Mrs. Who? A Guide to Changing Your Last Name in Georgia
Photo by Rachael Schirano Photography
Starting your new life as a married couple comes with many exciting changes. One of the biggest changes is a new identity (so to speak). Let’s not make the assumption that everyone who gets married changes their last name. In fact, data analytics show that about 20-30% of women keep their maiden name after marriage. But that does leave 70-80% of newlyweds who do take their partner’s last name upon marriage.
While the origins of taking your partner’s last name are admittedly outdated, the sentiment behind the practice remains. Many couples like having the same last name, as it makes them feel more unified. Other couples like the idea of creating a singular identity for when they plan to add children to their family. Others might just not like the sound of their maiden name! And every reason is perfectly valid and a good enough reason to take part in this age-old tradition.
While this administrative, post-wedding task isn’t as fun as opening gifts or getting your wedding photos back, it is important that you do it correctly. To ease this daunting task, we’ve compiled a guide on how to legally change your last name in the state of Georgia.
It should be noted that Georgia is one of the few states where, if you want to change your name after the wedding, you should list the new name on the marriage license. You’re not legally bound to take that name, but it gives you the option after you’ve tied the knot; and who doesn’t like options?
*Disclaimer: These requirements are subject to change from institution to institution. Please be sure to confirm with each sector.
The first step in legally changing your name is physically obtaining your marriage license. In order to do this you must submit an application for a name change to your county’s probate court. It usually takes 10-20 minutes to have your application approved and you are on your way.
What to bring? Both you and your partner must show up in person, and you should have your current driver’s license, passport or birth certificate for verification of your identity.
What if I wait until after I’m married? If you wait until after your wedding to change your name, then you’ll have to go through a slightly different process. Submit a petition for name change to your local Superior Court. Once submitted, you will have to wait at least 30 days before a hearing, as well as publish your intent to change your name in a local newspaper. Once you’ve completed those steps, a hearing will be scheduled and then the court will either approve or deny your name change request. If it’s approved, you can then start using your legally changed name.
How much does it cost? Marriage license fees can vary county to county, but typically range in cost from ~$56-$76.
Reporting the change to the Social Security Administration (SSA) is the gateway to the name change process. This step is required before changing your name on anything else. You can do this either by mail or in person, but there’s no way to complete the process online. Why is this the crucial first step? Your SSA record is linked to your identity in the eyes of every federal and state entity. To change your name on anything official, it needs to match up with your SSA record. To get started, there are three steps:
- Print and fill out the form SS-5, which is the legal application for a Social Security card.
- Mail or hand-deliver your application to a local SSA office. Be sure to include your marriage certificate or court order, proof of identity (driver’s license or passport) and proof of citizenship (your birth certificate or passport).*
*It’s important to note that the SSA requires certified documents, which means photocopies won’t work.
Once these steps are complete, you’ll receive your new SSA card in the mail in 10-14 business days (along with your documents — if you mailed them in).
How much does it cost? Nothing!
You’ll have to wait until your new Social Security card arrives before you can legally change the name on your passport. Once you have your SS card in hand, you can get a new passport, which will then allow you to change your name on your driver’s license or state ID. Here’s what you need to get a new passport:
- Form DS-5504, DS-82 or DS-11, depending on which applies to you. You can find out at travel.state.gov.
- Your most recent US passport (for the DS-5504 and DS-82), or evidence of US citizenship and a valid ID, plus photocopies of both (for the DS-11).
- Your original or certified name change document (the marriage certificate or court order).
- A color passport photo.
If you are using the DS-11 form, you’ll have to do this step in person, but if you’re just filing a DS-5504 (correction) or DS-82 form (renewal) you can submit everything by mail.
How much does it cost? If your passport is less than a year old, it won’t cost you anything to change your name on it. If your passport is outside of that range, it will cost $30 for a passport card, $110 for a passport book or $140 for both. In some cases there may be extra fees.
DRIVER’S LICENSE OR STATE ID
For this step, you will need to go in-person to a Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) within 60 days of your legal name change.
We recommend filling out the online application form before you go to save time.
You’ll also need:
- Your marriage certificate or court order
- Proof of any other previous name changes, including divorce decrees
- Your current Georgia driver’s license
This is where your new passport or Social Security card comes in handy.
How much does it cost? Up to $32
VEHICLE TITLE AND REGISTRATION
Change the name on your Georgia title at your county tag office. Find an office near you here.
Changing your voter registration varies by county in the state of Georgia, so be sure to check your county’s government website for instructions on updating your voter registration.
Now that all of the government-related steps are complete, it’s time to change your name on personal accounts. First up, we recommend you change your name at your bank or credit union. In instances where businesses might ask for two forms of ID, your new license and a credit/debit card are often checked together, so you’ll want them to match!
To change the name on your account(s), most banks require you to visit a physical branch office with your photo ID and a certified copy of your marriage certificate. While doing this, you can request new debit cards or checks and get it all done at once.
However, if you don’t live near your bank branch or you use remote banking, going to an office might not be possible. Each institution will have a variation of the in-person method. Call the customer support phone number on the back of your card to check and see what their process is.
And lastly, it’s time to update everything else! This includes everything from your social media accounts to your health insurance.
After a few months you’ll probably still be finding accounts out there with your old name, and that’s OK! You’d be surprised just how many places have your name on file. No sweat, you can just change them as you come by them.
Common accounts to get you started include: Home mortgage or rental lease, utilities, mobile plan, internet, pharmacies, medical providers, professional certifications, online subscriptions, investment accounts, loyalty programs (airlines, hotels, etc.) and social media accounts.