How to Change Your Name in Rhode Island After the Wedding

Attention Rhode Islanders! This guide to a surname switch is just for you.
wedding couple standing with lighthouse
Rebecca Arthurs Photography
Elena Donovan Mauer the knot
by 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 Mar 20, 2020
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Whether you're still planning your wedding or have been hitched for a while now and want to change your name, you're going to need some state-specific knowledge. That's why we've compiled this guide on how to change your name in Rhode Island.

Ocean Staters should know some pretty specific info, including how to fill out the marriage license and what you'll need to complete a name change at the DMV.

If you want to make the Rhode island name change process easier, you can consider going with a service such as HitchSwitch. It's a sanity saver. All you do is fill out a form on HitchSwitch's website, and it generates personalized instructions and auto-fills the legal forms for you. So much less stress!

Here's the full scoop on How to change your last name in RI.

How to Get Your Marriage License and Certificate

For most people seeking to change their name after marriage, the first step is getting a marriage license. That's because a marriage license preps you to have a legal wedding, and that makes the Rhode Island name change process a bit smoother than if you didn't have one.

You'll need to get a marriage license in the state or country where your legal ceremony will take place—each state can be slightly different, so you'll have to look up the requirements if you're having a destination wedding.

As for getting a Rhode Island marriage license, you and your fiance will be able to obtain one from the city or town hall where either of you lives.

What forms do you need?

You'll need to fill out a marriage license application. (Here's what it looks like for the Town of Cumberland, as an example.) The application must be signed in person.

Also, bring along photo ID and your birth certificates. If either of you has been married before, you'll have to provide proof of the marriage ending. (Acceptable proof is outlined here.)

How much does it cost?

Getting a marriage license in RI costs $24.

Important things to remember:

"Rhode Island asks for the new name on the marriage license," points out Jake Wolff, founder of HitchSwitch. So when you're filling it out, and you see "current name", that's where the desired name should go. Where you see "maiden name," put your pre-marriage name.

It's honestly a little confusing, but important to get it right. Wolff points out that putting that new name on the marriage license can make the legal name change with the Social Security Administration super straightforward. If you don't, you may need a court order to get a RI name change, which is an extra step.

How to File a Rhode Island Name Change Petition

Let's talk a little bit more about how to legally change your name in RI using a court order. Yes, you might need to do this if you don't write your name change on your marriage license. It also might be necessary if you want a name change that's more complex than switching to your spouse's last name or hyphenating the two names. It would be required if you weren't legally married too.

To get the court order, you'll need to file a Rhode island name change petition with your local probate court. Contact the court directly for full instructions on this Rhode island name change process. This example form gives you an idea of what the name change petition looks like.

How to Change Your Name on Your Social Security Card

After your wedding certificate is issued or your court order is granted, it's time to get a Social Security name change in RI. The Social Security step is key to the process, since it makes your new name official with the US government, and it's necessary before changing your other IDs and documents. Essentially, it's how to legally change your name in RI.

Go to the SSA's instructions for getting a corrected card to get the full rundown on the Social Security change. We've outlined the basic steps below.

What forms do you need?

You'll need to fill out Form SS-5, which is an application for a Social Security card. You'll also have to provide:

  • Your legal name change document (marriage certificate or court order)
  • Proof of identity (current driver's license or state ID will do the trick)
  • Proof of citizenship, only if you haven't submitted this to the SSA in the past (birth certificate or passport)

You should be able to submit your documents by mail or in person at your local Social Security office location. Find RI SSA locations here.

How much does it cost?

In most cases, changing your name with Social Security is free.

Important things to remember:

The SSA doesn't accept photocopies of documents, like the marriage certificate or birth certificate, so you must have an original or certified copy of each of these. If you don't have them, you'll have to request them from Vital Statistics or other record holding office. This usually costs a small fee.

How to Change Your Name on Your US Passport

Next up is changing your name on your passport. This is important to kick off quickly, since it can take six to eight weeks to complete the process. Plus, if you have or want to get a REAL ID when you change your name at the RI DMV, your passport can be used as a proof of identity there, says Wolff.

See full instructions on how to change your name on your passport at Travel.State.Gov. We've highlighted the major points below.

What forms do you need?

The form you'll need to use will depend on the status of your current passport. It could be one of these three:

1. Form DS-5504 (passport correction). This form is what you'll need if you're changing your name within a year of when you were issued the passport. Mail it in with:

  • Your current passport
  • Your legal name change document
  • A color passport photo

2. Form DS-82 (passport renewal). If your current passport was issued within the last 15 years, and you were at least 16 years old when you got it, you can simply renew your passport to bear the new name. The passport must be in your possession and in good condition! Mail in the form with:

  • Your current passport
  • Your legal name change document
  • A color passport photo

3. Form DS-11 (passport application). Apply for a new passport if your current document doesn't fit either of the above descriptions. To do this, you'll have to visit a Passport Acceptance Facility in person to submit the form and:

  • Proof of identity, including a photocopy
  • Proof of citizenship, including a photocopy
  • Your legal name change document
  • A color passport photo

If you need expedited service (like you're traveling internationally in the next week), you can make an appointment at the nearest Passport Agency, located in Boston.

How much does it cost?

Cost will depend on which form you need to file.

Form DS-5504 (passport correction) = Free

Form DS-82 (passport renewal) = $110 for a passport book and $40 for a passport card

Form DS-11 (passport application) = $110 for a passport book and $30 for a card, plus $35 in additional fees

Important things to remember:

Traveling sometime soon? Your name on your travel reservations must match your name on the passport on your dates of travel, so time this name change step carefully!

How to Change Your Name at the Rhode Island DMV

Next up is a DMV name change in RI. Your driver's license is an important piece of ID—probably your most used one—and so it's important it bears your new name.

Head to any DMV branch location or AAA branch office to make this switch.

What forms do you need?

You'll need to fill out an application for a license, ID card or permit. Bring along:

  • Your current Rhode Island license
  • Your new Social Security card or notice of your SS name change
  • Name change document

Your name change document can include your marriage certificate or court order.

How much does it cost?

It costs $28 to update a Rhode Island driver's license.

Important things to remember:

The RI DMV also requires original or certified documents to verify your name change.

How to Finish Changing Your Name in Rhode Island

Completed the above steps and think you're done? Not so fast. While you'll have completed the legal name change and updated your most important ID, it's also important that all accounts and records reflect your new name. Most importantly, you'll need to update your employer with the name change, and you'll also have to update your insurance companies, banks and credit card companies, just to name a few.

HitchSwitch can help with this to-do list too, if you like. The service can provide its customers checklists and instructions for completing the Rhode island name change process, helping you make sure you've made the moniker switch in all the important places.

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