Here's How to Get Your Name Changed in Massachusetts

Ready to make a moniker switch after you get hitched? You've come to the right place.
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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Getting married takes a ton of planning and attention to detail—and that includes one step you may have not have gotten to yet: changing your name (if you want to). A name change in Massachusetts requires multiple steps that actually begin even before you say your vows. Thankfully though, there are two things that make changing your name after marriage in MA easier.

The first? It's called HitchSwitch. This service—one of our favorite wedding planning shortcuts—simplifies the process by finding all the forms you need, auto-filling almost everything for you, and providing personalized instructions for submitting them. Definitely check it out.

The second is our handy guide specific to Massachusetts residents. Whether you opt for HitchSwitch or want to DIY your legal name change in MA, there are some things you should know before you start. We've laid them all out for you below.

How to Get a Marriage License in Massachusetts

The first step in your name change mission? Getting a marriage license in MA. "In Massachusetts, they want you to declare the new name on the marriage license," says Jake Wolff, the founder of HitchSwitch. So make a definitive decision on your future name before you fill out the paperwork. Do note, however, that your options are limited for a marriage license-facilitated name change. You can either take your future spouse's surname or combine your surnames.

If you don't put the new name on your marriage license (or you're planning on changing your name to something that isn't your future spouse's surname or a hyphenation of your two surnames), you'll have to file a name change petition postwedding. (More on that later.)

To get your marriage license in MA, you and your fiance should head to your city or town clerk to fill out a Notice of Intention of Marriage Form. Visit Mass.gov's prewedding guide for more info. (Typing the knot out of state? Look up that location's requirements instead, including what kind of name changes its marriage license permits.)

What documents do you need?

Bring along:

  • Proof of age (you can use your birth certificates or passports)
  • Both your Social Security numbers

How much does it cost?

Fees for a marriage license in MA vary by location. The cost can run anywhere from $20 to $99, says Wolff.

Important things to remember:

There's normally a three-day waiting period for marriage licenses in MA, so plan ahead. The license will expire in 60 days. Have your wedding officiant sign the marriage license after the wedding and return it to the city or county clerk within those 60 days. You'll then be able to order a copy of the marriage certificate online or by mail. See Mass.gov's postwedding guide for more info.

How to File a Name Change Petition in Massachusetts

If you didn't write your new name on your marriage license or it doesn't cover your type of name change, then you may have to file a name change petition in Massachusetts to make the switch. See the Massachusetts guide to changing your name as an adult for more information on how to do this. We've broken down the basics in the next few sections.

What documents do you need?

Typically, you'll start by completing a Petition to Change Name of Adult. You'll file it alongside:

Submit everything to the Probate and Family Court in the county where you live.

How much does it cost?

The filing fee for a name change petition in Massachusetts is $150. There may also be a $15 surcharge and a $15 Fee for Citation (more on that in a sec).

Important things to remember:

Once you file your petition and the appropriate accompanying documents, you're required to publish notice of your intention to change your name. After that, you'll wait for a court hearing to approve your name change. Once it's okayed, you'll receive a Decree of Change of Name that'll serve as your legal name change document down the road. Note that you'll have to pay for certified copies, just as you'd likely have to do for your marriage license.

How to Get a Social Security Name Change in Massachusetts

The next step to changing your name after marriage in MA? Getting a new Social Security card. This is actually standardized across the United States, and it's key before you try to update your driver's license or passport.

What documents do you need?

First, complete Form SS-5, the official Application for a Social Security Card. There will be instructions printed on the form, but there's more information online too.

Then, mail or bring your application to a nearby SSA office. You'll also have to submit:

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

If you haven't yet established US citizenship with the SSA, you'll have to do that now. That involves submitting proof, such as your birth certificate or US passport.

See the SSA's instructions for getting a corrected card for more information on exactly which types of identification and documentation are accepted.

How much does it cost?

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

Important things to remember:

Save yourself a headache and get certified copies of your documents to give to the SSA. They won't accept photocopies, and that way, you won't have to hand over your originals.

How to Get a Passport Name Change in Massachusetts

Wolff recommends updating your passport next. The passport process takes a bit longer than updating your driver's license, so it's a good idea to start it first.

What documents do you need?

Which form you use for your passport name change depends on a few things. You'll need one of these three:

1. Form DS-5504

This passport correction form is for people requesting a name change within a year of receiving their current passport.

Apply by mailing in:

  • The form
  • Your current passport
  • Your certified name change document
  • A color passport photo (psst—this comes included in HitchSwitch's $99 package)

2. Form DS-82

The passport renewal form is for people who have their current passport in good condition, received it when they were at least 16 years old, and had it issued within the last 15 years.

Apply by mailing in:

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

3. Form DS-11

None of the above? You'll have to use the standard passport application. This one requires a visit to a Passport Acceptance Facility (or a Department of State Passport Agency for expedited service).

Apply with:

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

The US Department of State website provides more guidelines for choosing the right form.

How much does it cost?

The cost of updating your passport will depend on which of the above categories you fall into.

1. Passport correction: $0.
2. Passport renewal: $110 for a passport book and $30 for a card.
3. Brand new passport: $110 for a passport book, $30 for a card and $35 in extra fees.

Also, for an extra $60, you can expedite your service.

Important things to remember:

If you're eligible to use the DS-5504 (the passport correction form) or DS-82 (the passport renewal form), you can submit everything by mail. If you've got the DS-11 (the standard passport application form), you'll have to submit your documents in person. We highly recommend trying to make an appointment ahead of time.

If you're traveling (say, for the honeymoon), make sure your name on your plane ticket matches the name on your passport. This means you might want to wait until after the trip to update your passport and/or you may need to expedite the process if you're traveling soon.

How to Change Your Name on Your Driver's License in Massachusetts

Next up: Changing your name on your license in MA. Head to your local RMV Service Center to do the deed. They'll take a new picture and you'll sign your new name for your card.

What documents do you need?

Bring along:

  • Proof you're a US citizen or have a lawful presence
  • Your Social Security number
  • Two documents proving Massachusetts residency

If you have a standard driver's license or ID card, you don't need to bring along proof of the name change, so long as you're giving accurate info. If you're changing your name on a REAL ID driver's license or ID card, you'll need to bring proof of the name change (the marriage certificate or court record of the Massachusetts name change). Learn more at Mass.gov.

How much does it cost?

A driver's license or ID amendment costs $25 in Massachusetts.

Important things to remember:

You can complete forms and check wait times at your local RMV in advance using this website. While you're at the RMV, cross updating your vehicle's title and registration off your to-do list too.

How to Complete the Name Change Process in Massachusetts

While those are the main steps to a name change in Massachusetts, you aren't totally done. Don't forget to update:

Yep, there's a lot to do, which is why we're big fans of HitchSwitch. We can personally testify that the easy-to-follow checklists and instruction sheets are game-changers. With them, you might save yourself more time to enjoy being a newlywed.

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