How to Change Your Name in New York

The vows have been exchanged, the cake has been cut and the first dance is done. You've said “I do," and all of the exciting wedding planning is over. Now that it's all said and done, there's one task left for you to complete—having your name legally changed.
bride-groom-with-bridal-party
OneLove Photography

Sure, there are lots of different questions that may come to mind when you are just beginning to figure out how to change your name. Where do you go to get started? How much is it all going to cost? What forms do you need? It's enough to make the sanest newlywed feel a little crazy. So we've put together a comprehensive list for men and women getting married in New York state to know exactly how to get their names changed after marriage.

During this process you'll fill out some forms, make payments and spend time paying visits to local offices, but once you're fully equipped with the facts in this process, you should be able to get your name changed as efficiently as possible.

However, if you find yourself short on time and possibly transportation, look no further than HitchSwitch, a name-changing website. HitchSwitch makes things simple by letting you choose from two different options that get you on the road to a name change without having to leave your home. From mailing you up-to-date and appropriate forms to creating a full-service name change kit, HitchSwitch's goal is to make your life easier by simplifying the process of getting your name changed after marriage. It also gives back to the community with a portion of its proceeds, benefitting both research for ovarian and breast cancers as well as New York City's autism programming for kids.

Regardless if you are a DIY kind of person or you plan to take the HitchSwitch route, it pays to understand the requirements of this new phase in life. Here's a look at exactly what it takes to legally change your name in New York.

Social Security Name Change in New York

Your first stop on the name change train is the Social Security Administration (SSA) for your social security name change. It's important to take this step first because later, when you visit the DMV for your driver's license and vehicle registration and title change, they need to verify your social security number. The SSA doesn't offer a way to change your name online, so you have to either apply in person or send your application in the mail.

Visit SSA.gov and enter your zip code to find the address of the New York SSA office closest to you.

What documents do I need?

First, you need to complete an Application for a Social Security Card, also known as Form SS-5, which you can find here.

Other documents you need to certify a change of name in New York state:

  • Marriage certificate (which is your legal name-change document)
  • Proof of identity such as your driver's license, state-issued non-driver's ID card, or US passport. The SSA may also be able to accept an employer ID card, school ID card, health insurance card or US military ID card
  • Proof of citizenship such as your US birth certificate, US Consular Report of Birth, Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship

How much does it cost?

It's 100 percent free to apply for a name change on your security card in New York and throughout the US.

Important things to remember:

You can only submit original documents or certified copies of your documents. Regular photocopies aren't accepted, so if you decide to use certified copies, you can ask the original institutions that certified the documents for them. You may have to pay a small fee to obtain these copies, but you may gain peace of mind from not having your original paperwork in the mail.

Reporting your name to the Social Security Administration doesn't mean you get a new Social Security number. The documents you decide to mail to the SSA, plus your new Social Security card, are mailed to you after they process your application.

Driver's License and Vehicle Registration Name Change in New York

Once you have completed your name change process with the Social Security Administration, it's time to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles. You can take care of both your driver's license name change and vehicle title and registration name change here. You can also update your voter registration card at the DMV.

When you change your name in New York on your license and registration, it's important to note that, like the SSA, the DMV doesn't accept name change applications or documents for driver's license and vehicle registration through the mail or online, so you have to show up in person to get those done. Visit DMV.NY.gov to locate a New York DMV office near you.

What documents do I need?

  • The current DMV documents requiring a name change (such as your driver's license and vehicle title and registration)

A valid New York driver's license or ID to serve as proof of identity, or a combination of other documents that serve as proof of your identity:

  • US passport or passport card
  • US military photo ID (for active, reserve or retired personnel)
  • Marriage certificate
  • Social Security Card

In addition to your proof of identity documents, you need to complete and bring in the Application for Driver License or Non-Driver ID Card (Form MV-44) and the Vehicle Registration/Title Application (Form MV-82).

How much does it cost?

New York driver's license or learner's permit: $13

New York non-driver ID card: $5

Both the vehicle registration and certificate of title are free of charge in New York State.

Important things to remember:

After applying for a name change with the DMV, you should receive your new driver's license, registration and title within the next 10 days.

There are three full lists of accepted proof of identity documents available for you to browse, and each one corresponds to what item you need your name changed on—Regular New York driver licenses, permits or ID cards, enhanced driver's licenses (EDL), and New York vehicle title and registration.

New York Voter Registration Name Change

You can update your voter registration records to reflect a name change after marriage at the same time you submit a name change with the New York DMV.

You also have to send work to the New York County Board of Elections so they can process your request at least 20 days before a general, special or primary election. Keep in mind that if your request isn't processed with at least that much time before you need to vote, you won't be allowed to go to the polls.

To update your voter information directly with New York County Board of Elections, use the New York State Voter Registration Form available here.

Passport Name Change in New York

Now it's time to move on to your US passport. Even if you don't visualize yourself traveling out of the country anytime soon, it's important for your passport to reflect your name change as soon as it's made. Once you're done applying for your name change in New York state on your other documents, you can move on to this task.

A passport name change process comes with a few different steps than the others and often requires the highest fee, depending on how long your current passport has been issued.

If your passport was issued less than one year before your name change:

If you need to change your name on a passport that's less than one year old, you don't have any required fees unless you want (or need) expedited service. An expedited service application comes with a $60 fee.

If this is the case, you need to fill out and submit Form DS-5504 along with your current passport, a new color passport photo and your marriage certificate. You can submit the original marriage certificate or a certified copy, but keep in mind that notarized copies don't qualify as certified.

Find the DS-5504 at Travel.State.gov. Here you have two options—fill it out using the online guide or print it out and complete it by hand. Whichever option you choose, you ultimately print the form out, pack it up with the other required materials and send it off to one of these two addresses:

For non-expedited service:

National Passport Processing Center

Post Office Box 90155

Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155

For expedited service:

National Passport Processing Center

Post Office Box 90955

Philadelphia, PA 19190-0955

If you choose expedited service, write “EXPEDITE" clearly on the outside of the envelope and be sure to include your $60 fee.

If your passport was issued more than one year before your name change, figure out if you're eligible to use Form DS-82:

If you've had your current passport for longer than one year, you'll need to know which form to choose when continuing on with your application. There are two to choose from, including Form DS-82 and Form DS-11. First things first, determine if you fit into the following criteria that would qualify you to use the DS-82.

  • You have your most recent passport in your possession and can submit it
  • You were 16 years of age or older when you received your most recent passport
  • Your most recent passport was issued no more than 15 years ago
  • Your passport hasn't been significantly damaged, stolen or lost
  • Your passport reflects the same name you use now, or your name changed after marriage, and you have the certified documentation you need (like a marriage certificate) to reflect the change

If you ARE eligible to use Form DS-82:

So, you've had your current passport for more than a year and you're eligible to use Form DS-82. Other than the different form and the fee, the process for applying for a new passport is the same as the one for those above.

Go to Travel.State.gov to locate Form DS-82. The online guide helps you fill the form out and print, or if you prefer, you can simply print the form and fill it out by hand. You need to send in Form DS-82, your current passport, marriage certificate (either the original or a certified copy), a new color passport photo and your fee.

Here's a list of fees according to what you're applying for:

  • $140 for adult passport book and card
  • $110 for adult passport book
  • $30 for adult passport card if you do not currently hold a valid passport book or card

Send your completed application package to the appropriate address:

For non-expedited service:

National Passport Processing Center

Post Office Box 90155

Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155

For expedited service:

National Passport Processing Center

Post Office Box 90955

Philadelphia, PA 19190-0955

Don't forget to write “EXPEDITE" in a highly visible place on the envelope, and you still need to pay the $60 expedited service fee.

If you're NOT eligible to use Form DS-82:

What do you do if your passport was issued more than a year ago and you don't qualify for a Form DS-82? You have to take the Form DS-11 route, and you need to complete your application process in person.

Form DS-11 is available at Travel.State.gov. As with the other two forms, you are prompted to either complete it online before you print or print first and complete it by hand.

In addition to your completed Form DS-11, you need to bring:

  • Valid ID and a photocopy of the ID
  • Proof of US citizenship
  • New color passport photo
  • Original or certified copy of your marriage certificate (unless your ID already reflects your name change after marriage)
  • Fee

Choose the correct fee for your application:

  • $140 + $25 execution fee for adult passport book and card
  • $110 + $25 execution fee for adult passport book
  • $30 + $25 execution fee for adult passport card if you do not currently hold a valid passport book or card

Once your application package and payment is assembled, you can take it to an Acceptance Facility or a Passport Agency to complete the process.

Your Final Step (and It's a Big One):

Just breathe and relax. You did it!

At the beginning of the process you weren't sure how to change your name, and now you're a seasoned pro. It's a long process, but as long as you do the initial name change legwork with your driver's license and Social Security card, something that HitchSwitch can make quite a bit easier for you, you'll be fine. Congratulate yourself on a job well done, and enjoy being a newlywed--newly named. 

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