The Newlywed's Guide to a Legal Name Change in Montana

We've got valuable surname switch tips for couples from the Treasure State.
wedding couple kissing with montana mountain backdrop
Suzanne Rothmeyer Photography
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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Decided to change your name after the wedding? Congrats! There are some things you should know when getting a legal name change in Montana that are specific to the state. And we're here to tell you all about them!

From the marriage license to the driver's license, we've broken down all the biggest steps toward making your new moniker official. Of course, if you decide you need some help along the way, it's available! Just call on our friends at HitchSwitch, a name service that takes many of these steps off your to-do list and does them for you. How's that for making it an easy process?

    How to Get a Marriage License

    Getting a marriage license is usually the first step toward changing your name. This document sets you up for getting a legal marriage, which can make the name change process pretty straightforward.

    A marriage license is issued in the state or country where your ceremony will take place. To get a Montana marriage license, you and your future spouse will need to head to any District Clerk of Court in any county within the state.

    What forms do you need?

    You'll need to fill out an application for a marriage license. In some Montana counties (like Flathead County and Gallatin County), you're able to fill out the form in advance and then sign it when you get to the clerk's office. In others, you may have to complete the whole thing in person. Either way, bring along a government photo ID (your driver's license or passport will work).

    How much does it cost?

    Cost of a marriage license in Montana can vary slightly from county to county. All the counties we checked (Lewis and Clark, Yellowstone, Flathead, Gallatin, and Missoula) charge $53.

    Important things to remember:

    The Montana marriage license application has spaces to write both your surname and your maiden name. So if you want to change your name after the wedding, it's important to write the new name in the blank for your surname, says Jake Wolff, the founder of HitchSwitch.

    After the wedding, the marriage license will be submitted by your officiant, and you'll be able to then obtain a finalized copy of the marriage license—a.k.a the marriage certificate—with the new name on it. That document doesn't make your name change official, but it will be important to show the Social Security office when you get your legal name change later.

    There are some instances where changing your name may require a court order. This may be the case if you didn't write the new name on the marriage license application or if you didn't have a legal wedding.

    And because there are restrictions on what name changes you can make with just a marriage certificate, you may need the court order even if you have one. For example, this is often the case for people who want to create a new last name or who want to change their first name, too. "Usually, you're only permitted to take your spouse's name, hyphenate, or use a combination of your two last names as your new last name," explains Wolff.

    See full instructions on how to legally change your name in Montana at the Montana Judicial Branch website.

    How to Get a Social Security Card Name Change

    Arguably the most important to-do in making your legal name change is notifying the Social Security Administration. This is necessary before you can change other important IDs, so you should do it soon after your wedding or court order.

    For full instructions, see the SSA's guide to getting a corrected card. We've outlined the major steps below.

    What forms do you need?

    You'll need to fill out an application for a Social Security card (Form SS-5). With it, you'll also need to submit:

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

    • Proof of identity (current driver's license, state ID or passport, for example)

    • Proof of citizenship, only if you haven't established it already with the SSA (your birth certificate or passport)

    Mail or bring your documents to your local SSA office. (Find a Montana location here.)

    How much does it cost?

    Thankfully, changing your name with the Social Security Administration is usually free.

    Important things to remember:

    The Social Security office requires original or certified copies of name change and citizenship documents—photocopies aren't accepted. If you don't already have those, you may have to request them from the vital records or other record-keeping office. That does usually cost some money.

    How to Get a Passport Name Change

    Once you've changed your name with the SSA, it's time to update your passport. We recommend starting this as soon as you can, since it can take seven to ten weeks. This piece of ID is important, especially if you want to travel!

    What forms do you need?

    You'll need one of three different forms. It depends on which of the following tacks you need to take:

    1. Correcting a recently issued passport.

    If you received your current passport less than a year ago, use Form DS-5504. Mail in the completed form, along with:

    • Your current passport

    • Your certified name change document

    • A color passport photo (HitchSwitch includes this in its $99 package. Just sayin'.)

    2. Renewing a valid passport.

    If your passport hasn't expired and you were at least 16 years old when you got it—and it 's still in good condition, you'll need Form DS-82. Mail in the completed form, along with:

    • Your current passport

    • Your certified name change document

    • A color passport photo

    3. Applying for a passport.

    If your passport doesn't fit either of the above descriptions, you're going to need a new passport. Fill out Form DS-11, and visit a Passport Acceptance Facility to deliver it in person, along with these documents:

    • Proof of identity, like your driver's license, including a photocopy

    • Proof of citizenship, like a birth certificate, including a photocopy

    • Your certified name change document

    • A color passport photo

    For more (and the most up-to-date!) instructions, and information about the different types of passport forms, visit Travel.State.Gov.

    How much does it cost?

    Cost depends on which of the above procedures you need to take.

    Important things to remember:

    Thankfully, correcting a passport is free. Renewing a passport costs $130 for a passport book and/or $30 for a card. Applying for a new passport costs $130 for a passport book and $30 for a card, plus $35 in additional fees.

    How to Get a Driver's License Name Change in Montana

    Next up? A Montana driver's license name change. Take a trip in person to a Motor Vehicle Division driver's license exam station to make the switch. Here's a list of locations.

    What forms do you need?

    You'll fill out an application at the MVD. You'll also need to show proof of your name change, which can be your marriage certificate or court order.

    How much does it cost?

    It costs $11 for the replacement license with your new name on it.

    Important things to remember:

    The MVD also requires original or certified copies of your documents, so make sure what you're bringing is official.

    How to Finish Changing Your Name in Montana

    Once you've completed all of the above, you'll have your major pieces of ID updated with your new name. But there's still more to do. You'll have to update your name on all your major accounts and records, including with your employer, your bank and credit card companies, insurance companies, health care providers, any property or vehicle ownership records and more.

    Sure, it's a lot but once you have a list of everything you need, you can take care of it fairly quickly. You can DIY your list, or if you're a HitchSwitch customer, you can use the lists they provide to make things easier and to know you haven't left anything out.

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

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