Congratulations on your recent wedding! As you embark on this exciting new chapter of your life, you may choose to embrace another change—taking your spouse’s last name. If you’re planning to change your last name after getting married in Missouri, this post will serve as your step-by-step guide to navigate the process seamlessly. From understanding the legal requirements for a legal name change, updating your identification and records, we’ve got you covered.
It’s important to remember that changing your last name takes patience, and time. There will be some waiting between steps, so you may want to put reminders in your calendar to come back to the next step. And if changing your name isn’t a good fit for you, there is no requirement to do it. Keep in mind these steps are not legal advice or tax advice, just an overview of the Missouri name change process after your wedding!
Before you can officially change your current name to your married name, you need to have your marriage certificate in hand. In the State of Missouri, the officiant who performed your wedding will be responsible for submitting the marriage license to the county recorder’s office where it was issued. You can obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate from this office after its been processed.
For most of the couples at Juniper Gardens, you will likely have ordered your marriage license from Greene county where Springfield is located. But some couples order theirs from Christian, Dallas or Webster counties. Here are links directly to the Marriage License offices of those counties: Greene, Christian, Dallas, Polk, and Webster. Whichever county you are in, it is often the Recorder of Deeds office you will work with.
Once you receive your marriage certificate, your first official change will be with the Social Security Administration (SSA). You can do this at any time after the marriage certificate is received. Visit your local SSA office or submit an application online for a new Social Security card. The Social Security Administration has a short online questionnaire to determine if you are eligible for the online application or if you will need to visit your local office. You will need to provide your current card, proof of identity, proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status, and your marriage certificate. Once approved, you will receive your new card with your updated last name. The SSA office states that you will receive the card around 14 business days after the application is submitted.
Your social security number does not change with a name change! The new card will come in with the same number but new last name.
Next, update your driver’s license or state ID. Visit your local Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) office with your current identification, marriage certificate, and any required fees. The DOR will issue a new driver’s license or ID with your updated last name. They will likely update your photo at the same time too. Missouri does not have a deadline or penalty for not updating your driver’s license by a certain date after you receive your updated social security card, but 14 states do. Be mindful of that if your license is from outside of Missouri! Your new license often comes in the mail after a few weeks, but the local license office will give you a paper copy in the meantime.
This one is more optional. It took me 3 years after my wedding to update my passport, I just booked any travel through my maiden name in the meantime. Since it was a couple years out from expiring I didn’t feel a big rush to get this step done. When you are ready to update your passport, make sure you give yourself plenty of time before your planned travel dates. Since the pandemic Passport services have taken longer than in the years prior. 12-14 weeks is the average turnaround time, but many report even longer waits and difficulties to book time in the Passport office for expedited services.
If you are ordering a passport for the first time, you can head to your public library (like the Springfield-Greene County Library) where they can assist you with the application. You just need to bring in your proof of citizenship (with the updated last name), another form of ID, a passport photo (they do this at the library for a small fee), and a check/money order made out to the U.S. Department of State.
If you are renewing the passport to include your new last name, you can follow the steps here on how to renew an adult passport. This will link to the exact form you will need to fill out, and then you take the completed form along with your new passport photo, money orders or check for the passport fee, and a certified copy of the marriage license. These will all be mailed off together by certified mail or Priority Mail at the United States Postal office.
Inform your employer of your name change so they can update their records. You may want to review your W4 at this time as well to make sure that it is still a good fit for you now that you are married and presumably will have combined tax preparations. This will ensure your paychecks and tax documents are correctly labeled. You may also need to complete new tax forms to reflect your new name.
Contact your bank and credit card companies to update your last name on your accounts. You may need to visit a local branch or provide the necessary documentation through their online services. You may have received checks from your wedding day written to both of you, or with your new last name, or in your maiden name – your financial institution will help you navigate how to best deposit these.
Updating financial accounts may also require updating lenders for a home loan or a car loan. Your lender can best walk you through their exact process, any required documents, and occasionally will recommending that you leave the loan in the old name.
Remember to update your name on other identification and records, such as:
People change their last name after a wedding for a variety of personal reasons. One common motivation is the symbolic nature of the change, signifying unity and commitment in the marital relationship. Many individuals follow the tradition of the bride adopting the spouse’s name, a practice deeply rooted in cultural norms. This tradition carries historical significance and remains prevalent in many societies. Additionally, sharing a common last name can foster a sense of family unity, especially for couples planning to have children, simplifying various aspects of family life.
Cultural and religious beliefs may also influence the decision to change names, as some cultures or religions encourage or require it as a symbol of marital bonding. Personal preference, aesthetic reasons, or a desire for a fresh start are also valid motivations. Furthermore, adopting a spouse’s last name can be a way to honor family legacies or legacies associated with a particularly meaningful or prestigious name. Some couples choose to change names for practical reasons, such as simplifying legal and administrative processes or reflecting equality in their partnership. In modern marriages, couples may opt for hyphenated or combined last names to symbolize shared identity and mutual respect. It’s essential to remember that this choice is deeply personal, and individuals have the freedom to decide whether to change their name or not, taking into account their own values and circumstances.
Changing your last name after getting married in Missouri involves several steps, but with careful planning and organization, you can navigate the process smoothly. Start with obtaining your marriage certificate, update your official documents, and notify relevant parties of your name change. Embracing your new name is not only a legal process but also a personal one—a symbolic way to celebrate your commitment and partnership as you begin this exciting journey together. Luckily with the marriage license starting the process, you will not have to go through a hearing date or get a judgment of change of name – making it a bit smoother than some other states.
Congratulations on your marriage, and best wishes for your future together!
September 19, 2023