Items you will need
- Social Security card (and/or birth certificate)
- Marriage certificate and/or marriage license
- Documentation showing registration of marriage (if relevant)
Having a destination wedding in another country can be an exciting and romantic – and in some cases practical – option for couples. Once the couple is married, the bride (or even the groom) might choose to change her last name to that of her new spouse. This does not happen automatically, of course. A last name is not legally changed unless the change is requested with proof of documentation showing a valid reason for the request. Fortunately, changing your name after your marriage in another country does not have to be much different than changing your name after your marriage in the United States.
Gather all documentation showing that the marriage outside of the United States was legal. Each country has its own requirements for documentation. After your marriage, you should receive a marriage license or marriage certificate, and possibly a document showing the registration of the marriage. Collect any documentation that shows you were officially married outside the United States.
Locate your Social Security card and take this card and the marriage documentation to your local Social Security office. With legal proof of the marriage, the Social Security office will change your official last name on your Social Security card, thus enabling you to make other changes.
Take your new Social Security card to the local office for the Department of Motor Vehicles to have the name on your driver’s license or state ID card changed. Be sure to bring the marriage license or other proof of marriage along as well, in case the official at the DMV requests to see it.
Call your Social Security office in advance before attempting to make the change. In most cases, the Social Security card, proof of other identification (such as a driver’s license or official ID card), and proof of legal marriage will suffice for them to make the change. Some might require a birth certificate, though, so phone them in advance to find out what you need to bring before you wait in line.
An attorney can also make the name change for you (for a fee), but having it changed through the Social Security office is the easiest process because it enables you to make other changes–such as driver’s license and credit cards–more quickly, not to mention more inexpensively.
Bear in mind that changing your name can be something of a process. While having your last name changed at the local Social Security office is fairly simple, it does not automatically transfer the new last name to other pieces of identification. Credit cards and bank accounts still require you to request the change, but with the new Social Security card, making these adjustments is much easier.