Our Guide to Changing Your Name in Washington State

Switching your surname in the Evergreen State calls for some know-how. This checklist takes out the guesswork to make the process easier.
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 May 21, 2020
We have included third party products to help you navigate and enjoy life’s biggest moments. Purchases made through links on this page may earn us a commission.

Want to change your name after you get married? Prepare to expand to your to-do list. A legal name change in Washington State takes a few strategic steps—the first of which starts before the wedding. So, we created this handy guide to give you the full rundown.

If you're already heavily sighing (we get it), let us introduce you to our secret weapon: HitchSwitch. The service makes a name change after marriage in Washington State—and anywhere else in the country—easier by doing the tough stuff for you. You'll head to the website, fill out one questionnaire, then receive your personalized paperwork auto-populated with instructions on mailing it in or taking it to the proper offices. Simple, right? It's a really convenient solution if you don't want to spend time figuring out which forms you need—or how to submit them. And packages cost less than you might expect, starting at just $39.

Regardless of whether you get help or want to handle your moniker swap on your own, it's important to know what's involved. Here, exactly how to change your name in Washington State.

How to Get a Washington State Marriage License

The first step to getting a legal name change in Washington State is applying for a marriage license. Contact your county auditor's office to find out the full scoop on what's required for a Washington State marriage license—it differs a bit by location. (Here's a list of counties and their websites for contact info. Some of the counties even have the forms available on their websites.) Getting married somewhere else? Look up that state or country's requirements instead—you'll get your marriage license wherever you're tying the knot.

Unlike in some states, you won't need to note your desired married name on your Washington marriage license application. This is good news if you haven't ironed out all the details of your surname switch yet.

What documents do you need?

You and your fiance should both bring a current photo ID—driver's license, state ID card, military ID or passport—as proof of age when you apply for the marriage license.

How much does it cost?

The price for a Washington State marriage license ranges from county to county. "It costs anywhere from $27 to $90," says Jake Wolff, name change expert and founder of HitchSwitch.

Important things to remember:

The Washington State marriage license expires after 60 days, so make sure you get it within 60 days before the wedding—but at least three days before, since there's a waiting period. After the wedding, have your officiant and two witnesses sign your marriage certificate form. Then, return it to your county's auditor office so they can have a legal record and create a marriage certificate for you. You'll present this when you apply for your Social Security name change.

How to Petition for a Name Change in Washington State

Typically, newlyweds use their certified marriage license as their legal name change document. But if your desired name change isn't a straightforward switch—for example, if you want to create a new last name or if you want to change your first name too—you may need a court order instead. To start this process, contact the district court in the county where you live to get the proper forms. (There's a directory here.)

For more information on how to petition for a name change in Washington, see the Washington Courts name change guide. The cost of a court-ordered name change in Washington State varies by county as well.

How to Get a Social Security Name Change in Washington State

A legal name change in Washington State—and throughout the country—requires notifying the Social Security Administration (SSA). "Social Security is always the first step in changing your name on your IDs—it's like the gatekeeper to getting your name changed," says Wolff. After you get your new Social Security card, you'll be able to update other documents, such as your passport and your Washington driver's license.

What documents do you need?

First, you'll need to fill out and follow the instructions on Form SS-5. Then, Find an SSA office near you using this locator. Mail in or drop off (depending on which instructions apply to you):

  • Your legal name change document (your marriage certificate or court order)
  • Proof of identity (your current driver's license, state ID or passport, for example)
  • Proof of citizenship (your birth certificate or passport)—but only if this isn't already established with the SSA

The SSA's instructions for getting a corrected card have more information on exactly which types of identification and documentation are accepted.

How much does it cost?

Nada! It's free to change your name with the SSA.

Important things to remember:

Track down your original documents or order certified ones to submit, since the SSA doesn't accept photocopies.

How to Get a Passport Name Change in Washington State

Getting a passport name change? Washington State residents follow the same process as everyone else in the US. Wolff suggests you change your name on your passport before you change your driver's license, so you can bring that passport as a form of ID for the name change at the DMV in Washington.

What documents do you need?

The essential docs for you depend on what kind of passport update you qualify for. You'll likely fall into one of these three categories:

1. Passport correction: Form DS-5504

This is the way to go if you're requesting a name change within a year of receiving your current passport. (Perfect if you just got it to go on your honeymoon.)

Apply by mailing in:

  • The form
  • Your current passport
  • Your legal name change document
  • A color passport photo (which HitchSwitch actually provides as part of its $99 package)

2. Passport renewal: Form DS-82

Already have a passport that's in good condition and was issued within the last 15 years (and when you were at least 16 years old)? Then this is your form.

Apply by mailing in:

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

3. Standard passport application: Form DS-11

If neither of the above applies to you, you'll have to use the standard passport application.

Apply in person with:

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

For more help deciding which form is right for you, consult the US Department of State website.

How much does it cost?

This also depends on which passport change you're making.

  1. Passport correction: $0.
  2. Passport renewal: $110 for a passport book and $30 for a card.
  3. Brand new passport: $110 for a passport book, $30 for a card and $35 in extra fees.

Important things to remember:

Time it right. If you're traveling for your honeymoon, you'll probably want to wait until you get back to initiate any passport changes. Your name on your plane tickets should always match what's currently on your passport.

How to Get a Driver's License Name Change in Washington State

To get your name changed on your driver's license, visit a Washington State driver licensing office (DOL). Here are the locations.

What documents do you need?

Bring your passport with your name change on it, or your official marriage certificate or court order. If you don't have a passport, there are some other documents that are accepted for a name change at the DMV in Washington State. You can see the full instructions and list of documents here.

If you have an enhanced ID card (EID), you'll also have to bring your updated Social Security card with you. For the full instructions, check out this page on the Washington DOL website.

How much does it cost?

It costs $10 to get an updated license in person, whether it's standard or an EID, in Washington State.

Important things to remember:

Updating your name on your license doesn't update your name on your vehicle's title or registration. You'll have to do that separately. Here's how.

How to Complete Your Name Change in Washington State

You may be done with all the big procedures for a legal name change in Washington State, but don't forget about the smaller stuff. You'll want to update all your other records and accounts to reflect your new name. This means contacting HR at work, your health insurance provider, your bank(s), and more. FYI: HitchSwitch can assist in compiling a complete checklist. (Now do you get why we love it so much?)

Up Next
  • Woman writing in card.
    14 Meaningful Wedding Anniversary Bible Verses