Tuesday, November 26

How To: Change Your Name

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My new license and social security card have arrived! I am officially recognized as married and a citizen by the state of New Mexico. I admit, I got rather behind with this seeing as I was married on September 1st, but I'm blaming this on the government shut down. Because I can.

Changing your name is one of those tasks that every new bride I've ever met sees as daunting. Going to the DMV to renew your license is bad enough, but now you have to treck to Social Security, the DMV, and anywhere else that may need your name changed. Who wants to waste a day off doing that? Well, if you are going to change your name, I recommend doing it earlier than later. The longer you wait, the more complicated it gets. Especially as some places have a certain number of days you are supposed to alert them within (don't worry, they normally give you at least 60 days).

So far I've felt that my experience has been really easy. I don't have everything done yet, but I'm getting there. Of course the Dreaded Duo, Social Security and the DMV, aren't a walk in the park, but planning ahead will make your life that much easier. In fact, when I did this it took me from 8:45 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. to finish with the entire Dreaded Duo. Less than two hours. Yeah, I'm proud of that.

How did I get through everything so quickly? I was organized. I researched. It was as simple as that. Do yourself a favor. Grab a gallon sized ziplock bag. You are going to put everything you need very neatly into this bag. You are going to take it with you, and you are going to be prepared.

Step One

To start off, put your marriage license in the bag, this must be a certified copy or the original. Sorry ladies, you cannot take your souvenir version with you. I've seen a lot of brides who don't realize you actually have to pay extra to have a valid copy of your marriage license. Please, if you haven't purchased your license yet, pay the extra for the certified copy up front. I know it seems ridiculous that you have to pay anything on top of the original fee, but it's normally very small. It cost me all of three dollars for my certified copy. You can tell if its certified by looking for a stamp and signature that says it is. For mine it was on the back of my license.

Step Two

Put your current license in the bag.

I also added my passport as a second form of ID, but I didn't end up needing it. If you have a second valid picture ID, it doesn't hurt to bring it along just in case.

Step Three

Most likely you are changing addresses with your marriage. You will need to add two proofs of address to your bag. This can be a pay stub from work with your new address and a bill with your new address, or two bills from different companies if you don't have a pay stub. Add your proofs of address to your bag. If you aren't moving, you can skip this step. 

Step Four

Before I went to Social Security I grabbed this form. The best part about this form is you can download it on to your computer, type in all the information, and then print it off. No messy handwriting, no having to start over if you make a mistake. Complete this form, print it off, fold it neatly, and add it to your ziplock bag.

Step Five

If you are a getting a license in a new state, check their requirements. I was getting a New Mexico license and I currently had a Washington license. New Mexico requires all new in-state licensees under the age of 25 to take test on DWIs. Different states have different requirements. Make sure to fulfill these before going in. If you are staying in state, you can skip this step.

Step Six

Once everything is ready and in your zip lock bag, ask your boss for a week day off. The Social Security office isn't open on over weekends and the DMV will have less crowds on a week day.

Ready, Set, Go!

Now that you are completely prepped, lay your clothes out for your big day tomorrow, plan your hairstyle, do everything you can to be ready a head of time. This may seem silly and little girl-ish, but you want to look good in your new license photo and you need to get up early and be at the Social Security office early. Do not be late because you are sitting in your closet contemplating which top makes your eyes pop the most.

Ok, now your day off has arrived be at the Social Security 15 minutes before it opens, even earlier if you want to be the first person through the door. Most of the time the Social Security office has a line outside it before the doors open. Getting there early will help ensure you don't spend an hour waiting just to put your big toe through the front door. And you're off! Once you are in line at Social Security, your day has begun. All that's left to do is stand in line, grab a number, and wait.

After you have finished at the Social security office they should give you two paper receipts. One will show what your name was before and the other will show what your new name is. Add those to your bag and head over to the DMV. When I went to the DMV the man behind the desk tried to tell me he couldn't give me a New Mexico license and change my name. I asked him why and he said it had something to do with checking my driving record in Washington and making sure I didn't have any DWIs. He said my records had to match in both states, so my name had to be the same. Here is when I'm going to say ladies, know your rights. Don't let the DMV tell you anything that is clearly incorrect. I very calmly told him my social security card had my new name on it, that I could not legally drive around with the name on my license not matching, and that I was not going to pay for a new license with the wrong name. He looked it up and found out that I was right. If he hadn't I would have asked to speak with a manager. Be nice, be pleasant, stand your ground.

After this you have a two week waiting period until your new cards arrive in the mail (mine came early, maybe yours will too!). Wait to change your name at your bank, with your landlord, credit card, etc. until you have your new cards. It will make the process easier and you can stop carrying your marriage license around. All you should need at this point are your old license with the whole punched through it and your new license with the correct name and address.

A list of places to change your name:
  1. Your bank(s) and investment accounts.
  2. Landlord or mortgage company.
  3. Insurance (auto, life, home, renters).
  4. Physicians' offices.
  5. Any places you are licensed through.
  6. Any legal documents/attorneys.
  7. Utilities.
  8. Passport office.
  9. Post office.
  10. Voter Registration board.
  11. Alumni Association.
  12. Any miscellaneous subscriptions you may have.
I hope this helps you on your name changing journey. It doesn't have to be painful. Questions about my experience? Funny stories of your own? Leave them below!

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