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Name Change

by Meghann on February 15, 2013

It’s official! I’m legally Meghann Anderson-Russell!


Now I just have to wait two weeks for my new SS card to come in the mail and finish changing my name on everything else.

Everyone I spoke with who recently went through the name changing process told me to start at the social security office and go from there. One friend even said 9:00am on a Friday was the best time to go. Unfortunately last night I realized that no one told me where the social security office was or if I needed to have any paperwork filled out before hand. Googling “name change social security Tampa, FL” wasn’t much help, so I found an address for a local social security administration building and hoped for the best.

I wasn’t sure what I needed, so I showed up at the SS building this morning with my marriage license, driver’s license, passport, social security card, and birth certificate. Better to be over prepared than under, right?

Even though I was there a little before 9:00am, there was already a line out the door of people waiting to go in. I realized later that you can make an appointment before online, so that’s good to know for the future. After checking in on the computer, I was given a number, and told to take a seat. With all the people around me, I thought I would be there for hours, but there were plenty of windows and it only took 30 minutes to call my number.

I started getting butterflies while I waited. I was really nervous that something was going to go wrong and my name was going to be messed up in the process. I was afraid I was going to be misunderstood and the hyphen would be left out or that I missed a form and would have to be forced to wait again until the correct form was filled out. For some reason I was more antsy changing my name than I was getting married.

Luckily after my number was called, the process went really smoothly. The lady who called my number was super sweet and put my nerves at ease. All she needed was my original marriage license and my SS number, that’s it. She didn’t even need to see my original SS card or any of the other forms of identification I brought. It was the same anti-climatic feeling when we applied for our marriage license and all they needed to see were our IDs.

I told her that I wanted the hyphen and she said no problem. She typed away on the computer, asked for an address to send the new card, and then printed an information form so I could confirm that everything looked the way it should. I was sitting at her window for less than 10 minutes and walked away with the biggest smile on my face.

I asked if I had to wait for my new SS card to change my driver’s license, but she didn’t have an answer. Does anyone know?

Now the real fun begins… time to call all the banks, credit card companies, insurance, frequent flyer mile programs, and everything else I’m forgetting to let them know of my new last name. ๐Ÿ™‚


On a semi-related note, did you know it’s not as easy for a new husband to take his wife’s last name? I recently read an article about a Florida man who was accused of fraud for taking wifeโ€™s name. Women are granted somewhat of a loophole so they can change their last name after marriage and not go through the usual name change process that requires a judge and legal fees. Not every state gives a new husband access to the same loophole (I know there’s more to that statement legally, but that’s the gist of it). The man in the article went thought the same steps his wife would have taken if she’d chosen to change her name, but received notice a few weeks later from the DMV that his license was suspended for fraud since he didn’t take the correct legal steps in changing his name.

There are currently only 9 states that allow a husband to change his last name to his wife’s and Florida is not one them. How messed up is that? You can read the rest of the article HERE.

1 Margo February 15, 2013 at 11:07 am

I don’t know for Florida, but in Mass I had to wait 48 hours between changing my name on my SS and going to the DMV. I also used the site Miss Now Mrs to guide me through my name change. It not only told you were to go, but had pdfs of all the forms I needed, which was really helpful.

2 Meghann February 15, 2013 at 11:35 am

A local friend just told me there’s a 24 hr wait in Florida. Thanks for the letting me know about Miss Not Mrs, I’m going to check that site out now.

3 Ashley Y February 15, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I had no idea some states make you wait. In Pennsylvania, I went straight to the DMV from the SS office with the same temporary paper you have and it was fine.

4 Katie February 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I changed my driver’s license in Washington state before I changed my SS card! I guess every state is different?
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5 Emily February 15, 2013 at 11:10 am

Congrats! It’s nice to finally “officially” have your name changed, especially once the SS office is out of the way ๐Ÿ˜‰ When I changed mine, a fight broke out in the downtown Pittsburgh office and the lady right in front of me had to be restrained.

If I wasn’t already nervous, I walked up when I was called, shaking. The man who helped me said, “Don’t worry Mrs. Austin, I think you will be my easiest case today!” haha

Good luck getting everything else in order. Happy Friday!
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6 Laura S February 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

I had to wait until I got my new SS Card before I could change my driver license

7 TorontoRunner February 15, 2013 at 11:15 am

oooh that must be so exciting – congrats! i love the hyphenated idea!

8 Sonia the Mexigarian February 15, 2013 at 11:19 am

Yay! Congrats on the beginning of the name change roll ๐Ÿ™‚ the first time I went in unprepared and left unsuccessful, and then was lazy and it took me about a year to go finally get it done. I think it was my one year anniversary present to my husband. lol. From there I changed names on bank stuff then got lazy again. And it took me another year to change my name on my license. ^_^;; keep up the name changing process!
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9 Kelly February 15, 2013 at 11:21 am

I thought you were a googling expert? I found info on name change documents and forms in 2 seconds. BRAVO! You are so good at your job.

10 Meghann February 15, 2013 at 11:33 am

The name change forms aren’t needed for the SS office if you are changing your name after your married. The only thing you need is your marriage license. I was confused because there was a lot of conflicting information out there.

11 Laura February 15, 2013 at 11:23 am

Your drivers license is technically the first thing you re supposed to change.

12 deva by definition February 15, 2013 at 11:28 am

I think it depends on the state in which you live. In Ohio, where I grew up, you have to change your SS card first, and take that to the DMV to change your name on your Driver’s License. A friend of mine got away with changing her license first because she was moving from out of state, but another friend went to change her license after her wedding and got sent to the SSA office.

I haven’t googled for my current state of residence yet – our wedding is in May.
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13 Meghann February 15, 2013 at 11:34 am

You’re the first person I’ve heard mention doing the DMV first. Everyone else I spoke with said the SS first.

14 Betsy February 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm

It’s the same in Washington state – DMV first. I actually took a day off work and hit up everything, DMV, SS office and all my banks. It was exhausting but kind of awesome. Congrats!

15 abbi February 15, 2013 at 11:27 am

I found lots of conflicting information about the order when I googled information too. Luckily, it all seemed easier than I thought it would be…except for some of the nagging little things…like Paypal…which still isn’t changed 5 years later! ๐Ÿ™‚
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16 Meghann February 15, 2013 at 11:36 am

I agree, SO MUCH conflicting information on google! It’s hard to get a straight answer until you just go in and do it.

17 C February 15, 2013 at 11:32 am

I changed my name in Volusia County. After I left the social security office, I was able to use that letter to change my drivers license, bank, all that other stuff the same day.

18 Christine, Random Hangers blog February 15, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Me too. (Orange County, FL)
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19 Elise @ Expeditions of Elise February 15, 2013 at 11:36 am

It’s cool that you decided to hyphenate. I feel like that’s such a hard decision to make as a woman. Do you have plans for your children’s last names? I’ve always wondered how hyphenation works for them.
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20 Meghann February 15, 2013 at 11:37 am

No concrete plans, though I’m tempted to give them all Anderson as their middle name and Russell as their last name. I think it’s something we’ll discuss once we move closer to having kids.

21 Claire February 15, 2013 at 11:45 am

Our DMV only needs marriage license to change your name on driver’s license.
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22 Victoria (District Chocoholic) February 15, 2013 at 11:47 am

That nonsense about it being harder for a man to take his female partner’s name is ridiculous. It makes me #rage
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23 LizForADay February 15, 2013 at 11:51 am

I changed my name when I got married. Fortunately for me I did not have that many things to change my name on. I was pretty young then. Although I am not with that person any longer I still have his name. I didn’t want to go through the hassle of changing it again. I’m happy for you. ๐Ÿ™‚
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24 Maureen Costello February 15, 2013 at 11:58 am

That’s so interesting that you only needed your original marriage license and SS# to change your name with Social Security. I had to order a replacement card a few years back and remember needing all kinds of documents and information. And I think it’s completely ridiculous, and yet not at all surprising, that it’s harder for a husband to take his wife’s name.
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25 Sarah @ Blonde Bostonian February 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Congrats on the name change! It’s official!

26 Andrea February 15, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Thank you for talking about this! My fiance and I are both hyphenating with each others last names and it is going to be a mess for him. When you filled out the marriage license did you put the hyphenated version you wanted? I think we have to change mine first after we get married and then he will go back and appeal to the courts for the legal change.

27 Meghann February 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm

The marriage license form varies state-to-state. The Florida from did not have an option to list a new married name or maiden name. I just signed my name as it was when I signed it (that’s what they told me to do).

28 Beth @ Running with the Sunrise February 15, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Congrats on getting your name change done–that’s so exciting! I’m torn on whether I want to change my name for a couple reasons, one of them being that getting your name changed on *everything* is such a pain in the butt! As a feminist, I’m annoyed that it’s so hard for a guy to take his wife’s name, but I’m not exactly surprised.
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29 Natalie @ Free Range Human February 15, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Congratulations! I love that you hyphenated, and I wish I would’ve given that option more thought. To the best of my memory, I don’t think I had to wait a certain amount of time to get my license changed. I simply brought my marriage license to the DMV.
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30 Karen @ Runner Girl Eats February 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Congrats on the name change! I am planning on hyphenating too but not excited for the whole process lol
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31 Michelle February 15, 2013 at 12:35 pm

This is what you need to change your name for your license ๐Ÿ™‚

Congrats on officially changing it!
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32 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Congratulations! Love the new name! And that’s so weird about men not being able to change their last name, I thought anyone could change their name if they wanted to, but maybe that’s just first?
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33 Maureen February 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm

In CA I had to wait on getting my new SS card before going to the DMV. I really hope with you long name you have no problems at the DMV. My appt was a nightmare!
I added my maiden name as a second middle name. SS had NO problem with that…well, the DMV said I couldn’t do that. Ummm….I already DID do it, idiots. At the SS office! It took an hour and talking to numerous “supervisors” to approve it, because it was one “keystroke” too long for them.
That was almost 8 years ago and it STILL stresses me out! lol
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34 Hemarie @ I Sweat Pretty February 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Fun. Congrats!

I just changed my name here at the Orlando office on Monday. I don’t know if I need to have the new card to change it on my driver’s license, but figured I would just wait until I have the new card in hand. If you find out otherwise, please let me know! After the driver’s license, I’ll apply for a new passport. Weeeeee!
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35 MissPinkKate February 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Congrats! I live in one of the 9 states (NY) where a man can change his name on the marriage certificate, and my husband took my name when we got married. Every state should make it easy for new families to do what they want!

36 Tracey February 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm

I would definitely wait for your SS card before going to the DMV. The DMV can be tricky, and it seems like the information you get simply depends on who you talk to at the DMV. Someone might tell you that you can’t hyphenate– I had that happen to a friend and the DMV told her it wasn’t an option if she was doing the marriage name change. If she wanted to hyphenate, she would have to go to court. That simply isn’t true. Once your name is changed and on your SS card, it is official. If you show your SS card with your new name, the DMV HAS to recognize it. So it makes sense to wait for the card, simply to avoid any other hassles (justified, or just simply because the person at the DMV doesn’t know what they are talking about).

37 Caitlin February 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I’m in Georgia and I know someone who was also unable to hyphenate on their license and their hyphenated name isn’t long at all. Not sure what the rationale is for that.

38 Tracey February 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Oh, and congrats!!!

39 Margarita ( February 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I took that confirmation letter you have straight to the DMV with my marriage license, birth certificate, passport, utility bill, current drivers license and a promise to give them my first-born child (jk on that one) the same day. I think I had to go back home for one more piece of mail but I was able to get it the same day that I applied for a new social security card.
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40 Sara February 15, 2013 at 1:49 pm

i wonder with same sex marriage becoming legal in more states if they’ll change the laws about men changing their last names.

41 Alli February 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Crazy! I have my hubby’s last name & completely left out y maiden name. I don’t like it at all. But I don’t have a middle name so that bugs me too. I noticed your name was “…Ann Anne An…” hehe ๐Ÿ˜‰ is there a story behind that?

42 Meghann February 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Not really, I’m not sure my mom realized it when she was naming me. Anne was my mother’s middle name and she just really liked the name Meghann. It’s another reason why I didn’t want to give my name up – I like that my name has three “an(n)s” in a row ๐Ÿ™‚

43 Lissy February 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm

whoot congrats! I had a smilar experience at the SS office here. It’s been three years and I have all but one credit card in my new name. The bank wouldn’t change it, they said I had to go online, but of course there’s no way to do it online. Whatever, no one’s asked to see my ID yet ๐Ÿ™‚

I waited until after I got my SS card for my license I think, but I don’t think they looked at it. I’d wait anyway. Better than waiting all that time just to be turned away.

so much for equality, huh? That’s not right.
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44 The Many Thoughts of a Reader February 15, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I actually got a new drivers license first. I just took my ID, my marriage license and told them the name I wanted on my license. Then monthssss later I switched my SS card (that was in a different town) . I actually think i almost waited a year to change it. Whoops.
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45 Annette @FitnessPerks February 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I had to wait until I got my SS card to go get my driver’s license changed –in my state!

YAY for getting it changed!
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46 Lindsay Margaret February 15, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I started at SS, then once I got that card I could go to the DMV. Then my bank account which only needed the marriage certificate. One credit card just needed SS card, one credit card needed copy of my driver’s license. But I feel like once you have the certificate, license and SS card you can pretty much change your name where you need to. I’m still not done with the process that I started in October, mostly because I am lazy and store credit cards require you send a copy of your marriage certificate to them.

47 Andrea February 15, 2013 at 2:48 pm

In Ontario (Canada), they strongly recommend that you don’t legally change your name, but that you “assume” the new last name instead. I’m guessing this is because of a high divorce rate? This also makes it easier to change it back. Essentially you change your name on everything except your birth certificate. All you need to change your name here is your marriage certificate (which you have to wait 3 months for) and the document you’re changing the name on. I only went to 2 places: Service Ontario for driver’s license and health card and Service Canada for my SIN. Everything else I was able to change by faxing or emailing my marriage certificate and new information!

48 Cathy February 15, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I was able to change my license with the paper from the SS office stating I was getting a new card, but to save yourself unecessary hassle I’d wait till you have the card Mrs. Anderson-Russell ๐Ÿ˜‰

49 Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner February 15, 2013 at 3:20 pm

My husband and I went through that last-name snafu when we got married. We both wanted to change our last names (hyphenate both of them), but we found out he had to pay a large fee, go to court, post his name change in the paper for two weeks and fill out oodles and oodles of paperwork. It’s like he was a criminal for even thinking of changing his name. We ended up not going through with it, just because it was going to be a big headache and about $500 to boot. So not fair!
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50 Angela February 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm

In Oregon I just had to show my marriage license and the form from the social security office that showed I had changed it. Everything I had to do to change my name was so simple and I had almost no waiting. The hardest thing was getting my name changed on my student loans… I put it off for so long because it just seemed so complicated. Then when I sat down to actually do it they had changed the process and I just had to send a copy of my new ID. Much easier!
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51 Kelly February 15, 2013 at 4:34 pm

It’s easier to wait until you get your SS card before going to the DMV. I think you can do it without if you have the marriage certificate. But, it’s better to have everything totally right before you go to the DMV. You can probably make an appointment for that online too.

And, even here in California, where legally both partners in the marriage can pick what new name they want to go under when they get the license, it was still hard for my husband. The DMV was like we’ve never heard of that.
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52 Jennifer L February 15, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Women traditionally take the man’s last name because they were literally considered a kind of property (marriage was a transaction between the father and husband, also hence the father “giving the bride away”). Somehow, we’ve always been good at making it easy to make people property in this country. Love to see that hyphen!

53 Caitlin February 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm

I love how your name looks with a hyphen. I couldn’t do mine with one, it just doesn’t work so I’m changing it entirely.
Yay for being official.

54 Cecilia February 15, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Congrats on your name change! I started at the SS office also and found the rest was pretty easy. You just carry around your marriage certificate for a while ๐Ÿ™‚ Just out of curiosity, why did you decide to hyphenate your name? It’s not super common around here so I’m being nosy.
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55 Meghann February 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Here’s a post I wrote about why I’m hyphenating: ๐Ÿ™‚

56 Lindsay February 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm

When proceeding, it’s probably the most helpful to go to the source to determine what your steps need to be. For example, the SSA has a handy website that discusses what information you need in order to change your name:

I would be surprised if the Florida DMV didn’t have the same kind of informative page.

57 Meghann February 15, 2013 at 6:43 pm

But that information is misleading since I, in fact, did not need to fill out a form. It was as simple as bringing my marriage certificate.

58 Rachel February 15, 2013 at 7:35 pm

I can clarify this for you, Meghann. I work for SSA, and it’s actually not necessary to fill out the paper form unless you are mailing it in to us along with your documents/ID (which most people do not want to do). If you come into the office, typically we just ask you the questions and type them in directly. The paper form is more for people who are unable to come into the office to get a new Social Security card.

59 MealsAndMiles February 15, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Thank you, Rachel

60 Cori P February 15, 2013 at 6:15 pm

I just blogged about this too! It was quite a process for me to get my info changes everywhere.
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61 Pam February 15, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Woah when I saw your name printed out I just realized thay you have “anne” in every part of your name! Crazy! (Sound-wise i mean obv not spelled out, but you probably already realize that ๐Ÿ™‚ ) love the new hyphenated name – congrats!

62 Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy February 15, 2013 at 7:01 pm

In Indiana, you don’t have to wait for your new SS card, but you do have to wait 24 hours for your new name to be “in the system,” and then you can take the temporary paper to the license branch. I got married in July and I still haven’t changed my student loans or insurance stuff. Is that bad? I also kept my maiden name, so it works out pretty nicely when I’m using my old insurance card and have to show my ID!
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63 Allison February 15, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Its SUPER EASY in CA. Either the husband or wife can change their last name or middle name. You do it when you get your marriage license
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64 Sara @ fitcupcaker February 15, 2013 at 10:24 pm

yay, that was the most annoying part of marriage…I was so happy after that part was over. Although After 2 years I still havent changed my name on all my credit cards!
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65 TJ ( February 27, 2013 at 1:26 am

Meghann, I read your part II DMV post and backtracked to this prior one. I maintain a site that helps folks complete name change and wanted to get info on people’s experience changing their name in office vs. postal mail for use in an upcoming SS blog post.

Here you mention that you brought your marriage “license” as basically your proof document, but your later DMV post said you brought in your marriage “certificate.” A lot of comments in this thread have folks interchangeably referencing certificate and license, but they’re different documents.

I’ve heard of folks trying to mail in a certified copy of their marriage license, but there’s no such thing. They must be talking about their certificate. If they tried to use their license, then I’m afraid their name change wouldn’t go through properly and they’ll get a reply from the SSA asking for other proof, such as a certificate. On the government’s official ssa .gov website they explicitly state “We can only accept an original or certified copy of a marriage or divorce document”, but only “certificates” can be certified and acquired from a vital records office, which the SSA also references. So even they’re giving out blurry information.

Online, this blur is pretty much everywhere, so I’m curious and wanted to ask you… Was the document you brought into the social security office really your marriage license or was it actually your marriage certificate? If it was really the prior, that’s an interesting distinction. That suggests to me there may be an in-office flexibility about what documents are accepted compared to mailing it. It may not be consistent from office to office, but it’s still there. Or maybe you just got a nice clerk who wasn’t too much of a stickler for the “rules.”

Either way, nice rundown about the SS office experience. And you’re right–it’s not as bad as a lot of people think. At least compared to the DMV (hint hint folks: spare yourselves and make an appointment).
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