By Elaine Burrell

Can you believe it? Your wedding day is over. After months, or maybe years of planning, it’s hard to believe it’s come and gone! And while picking out your caterer and florist may have been fun, there is no reason the fun has to end. It’s time to change that last name of yours to match your adoring significant other.

You’ve likely heard horror stories of this process, and probably even read about services that can assist you like www.hitchswitch.com. However, I’m here to tell you that it’s not that bad. (Honest!) And I have a step-by-step guide to share and become your name changing BFF.

First, you need to obtain a copy of your marriage certificate. When you processed your marriage license, you went to the San Francisco County Clerk’s office at City Hall. To now obtain copies of your marriage certificate, you simply go to City Hall again, but this time to the Assessor-Recorder office. I came in on a Friday afternoon, no line, friendly help, and it took five minutes. The processing fee is $15 and each copy of the certificate is $15. You only need to get one copy of your certificate. They hand you the certificate on the spot.

There is an online method of ordering your certificate. I typically order things online as much as possible (hello, Amazon). However, in this case, I do not recommend the online process. I got through all the steps, paid the fee, and then realized you still have to go to a notary to have it signed. It was more work than just going to City Hall in the first place.

Second, you need to update your social security card. The social security office in San Francisco is located in the San Francisco Federal Building at 90 7th Street. Their operating hours are a bit inconvenient: 9:00am-4:00pm Monday thru Friday. However, I arrived on a weekday at 8:50am, went through security, got a number, and was out of there by 9:30am. Bring your marriage certificate (they will hand it back to you after they review it), and your driver’s license. There is no fee for this process, and your name will be updated in the social security database within 48 hours. Your card will arrive in the mail about two weeks later (but you do not need to wait for the card to move on to step three). Next!

Third, you need to update your driver’s license. Okay brace yourself, this is the worst part. I went online to get an appointment at the San Francisco DMV. The next appointment was 3+ months out! That didn’t work for me; I was going to have to brave the DMV line. I arrived at the San Francisco DMV at 2:45pm on a weekday. I was out of there by 5:45pm. (I guess it could be worse?)  Since you are getting a new license, you might as well update it to the new REAL ID requirements. In addition, bring your handy dandy marriage certificate. You will have to take a new license photo, so depending on what your photo looked like before, that could be good or bad. The new license will cost $35. You will get a temporary license on the spot (which works for air travel if you have an upcoming flight). Expect your actual license to arrive in the mail in about one week.

Fourth, Bank. You’ll want to set up an appointment with a banking specialist; typically bank tellers can not process your name change. Each bank is different, but in general, you’ll need to bring your new ID, and that handy dandy marriage certificate.

Fifth, Passport. The process for changing your name on your passport is pretty easy. The website travel.state.gov tells you which form to use. I used Form DS-82. The steps required were: print and fill out the form, take a new passport photo (any Walgreens will take your photo, no appointment needed, for about $15), and write a check for $110. Then mail in all the items as required.

During this entire process, I was in a bit of a “who am I purgatory.” But, day-by-day I continue to update myself on various platforms. Other areas to remember to update: Your employee portal with your employer, your email, frequent flyer miles, upcoming flight tickets, any shopping rewards systems and various accounts you have online.

The entire process took a bit more errand running than I would typically like, but in the end, it didn’t really take too much of my time. Think of it as another piece of the wedding journey. I mean, you only get to change your last name once, hopefully. As someone who is proud to take her husband’s last name, seeing all the new identification arrive in the mail has been a sentimental thing for us. I just wish I could have kept my previous driver’s license photo. C’est la vie!

  • A marriage certificate is necessary for a bride to legally change her last name after the wedding. Additionally, one must need to update social security card, passport and driving license for the process.

    Thank you sharing such a post.