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Can I Change My Name Without a Marriage License?

marriage license

Eighty eight percent of newlyweds in the U.S. change their names after marriage. Whether you are planning on hyphenating, taking two last names, taking your maiden as a middle name or taking your spouse’s name, your marriage license is an important first step to starting this process. The information you put on your marriage license will be used to create your certified marriage certificate, which is the document that allows you to legally change your name based on marriage.

You can change your name without a certified marriage certificate, but you have to fill out a petition of the U.S. court system instead. This petition is designed to ensure that you are not trying to change your name to avoid certain situations like bankruptcy or otherwise somehow commit fraud. In many cases, you also have to appear before a judge and submit fingerprints. Sounds complicated and expensive right? Now you can see why changing your name after marriage by using your certified marriage certificate is a much simpler process.

In order to change your name on all of your forms of identification and with all of your creditors, there is a simple set of steps to follow. Usually, the court clerk will ask you if you want to change your name when you first apply for your marriage certificate. Make sure you list exactly what you want your name to be after the wedding, as any mistakes require you to file an amendment, which will only slow you down. Approximately two weeks after your marriage takes place your certified marriage certificate will be mailed to you. You can then use an online name change service such as to auto-complete all of your name change forms and use your certified marriage certificate to file them.

As a final tip, make sure you get several copies of your certified marriage certificate. This will allow you to file your name change forms with Social Security, the IRS, the State Department (for your U.S. passport), your motor vehicle administration and many other offices simultaneously. This way you’ll be a Mrs. faster!

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