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When I Change My Name in the US, Which Documents Do I Need to Change?

Voter registration documents may need to be updated when someone has his name legally changed.
After a name change, a new Social Security card must be issued.
Legal proof of the change is required to get a name change on a passport.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2014
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If you plan to change your name, there are several important documents that will need updating. The most important of these is your Social Security card number and driver’s license. Both require you to legally file for new documents representing your new name. Even after a name change, you’ll still want to hold onto a few records of your former name because sometimes it’s necessary to prove who you were, instead of who you are now.

Some name changes can happen quite easily. A woman changing her name upon marriage is merely required to submit her marriage license, possibly along with her birth certificate, to get a new Social Security card and driver’s license. Men who want to change their last name after marriage run into more difficulties. They must legally file for a name change with the courts prior to being allowed to use a new name after marriage.

If you simply plan to change your name because you don’t like it, you will also have to submit formal name change documentation, and for minor children, this frequently means amending a birth certificate too. Once you do make the change, you’ll again want to get a new Social Security card, driver’s license, and passport, if you have one. These documents are the most recognizable forms of ID for which a change is required.

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Other documents may also require a name change, but this can vary depending upon the state in which you live. If you have a will, you should change it to reflect your new name. Bank accounts, credit cards, voter registration, powers of attorney, and car registration may all need to be adjusted as well. While you may not be legally required to change your name on some of these documents, it makes sense to have all your documents in the same name. This saves you from having to search for old ID to prove that you are the person named in them.

Other places where you may also want to change your name are at schools you attend, places of employment, or on any real estate or stocks you own. Any business contracts you entered before changing your name should be updated. Changing your name on many of these documents is often an informal process, especially if going from a single to a married last name, or married to divorced last name.

Some companies and government agencies may require proof of your legal right to use your name. This is why it makes sense to start with the big identifying agencies like the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security Administration. They will normally provide you with the necessary proof you need to change the name on any other documents.

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Discuss this Article

anon215894
Post 8

About changing degrees, birth certificates, etc.: Although not essential like you said if you changed your name due to marriage, etc. it is helpful for someone whose situation calls for minimizing references to the old name (e.g. victims of domestic violence, transgender people, etc.) to make those changes if possible.

anon108797
Post 6

You don't have to change your college diploma or birth certificate. For example, when I apply to jobs they ask for my name and also any other names my documents may be found under (i.e. maiden name). Your main ones are social security, driver's license, passport, credit cards. Anything that you currently use. Don't worry about stuff that is in the past.

ppoonpoo2
Post 2

I am married and have a new surname on my marriage license, but I have never changed my name on other documents. Is it legal? Is it acceptable and be covered by my husband health insurance? What else will be impact if I don't change all my documents like driver license, social security.

anon13204
Post 1

What about other documents such as marriage license, college diploma, birth certificate, et cetera? Do they need to be changed?

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