From Miss to Mrs:

Essential Tips for Changing Your Name After Marriage

Whether you’re just married, about to get married, or have been married for a while, you may be contemplating changing your last name. You’re not required to do so, but you may choose to alter your surname to match that of your spouse. You could even hyphenate both last names or decide on a new last name altogether. It is a deeply personal decision, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, there are general ways you can prepare to make this big change that honours your union and celebrates your love.

Choose Whether To Change Your Last Name

There are pros and cons of changing your name after marriage, and they’re worth contemplating before undergoing the legal process. Some benefits of changing your name include:

  • The opportunity to change a current last name you don’t like or identify with;
  • Aligning with certain values, like if you value traditions;
  • Providing a common last name for your family unit;
  • Connecting even further with your spouse;
  • Avoiding misunderstandings in social and professional situations.

 

There are also reasons you may not want to take your spouse’s name. You may want to keep your maiden name because it is tied to an established brand, or you simply might not like your spouse’s last name. While it’s more commonplace to keep your maiden name now, it may cause confusion when introducing yourself to others. However, it is entirely up to you and how you want to identify.

It can be a beautiful thing to share a common last name. If you choose to do so, prepare with the following tips.

Look Into the Legal Requirements for Name Changes

Right after tying the knot, you likely don’t want to be bogged down with paperwork and legal requirements. Luckily, there isn’t a time limit on changing your name after marriage. In fact, it’s recommended to wait until after your honeymoon, particularly if you are travelling overseas. This way, you won’t run into issues with passports and travel booking verifications.

If you’re married within the country of Australia, changing your name doesn’t require the typical amount of paperwork. Your official marriage certificate will serve as proof of your right to use your spouse’s last name. A certified copy or photocopy of this certificate needs to be sent to most organizations to which you are applying for a name change, such as banking institutions and government agencies.

Prepare for the Fee

Compared to your wedding costs, the fee to change your surname will likely seem like small potatoes. Research the fees for changing your name in your particular territory. In Western Australia, for instance, officially changing your name with the government costs $190. However, many organisations only require proof of marriage to accept your surname change. It’s wise to prepare to spend a few hundred dollars just in case.

Update Important Accounts

Make a checklist of accounts and documents you will have to change. A tool like a virtual whiteboard can be handy to refer back to after marriage, giving you and your spouse collaborative access to your to-do list. Some of the important updates you should make include those with the following organisations and accounts:

  • Passports;
  • Banking accounts;
  • Social media names;
  • Driver’s license and other IDs;
  • Utilities;
  • Insurance companies;
  • Social Security Administration;
  • Investment accounts;
  • Credit cards;
  • Employee accounts;
  • Doctor offices;
  • Loyalty programs.

 

Take stock of your current accounts and do some research to see what they require for a name change. This way, you aren’t blindsided when trying to update accounts after marriage.

Keep Track of Important Documents

Once you’ve figured out the accounts you’ll need to update, make note of the required documents. Typically, you’ll need your marriage certificate — but you may need current passports and forms of identification, as well.

After marriage, it’s commonplace to move in with your partner, whether that’s into a new house or one of your current residences. When travelling or moving, make sure that you pack and ship your documents securely. Look for damage-resistant packaging, such as fireproof document bags or safes. You should also label the items accordingly, and keep documents on top for easy access and less chance of crushing.

Adapt To — And Enjoy — Using Your New Name

At first, it may feel exciting and a little bit challenging to embrace your new surname. After all, you’ve lived your entire life up until this point using your maiden name. Acknowledge that while your name is an integral part of your identity, it doesn’t mean that you’re losing your sense of self.

Instead, you’re gaining a positive attribute that reflects a new chapter in your life. Inform your family, friends, and colleagues about your new surname, and be patient with adjustments.

Above all, remember to celebrate the love that led you to this new and exciting change.