A Step-by-Step Guide to Changing Your Name in Arkansas

These are the state-specific things you need to know.
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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If you've decided to change your name postwedding, there are a few important to-dos you'll need to add to your list in order to make the switch. The process actually involves more than one form, paying multiple fees and visiting a few local offices. And, if you live in Arkansas, there are some steps specific to your state. We know, we know, it doesn't sound as fun as practicing your new signature. But we're in it together, which is where this handy how-to guide comes in.

Even still, you may already be wishing there was another, easier way. Actually, there is, if you're willing to spend a little to hire help. Cue HitchSwitch, a service we've tried and actually really like. It takes a lot of the pressure off, asking you to complete just one questionnaire as opposed to tons of separate forms. It uses that info to find out exactly what paperwork you need for your situation (so you can stop frantically Googling… or scrolling through the rest of this story). Then, it autocompletes most of that paperwork for you. While you're still stuck stopping by the DMV, the service does provide submission instructions (and pre-maid mailing envelopes, depending on your package) to simplify filing everything away as much as possible. Not bad, right?

While you can definitely tackle a name change in Arkansas on your own (or should we say with our and your partner's help), a service like HitchSwitch is worth considering for convenience's sake. But in order to decide what's right for you, it helps to get the gist of the process. So, without further ado, here's how to change your last name in Arkansas.

In this article:

How to Get a Marriage License

The first step in the name change process is almost always getting a marriage license. You'll do this in whichever state (or country, if you're getting married abroad) you're tying the knot. This sets you up for a legal marriage which makes a legal name change a bit simpler, as you'll see in a bit.

In Arkansas, marriage licenses are administered by county clerks. You and your fiancé should head to a clerk's office prewedding to get yours. Call ahead for hours of operation and specific Arkansas marriage license requirements. (And if you're having a destination wedding, inquire about the requirements there—the rest of this section applies only to AR.)

What documents do you need?

To apply for an Arkansas marriage license, both soon-to-be spouses need to be present. Each of you will have to bring along an official form of photo identification, such as a driver's license or passport. Some counties may also require a Social Security card but many are okay with you just knowing the number.

How much does it cost?

How much is a marriage license in Arkansas? $60. Some counties only accept cash, so check ahead of time or head to the ATM before you go. There's no waiting period for adult applicants, and the license is valid for 60 days from the time it's issued.

Important things to remember:

If your marriage license application asks you to write down your new name, that'll be the name you'll have to change to postwedding—unless you file a petition with the court. If the application only asks for your original or "maiden" name, your options are pretty open. Typically, the marriage license (and the resulting marriage certificate) let you take your spouse's surname or any combination of your surnames (hyphenated or not) after marriage. After your ceremony, you'll use your official marriage certificate to get the process started.

How to Petition for a Name Change in Arkansas

There are some cases in which a legal name change in Arkansas requires an extra step: a petition for a court order. This may be the case if your name change involves something more complicated than taking your spouse's last name or hyphenating your names. It would also be necessary if you didn't have a legal marriage.

The petition should be made with your local circuit court. Not sure exactly how to file your petition? These self-help Arkansas name change forms can help guide you.

How to Change Your Name on Your Social Security Card

Think of getting a new Social Security card as the key to unlocking your Arkansas name change. This step makes the name change legal and allows you to then change your name in other important ways, like on your driver's license.

What documents do you need?

First fill out and print Form SS-5. Chances are, you'll be able to mail it to your local Social Security office (as opposed to bringing it in person), but check out the SSA's instructions for getting a corrected card to be sure. With it, submit:

  • Your legal name change document (marriage certificate or court order)
  • Proof of identity (current state ID or passport, for example)
  • Proof of citizenship (your birth certificate or passport)—but only if you haven't already proved this to the SSA

Use the Social Security Administration office locator to find your nearest Arkansas location.

How much does it cost?

This step should be absolutely free—we'll toast to that.

Important things to remember:

The SSA requires original or certified versions of all necessary documentation. If you're mailing your documents in, you probably don't want to risk giving up your originals. That's why we recommend picking up certified copies of your marriage certificate or court order (for a small fee).

How to Change Your Name on Your US Passport

Next up on your name change to-do list is updating your US passport (or getting a brand new one with your new last name). This process can take six to eight weeks, so it's a good idea to start it early. That way, you'll have it in case you need to travel—and even if you aren't planning a trip sometime soon, you'll have this important piece of ID ready to use as additional proof of your name change if needed.

What documents do you need?

The form you fill out will depend on the state and condition of your current passport.

Form DS-5504: Did you get your passport less than a year before changing your name? Then you'll need a passport correction, and this is the form you'll use. You'll need to mail in:

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

Form DS-82: Was your current passport issued within the last 15 years and is it still in good condition? So long as you were at least 16 years old at the time it was issued, you'll need a passport renewal and use this form. Mail in:

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

Form DS-11: An application for a new passport is necessary if you don't fall into either of the above categories. This one requires an in-person visit to a passport office. Bring along:

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

Get full instructions for changing your name on your passport at the US Department of State website.

How much does it cost?

Passport correction (DS-5504): totally free!

Passport renewal (DS-82): $110 for a passport book and/or $30 for a card.

New passport (DS-11): $110 for a passport book and/or $30 for a card, plus $35 in additional fees.

Important things to remember:

Travel reservations and tickets must always match your name on your passport at your time of travel. So time any passport name changes right to avoid any discrepancies. The good news is, for an extra charge, you can expedite your passport service.

How to Change Your Name on Your Arkansas Driver's License

Next up? An Arkansas driver's license name change. This is potentially your most-often-used form of ID, so it's important it reflects your new legal name. To make this switcheroo, head to a local Driver Control Office (here's a list of locations).

What documents do you need?

You'll fill out an Affidavit of Legal Name Change form, and you'll need to provide documentation of your legal name change (your marriage certificate or court order should do the trick).

How much does it cost?

It costs $10 to change a name on a driver's license or $5 to change a name on an ID card in Arkansas.

Important things to remember:

If you've changed your name in the past, you may need to provide proof of your previous name changes too.

Also, note that REAL ID driver's licenses will soon be required for air travel and for entering federal buildings, so you might want to upgrade to one at this time. You may need to provide additional documents if you're getting a REAL ID; find out more at the Arkansas DFA website.

How to Finish Changing Your Name in Arkansas

After you've changed your most important pieces of identification, you'll need to update all other records and accounts with your new name. This means notifying your employer, bank, credit card company, insurance companies and more of your surname switch.

It may feel overwhelming to tackle this project, since your old name can still be in so many places, but HitchSwitch can help with that too. It offers its customers checklists and instructions for all aspects of the name change process, giving you less to have to try to figure out on your own.

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