Here's Exactly How to Get a Name Change in Pennsylvania After Marriage

Be forewarned: The state has strict rules. We'll help you navigate them.
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 Nov 21, 2023
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Changing your name after marriage? Congrats, that's a big decision! First, take some time to celebrate. Then, get right down to the nitty-gritty. A name change in Pennsylvania isn't as simple as you might expect, so you'll want to start the process ASAP. Luckily, we're here to help with a complete guide to a surname (or middle name!) swap in the state. Be forewarned, however, because there's a lot to cover. If you're already feeling overwhelmed, we strongly recommend outsourcing all the work. That's right—there's a service that'll handle most of your PA name change tasks for you. (We're talking all the research and paperwork-filling you're probably dreading.) It's called HitchSwitch, and its team of experts is well-versed in each state's specific rules and regulations, so they'll have no trouble navigating PA's procedures for you. Need proof? The company's founder, Jake Wolff, is our go-to source for name change information.

Not yet sure if you want to tackle a name change in PA yourself? Keep reading to find out exactly what you'll have to do. Then, decide if the cost is worth it—HitchSwitch's packages start at just $39. FYI: The process starts with your marriage license! Here's exactly what we'll be covering:

    Getting a Marriage License in PA

    Did you know that your state's marriage license determines your name change process after marriage? Essentially, there are three types of marriage licenses:

    • The first asks for just you and your partner's current names when you fill it out. Postwedding, you can use a certified copy (your marriage certificate) to change your title to anything based on either (or both) of those two names. It's super-flexible!

    • The second type asks you to explicitly write down your desired married name(s). Write whatever you'd like, but know that you're committing to that moniker. If you later want something different from what you've listed there, you'll have to petition the court for a name change—more on that in a bit.

    • The final kind of marriage license only lets you change your last name postwedding. So if you were planning to make your old last name your middle name, for example, you'll have to petition the court. This is the type of marriage license in PA.

    Only interested in how to change your last name in PA? Just file for your marriage license and plan to use the certificate to swap surnames after you've exchanged vows! Getting a marriage license in PA involves appearing in person at your local PA county clerk's office with your future spouse, though many counties now offer an initial application online.

    What documents do you need?

    Note that the requirements differ depending on where you file in the state, so it's always best to confirm the details with your local licensing bureau. Generally speaking, each half of the couple will need:

    • Their valid photo ID (driver's license, military or state ID)

    • Their Social Security card (or document with the number on it, like a tax return or pay stub)

    How much is a marriage license in PA?

    The cost of a marriage license in PA varies by location (from $50 to $100) so be sure to check ahead of time. Copies of your license are an additional cost.

    Important things to remember:

    You'll have to adhere to the three-day waiting period to receive your Pennsylvania marriage license, unless you are military on leave and file for an exemption. It'll be valid for 60 days in the state.

    If you live in PA but aren't getting married there, you'll need to file for a marriage license in the state your wedding will take place instead. The processes and name change requirements may differ from those above.

    Filing a PA Name Change Petition

    Unfortunately, if you're interested in any other kind of name change after marriage in Pennsylvania (and you tied the knot there), you'll need a court order. To get started, The Pennsylvania DMV recommends contacting your local prothonotary office. Expect your PA name change petition to take some time and come with associated fees.

    Social Security Name Change in PA

    After the wedding (and only once you've obtained a legal name change document, either a certified marriage license or court order) the next step to legally changing your name is to notify the Social Security Administration. Why? You'll need an updated SS card to complete other tasks like a PA driver's license name change.

    What documents do you need?

    This is actually standardized across the United States. First, complete Form SS-5 (this is the Application for a Social Security Card). Refer to the instructions printed directly on the document. Then, mail or hand-deliver it to your local SSA office.

    When you submit your form, include:

    • Your legal name change document

    • Proof of identity (such as your current driver's license—it's okay if it has your old name, we haven't gotten there yet)

    • Proof of citizenship (such as your US birth certificate)

    The SSA's name change guide has more detailed information.

    How much does it cost?

    A Social Security name change is always free. Of course, you'll have to pay for postage if you're mailing your form in, but FYI, HitchSwitch's $69 package even includes prepaid mailing envelopes! That may not seem like a must-have now, but it might after you see how much other mail you'll be sending.

    Important things to remember:

    You have to present the SSA with either original or certified copies of all documents. The same goes for the other institutions we mention below. Nope, photocopies and notarized copies don't count. We recommend going the certified copy route so you can still keep your originals close.

    Plan to receive a fresh SS card (with a new name but the same number) in about two weeks.

    Passport Name Change in PA

    This step isn't just for honeymoons abroad. Wolff recommends tackling your passport next, even if you aren't traveling internationally postwedding. That's because having an updated SS card and passport makes it extra-clear that you've legally changed your name, aka there's less of a chance of a headache once you arrive at the Pennsylvania DMV.

    What documents do you need?

    It actually depends—but not on your state (the passport process is standardized across the US too). Instead, it's all about whether or not you already have a passport and how old it is. Here, figure out what category you fall under:

    Form DS-5504

    Form DS-5504 is a passport correction form. It's only available to you if your current passport was issued within a year of your postwedding name change.

    Complete the form and mail it to the address provided on the document. You'll also have to send:

    • Your certified legal name change document

    • Your existing passport

    • A color passport photo (Not sure how to get a new picture? HitchSwitch provides one in its $99 package)

    Form DS-82

    The DS-82 is the Passport Renewal Application. Is it for you? It is if you answer "yes" to the following questions:

    • Do you have your most recent passport?

    • Is it in good condition?

    • Did you get it when you were 16 years old (or older)?

    • Was it issued within the last 15 years?

    • Do you have a certified legal name change document?

    If you qualify to use this document, complete it and mail it following the form's provided instructions. Include:

    • Your name change document

    • Your current passport

    • A passport photo

    Form DS-11

    If neither of the forms above apply to you, or have never had a passport, you'll need to fill out the DS-11 (or Application for a US Passport). It's required that you submit it in person at a Passport Acceptance Facility.

    When you go, bring these things with:

    • Proof of citizenship (like a birth certificate) and a photocopy of said proof

    • Proof of identity (like a driver's lisence or military ID) and a photocopy of said proof

    • A passport photo

    How much does it cost?

    Again, this depends.

    Form DS-5504: $0. Wahoo!

    Form DS-82: $130 for the passport book, or $30 for a passport card, which offers more limited travel options .

    Form DS-11: Again, $130 for the book and $30 for the card, but this time there's also a $35 execution fee.

    Expedited service: Shell out an extra $60 to get your materials in 5 to 7 weeks instead of a possible 8 to 11.

    Important things to remember:

    Obtaining a passport is an in-depth and highly-secure process, so it's always best to read all the instructions carefully. The US Department of State's website has additional information you'll want to review.

    PA Driver's License Name Change

    The last of the three major documents you'll want to update? Your PA driver's license or other state ID. This is where things go back to being super-state-specific.

    What forms do you need?

    The PA DMV conveniently lays it out on their website:

    • Form DL-80CD or DL-143CD for an updated commercial driver's license, depending on when your current license is set to expire

    • Form DL-80 or DL-143 for an updated non-commercial driver's license

    • Form DL-54B for a non-driver photo ID card

    • While you're at it, complete a form MV-41A to update your name on your vehicle's title and registration if applicable

    Bring your legal name change document too. And if you've done anything fancy with your new name (for example, you've switched more than your surname) you'll also need your updated passport and additional proof of a legal name change. (See—that's where the passport really comes in the clutch.) The PA DMV website explains this requirement in more detail.

    How much does it cost?

    Visit this page on the PA DMV's website for a thorough breakdown of the state's driver's license, photo ID and title and registration fees.

    Important things to remember:

    If visiting a PA drivers license center, original documents must be presented such as a court order, marriage certificate, or divorce decree.

    Miscellaneous Name Change Tasks in PA

    We wish that was it (we know it was a lot) but there are still a few more steps to take before you complete your name change in PA. (We bet HitchSwitch sounds pretty appealing right now!) Remember to notify all of the following parties of your new moniker:

    • Financial institutions

    • Your employer

    • Your healthcare providers

    • Your insurance providers

    • Your social media followers (save the fun one for last as a reward!)

    Of course, this list isn't totally all-encompassing. You know best who you need to tell! And if you're worried you're forgetting something (or need help completing the above) HitchSwitch provides its clients with comprehensive instruction sheets for even the most random tasks, like email address name changes.

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

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