How to Get a Name Change in New Jersey After Marriage

Share your new moniker with NJ stat.
Emily Platt - The Knot Senior Manager, Commerce Content Strategy
Emily Platt
Emily Platt - The Knot Senior Manager, Commerce Content Strategy
Emily Platt
Senior Manager, Commerce Content Strategy
  • Emily is a strategist and editor who specializes in shopping content
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Emily wrote for Martha Stewart Weddings
  • Emily has a bachelor's degree from Vassar College
Updated Dec 19, 2023
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Planning to take a new name postwedding? The legal process is tricky no matter what state you're in, but a name change in New Jersey has some extra quirks—lucky you! No really … lucky you, because we're here to help make the swap as seamless as possible.

If you're wondering how to legally change your name in NJ, the easiest way may be to sign up for a special service. Cue HitchSwitch, which does most of the research and paperwork for you. All you provide? A single form that takes less than three minutes to complete. (Score!) While the company's packages aren't free (they start at just $39 though), everyone knows time is money. And according to an editor who tried the service herself, it's a total timesaver. Already dreading reading (and dealing with) the legal process ahead? Seriously consider HitchSwitch and sign up ASAP—aka well before the wedding. The earlier you get started the better to avoid annoyances down the road, which we'll explain more in a bit.

More of a DIY kind of couple? We've broken down a name change in NJ step by step below. The process begins by obtaining a certified marriage license, or in some cases, a court order by filing a name change petition. From there, the three main swaps you'll have to make are on your Social Security card, your passport (regardless of whether you're traveling internationally postwedding) and your driver's license or state ID.

In this article:

    Before we begin, some words to the wise: Always double check the appropriate institutions' websites or call them for the most up-to-date information. We've provided links ahead.

    Getting an NJ Marriage License

    The first step to a last name change in NJ? Completing a marriage license application, which is always required to legally wed and usually required to swap surnames. You'll apply for a marriage license in the state where you're tying the knot. If that's NJ, read the instructions ahead. If that's a different state, look up its requirements.

    What documents do you need?

    Your NJ marriage license application must be submitted at the registry office of the New Jersey township where you live. (Find your local office here.) If you're not from NJ, you will have to use the municipality where the wedding will occur. You'll have to apply together along with two adult witness who knows you both. Bring the following with you:

    • Proof of identify (your driver's license, passport or state/federal ID)

    • Proof of your residency

    • Your social security card or social security number

    You may also need proof of divorce or your former spouse's death if you've been married before.

    How much does it cost?

    For a marriage license in NJ, the fee is $28. Later on, you'll also pay certification fees for copies of the document.

    Important things to remember:

    There's a 72-hour waiting period to obtain a marriage license in NJ. The document is valid for 30 days in New Jersey only.

    Planning a legal name change in NJ? According to Jake Wolff, the founder of HitchSwitch, you can use your marriage certificate to switch surnames after you're officially married. (Unfortunately, he shares, this state doesn't allow you to take a new middle name without a court order.) Note that your last name won't change automatically after tying the knot. You have to follow the steps outlined below.

    NJ Name Change Petition

    If your type of name change can't be facilitated using your NJ marriage license, you'll have to petition the court. That involves around $300 in fees. Not sure if you need to complete a name change petition or if your marriage certificate will suffice? Services like HitchSwitch can help you determine your individual situation.

    For more information, you can also check out the NJ Courts website.

    Social Security Name Change in NJ

    Once you've secured a legal name change document (a certified marriage license or a certified court order), it's time to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) of your new moniker. This comes first because you'll want an updated Social Security card for a DMV name change in NJ.

    What documents do you need?

    Start by printing and filling out Form SS-5 (the Application for a Social Security Card) following the instructions listed on the document. Then, deliver it to your local SSA office by mail or hand—find the address on the SSA's website.

    In addition, you'll have to provide:

    • Your legal name change document

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

    • Proof of citizenship (a US birth certificate works)

    For more information, see the SSA's name change guide.

    How much does it cost?

    A Social Security name change in New Jersey is free. Well technically, it's free everywhere—the process is nationally standardized. Prepare to pay for postal materials if you're mailing your form in, though. (Did you know that HitchSwitch's $69 package includes prepaid mailing envelopes? That could save you money in the long run, as you'll be sending a lot more mail throughout the name change process.)

    Important things to remember:

    The SSA will only accept original or certified copies of documents like your marriage license and birth certificate. Other institutions listed ahead will only accept those too. FYI: Photocopies and notarized copies don't count. We recommend the certified copy route, so you never lose sight of your originals.

    You should receive a new Social Security card (with the same number but an updated name) in roughly one to two weeks.

    Passport Name Change in NJ

    Another name change step that isn't state-specific but still important for NJ residents? Updating your passport. Even if you aren't going abroad, the document serves an important purpose: It acts as backup proof of your legal name change when you get to the DMV. Therefore, it's always a good idea to have, especially if your name change is more unique than just changing your last name to your partner's.

    What documents do you need?

    You'll fall into one of three form requirement categories. We've listed them below.

    Form DS-5504

    This is the passport correction form. It can only be used if your current passport was issued within a year of your name change.

    Mail the DS-5504 to the address listed on the form. Include:

    • A certified copy of your legal name change document

    • Your current passport

    • A 2"x2" color passport photo (HitchSwitch includes one with its $99 package)

    Form DS-82

    This is the Passport Renewal Application. Use it if:

    • You have your most recent passport in your possession

    • It isn't damaged (aside from standard wear and tear)

    • You got it when you were at least 16 years old

    • It was issued within the last 15 years

    • You have a legal name change document

    Mail the DS-82 in (following the form's instructions) with:

    • A certified copy of your name change document

    • Your most recent passport

    • A passport photo

    Form DS-11

    Don't meet the requirements for the DS-5504 or DS-82? Never got a passport before? You'll have to complete a DS-11, AKA the Application for a US Passport. This must be submitted in person at a Passport Acceptance Facility.

    Bring these items with you:

    • Proof of citizenship plus a photocopy (think: a certified copy of your birth certificate)

    • Proof of identity plus a photocopy (think: your current driver's license. Military ID or Government employee ID will also do)

    • Your legal name change document

    • A passport photo

    How much does it cost?

    Form DS-5504: $0. (Go ahead and do a happy dance.)

    Form DS-82: If you get a passport card (only good for the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda), it's $30. A passport book, which allows travel to anywhere, is $130. Both together are $160.

    Form DS-11: Same as a DS-82, plus a $35 execution fee.

    Expedited service: If you need your passport fast, you can pay an extra $60 to get it in five to seven weeks instead of 8 to 11.

    Important things to remember:

    Visit the US Department of State's website for more information about passport name changes.

    DMV Name Change in NJ

    Last on the list of big name-related postwedding to-dos? Getting a new driver's license or state ID. That requires visiting your local Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) office and presenting your legal name change document. NJ has an expansive list of acceptable forms of identification–so bring your passport, birth certificate, driver's license and one proof of address. Checking your social security number is done automatically, but bring your card just in case. (A full list of acceptable documentation can be found here.)

    Also inquire about updating your car's title or registration if applicable.

    Miscellaneous NJ Name Change Tasks

    Phew, all done, right? Not so fast. There are still smaller updates to make. Examples include (but aren't limited to) sharing your married name with your doctors, insurance provider, employer and of course, your friends and family. Worried you'll miss something? HitchSwitch can help you put together a complete list based on your specific situation.

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

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