How to change your name after marriage

Changing your last name after you get married is an old tradition that has been around for a long time. Whether the wife takes the husband's name as tradition dictates, he takes hers, or both make the decision to hyphenate, follow the necessary steps to make it official.

Order extra certified copies of your marriage certificate for agencies that require originals before allowing you to change your name on documents, such as the department of motor vehicles.

If you're a man changing your name at marriage, check your marriage certificate to see if there is a space to indicate a name change. If not, you will need court papers to legally change your name. Contact a local attorney to find out the procedure for name changing in your state. (This is not necessary for women.)

Request a new Social Security card or cards reflecting the name change. Call the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 to obtain forms and instructions.

Make an appointment to visit the department of motor vehicles for a new driver's license. Ask in advance which documents you'll need to bring in order to certify the validity of your name change.

Obtain and complete a Passport Amendment/Validation Application. Send this along with appropriate fees, your current passport(s), and a certified documentation of your name change (such as a certified copy of a marriage certificate or court papers) to the nearest passport agency.

Order replacements for checks, business cards, credit cards and other documents that contain your old name.

Call employers and schools (if you are a student) to let them know your new name, and ask them to change it in their records.

Change your name on your car registration, with your insurance and mortgage companies, and with your frequent-flier program.

Contact the post office, utility companies and registrar of voters.

Make the announcement to friends and family (ideally to your in-laws first), using stationery or thank-you cards with your new name printed on them, or order name-change cards designed for such an occasion.