe place and don’t use it as a coaster for the glass of wine that you most likely have reached for at least once or twice during this journey.

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Step #3 – New Social Security Card

The first stop on your last name journey is requesting a new Social Security card and good news this step is free! Locate the Social Security Administration (SSA) office nearest you here. If you are a Twin Cities resident, you will use the Social Security Card Center located at 1811 Chicago Avenue, Suite 2, Minneapolis, MN.

You will need to bring the following items with you to the Social Security office:

+ Social Security Card Application – find the link to the application here. Be sure to read all the requirements before beginning to fill this out.

+ One of the following forms of identification – U.S Drivers License or U.S Passport or U.S. State-issued non-driver identity card. Note this form of identification will have your old last name on it, not your new last name.

+ Original marriage certificate – as I mentioned before this really is the holy grail of changing your last name. You must bring with you the original certificate; it cannot be a photocopy or the souvenir copy.

I am sure you have heard horror stories of having to visit the Social Security office, but hopefully with the what to expect section below you will have a much better experience and be able to check this step off your list in no time!

What to expect at the Minneapolis Social Security office?

The Minneapolis Social Security office is located south of downtown, at 1811 Chicago Avenue, Suite 2, Minneapolis, MN. The office building has two areas: one for card services and one for all other social security matters. To apply for your new Social Security Card you must go to the card services side, be sure to ask the employees at the front desk if you are in the correct area for applying for a new social security card due to name change. You do not want to wait for hours only to discover you are in the wrong line! I must warn you, your visit to the Social Security office can take several hours, and there is typically a minimum of forty-five minute wait to speak with an employee. I strongly encourage you to bring something to do while you wait. This is a great time to go back to the middle school days and practice your signature with your new last name or if you are feeling very ambitious pull out those thank you notes and crank through them. I would also suggest bringing your new husband or a friend with if you are unfamiliar with the area. The Minneapolis office has a parking lot located directly behind the building. I would advise trying to find parking here first and if you have no luck you will have to find street parking.

When will I receive my new social security card?

Typically you will receive your new social security card via mail in 2 weeks, but I recommend verifying this at the time of your visit as timelines can vary. The Social Security office has a great article on the FAQs of changing your last name, I suggest reading this to verify you have all the correct documentation before heading to the office, because trust me you will not want to visit that place more than once.

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Step #4 – New Driver’s License

Next stop on your journey, the DMV. I know, I know no one likes visiting the DMV office but trust me this is a very important step! To change your name on your license in Minnesota you must visit your local DMV, find the list of DMV offices here.

You will need to bring the following items with you to the DMV:

+ Original Marriage certificate - again you must bring with you the original certificate; it cannot be a photocopy or the souvenir copy.

+ Your new social security card – just a reminder this must have your new last name on it.

+ Your current ID card or driver’s license.

+ Payment – the fee is typically is between $10-25, be sure to bring the correct form of payment, some DMVs only accept cash or check.

If you have any other questions regarding changing your name on your license, visit the Minnesota DMV’s article on name change.

When will I receive my new drivers license?

This is an excellent question! The DMV is known for being as slow as sloths when it comes to returning your information. I received my new driver’s license via mail six and half weeks after applying. I started to worry I would never see my new driver’s license, but something I found helpful was tracking the status of my license through the Driver’s License Status Lookup website.

Step #5 – Let’s talk money

Once you have all of your formal identification changed you can now change your name with your bank. The easiest way to complete this step is to go in person to a local branch location. While you are at the bank be sure to request new checks and debit and credit cards with your new last name as well.

You will need to bring the following items with you to the bank:

+ Your new driver’s license – this must be the official ID card and not the yellow papers the DMV issues you right away.

+ Original marriage certificate – I may be beating a dead horse here, but it is just so important to bring the original and not a photocopy or souvenir copy.

+ Your husband – if you are setting up a joint bank account your husband needs to be present as well.

You will also need to notify your employer of your new last name. Make sure to do this around the same time you change your name with your bank because your name on your paycheck must match the name on the bank account it is being deposited in. Each employer is different, but they might need a copy of your new driver’s license, marriage certificate or new social security card, so it is a good idea to bring all of that documentation with you when you meet with your employer about your name change.

Step #6 – Passport

Once you have completed all your time sensitive name changes I would suggest applying for a new passport since you have all the relevant documents handy. The important thing to remember is when applying for your passport you have to physically send in your original documents including the original marriage certificate and there is no guaranteed timeline on when these items will be returned to you. Therefore, I suggest having this be one of the last items you check off your list. The documentation you need to apply for a new passport often varies on several factors; view the full list of items here. The easiest way to apply for a new passport is in person at a local Passport Accepted Facility.

When will I receive my new passport?

When you apply for a passport you send off all these important documents and often wonder, when will I get this back? Typically, but not guaranteed, you receive your new passport back in 4 to 6 weeks. I received my new passport via mail 3 weeks after applying and received all my supporting documentation (including the original marriage certificate) 4 weeks after applying. It is important to remember you might not receive all of your items back at once, you may receive your passport first and a few days or weeks later you will receive your supporting documentation. There is a tracker for the passport application and can be found here, U.S. Passport Application Status.

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Step #7 – Everything else…

Once you have the big changes out of the way you can start to work on the various other items that will need a name change. Most of these changes should be fairly easy and often only require a phone call to make the change.

Insurance companies (home, auto, life).

Credit card companies – this typically only requires a phone call and they will mail you a new card a few days later.

Various bills – utility, electric, Internet, cable, etc.

Voter registration office

Doctor’s offices – this will most likely need to be changed after you have your new medical insurance cards, which are typically handled through your employer.

Post office – you only need to complete this form if your address has changed.

Airlines – this is important if you have a lot of miles to transfer over.

Professional organizations or associations

Investment accounts

Your attorney (you will want to be sure to update all legal documents).

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind:

- If you are going on a honeymoon within 6 months of getting married, DO NOT book your trip under your new last name. While it can seem so romantic to start using your new last name on the honeymoon it will cause nothing but headaches and you won’t even be able to get past the security gates at the airport.

- When doing any name change applications in person, bring as much documentation as you can. It is always better to have too much information than realize you forgot one single item at home and have to go back later and wait in yet another line.

- Understand the terminology, marriage license is a document you obtain from the county clerks office before you get married and the document you sign the day of your wedding. The marriage certificate is the document proving you are married, this is mailed to you from the county clerks office after you get married.

- Consider purchasing additional copies of your marriage certificate so you can send one off in the mail and still have another copy to complete other steps with. An important thing to remember is you can only purchase a copy of the marriage certificate at the same county clerks office that you originally filed your marriage license at. The typical fee for an additional copy of the marriage certificate is only $9.

CONGRATS YOU MADE IT!

Well done you have completed the guide to changing your last name! If you are like most, I am sure there were a few tears shed during the process and constant contemplating of is this name change really worth it. Rest assured because when you are all done and the first person calls you Mrs. (fill in the blank) it makes it all worth it! After completing all these steps I am sure you have had it with paperwork and just need a relaxing night. I suggest booking a romantic dinner reservation with your hubby under your brand new name!

About the Author: Erin is an accountant by day and wedding enthusiast by night! She married her college sweetheart just a few months ago and they enjoy eating copious amounts of ice cream and trying new recipes which usually involves way too much dancing in the kitchen!

photographer // Erin Rae Photography

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