How to Change Your Last Name (and should you?)

Note: This name change thing is quite the process, I’m reposting to give you all the deets I’ve learned in the last 6 months. 
how to  change your last name
Changing the last name sparked quite the conversation on C.R.A.F.T. facebook. From what I gather, there are 3 main camps on the issue: take his name, hyphenate names, or keep your last name. I chose none of those options. I’m officially Jamie Smith Dorobek, 2 last names, no hyphen. I plan on only using Dorobek for the day to day. There are lots of ways to do the last name thing.
how to change your last name

 

If your new here, welcome! We got married, in our own special way, on 2-22-2012. Lots more on that here, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and here.

Things I considered:
  • I own a house in my maiden name, and I wanted that to be a part of my official name. With the hopes of avoiding any confusion.
  • I worked at a 70% Hispanic high school where most last names were hyphenated. It often led to teacher confusion, and I decided I did not want this for my kids.
  • I wanted our family to have one family name. Traveling abroad with a child, without your surname, means more paperwork. See more info here.
  • Jamie Smith is super simple and easy to say and you rarely have to spell it out.
  • Jamie Smith is super common. 13 Jamie Smith’s in Anthropolgie’s computer in Austin, TX alone.
  • I wanted a simple personal email address. My previous email included numbers and an underscore.
  • Andy wanted me to take his last name.
If you are changing anything about your name you will need to go through the following steps to first change your name on you social security card.
1. Wait until you receive your marriage license in the mail. For me, this took one month from the wedding date.
2. Fill out the Social Security 5 form. Download and fill out the SS-5 form here. Your new card will be free.

3. Bring this form and your original or certified copy of your marriage license to your local social security office. You can also mail in the forms. Find your local office here with your zip code.

4. I received my new card about 3 weeks later.

These things need name changing too:
  • Passport
  • Driver’s License
  • Bank Accounts
  • Credit Cards
  • Employer- 401K, insurance
  • Investment accounts
  • Car insurance (You can’t do this until you have a DL with your new last name.)
  • Airline Mileage Accounts- I had no idea what a pain in the butt this was going to be. And no one ever said I needed to do it, but you kind of have to. Obviously you don’t want to make brand hew accounts with your new name because then you would loose all of your previous miles. Here’s the low down on how to change your name with the individual airlines:
-United: Allows you to e-mail a copy of your marriage license to [email protected] (more info)
-American: Fax a copy of your marriage license to 817-963-7882  (more info)
-Delta: Fax a copy of your marriage certificate to 404-773-1945 (more info)
-Jet Blue: Call 1-800-538-2583 and they will change your name over the phone. 
-Southwest: Send a copy of your marriage license to Rapid Rewards, P.O. Box 36657, Dallas, TX 75235. (more info)

A few other tips on name changing:

  • I blacked out our SSN’s on the marriage license to send to the airlines. They don’t need that info, and I didn’t feel comfortable with it floating around cyber space.
  • Don’t forget to make each other the beneficiaries on all accounts
  • Get 2 marriage licenses, it’s just handy to have an extra. You have to send one to the passport people.

There you have it, all you ever needed to know about changing your last name. Whahoo! It’s a lot of stinkin’ work. I still need to change my DL and work on a few airlines. Where are you in the name changing process? Or did you decide that name changing is not for you?

The social security lady told me that if in a year or two I am tired of having 2 last names I can change it to either one. So far, it is no big deal… but it has only been about 3 weeks.  She made it sound like I can do anything I want with my name. I like that. What did you do? Are you happy with your decision? You can change it again whenever you want! What did you consider when changing (or not changing) your name? I’m very curious…

 

Psst… Here is the whole wedding saga if you’re interested: the wedding announcement and plan is here, and then Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4 of the living room ceremony. You can find more on the wedding after math here: thank you cardschanging your last name, and the super simple wedding scrapbook.

Comments

  1. I use my married name for everything but work. I decided that it was too hard to change my name for professional purposes so I kept my maiden name – no confusion.
    Also, I am not sure how similar your laws are to ours but you still have responsibility for your maiden name even after you change it. Meaning you need to protect both names if you change.

  2. I didn't change mine. Socially I will go by whichever name you wish to call me. I get several family members who refer to me as Mrs. Bigbad. And while I like the Bigbad name, I doubt I'll ever change my name officially. I like raising the heckles of people who think I kept it for feminist reasons when truly I'm just too lazy to go through the trouble.

  3. I did the same thing and kept my maiden name as my middle name. It'll be 3 years in June and I don't regret it a bit!

    Hannah

  4. I took my husband's last name and never considered anything else! I loved starting a new family with him, and for me personally, that meant me taking his family name.

  5. your comment made me laugh :) you can keep your name for whatever reason you want!

  6. I had my paperwork filled out to do that, but the ss lady convinced me to keep Smith Dorobek as 2 last names! I kept my middle name too. My official name is 4 names long.

    • I have four names too, I just have two middle names now instead of two last names. Does Andy ever tease you about it? My husband thinks it’s so dumb and tedious, but I love keeping every part of my identity. Plus, Spaniards often have five or more names, so four is no big deal for this whitey!

    • I wish the SS lady had told me about not hyphenating! I regret changing my name and am planning on reverting or removing the hyphen. I’m just south of you in San Antonio and everyone I’ve talked to (no lawyers yet) thinks I’m crazy for wanting my name back. To me, it’s an identity thing. And, I’ve been told by a well-wisher that if I remove the hyphen, I can use either name (or both) on legal documents in the future and don’t actually have to change anything! (I don’t know if this is true – am researching lawyers now, actually so will update if you wish).
      So glad I found someone in TX that can relate!

      • Jamie Dorobek says:

        Terri! I’m pretty happy with my decision… I guess I was just lucky that I had such a nice SS lady that day :) If I were you, I’d just walk into the social security office and try to remove the hyphen or revert… whatever you decide. I don’t think you need a lawyer, but then again I’m not an expert! High five to Texas!

  7. I changed my last name and was excited for it, I love having a unique last name and letting go of my past. My middle name is from my mom's name so there is still heritage! If I ever weren't married anymore (not saying it will Ever happern!) I would still keep the name I took, as it's my child's last name now. We joke about people who take on crazy last names are really showing true love. :) Congrats on getting married!

  8. I moved my maiden name to my middle name and took my husbands last name. I think after 3 years the passport is the only thing I still need to change.The bank always messes it up. I've been a follower for some time now and just figured out you are here in Austin!!

  9. I changed my last name only because it was a trade up! I will be teaching my girls to keep their own names or do what you did if marrying a trade down last name – or trade it if they want and they think they are trading up. Might sound sill. but If I had married for example a siemens, or dyck or peabody I would have stuck with my maiden name. :) Lots of work to remember all the documents that need changing though. Thankfully my initials stayed the same.

  10. I changed my name and got a lot of grief from my classmates at Graduate school.

  11. I did basically what you did. My maiden name is my middle name and I dropped my middle name. I like it that way.

  12. Thanks for sharing this, I got remarried 7 months ago and finally got all my work accounts updated just yesterday. There was so much to do! I didn't even consider my passport! Better get that done!

  13. I'd spent my whole life wishing for the day I would get married so I left my maiden name without any regrets :) Despite my husband's name not being ideal, at least it is very unusual. I love that I'm his in every way and our family is a unit. Now, if my maiden name had been special in any way I might have had to improvise along the lines of what you did. But who knows? I'm very happy with my name now and it's been 8 years.

  14. I kept my three and added his last name. Keeping who I was and adding, worked better for me, I think. No hyphen, just two last names to use as I choose.

    :) Liz (Elizabeth Chaisson Thompson)

  15. I took my husbands name and I never had two thoughts about it. Being a bit of a feminist too I just, to me it's romantic, I want us to have the same surname and I want our children to have the same name as me too. I think it unites us. But I also moved countries within a month of getting married, so in the UK a lot of my bank etc that are still there are in my surname and probably will be for some time. Although I really do need to sort my passport.

  16. There is no right way :) You gotta do what feels good for you! Initials staying the same would be nice… I hadn't thought about thought! I guess my official new initials are JMSD!

  17. I have gone through a lot with my name. I have always been called by my middle name and when my mom filed for my SS card she used my middle name instead of my first. When I got married, I just started using my maiden name as a 3rd name and took my hubby's name, then went by middle name still. That gave me trouble in one of the states I lived that demanded my social match my driver's license and demanded I go to court to officially change my name to what they wanted it to be (this was after they had already issued me a license four years earlier without any of those demands). Um, no. We were moving anyway so when I got to our new state they told me I could do whatever I wanted with the middle names, but I did have to use my first name because it is listed on my birth certificate. This means my DL has all four names. When I vote, I have to sign all four names. For everything else, I go by middle name, maiden name initial, married name. I've been married for almost 18 years now and other than the one state I haven't had much trouble with it. Every time we moved I take every official document I have, just in case, whenever filling out new information. I may have to explain it ten times but eventually they understood what I am explaining to them. Or maybe they just give me what I want to get rid of me.

    What I ultimately learned out of the whole ordeal was to name my kids the name I wanted them to go by as a first name and when they get married they will have an easier time with getting things how they want them to be.

  18. i use my maiden name as my middle name…thats the way it is on my social security card…it works for me…

  19. I wanted to change my middle name to my maiden name. My mom FREAKED at this. So I decided to have two middle names. I was happy and she didn't feel like I was just throwing away something that was meaningful to her {really, how meaningful can Marie with no family connection be?}. I'm thrilled. I like that it makes me special. Plus, my new last name, which is super boring, is hidden in a corner on my DL. People don't quite know what to do with two middle names and online forms don't compensate for two middle initials. Oh, and don't get me started on how hard it was to convince the nurse who checked me in for an emergency c-section that I really did legally have two middle names. Despite the problems, I'm happy with the choice I made.

  20. I did the same as a lot of other commenters… made my maiden name my middle name and took his last name. Actually, I never even considered or thought about doing anything else. I didn't even know there was a discussion out there about it until pretty recently when I've noticed that some people completely drop their maiden names. I would have liked to keep my original middle name but having 4 names just seemed confusing to me. Now after 4.5 years of marriage, I think of myself as Jenna hislastname and hardly remember what it was like to be Jenna maidenname!

  21. I am getting married in 3 weeks. I am changing my last name, it means a LOT to him and honestly its something that I will cherish.

    I will admit it will be so strange to write my new last name for a while, but I feel it shows my commitment to him and the marriage. His parents are divorced and remarried (dad is now divorced again) and mine have been married for 35 years going on 36… together for 40.

    I love my middle name so I won't take my last name as my middle.
    However for my business it is JKessel.. and I will not be changing my name for that even though he asked me if I would be. I told him that I would keep it the way it is, since it is something I have worked hard to build. And this way I can keep my original last name with something I created and cherish also.

    I think its up to the woman and what they want. For me, its how I was raised so its the norm for me, however I know a lot of married women that kept their last name. :)

  22. I love my whole name. I think that when the time comes for me to get married, I will try to make my maiden name a second middle name, or even have two last names. Also, on my dad's side of the family, out of him and his 4 siblings, only my dad and my Uncle Mike are the guys. My dad had two daughters, and my uncle doesn't have kids.. so it's the end of the name, so I want to keep it as long as possible.

    Also, I totally didn't know about all of the info about traveling with a child who has a different last name than you… so interesting! I'll have to keep that in mind when I become a mom!

  23. I was super excited to take his last name so that we, as a family, had the same name. WE are the Johnson Family. I felt that if I would have kept my last name, it would be like I was not fully committed to the marriage. Like I was saving my name just in case…that is just MY opinion. to each his own!

  24. What will your kids last name be? Coming from divored parents it's confusing for the kids in school To have different last names than their parents, mine was simple, I love my family but I never liked my last name and I thought it was ugly, and I really liked my husbands name so I totally dropped it! You could always drop it then do it for a middle name or your kids

  25. I tacked his on at the end, but I only use my first/his last on a day-to-day basis. With passports, dual citizenships, a BA/MA with one name, teaching certification with the other, I thought it best to have both.

    I started my first student teaching position right after we got back from our honeymoon, so it was a great time to switch. My students didn't know differently, and I got used to being called by that name. :o)

  26. The name change thing is a big ol' pain in the butt :)

  27. Wow! That does sound crazy! My legal name is 4 names now. My lady said I could do whatever I wanted too… she told me I could add another middle name if I wanted! I'm happy it all worked out.

  28. You can do whatever you want whenever you're ready :)

  29. Our kids will have Dorobek… You do have a cool last name!

  30. I did exactly what you did, keeping both my middle and maiden name and adding my married name onto the end. At school, I'm Mrs. [husband's name}, socially, it depends on when someone met me. I've always strongly identified with my middle name (after both grandmothers) and maiden name and didn't want to lose any of them!

  31. I am not married yet, but am in a serious relationship where marriage is talked about. I love my last name and find it hard to part with it. I even have it tattooed on my foot (it is a nickname, etc). I really like the idea of the double last name or the hyphenated idea. My sister was married in 2009 and has not yet changed her name but her students call her by her maiden name or they just say 'miss' because of the culture there (Mexico), but she also hyphenates her name too. I think that it really shouldn't matter what you do as long as it works for you. I also told my bf that if he really wanted he could take my last name (ha when pigs fly). Why is it that guys don't take the wife's last name? Who made this rule of 'you have to take my name'? It is an interesting topic.

    Natalie

  32. I always love hearing all the differet perspectives on this issue. When I got married, I had absolutely NO sentimental attachment to my middle name so I dropped it and made my maiden name my middle name. That way, I still have it but I have my husband's name as well.
    My SIL though wanted to keep her middle name AND her maiden name AND take her husband's name. So, she has a middle name + 2 last names.
    Glad you found an option that works for you :)

  33. I pushed for Andy taking Smith too :) It's so simple… no more spelling out D as in Dog, O as in Oscar, R as in Ralph, blah blah! Seemed like a good plan to me :) He wasn't feeling it.

  34. It's nice that we can all do whatever we want and whatever works for us and our fams. I guess the plus for women is we have a choice, men don't really have a choice they always keep there name even if it stinks :)

  35. I did something similar to you, but instead I moved my last name to be an additional middle name. My husband thinks it's kind of weird for me to have four names now, but I earned a college degree with my maiden name and I wasn't ready to throw it (or my middle name)away!

  36. Thanks for posting this! I have the wonderful privilege of marrying my man soon. It has weighed heavy on my heart about what to do with my name.

    I LOVE my last name- Zufall. It's unique, it's who I've been for 20 years, it's my family, it's my past. (With this generation our name will end because there were no men to carry the name along for us!) I also want to take my husband's name out of tradition, honor, and respect for him and his family.

    I think the resolution I came up with is to use my maiden name as my middle name, like you! That way I can still have both, but not be confusing like hyphenations can cause! :)

  37. I kept my name, and I'd never do anything differently. We're as much of a family and just as married and committed as anyone who changes their name. I was willing to consider taking his name if he wanted me to, but when I asked him he said "I don't really care, it's your name and your decision, do whatever it is that you're comfortable with". That clinched it for me! As of right now we're not really thinking about kids, but if we did have kids I'd probably prefer them to get my last name (hey, I'm doing all the work growing them!) but we'll probably default to his so I don't have to hear it from our families. I do get called Mrs. Hislastname a lot, especially by older relatives, but that's whatever. I don't bother correcting them because they do know I didn't change it, they're just being stubborn ;) I prefer to go by Ms. mylastname. Ideally I would have loved for us to pick our own last name together, something new, but he didn't want to go through the hassle of changing his name (go figure!).

  38. I agree! You're a lucky lady!

  39. I was always on the fence about it. I had planned to keep my maiden name if I was published in it… but, I wasn't yet so I went ahead and took my husband's name. I like it now… and, am published with it. :) But, I have friends who both love their names and kept them in the beginning. As they are now thinking about kiddos they have decided to both change their names. One has the last name of Ogle and the other of Stevens. Now they are the Stogles. It fits them completely. It is sort of a neat thought too taking parts of two families and creating a new one!

  40. you can change your name anytime to whatever you want. I walked into a SS office (before 9/11) and just said “This is what I’m calling myself now” and the lady changed it. Drivers’ license won’t change it without a court order, but every other document took it. My house, my car, my checkbook, my credit cards are all in my second name (which was in no way like the first name.) When I got married, they used my first name, annoying, which confused all the guests hahaha. My medical records are under a combination of both names because the registrar lady freaked out and tried to put both in at once. When I enter contests, I use my first name so they can’t disqualify me. I have to fly under my first name. I’m getting a passport soon, we will see what happens there…. I could go to court and get it all legally changed and probably will at some point; otherwise, when I die, good luck figuring out all the legalities haha (wonder how The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Who Is Now Currently Known As Prince Again did it.)

  41. You know, now that I know they allow non-hyphenated last names, I think I’m going to have the kids have that. Are you allowed to go by Smith, Dorobek, and/or Smith Dorobek as you please?

    I’m personally not changing my last name, but I would still consider myself Mrs. [his last name]

    • I think so :) At the moment, I really do use both since I still had plane tickets, passport, credit cards, etc with Smith… I’m in the process of changing all day to day things to Jamie Dorobek.

    • jumping in to say that my kids all have two last names (mine then his, no hyphen), and it’s never been much of a problem. Both names are long and hardish to spell, so I do spend a lot of time spelling them for people, but I was used to that already from just having my name :). Oldest is twelve now, and over time it’s worked out that mostly my name gets dropped and they use just my husband’s name (so the last last name) for everyday use.

  42. Milica Carter says:

    My experience is the hyphen always complicates things! I have run into countless problems in databases and computer systems that will not recognize the hyphen! Then I have to call customer service and figure out if I am under the first name, the second name, both names squished together with no spaces (which often means only a partial second name due to # of letters limits), or a space between both names (again, often only partial second). I am in the process of changing to a single last name (in my case, my husband’s name). Social Security was a breeze. Just went in and said I wanted to drop the other name and it was no problem. I have only gotten that far with the changes involving the government entities. My university has already said I need a certified court document, so I might have to bite the bullet and pay for the name change process through the courts in order to get everything switched before my graduation in May!

  43. we got married 2 1/2 yrs ago and i still haven’t changed my costco card lol….i’ve done the rest of them slowly…it’s a process, but i love having my husband’s last name!

  44. I debated about this for quite a while before I got married. For me, it boiled down to the fact that no one can pronounce, let alone spell, my maiden name, where as his last name is nice and easy. That being said, we’re coming up on our 7 year anniversary and I still have not changed my last name with social security or any of my pre-wedding credit cards. I go by his last name, and use it on my drivers license, bank accounts, debit card, and with my employer. I know I need to get around to changing my social security card one of these days so I can get a passport, but it just hasn’t been a priority. The only “problem” I’ve run in to so far is remembering to use my maiden name on my tax returns. The IRS returns them if you don’t file under the name on your social security card even if that isn’t the name you pay taxes under.

  45. My BF/secret husband used to threaten me by saying he would change his last name to Farts. Yes, Farts. Then insist that I took his new last name when we get married for realsies. (we are married for realsies, our family’s just don’t know. Almost to 7 years) Apparently I am dating/married a 12 year old.

    Nikki Kelly Farts

  46. I didn’t change my name. I got married later in life (mid 30s) and had established myself in my career. Also, I have a unique last name. Pretty much anyone you meet in the US with my last name, I am related to so I didn’t want to lose my visible connection with my relatives. Finally, D didn’t care one way or the other. Many older relatives refer to us as Mr. & Mrs. D’s last name but we just laugh to ourselves and say that the apparently didn’t get the memo. :-D

  47. Hi. I took my hubby last name when we got marry. I was feeling a little sad to lose my maiden name, because I always liked my name & it’s part of my family name too. So my husband told me he would take my maiden name as his middle name, if I choose to take his last name. After 12 years & 2 kids later, both of our children have my maiden name as middle names. So as a family we all have my maiden as the middle & his as the last name.. It’s seem kinda silly, but it makes me feel a little important that part of who & where I come from is in part of my husband & children name too. :)

  48. Núria Jané Puig says:

    Here everyone has 2 surnames (one from your father and one from your mother) and nobody changes their name when marries. So if my father is Pau Jané Giralt and my mother is Dolors Puig Batalla, I am Núria Jané Puig. The order of the surnames (father mother or mother father) is the only thing parents have to choose, and only for the first son (the order of your sons surnames have to be the same for all of them).

  49. I have been divorced for almost 4 years now. I was married to my first husband for 23 years. I have two kids with my first. I am contemplating keeping my ex’s last name just because I don’t want to go throught the hassle of changing it….plus I want to keep it cause its my sons last name. If I use Liisa Holte (kids’ last name) or Liisa Holte Dodd (new married name in a month. If I add Dodd do I still have to do all the legal changes or just use it. Confused on what is right.

    • Jamie Dorobek says:

      I’m no expert… but I would say yes, you have to change it legally if you want to add Dodd and use it for things like taxes, DL, insurance…

  50. I’ve been married for 6 years now and kept my maiden name, but now that we have kids, I think I’m going to take his name, too, like you did, and have 2 last names. In the official sense, how does your name become alphabetized? By your first last name or your second?

  51. crafty grandma says:

    When I got married in 1974, the law was you had to take the husband’s name, no and’s, if’s or but’s. So I happily did because my family name was like spelling out the alphabet! In 1981, the law changed so that everyone that got married kept her maiden name or pay $5000 for the change of name. So all legal documents were changed back to your maiden name ie contracts, health card, social insurance number, taxes, etc. but most people that got married prior to 1981 kept their married name for work purposes. It got to a point that when my mother’s friends were in the hospital, we would ask for Mrs.husbands name only to be told there was nobody under that name, you had to call her by her maiden name. These people were in their 80′s and when you know them most of your life as Mrs. Husbandsname it is quite confusing!!! On the other hand, having worked in a law office, it was easier for those married after 1981 to get divorced….all their papers were already in their maiden name!!! What upset me the most was being called Mrs. maiden name….I am not married to my father!!! and I am not a Miss so whoever thought up this law (must of been a man) didn’t think this through! As for the kids well the names are now coming through born with hyphen name ie smith-jones get married & have kids both parents name, now have smith-jones-walker-mcall. Talk about confusing!!!when does it stop!!

  52. I have a question for Jamie:

    I’m a man taking my wife’s last name as a 2nd last name, like you did with your husband’s. My name is Matthew Simon Borg, and after we are married it will be Matthew Simon Downey Borg. In your experience, will I need to change my name with all of these different organizations if my 2nd last name will still be the same?

    Thanks!

    • Jamie Dorobek says:

      Matt, I am certainly no authority on name changing, but I’d guess you do need to officially change your name with all of the organizations.

  53. I’m getting married in August and plan on adding his last name to mine as you have done. I was excited to find your site because it doesn’t seem like having two last names is a very common right now and there isn’t a great deal of information on the internet.

    Have you found it to be at all challenging having two last names yet? My last name now is eleven letters long, so adding his four letter name will be quite the duo of last names. I’m mostly curious as how you’ve found using both last names has gone. For example, I know all of my bank cards and accounts will need to have MyFirst MyLast HisLast but do you sign documents with both last names or just with Dorobek? My hope is to go by his last name socially and use his last name to sign information but know that both of my last names are present if any issues were to arise.

    Thanks in advance for the advice!

  54. Jamie, I just found your blog when searching on name change options in Texas – thank you for the post! (I’m in Houston, btw.) I’ve been married 6 months and hadn’t done anything with my name yet since I already had an international flight booked under MyLast for a trip we just completed. Now I’m struggling with the decision, but your solution is currently the most appealing to me! I’m curious with 1.5 years having passed, if you’re still loving having two last names or if you’ve had any logistical issues with it over time? I like the idea of having both and being able to use either name, but currently work in a job where my professional ID/name is required to match my legal name so if I have two lasts, I’ll have to use both at work (which also includes a large part of my social circle). I also wonder if you’ve been traveling since the change if you’ve had to use both or successfully used only one?

    Best wishes for your upcoming delivery!!

    • Jamie Dorobek says:

      Hi Ashley! It has been no big deal for me, BUT I rarely use Smith. I am Jamie Dorobek on my DL and passport so that’s how I travel. The only time I use Smith Dorobek is for taxes. I like that Smith is still part of my official name though :) Hope that helps! Good luck and than you for the well wishes with baby!!

  55. Oh, interesting! I was under the impression that the SS card, DL and passport all had to match! Thanks so much for the quick response!

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