How to Change Your Last Name After Getting Married in Virginia
The question of “How do I change my last name after getting married?” ranks up there as one of the top questions I receive regarding marriages in Virginia. Traditionally the bride will take the groom’s last name, however sometimes the groom will decide to take the bride’s last name. Whatever the case may be, the process involves a few steps.
By far the most important aspect of changing your last name after getting married is that there is no one-stop-shop way to do it. You MUST notify each individual organization or government department that you want to change your name with.
Some of the most important agencies you will want to notify to update your documents with your new last name include:
- Social Security Administration (social security card)
- Department of Motor Vehicles (driver’s license)
- U.S. Department of State (passport)
- Banks, Credit Unions, and Investment Accounts
- Post Office (mail)
- Utility Companies (bills)
- Your Employer
A Step-by-Step of How to Change Your Last Name in Virginia After Getting Married
1. Get Your Marriage License and Get Married
After you obtain your marriage license from a Virginia Circuit Court and I marry you, I file the paperwork with the respective court. If obtained from Winchester City / Frederick County, I file the license immediately afterwards. If obtained from another Virginia Circuit Court, I mail the license back to that court via USPS Certified Priority Mail.
2. Obtain Certified Copies of Your Marriage License
The certified copies of your marriage license are what you are going to need to present to each individual organization you want to change your last name with. What is a certified copy? It is simply a copy of your marriage license made by the court which is then embossed and signed by the court Clerk or Deputy Clerk. The certified copy proves that you are legally married under the authority of the Commonwealth of Virginia and therefore allowed to change your last name to that of your spouse.
Once I have filed your marriage license with the court, you can obtain certified copies of the license immediately afterwards. As of this writing copies are $3 each at most Virginia courthouses. I recommend getting at least three to five to save yourself a trip to the courthouse if you need more (note: I recommend that military couples get eight or more copies). However you can go back anytime and obtain more certified copies as your marriage license is permanent record and archived by the court infinitely.
If you are strapped for time and obtained your marriage license in Winchester / Frederick County, I can even obtain certified copies of your marriage license on your behalf and mail them to you.
3. Use Your Certified Copies to Change Your Last Name
Your certified copies will be the proof you present to the various agencies you want to update your last name with. For example, to update your Driver’s License, you would visit the Department of Motor Vehicles and ask to have your license updated with your new last name, showing them a certified copy of your marriage license for proper authorization. Please visit the website of each agency or call ahead of time and ask for the way they handle the changing of last names (some may have quick online forms to fill out, while others may require an in-person visit).
Getting married in Virginia is a very simple and easy process, and changing your last name to your spouse’s can be too if you plan ahead. Being prepared with certified copies of your marriage license will ensure that you will be practicing signing a signature with your new last name in no time!
If you have any other questions about getting married in Virginia, please reach out as I am always happy to help.