Birds of a Feather

How to change your last name in California June 20, 2009

Filed under: The everyday — kcfeather @ 11:55 pm

Our one year anniversary is coming up – only 2 more weeks! In anticipation of our anniversary, I thought I’d post the following information. It was hard to find all the instructions in one place, so here they are (the basic ones, at least). Consider this my service to humanity for the day.

STEP 1. Change your name with the Social Security Administration

Instructions about how to change your name with the Social Security Administration online at: http://ssa.gov/gethelp1.htm. (You will need to sign in, I think).

Basically, you must fill out this form: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ss-5.pdf and show up at the nearest SSA office (this can be located via zip code at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/FOLO/fo001.jsp) along with the following:

1. passport, or other proof of citizenship such as official birth certificate (not the cute one from the hospital with your footprints; this must be officially issued by the state);

2. current Social Security card; and

3. orignial marriage certificate or court order for name change (a certified copy from the issuing agency is ok, too).

This took me about 30 minutes at the Social Security office, including the wait (the time of which I found useful for making a decision for what name to keep as my new middle name). They will mail you your new Social Security card – they estimate 3-4 weeks, but mine arrived in 6 days.

STEP 2. Change your name at the California DMV

Instructions about how to change your name with the California DMV for your driver’s license (vehicle title is entirely separate, go figure) are online at: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#two504.

Once your name change with the SSA has gone through, go to the nearest DMV (you can schedule an appointment if you like, at https://eg.dmv.ca.gov/foa/clear.do?goTo=officeVisit).

Bring:

1. Your current CA Driver’s License;

2. Your new Social Security Card (they may or may not ask to see this);

3. orignial marriage certificate or court order for name change (a certified copy from the issuing agency is ok, too); and

4. $22 (cash, check or ATM) as of 6/09

When you arrive, they will give you a simple form to fill out (the DL 44C); then you will pay, and they will take your thumbprint and a new picture. They’ll give you an Interim Driver’s License, and will mail you the new one.

This took me about 45 minutes, including the wait (without an appointment).

While at the DMV, you should also change the name on your vehicle title if you own a car/vehicle (I didn’t know that this wasn’t automatically updated based on my DL name change until a year later). So, bring in your title, and they’ll give you a form (Statement of Facts) to fill out and have you apply for a new title. If someone else is on your title, they will also need to sign your title in order for this to happen.

Not sure how long this takes since I am still working on it; however, my sense is it shouldn’t take too long.

STEP 3. Everything Else

Once you have your new Social Security card and DL, you can go to your HR department and change your name within the company/organization you work for. As well, don’t forget:

  • bank accounts
  • credit cards
  • retirement accounts
  • the IRS
  • passport
  • telephone company
  • utilities company
  • charitable organizations you give $ to
  • car insurance
  • medical insurance/doctor’s office
  • alumni association(s)
  • frequent flier mileage programs
  • magazine subscriptions

For most of these you can just call in to customer service; for a few, you will need to send in a copy of your marriage license. Also, some – like magazines – are fairly unimportant. You can let these slide!

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One Response to “How to change your last name in California”

  1. […] an in-depth article on legal name changes, check out this blog post by kcfeather.  It’s from 2009 so the numbers may be different now, but it has some very […]


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