Our Comprehensive Guide to Name Changes in Virginia

Consider this required reading if you plan to take a new title, especially since the rules in VA are pretty strict.
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 should feel exciting—because it is! But unfortunately, your reasons for doing it are far sweeter than the actual legal process, which gets tedious very fast. In fact, a name change in Virginia can be extra-headache-inducing if you're looking to make more than a simple surname swap. Lucky for you, we have plenty of tips and tricks to make taking a new moniker a whole lot easier, starting with HitchSwitch. This name change service equips couples with everything they need—yep, all those forms—for a smooth transition. The company also boasts an incredibly knowledgeable staff prepared to answer all your questions, even state-specific ones, and is skilled at navigating more complicated name changes (clutch for VA residents interested in really switching things up). That's exactly why we tapped founder Jake Wolff to shed some light on changing your name in Virginia, below.

Consider this your go-to guide to a name change in Virginia. And if you're already intimidated by all the reading and scrolling you're about to do, seriously consider investing in a HitchSwitch name change package. They start at just $39, and one of our editors (aka a real client!) has attested that it's so worth it.

Ready to dive in? Here's what we'll be covering. Believe it or not, it all starts with how you apply for your marriage license:

Obtaining a Marriage License in Virginia

According to Wolff, all you need to change your last name to your spouses in Virginia is a certified marriage license. Most counties start you off by applying for the license online, then they reach out to you with an appointment. Then it's down to your local circuit courthouse as a couple, since you'll have to finish the job together and in person. (Not getting married in VA? Skip the instructions below and follow the rules for the state where you're tying the knot.)

What documents do you need?

It's best to check with your local office, since identification and paperwork requirements vary across the state, but count on a current driver's license or DMV issued state ID.

How much does it cost?

A marriage license in Virginia costs $30, sometimes a little more depending on the county. Some courts still accept only cash, so check on the local rules beforehand.

Once you've tied the knot, you'll want certified copies of your VA marriage license to use throughout the rest of the name change process. Your local county court can give you one for $2.50, or the Virginia Department of Health can provide one from anywhere in the state for $12 each.

Important things to remember:

There's no waiting period to obtain a marriage license in VA, and you can use it right away, but it's only valid for 60 days after you apply, so time your application accordingly.

Petitioning for a Name Change in Virginia

Hoping to make your maiden (or current) name your middle name, either by replacing your original middle name or adding a second one? Wolff says you're going to have to petition the court for this type of name change in Virginia. While VA marriage licenses can serve as legal name change documents if you're only switching surnames, a court order functions as the legal name change document for other types of name changes.

What documents do you need?

You'll have to use Virginia's Application for a Change of Name. Find it, as well as accompanying instructions, on Virginia's judicial system website.

How much does it cost?

Contact your local circuit court to determine associated fees. You can also use this fee calculator on the VA courts website.

Important things to remember:

Only certain types of name changes require a court order, so double check that you actually need one.

Social Security Name Change in Virginia

Once you have your wedding certificate or legal name change document postwedding, the next step is to notify the Social Security Administration of your new moniker. Specifically, you'll have to update your name on your Social Security card. This task isn't actually specific to VA, and neither is the next one (getting a passport with your new name). But it's required to complete state-specific tasks like a DMV name change in VA.

What documents do you need?

Fill out the Application for a Social Security Card (aka Form SS-5). The form has instructions printed directly on it. Once it's completed, you'll have to mail it in or bring it to your local SSA office, which you can find on the SSA's website.

You'll also have to submit the following with your form:

  • Your legal name change document

  • Proof of identity like a passport, driver's license or state ID

  • Proof of citizenship like your birth certificate or passport

Learn more about what documents are accepted on the SSA's website. Now's a good time to remind you that HitchSwitch can autofill name change paperwork for you. That includes everything you need for a Social Security name change and all the other name change tasks below!

How much does it cost?

Technically, it's $0. Thanks, SSA! But as you start mailing in name change forms, you'll quickly notice that postage materials add up. (And hand-delivering items isn't free either when you consider buying gas or paying for public transportation.) Shipping out document after document also costs you time. Know that HitchSwitch's $69 package includes prepaid mailing envelopes, which may be totally worth it.

Important things to remember:

The SSA only accepts original or certified copies of all documents. FYI, so do the other institutions on this checklist. PS: Photocopies and notarized copies aren't the same as certified copies.

When will your new Social Security card arrive? In around two weeks. Oh, and the number won't change, so no need to memorize a new one!

Passport Name Change in Virginia

Wolff always advises getting a passport with your new name, even if you aren't going on an international adventure postwedding. That's because it'll serve as just one more piece of proof of your legal name change. And that's never a bad thing at places like the DMV, where it's better to come over-prepared and avoid waiting in huge lines multiple times.

What documents do you need?

Here's where things get trickier. There are actually three different forms to choose from depending on your situation:

Form DS-5504

You can only use this passport correction form if your current passport was issued within a year of when you request the name change.

Mail your DS-5504 (the appropriate mailing address should be listed on the document) with:

  • Your existing passport

  • A color passport photo (HitchSwitch gives you one as part of their $99 package!)

  • A certified legal name change document

Form DS-82

This passport renewal application is for you if you meet the following criteria and don't quality for the DS-5504:

  • You have your current passport and it's in good condition (some normal wear and tear is fine)

  • You got it when you were at least 16 years old, and it was issued within the past 15 years

  • You have a legal name change document handy

Qualify for the DS-82? Great! Renew your passport using the form's instructions. Also submit:

  • Your current passport

  • A passport photo

  • Your legal name change document

Form DS-11

For all other newlyweds in need of a passport with their new name, there's the DS-11 (it's the standard passport application). This one has to be submitted in person (bummer, we know) at a Passport Acceptance Facility. Plan to submit all of the below:

  • Your DS-11 form

  • Proof of identity as well as a photocopy

  • Proof of citizenship, plus a photocopy

  • A passport photo

How much does it cost?

This depends on the form you use:

  • Form DS-5504: $0, lucky duck!

  • Form DS-82: From $30 for just a card to $160 for a book and a card. (You can opt for just a passport card, a full passport book or both.)

  • Form DS-11: From $30 to $160 plus a $35 execution fee.

For expedited service, you can also pay an extra $60. This will get you your new passport in 5 to 7 weeks (which is one to four weeks faster than the regular timeline).

Important things to remember:

Please visit the US Department of State's website to learn more about getting a passport name change. The process is very regulated, so it's best to really read up.

DMV Name Change in Virginia

Last but not least on your list of major steps for a name change in Virginia? Getting a new driver's license or non-driver ID card at the DMV.

What documents do you need?

To replace an existing card, start your name change online, or visit your local Virginia DMV Customer Service Center. (A list of them can be found here). If you have your new passport and social security card, bring them. If not, you'll need your marriage certificate or court order to prove that your married name is legally yours, and current photo ID. If you have moved since your last ID, they may ask for proof of residency, so have a lease, recent utility bill, and mail from a state or federal agency at your current address.

Don't have your current ID? Getting an ID for the first time? The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles website explains what else you might need.

How much does it cost?

The cost of a DMV name change in VA depends on what kind of ID you're getting. For a full breakdown of fees, visit this chart of the VA DMV's website.

Important things to remember:

A DMV name change in VA requires that you present original documents or certified copies.

Other Name Change Tasks in Virginia

Congratulations—you've covered all the bases. Well, sort of! Everything above is super-important to tackle ASAP, but don't forget about the smaller tasks too. Everyone from your doctor to your employer needs to know about your new name. Make sure you notify all important entities. (Other examples include your bank and your insurance providers.) You'll also want your name updated on important documents like your vehicle title and registration, voter registration, plus your will (if you don't have one, it's time!). And there are some fun changes to make too, like updating your email address and social media profiles!

Overwhelmed? We'll sing the praises of a name change service like HitchSwitch one more time. The team can provide you with a list of everything you need to do, plus instructions for even the smallest tasks (like said social media name change).

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

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