Changing Your Surname? These Resources will Help.

Surname Options

Every person has the right to adopt any name by which he or she wishes to be known simply by using that name consistently and without intent to defraud. A person’s last name (surname) does not automatically change upon marriage, and neither party to the marriage is required to change his or her last name. Parties to a marriage need not take the same last name.

One or both parties to a marriage may elect to change the surname by which he or she wishes to be known after the marriage by entering the new name in the appropriate space provided on the marriage license. The new name must consist of one of the following options:

  • the surname of the other spouse;
  • any former surname of either spouse;
  • a name combining into a single surname all or a segment of the premarriage surname or any former surname of each spouse;
  • a combination name separated by a hyphen, provided that each part of such combination surname is the premarriage surname, or any former surname, of each of the spouses.

The use of this option will provide a record of your change of name. The marriage certificate, containing the new name, if any, is proof that the use of the new name, or the retention of the former name, is lawful. The local Social Security Administration office should be contacted so that its records and your social security identification card reflect the name change. There is no charge for this service.

Whether you decide to use or not use this option at the time of your marriage license application, you still have the right to adopt a different name through usage at some future date. However, your marriage license cannot be changed to record a surname you decide to use after your marriage.

If you plan to use your married name at work, be sure to have your name changed in Social Security records. This way, you will get credit for all your earnings. It’s easy and it’s absolutely free. Contact any Social Security office. You can find the address and phone number of your local Social Security Office at http://www.ssa.gov. You will need documentary evidence showing both your old name and your new name.

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Introduction

Decision to change name when getting married

  • Your surname does not change automatically upon marriage unless you elect to change it.
  • Nothing in the law requires you to change your name when getting married; it is your personal choice.
  • You are not required to have the same surname as your spouse.

Name change procedure and options

  • Should you elect to change your surname, the change takes effect immediately upon the completion of your Marriage Ceremony.
  • Either you or your prospective spouse may elect to change your surname by entering the new surname in the appropriate space on the application.
  • The new name entered must consist of one of these four surname options:
    • Option 1: the surname of either spouse; or
    • Option 2: any former surname of either spouse; or
    • Option 3: a name combining into a single surname, all or a segment of, the premarriage surname, or any former surname, of each spouse; or
    • Option 4: a combination surname separated by a hyphen, provided that each part of such combination surname is the premarriage surname, or any former surname, of each of the spouses.

Legal implications of this option

  • The use of the name change option will provide you with a record that you elected to change your surname through marriage.
  • Your Marriage Certificate constitutes proof that the use of the new surname or the retention of the former name is lawful.
  • Neither the use of, nor the failure to use, this option of selecting a new surname through the use of the Marriage License application, affects your right to adopt a different surname through usage at some future date.

Right to adopt any name
New York Law states that you have the right to adopt any name you wish simply by using that name consistently and without intent to defraud.

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A great article from the New York Times Author  JENNIFER SARANOW SCHULTZ

If you’re planning to change your name after getting married, making the change in a timely fashion is probably going to become even more important next year when a new program, called Secure Flight, will require that the name you use to make an airline reservation be exactly the same as the one you use on an ID, even if the rules may sometimes bend a little.

Too bad the process of figuring out how to change your name can be so tricky. To continue reading click here.

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