Everything You Need to Know About Name Changes in South Carolina

If you're switching your surname after the ceremony, you'll want to follow this simplified guide (and maybe even hire an editor-approved service for help).
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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Changing your name after you get married? We hate to break it to you, but it isn't exactly a one-and-done endeavor. There are actually multiple (and oftentimes complicated) steps you'll need to take to update all your IDs and records, and the process also varies from person to person—not to mention from state to state! (How's that for confusing?) In fact, getting a name change in SC starts even before you get married. Since there's a lot to know, do and research, we've compiled this guide to help you through all the major steps of a South Carolina surname switcheroo.

Want to make the process easier? Our friends at HitchSwitch (an editor-tested name change service) have the how-tos nailed down in every single state, so they can streamline the process for you even more. Here's how it works: You'll choose a package from them based on how much help you need. Then, you'll fill out a form with your information (except for the sensitive stuff—like your Social Security number—for your privacy), and HitchSwitch will identify the forms you need and autopopulate the fields for you. You'll put on the finishing touches and submit everything based on the instructions they'll provide. Voila—how's that for simplified?

No matter how you decide to complete the process though, it's important that you understand how it works in your state. So without further ado, here's your step-by-step guide on how to change your name in SC.

In this article:

    How to Get a Marriage License in SC

    Changing your name in South Carolina starts with getting a marriage license. This is important not only because it's necessary to legally wed, but also because you can use the certificate as proof of your marriage when you go to change your name.

    Many of the bigger counties (like Richmond, Greenville and Charleston) have the option of getting your marriage license online, where you fill out an e-form, upload identification and get a PDF of your marriage certificate that you can print out. In all other cases, you and your future spouse should head to your county probate court together. Look up the one in your county here. Getting married somewhere else? Apply there (and research those requirements) instead.

    What forms do you need?

    At the probate court, you'll fill out an application for a marriage license. Generally, everyone asks for the same documents:

    • A valid photo ID, like a passport, driver's license, state ID or military ID

    • Your Social Security card (or document containing the number) or Resident Alien Identification Card.

    If you don't have one of these documents, or have any questions, do yourself a favor and call ahead (or visit your local court's website) for more detailed information.

    How much does it cost?

    How much is a marriage license in SC, anyway? It ranges from $45 dollars (online marriage license) to $90 for out-of-state couples marrying in Charleston. Check with your local probate court for exact pricing. Certified copies (which you will need for other ID purposes) are extra, generally $5.00 each.

    Important things to remember:

    All of South Carolina has a 24-hour waiting period for getting a marriage license, so keep that in mind when planning your wedding.

    How to Get a Court-Ordered Name Change in SC

    The marriage license should suffice if you're simply changing your last name to your spouse's, since all you really need is proof of tying the knot to make the switch. But if you'd like to undergo a different sort of name change, check with your local court to make sure it's permitted using your certificate. If it's not, you'll have to petition for a legal name change in SC.

    Here are full instructions on how to file your petition and the other steps involved in getting a court-ordered name change in the state. The court order will then serve as your legal name change document.

    How to Change Your Name on Your Social Security Card

    Next up? Changing your name with the Social Security Administration. This is the biggest step to a legal name change in SC (and around the country!), and you'll be able to use your new Social Security card when you change your name on your driver's license.

    What forms do you need?

    You'll have to fill out Form SS-5, the application for a Social Security card. You'll also need to provide the SSA with:

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

    • Proof of identity (a valid government photo ID, such as your driver's license)

    • Proof of citizenship (think: your birth certificate or passport), but this one's only necessary if you haven't proved it with the SSA before

    Mail or bring your documents to a nearby SSA office. See the SSA's instructions for getting a corrected card for more information and to find your location.

    How much does it cost?

    Zilch, zip, zero—this part's free!

    Important things to remember:

    When it comes to your marriage certificate, birth certificate and other documentation, you'll need to provide original documents or certified copies, so start hunting those down right away. Nope, photocopies won't suffice.

    How to Change Your Name on a US Passport

    Getting a passport name change can take longer than a driver's license name change. Plus, the updated passport can be used as a form of ID at the SCDMV if you want to get a REAL ID, so you might want to tackle this step next.

    How you complete the US passport name change will depend on the status of your current passport. See the Department of State guide to correcting or changing a passport for more information, which we've summarized below.

    What forms do you need?

    This all depends on your current passport. You'll need one of these:

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

    • The completed form

    • Your current passport

    • Your legal name change document

    • A recent color photo (this is one of the things HitchSwitch includes in its $99 package—see what we mean when we say it makes the whole process more convenient?)

    2. Form DS-82: Use this if your current passport was issued within the last 15 years, if you were at least 16 years when it was issued and it's in good condition. Mail in:

    • The completed form

    • Your current passport

    • Your legal name change document

    • A color passport photo

    3. Form DS-11: Use this form if you don't fall into either of the above categories. Unfortunately, because of your passport status, you'll have to visit a Passport Acceptance Facility (or a Department of State Passport Agency for urgent service) to deliver your documents instead of mailing them in. Bring along:

    • Proof of identity and a photocopy of that proof

    • Proof of citizenship and a photocopy

    • Your legal name change document

    • A color passport photo

    How much does it cost?

    Like a Social Security name change, a passport correction (DS-5504) is free (we'll toast to that!). A renewal (DS-82), however, costs $130 for a new passport book and/or $30 for a new passport card. If you're stuck using the DS-11, you'll pay $130 and/or $30 plus an extra $35 processing fee.

    Important things to remember:

    Getting your passport quickly is important if you're traveling sometime soon, but you don't want to get it too quickly. That's because your name on your travel tickets and bookings should match the name on your passport. So, if you planned your honeymoon using your maiden/original name, wait to update your passport until after you return.

    How to Get a DMV Name Change in SC

    To change your name on your South Carolina driver's license, go to a SCDMV location to make the switch. Learn more (and find a branch) using the South Carolina DMV website.

    What forms do you need?

    You'll need to fill out SCDMV Form 4057 (Application for a Name and/or Address Change) and Form 447-NC (Application for a Driver's License, Beginner's Permit, or Identification Card). Bring along documentation of your name change (your certified marriage license or court order) too.

    If you want to take this opportunity to upgrade to a REAL ID, which will be required for domestic air travel starting in 2025, additional documents and forms are needed. Here's information on REAL ID documentation.

    How much does it cost?

    It costs $10 to change a name on a driver's license in SC, but purchasing your first REAL ID will cost $25.

    Important things to remember:

    Wait at least 48 hours after changing your name with the SSA to change your name with the SCDMV.

    You should also note that you only have one chance to use your marriage certificate for a SCDMV name change. Make sure you're 100 percent happy with the married name you're giving the SSA, US Department of State and DMV before applying for your updates. If you want to switch it again to a different variation, you'll need to petition the court.

    More Steps to Completing a Name Change in SC

    Go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief once you've completed the major name change tasks above, but don't call it a day just yet. You still need to make sure all other official records, documents and IDs have your new name on them. That may include employment records, insurance policies, vehicle registrations, property records, bank accounts, credit card accounts and more. Chances are, you'll also want to change your name on social media!

    Know that if you work with a service like HitchSwitch, it can help guide you through all those little changes too. HitchSwitch provides its customers with checklists and how-tos for just about every step along the way.

    Whatever the case, before you know it, you'll finally have the whole name change process in South Carolina complete. Then you'll just have to get used to introducing yourself using (and signing off with!) your new married name!

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

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