5 Important Steps to Changing Your Name in Iowa

Here, we outline all the must-dos—and also share a shortcut.
Elena Donovan Mauer the knot
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 Dec 19, 2023
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If you want to change your name in Iowa after marriage, you're probably pretty excited to get the ball rolling. After all, it's the final step to making things official post-ceremony. (Not to mention, it's kind of fun to figure out a whole new signature.)

But the actual Iowa name change process is a little less fun. It's mostly figuring out what paperwork you need to file, how to fill out the forms and where to drop them off. Luckily, there's a pretty convenient shortcut we love: HitchSwitch. It's a name change service that handles most of the nitty-gritty for you. Essentially, you complete just one questionnaire and the team will take the research and form-filling from there. Then, you'll receive a personalized package of all the paperwork you need, with most of the fields pre-populated with the info you provided. You'll also get instructions for submitting it, including any relevant mailing addresses (plus pre-paid mailing envelopes, depending on your plan).

That said, you can also choose to go it alone. Whether you're interested in enlisting help or not, you came here to understand exactly what the Iowa name change steps are. Rest assured, we've got the full rundown for you—from all the forms you need to how much it all costs. Without further ado, here's how to change your name in Iowa.

Steps in this article:

    If you're changing your name in Iowa after marriage, that's typically your marriage certificate. You can use your marriage certificate to take your spouse's surname, use both your last names (with or without a hyphen) and in some cases, make your original name your middle name. But other types of name changes may require a certified court order instead.

    Learn more about getting a marriage certificate or court order below. If you're still not sure which legal name change document you need after reading the next two sections, consider consulting HitchSwitch. You can send the team a photo of your marriage certificate (which you'll get regardless after tying the knot) and they'll tell you if it counts for your desired name change.

    Apply for a Marriage License

    Getting a marriage certificate starts with applying for a marriage license. The license authorizes your union prewedding, then basically turns into the certificate postwedding as proof you're legally married. The names you list on your license will determine the names listed on your certificate.

    You'll get your marriage license from the state where you're having your ceremony. So, if that's Iowa, you'll apply for an Iowa marriage license. IA is one of the states that asks you to write your desired married name right on the application.

    If you're getting married in-state, keep reading the full instructions for how to get a marriage license in Iowa. Otherwise, look up the requirements in your wedding location. Doing this research now—yep, before you even get married—could set you up for a fairly straightforward legal name change later.

    What documents do you need?

    You can submit an Iowa marriage license application at any county recorder's office. Some, but not all, offices have the form available online to fill out in advance. (Here's Polk County's as an example.) Bring along legal proof of identification, such as a driver's license, state-issued ID or passport. State law also requires bringing witnesses. We strongly recommend calling ahead to make sure there's nothing else you need.

    How much does it cost?

    Usually, it costs $35 for an Iowa marriage license.

    Important things to remember:

    There's a three-day waiting period before you can use your Iowa marriage license after it's been issued. In addition, the license expires in six months. Keep all this in mind as you plan around your wedding date!

    You should also know exactly how you want your new name spelled before you fill out the marriage license. This is a legal form, and will dictate exactly what you'll be able to officially change your name to after the wedding.

    Petition for a Name Change

    Iowa name changes that aren't written on the marriage license could require a petition to a district court. (One exception would be if the county registrar made a typo in spelling the name you wrote on your form.)

    See the Iowa Judicial Branch name change page for all the information on how to do that. Note that this process is more involved than using a marriage certificate. It also costs extra money—there's a $195 filing fee. That's why it's super-important to confirm you actually need a court order before submitting a petition.

    Get a New Social Security Card

    After you're married and you've got the certificate to prove it (or you receive your name change court order), make your Iowa name change fully legal through the Social Security Administration. That's because your official identity is directly tied to the SSA's records. An Iowa Social Security name change is actually the same as an SSA name change in any other state—the process is nationally standardized.

    What documents do you need?

    See the SSA's website for full instructions on getting a corrected card. The abbreviated version: You'll need to fill out Form SS-5, which is the Application for a Social Security Card. You'll also have to show the SSA:

    • Your legal name change document (marriage certificate or court order)

    • Proof of identity (a valid government photo ID, such as your current driver's license—yes, even though you haven't changed your name on it yet)

    • Proof of citizenship (your birth certificate or passport)—but only if you haven't proved citizenship with the SSA already

    Mail or bring all those documents to a nearby SSA office. Find your nearest location here.

    How much does it cost?

    Unlike most everything else on your Iowa name change to-do list, updating your info with the SSA is absolutely free.

    Important things to remember:

    Original documents or certified copies (not photocopies) of your marriage certificate, birth certificate and other documentation are required. So you may need to take some time to request those from their respective offices. (And we hate to break it to you, but this usually costs extra money too.)

    Update Your US Passport

    Next up on your name change itinerary should be changing your name on your passport (if you have one). Unfortunately, this can take seven to ten weeks, so starting this step as early as possible is a really good idea.

    How exactly you do this will depend on the condition and status of your current passport. Get full instructions from the Department of State guide to correcting or changing a passport, but here's the lowdown on what you'll need to do.

    What documents do you need?

    This is where the state of your current passport factors in. You'll need to fill out one of these three:

    1. Form DS-5504: Use this form if you're changing your name within a year of receiving your current passport. Mail it in along with:

    • The completed form

    • Your current passport

    • Your certified name change document

    • A recent color photo (FYI: This comes included in HitchSwitch's $99 package—nice!)

    2. Form DS-82: This is your form if your current passport is in good condition, was issued within the last 15 years and you were at least 16 years old when you got it. Mail in:

    • The completed form

    • Your current passport

    • Your certified name change document

    • A color passport photo

    3. Form DS-11: If you don't fall into either of the above two categories, you'll fill out this form. You'll also have to visit a Passport Acceptance Facility in person to deliver your documents. Bring:

    • Proof of identity (like your driver's license or state ID) and a photocopy of that proof

    • Proof of citizenship (like your birth certificate) and a photocopy

    • Your certified name change document

    • A color passport photo

    How much does it cost?

    It depends on the above. Passport correction (DS-5504) is free. A renewal (DS-82) costs $130 for a new passport book and/or $30 for a new passport card (which offers more limited travel options). A new passport (DS-11) costs $130 for the book, $30 for the card, plus an extra $35 processing fee.

    Important things to remember:

    Always, always, always make sure your name on your travel reservations matches your name on your passport at the time of travel. That's why many married people wait until after they return from their honeymoon to change their name. If you're traveling after the name change, leave yourself plenty of time to receive your passport and have your plane or train tickets reflect the new name.

    Update Your Iowa Driver's License

    Next, make your appointment and head to an Iowa DOT driver's license issuance office for your Iowa driver's license name change. (There's a list of locations here.)

    What documents do you need?

    Bring along your government ID and proof of your name change. (Check here to see which documents are acceptable for this.)

    How much does it cost?

    It costs $10 for a driver's license name change in Iowa, according to the Iowa DOT website.

    Important things to remember:

    Photocopies of your documents won't be accepted, so bring originals or certified copies. (You'll know it's legit if it has the original seal and certificate of the court or registrar.)

    Tie Up Loose Ends

    Done with all the above? You'll have tackled the most important parts of changing your last name in Iowa. But even though your IDs are updated, you're not done updating records and accounts. In fact, it's super-important to notify any entities who may have your old name on file, including (but certainly not limited to) your employer. It's a good idea to watch your mail and your inbox to make sure all bills and statements reflect your new name. It may help to go through your wallet too, so you remember to update all your debit, credit and other accounts too.

    The bonus of working with a service like HitchSwitch is that it can help you with all these "little" to-dos too. You'll get checklists on just about everything related to making the change to a new, married name.

    This article has been fact-checked and reviewed for accuracy in November 2023.

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