How to Navigate Name Changing

| May 25, 2012 4:00 AM

Whether you just said your “I do’s” or want to reinvent your identity, your personal decision to change your name is now a public matter that will require some painstaking paperwork. Our tri-state  guide for navigating just about any name changing scenario has you covered. Or you can skip the D.I.Y. tutorial and hire a pro to take care of the details.

Changing Your Last Name in Cases of Marriage/Divorce

When applying for a marriage license, check off the option to change your surname - this will save you from having to revisit and reapply. Flickr/masha_ioveva

Don’t forget to change your surname on your marriage license!

When applying for a marriage license, if you are planning on changing your last name, make sure you indicate on your application that you would like to change your surname. If you don’t do it when you first apply, you’ll have to reapply and pay another fee to change your last name. Save time by completing your marriage license application online before the visit to your city hall.

Change your name on your social security card.

The first and most important step for any name change is to update your social security card. For marriages and divorces, gather the legal documents necessary to make sure your trip to the social security office is your only trip. Before you head out the door to your local Social Security office or Social Security Card center, have these in hand:

  • Proof of Reason: An original or certified copy of a marriage or divorce document (photocopies or notarized copies are not acceptable.)
  • Proof of Identity: An official state-issued ID or passport
  • Social Security’s SS-5 application for a Social Security Card, filled out by hand in blue or black ink only.  You will save time by having this form printed out and completed in advance of your visit to the social security office. There is no fee for this change request. You can also get this form at the office.

You can also mail the documents to your local office or center. Your new document will arrive by mail in about two weeks. For additional questions about social security card requirements, call the toll-free number: 1-800-772-1213 Monday-Friday, 7 a.m to 7 p.m.

Save time by printing out and completing online forms before you head out the door. Flickr/masha_ioveva

Change your name on your driver’s license or state-issued ID

Once you have your new social security card with your updated last name,  you can now move on to the second-most important piece of identification: your driver’s license (or state-issued ID.) This process must be done in person through your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), depending on whether you live in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut.

 

New York Residents: Visit your local DMV office to update your records. Before you arrive at the DMV to pull your wait number, make sure you bring:

  • Your current license or state-issued ID that displays your old name, and has a value of at least six points.
  • Your marriage certificate, divorce documents, or other court papers issued in the U.S. that prove your new name. Or, you can bring proof of identity that displays your new name and has a value of at least six points.
  • Save time by printing and filling out this MV-44 form to change your name on your driver license, learner permit or non-driver photo ID card. There is a fee of $12.50 to get a new photo driver license or learner permit document that displays your new name. The fee is $5 to get a new non-driver photo ID card, and $12.50 for a driver’s license. Your new document will arrive by mail in about two-four weeks.

For additional info about the name-changing process visit the New York State DMV website.

    New Jersey Residents: Visit your local Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to update your records. Before you head out the door, make sure you bring:

    • Your current license or state-issued ID that displays your old name.
    • Your marriage certificate, divorce documents, or other court papers issued in the U.S. that prove your new name. For marriage certificates make sure it is issued by the municipality, not a religious entity. Photocopies are not accepted. Also note that multiple marriage certificates will be needed if you have been married more than once and changed your name each time.
    • Save time by using New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission’s online document organizer. After paying an $11 duplicate fee, you’ll be issued a new, updated license.

    For more information about the name changing process visit New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission online.

      Connecticut Residents: Visit your local DMV office to update your records. Before you head out the door, make sure you bring:

      • Your current license or state-issued ID that displays your old name.
      • Certified documents that show your name change, such as a marriage license or divorce decree. Photo copies and religious certificates are not acceptable.
      • Save time by printing and filling out a Change of Name Request. There is a $30 service fee for making this change to your driver’s license or state issued ID.

      For more information about the name changing process visit Connecticut’s Department of Motor Vehicles online.

        Name Changes for Other Reasons

        All requests for a legal name change start at your local civil courthouse. Flickr/Marie Berne

        If you would like to change your first name or last name for whatever reason, you can go to court to petition for a name change. You must do this first and obtain legal documentation approving the change before you can change your name on your social security card or driver’s license. As a general rule of thumb, make sure that all pending legal matters under your old name are taken care of before you step into a court room to request a new name.

        Each state varies on its petition process and fees, but there are some time-saving tips that can help you speed up the petition process in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut.

        New York: Visit your local civil court to petition for a name change. Before you head out the door, make sure you:

        • Bring a certified copy of your birth certificate and a completed petition form for a name change.
        • Save time by using the civil court’s free do-it-yourself online forms system to make an adult name change petition, or if you are under 18 years of age, a minor name change petition. If you prefer to skip the online tutorial and navigate the forms the old-fashioned way, all forms are available online, too. There is a $65 service fee for filing a petition, in addition to a newspaper fee for publishing your name change (a required part of the name-change process).

        For more information about petitioning for a name change in New York visit New York City’s Civil Court website.

        New Jersey: It’s unfortunate for folks in New Jersey that the process for filing a petition for a name change is a nightmare. New Jersey’s 18-step guide to changing your name can’t be broken down into a few bullet points, but here are some essential tips to help you endure the process:

        • Whether you decide to fill out the forms and mail them in instead of dropping them off, at some point you will need to visit your local courthouse for your hearing.
        • Save time by printing out and completing all the forms in this online name change packet. If you are representing yourself, without an attorney, you will also need to print out and complete a Case Information Statement (CIS.) There is a $200 filing fee for requesting a name change, in addition to newspaper fees for publishing legal notices in your local newspaper before your hearing date and after a final judgement has been made.

        For more information visit the New Jersey Courts website.

          Connecticut: Visit your local Probate Court to file your application for a name change. Before you go, make sure you:

          For more information visit the Connecticut Judicial Branch website.

            Forget D.I.Y – Hire Help

            If navigating the process on your own is too complicated, there's always help for hire. Flickr/bjmccray

            Sometimes, avoiding the headaches are worth spending the cash. If you have some extra cash to splurge and want to avoid the stress of trying to figure out the process on your own – hire a specialist. Companies like David’s Bridal, Name Change Express and other name changing services navigate the process for you with fees starting at $29.95 and up.

             

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