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Pennsylvania-Pittsburgh

I want to change my full name. Where to start?

Hey guys!

I'm kind of at a loss as to what to look up and where to start. I want to change my full name when I get married, but I don't know how to start the process. Do I start when I fill in my new name on the marriage license certificate or is there something else I need to do first?

If the latter, can you point me to a URL where I can get more info, please? I think my google searches are lacking because I just don't know what to look up. Please and thank you!!
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Tessa, Bride-To-Be
December 19th, 2015

Re: I want to change my full name. Where to start?

  • If you want to change your full name you will need to do a name change. You really should use an attorney for this as it is much more complicated than changing your last name when you get married. It can also be kind of expensive. (I am an attorney who does these all the time) You should wait until after you are married though.
  • MissTessaMissTessa member
    First Comment
    edited July 2015
    Thanks. So a follow-up question then,

    I'm seeing that it's quite common for people to change their middle name to their maiden name and then take on their spouse's last name as their own last name.

    Since they're changing just the middle and last names, can I change my middle name to anything other than my maiden name?

    And secondly, why should I wait until after I am married to do the name change? If I can change my middle and last on the marriage certificate, shouldn't I get only my first name changed legally prior to getting married so that my new full name is on the certificate, and then I can use my new first name on all of my document changes? Basically, I'm asking what the pros and cons are for waiting until after I'm married to do the first/middle name change.

    Thank you for your help!
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    Tessa, Bride-To-Be
    December 19th, 2015
  • For a middle name change, you must still go through the process of changing your name. I changed my middle name several years ago.  You definitely will need to use an attorney.  You will need to publish your name change, and have a formal hearing in front of a judge. This is to allow people the opportunity to contest the name change (mostly creditors/bankers you owe money). 

    You cannot sign the marriage license with your "new name."  It's best to do the full change after, as you will only have to change everything once (social security card, driver's license, voter's registration, bank information, passport, will, retirement accounts, work information, frequent flyer programs etc.)  It is costly and time consuming to change everything and then change it again.  You will be required by EVERYONE to supply an original copy of the court order for the name change.

    In PA, you have 2 options for taking your husband's name without having to go through the full court process.  The first is to only change your last name to his. The second is to take your maiden name as your middle name (that is the only option for changing your middle name) and taking his last name as your surname. That's why it is more popular than hyphenating the names.

    So, if you are changing your name from Tessa Marie Smith to Sarah Elizabeth Jones, you must go through the court process.
  • I was just looking over the thread. For someone who is only changing their last name from hers to his, can you elaborate on the process or steps to take to do so? Where do I even start after we are married? I have so many things to change (school loans, car loan, I bought the house we live in prior to our engagement, passport, license, voters registration, credit cards, bank, work, etc.) and it seems very overwhelming with all of the places I will have to contact.
  • The first 2 places you will need to go will be the Social Security Office and DMV.  Take your marriage license with you.  After those are updated (social security cards typically take 10 business days), you can go about contacting bank, work, creditors etc.  The DMV should be able to update your voter registration for you.  It's a lengthy process, and depending on what you are updating, they will need a different variety of proof. Some may only require a driver's license/social security card (or both). Others may require the marriage license.
  • There are a lot of small details that go into changing your name (even just a last name) that most people do not want to deal with as the impending wedding. Additionally, the name change process if it is a full name change can take months. You will need to enter into contracts and hotel rentals and airline tickets will all need to be your real name. Most people just find it easier to do after that is all done.
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