There are many reasons you may want to change your name. Maybe you’ve gotten married or divorced and need to change your last name, or perhaps everyone calls you by your middle name and you’d like to make the switch legally. Whatever your reasons, you probably already know that changing your name takes a lot of time and documentation. You might not know that sometimes it takes a chunk of hard-earned cash, too.
Changing your name due to marriage
Changing your name because you are getting married is possibly the quickest, most straightforward way to change your name compared to other methods. Using a certified copy of your marriage certificate, head to your local Social Security office for a new Social Security card. This is free, but you may have to wait in line and wait for your new card to arrive in the mail.
You can also apply to change your name by mail. The list of items you need is on the Social Security website. Before you go through all the work, carefully check your marriage certificate to ensure your new name is written exactly the way you want it.
When you have your updated card, you’ll begin the process of changing your name on your driver’s license or state identification card; we’ll talk about that more in a minute.
Changing your name for other reasons
If you’re not changing your name due to marriage, the cost of getting a name change goes up significantly. You’ll need to petition the court for a name change. The cost varies based on where you live, but fees could be anywhere from $150 to $435 depending on your state. In addition, you may have to pay an attorney to prepare the documentation on your behalf. This can add up to the cost of how much it costs to change your name.
You may also need to publish your name change in a newspaper, and the fee for this can vary greatly. Do some research to find the cheapest option that meets the requirements set out by the court.
Once you have the court order, you can begin changing your name with the Social Security Administration.
Changing the name on your Driver’s License/State ID
You may need to pay a fee to have your driver’s license or state ID updated with your new name. The amount will depend on the fees in your state, but generally, the cost will be under $50. Once you have your new Social Security card, you can take that and any other documentation required by your state into your local DMV. You may have to get a new picture taken as well.
If your name change just so happens to come within a year after you received your passport, congratulations! You can get an updated passport for no additional cost!
However, if your passport has been issued for more than a year, you’ll have to pay a fee to have your passport renewed. A passport book and card costs $140, but plan to pay extra if you need expedited service.
Changing your name with your bank is a relatively painless process after you’ve had your Social Security card and driver’s license updated. The bank should process the change at no cost to you. However, keep in mind that you may need to order items with your new name on it, and your bank could charge for the replacements. For example, you might need to order new checks or pay a fee for a new debit card.
Each credit card company has its own method of changing names. They should all be free, as long as you have required documents such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate or court order, and your driver’s license and Social Security cards. Check your credit card company’s website to see what you need to get the process started.
Last, but most assuredly not least, make sure to update your name with your employer. You’ll want to make sure that the tax forms they produce on your behalf, such as your Form W-2, have the correct information. This process should not cost you anything, but do keep in mind that things like business cards or name plaques may need to be replaced.
Other places you may need to change your name
You may feel like you’re playing whack-a-mole for a while, changing your name with each company or service that pops up with your old name. Once you have the major legal aspects changed, though, updating these should be pretty straightforward. Don’t forget to update your name for your life insurance policy, auto insurance, and other companies that you do business with.
Updating your name can be a long process, but after you have your new Social Security card, your driver’s license, and passport updated, everything else should be relatively painless. You could pay as little as the driver’s license renewal fee in your state, or several hundred dollars if you need to file a petition with the court as well as renew your passport. No matter the cost, once the process is complete you can enjoy life as the proud owner of your new name, with all the matching documents to prove it.