How Long Does it Take to Change Your Last Name?

And other marriage name change questions, answered.
by Emily Platt

Changing your name after marriage? It's time to talk logistics. While we wish the process was super simple (and there is a service called HitchSwitch that make things much easier) there's actually a lot you need to know before taking a new surname. Before you get started with our complete name change 101, get answers to some of your most pressing questions, below.

When you get married, does your name automatically change?

It depends. If you indicate that you're changing your name on your marriage license, whatever new surname you file can take effect once you tie the knot. (Marriage license applications vary by state.) But even then, there's plenty of other paperwork to complete first. You'll have to share your married moniker with all appropriate parties, from the Social Security Administration to your doctor's office. While that stuff doesn't happen automatically, there is a way to autofill the paperwork: HitchSwitch will do it for you.

Do you have to change your last name after marriage?

This one's a hard no. Many newlyweds keep their last name for personal or professional reasons. Even if you do change your name, you don't have to take your spouse's. You can hyphenate your surnames or even create a new last name from scratch. Do what feels most authentic to you and your relationship, with one caveat: To avoid wedding gifts with the wrong monogram or incorrect address lines on mail, consider spreading the word about your decision, whatever it may be.

How long does it take to change your name?

Marriage certificates take roughly two weeks to arrive via post. (You'll need yours to legally change your name.) From there, the rest of the process could span days, weeks, months or years (if you really drag the process out). Depending on your state's rules, how many things you need to change your name on, and other protocol, there'll be lines to wait in (yes, you'll have to file things in person), calls to make (yep, your airline miles need to be changed to your new name too) and mailed documents (like a new driver's license) to wait for. Unfortunately, you can't cut many corners, but again, the HitchSwitch name change service helps—pre-filled paperwork definitely saves time. Regardless, plan for a lengthy undertaking to be safe.

Have more name change questions? Check out these guides:

How Much Does It Cost to Change Your Name After the Wedding?

How to Change Your Last Name on Email and Social Media

How Popular is Your Newlywed Last Name?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, some of which may be sponsored by paying vendors.

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