Changing your name after getting married can seem quite daunting. But fear not! Our comprehensive guide will take you through the entire process, from choosing a new name to informing everyone that needs to know.
This article is relevant for any U.K. resident wishing to change their name after getting married. If you live in any other country, different rules, guidelines and laws may apply.
What Are My Married Name Options?
Up until the mid-19th Century, a woman’s surname automatically changed to her husband’s when she got married. But this is no longer case. It is now completely up to you whether you keep your maiden name, or change it. And any married person can choose to change their name, regardless of gender!
If you would like to change your name, your options include:
• Taking your spouse’s name, and ditching your previous surname completely
• Double-barrelling. For instance, if your surnames are Smith and Jones, you could become Mrs Smith-Jones (with or without a hyphen)
• Changing your surname to your spouse’s, but keeping your previous name as a middle name
• ‘Meshing’ your names. For example, if your surnames are Watts and Johnson, you could become Mr and Mrs Watson
• Creating an entirely new surname that doesn’t resemble your old name, nor your partner’s name
For the first two options, the only proof you’ll need is a marriage certificate. But if you want to mesh your names, create a new name, or take your maiden name as a middle name, you’ll need a deed poll. A solicitor can help you make one.
Do I Have to Change My Name Legally After Marriage?
If you’d prefer to avoid the hassle of changing your name, but you still want to be known as ‘Mrs. Jones’ instead of ‘Miss Smith, you can change your name socially, but not legally. This means that you’d go by your new name in casual settings, but officially, you’d still have your maiden name.
For example, you can get a new email address, use your new name on Facebook, and give your new name when making a restaurant reservations. But your driver’s license, passport, bank accounts (and anything else official) would remain in your maiden name.
This is the less-hassle option, but it can still cause confusion. And there are no half-measures: you can’t have one name on your bank account, and another on your driver’s license, for example. Decide whether your name change will be informal or legal, and then commit to it.
Who to Notify When You Change Your Name
You don’t need to go through a legal process to change your name after marriage. You can start going by your new name straight away. But you’ll need to show your marriage certificate as proof when changing your name with certain companies.
Most organizations, such as the DVLA and banks, will need to see the original marriage certificate or an official copy. They won’t accept a home-made photocopy.
Before changing your name, obtain at least 3 official copies of your marriage certificate. That way, if one gets lost, you have at least two backups. You’ll also need a deed poll if you’re changing your forename(s), or it’s not clear how your new surname is derived.
So, who do you have to inform of your new name? Here’s a comprehensive list.
You’ll need to inform each department of the government that’s relevant to you. This may include, among others:
• Universal Credit (if you’re moving in with your spouse)
• Child Benefit Office
• HM Land Registry
The above departments all have online forms you can fill out. You may need to scan your marriage certificate in, or post it to them.
You need to tell HMRC, Universal Credit and Child Benefit if you get married, even if you aren’t changing your name. However, the land registry and DVLA only need to know about name changes. Do this as soon as possible, as you could face a fine if you wait too long!
Banks and Building Societies
Your banks, building societies and credit unions come next. Every bank that you have an account with – whether you’re the sole account holder, or it’s a joint account – will need to be informed of your name change.
Most banks and similar services will ask you to visit a branch in person, in order to change your name. You will have to bring your marriage certificate (or deed poll) with you, as well as your debit card (if applicable) and proof of ID (for example, your driver’s license).
Employer and Pension Provider
If you’re self-employed or own your own business, you only need to inform HMRC of your name change. But if you are employed, you must inform your employer, so that they can change your name on their records and your PAYE details. If you’re still in education, you must also inform your college or university.
Also, update your details with any pension scheme you’re a part of, such as NEST. Your employer may be able to do this for you – ask if you’re not sure.
The Passport Office
You can change your name on your passport up to 3 months before your wedding. This is handy if you plan to go on honeymoon soon after getting married and you want to use your new name straight away.
However, you don’t have to do this straight away – new passports are expensive, and if your old one still has several months or years left on it, you may wish to keep using it. This is perfectly fine. You can keep using your old passport in your maiden name for as long as you like. But if you want to do this, you’ll need to book your flights and accommodation in your maiden name whenever you travel.
Your Local Authority
Your local authority (council) will also need to be informed of your new name. This is for two main reasons:
• The electoral roll; it’s very important that you’re on the electoral roll at the correct address, and under your correct name.
• For council tax billing purposes.
Depending on where you live, you may have to change your name for both of these separately, or there may be one form you can use for both. Click here to find your local council on the gov.uk website.
Landlord or Mortgage Provider
Your landlord (if you rent your home) or your mortgage provider (if you own your home) must be informed if you change your name. Your landlord may need to update your tenancy agreement to reflect your new name. If you rent your property through a letting agent, you can go through them instead of contacting your landlord directly.
If you live in an apartment block, or a managed property of any kind, you might also need to inform the relevant property management company. If you own a leasehold property, you should also inform whoever you pay ground rent to.
You must update your policy with every insurance company that you’re signed up with. Otherwise, you may have trouble when you next try to file a claim, if your name doesn’t match their records. For example:
• Car insurance, and roadside assistance (e.g. the AA or RAC)
• Home, buildings and contents insurance
• Life insurance
• Pet insurance
• Travel insurance (if you have a holiday booked)
• Private medical insurance e.g. Bupa
If you have any kind of insurance through your bank, they’ll usually update the relevant company for you – but it’s best to check, just in case.
Utilities and Services
All utilities and services in your name will need to be updated. This may include:
• Broadband and telephone
• Mobile phone provider
• TV Licensing
In short, any company that regularly bills you for a product or service. You’ll need to contact each one individually. Many of them won’t require any proof of your name change. Those that do may ask to see your marriage certificate.
Loan and Credit Card Companies
If you have taken out any loans or credit cards in your unmarried name, you will need to contact them all and tell them about your name change. They will most likely require proof in the form of your marriage certificate.
Don’t forget about the Student Loans company – even if you went to University years ago or you’re not currently making repayments, they still need to carry your correct details.
If you hold money in any bonds, stocks, company shares, or investment management companies (such as Vanguard), you’ll need to inform them all that you’ve changed your name.
Because they’re dealing with money, you’ll need to prove it’s you with some identification. The specific name change process will vary depending on the company.
Doctor, Dentist and Vet
Your local GP surgery, dentist, and veterinary surgery (if applicable) will all need to know about your new name. It’s particularly important to tell your doctor, so that they can update your NHS health care record. They may require proof, such as your marriage certificate or updated driving license.
If you have kids, you should also inform your children’s school(s), so that they address you properly in letters from now on.
Clubs and Societies
Any clubs or societies where you have a membership will need to be informed. For example:
• The gym
• National Trust or English Heritage membership
• Annual memberships for theme parks
• Football club season tickets
• Support and therapy groups
• Hobby clubs
If you take night education classes anywhere, they’ll also need to know your new name.
Online Accounts and Store Cards
Update your details with:
• Store loyalty cards, such as Tesco Clubcard, Nectar, and Superdrug beauty card
• Subscription services (Netflix, Spotify, magazines, subscription boxes)
• Online shopping accounts (Amazon, eBay, Paypal, Etsy)
• Any other site that you have an account with, such as Google or Apple
Most of these won’t require proof of a name change, but some will. If they do, an updated debit card or driver’s license is usually acceptable.
Finally, don’t forget to change your name on your social media accounts, such as Facebook. You can also create a new email address, and setup mail forwarding from your old one.
How Long Do You Have to Change Your Name After Marriage?
After reading our above guide, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. It’s true – changing your name after marriage can be a hassle.
The good news, however, is that there is no time limit to changing your name once you get married. It isn’t a case of ‘you must change your name within a certain timeframe’.
After you get married, you can wait as long as you like before officially changing your name. You can even start going by your married name socially – for example, on Facebook – long before you update it legally. If you want to, you could wait months or even years!
The only rule is that once you have made the decision to officially change your name – whenever that may be – you must tell the authorities (HMRC, DVLA, local authority, employer, etc) straight away. And once you’ve done that, it’s best to inform everywhere else as soon as you can, to avoid confusion. But before making the switch, you can take as long as you want to think it over.