Everything You Need to Know If You're Changing Your Name in Delaware

When it comes to making your married moniker official, these are the steps First Staters should take.
Elena Donovan Mauer the knot
by
Elena Donovan Mauer
Elena Donovan Mauer the knot
Elena Donovan Mauer
Wedding Planning Expert
  • Elena creates content for a variety of print and digital publications, including The Knot, The Bump, Parents, Real Simple, and Good Housekeeping.
  • Elena is a former weddings editor, having held positions at Modern Bride and Bridal Guide and contributed to The Knot Ultimate Wedding Lookbook.
  • Elena is currently Senior Editor for Happify Health, an adjunct instructor for Pace University, a freelance writer, and content con...
Updated May 26, 2020
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Turns out, wedding planning isn't the only marriage-related endeavor that requires a to-do list! If you've decided to change your name postceremony, there are some extra boxes you'll have to tick. A Delaware name change—like one in every state—comes with its own unique set of instructions, and we're here to walk you through them.

Before we dive in too deep though, you should know that there's an entire service dedicated to helping newlyweds change their names. While it isn't free (packages start at $39), it's a nice shortcut if you just can't with any more research or paperwork. It's called HitchSwitch, and it's available to couples across the country, including in Delaware.

With HitchSwitch, you'll be asked to fill out a quick questionnaire, then the team will source all the forms you need for you. They'll also autofill most of the fields so all that's left for you are the finishing touches (like your Social Security number, which they don't collect for privacy reasons). Yes, you'll still have to visit some offices—including the DMV—yourself, but the service offers personalized instructions to make even that easier. All in all, it'll help you skip a lot of the Delaware name change steps ahead.

Check out all the info below then decide if outsourcing some work is worth it. (The major steps are all the same, regardless of whether you hire help. Services like HitchSwitch just make it so you can be way less involved.) Here's what's required for a name change after marriage in the state of Delaware.

In this article:

How to Get a Marriage License

Kick off the name change process before you even get hitched by applying for your marriage license. You'll do this in whichever state (or country, if you're going abroad) you're getting married. A marriage license sets you up for a legal wedding, which in turn sets you up for a simpler postwedding name change.

To get a Delaware marriage license, appear—together with your fiancé—at a county clerk's office and fill out an application. (If you're getting married out of state, look up the requirements there instead.)

What forms do you need?

In addition to the application form, state of Delaware marriage license requirements include showing photo identification, such as your driver's license, state-issued ID card or passport. Proof of previous marriage-related name changes may be necessary too.

Double check all the requirements in your county before you go to avoid any headaches when you arrive. (Trust us, it's worth it.)

How much does it cost?

A Delaware marriage license usually costs $70 for DE residents.

After the wedding, you'll also be charged a fee for copies of the resulting marriage certificate (these cost $25 a pop). Your marriage certificate is what you need to officially change your name, so you'll want at least a couple on hand before you move forward with the rest of the process. You can request them from the DE Division of Public Health.

Important things to remember:

Submitting your Delaware marriage license application doesn't automatically change your name after marriage. This paperwork simply sets you up to get a marriage certificate later, and that marriage certificate will serve as your "legal name change document" postwedding.

But some marriage license applications do ask you to write down your desired married name. Whatever you put is what you'll be allowed to change to after the ceremony—and if you don't write anything down, you may have to file a court order to change your name. If the app asks for only your current names, however, your options should be flexible postwedding. Typically, marriage certificates allow you to take your spouse's surname or any combination of your two surnames.

How to Petition for a Delaware Name Change

There are some instances where a marriage certificate might not be enough to make your name change official. Then, your Delaware name change will require a court order. This may be the case if your marriage license application let you select a postwedding name and you didn't, if you're creating an entirely new last name from scratch or trying to change your first name. Not sure if you need to file a petition? Consider sending HitchSwitch a photo of your marriage certificate. The experts there can tell you whether or not the document can facilitate your type of name change. It's important to check because this process will cost you extra time and money.

If you do need to petition the court for a Delaware name change, visit the DE courts website for comprehensive instructions. In short, the process involves filing forms, paying associated fees, publishing your intent to change your name in a local newspaper (yep, really) and scheduling a court hearing.

How to Change Your Name on Your Social Security Card

A state of Delaware name change—or any one happening in the United States for that matter—is made official by making the switch through the Social Security Administration. This step ensures government entities, like the IRS, have your new information on file. It's also required before you update your driver's license.

What forms do you need?

Fill out an Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5) and mail it or bring it to your nearby Social Security office. Also submit:

  • Your legal name change document (the marriage certificate or court order)
  • Proof of identity (such as your current driver's license)

If you haven't established your citizenship with the SSA yet, you'll need to submit proof now too.

How much does it cost?

Changing your name with the SSA is usually completely free. (Hurrah!)

Important things to remember:

The SSA doesn't accept photocopies of documents and records, so you'll have to show originals or certified copies instead. This could mean tracking things down or requesting docs from the necessary offices, so plan ahead.

In most cases, your new Social Security card will arrive within 10 to 14 business days. And no, the number won't change—just the name!

How to Get a Delaware DMV Name Change

The Delaware DMV requires you update your driver's license within 30 days of a legal name change, so do this one next.

What forms do you need?

Bring proof of your name change (your marriage certificate or court document should do) and your new Social Security card to a DMV location, along with your current license.

How much does it cost?

It costs less than $2 for a Delaware DMV name change. That's not so bad!

Important things to remember:

You must wait at least 72 hours after your Social Security name change for the database to reflect your new moniker.

How to Change Your Name on Your US Passport

Start the passport name change process early too, since it can take six to eight weeks for a new one to arrive. (Whether or not you plan to take a trip sometime soon, this is an important ID to update to reflect your legal name.)

What forms do you need?

This all depends on the state and condition of your current passport. You'll need one of these three forms:

1. The passport correction form (Form DS-5504)

This is the correct form for you if you received your current passport less than a year ago (maybe you applied for one to go on your honeymoon?) and you changed your name within that year. If that's true for you, mail in:

  • The form
  • Your current passport
  • Your certified name change document
  • A color passport photo

2. The passport renewal form (Form DS-82)

Use this form if your current passport is less than 15 years old, if you were at least 16 years old when you got it and it's still in good condition. Mail in:

  • The form
  • Your current passport
  • Your certified name change document
  • A color passport photo

3. The standard passport application (Form DS-11)

If neither of the above describes your current passport, you'll have to fill out a standard passport application. And you'll have to visit a Passport Acceptance Facility to deliver your documents in person. Bring:

  • Proof of identity, plus a photocopy
  • Proof of citizenship, plus a photocopy
  • Your certified name change document
  • A color passport photo

For more help choosing the correct form, visit the US Department of State website.

How much does it cost?

Using the DS-5504? Lucky you, this step's free!

If you're using the renewal form, it'll cost $110 for a book and/or $30 for a card. If you're applying for a passport, you'll pay $110 for the book and/or $30 for a card, plus $35 in processing fees.

Important things to remember:

When you travel, your name on your reservations and tickets needs to match the name on your passport. That's why many people wait until after their honeymoon to start the name change process. If you've already started it and you're planning an international trip soon, you can pay $60 extra to expedite your passport service.

How to Complete Your Delaware Name Change

After getting your Social Security card, passport and driver's license changed, you'll be able to use those IDs to update other important records and accounts. Notify your employer, insurance companies, banks, credit card companies and everybody else you can think of as soon as you can.

Not sure exactly who to tell or how to do it? HitchSwitch can help with that too. The service provides customers with to-do lists and instructions for just about every part of the name change process, meaning there's less for you to have to research and figure out—and less risk of forgetting something crucial.

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