The process of legal name change after marriage in New Jersey

Understanding the Legal Name Change Process Post-Marriage in New Jersey

Changing your name after marriage is a significant milestone that symbolizes a new chapter in your life. In New Jersey, the process is straightforward, but it requires attention to detail to ensure that all legal aspects are correctly handled. This article outlines the steps you need to take to legally change your name after marriage in the Garden State.

Step 1: Obtain Your Marriage Certificate

The first step in legally changing your name after marriage is to obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate. This document serves as the primary legal proof of your marriage and is necessary for updating your name with various government agencies and private institutions.

Step 2: Social Security Administration (SSA)

Once you have your marriage certificate, update your Social Security record by filing Form SS-5, the Application for a Social Security Card, with the SSA. You'll need to provide proof of identity, age, and U.S. citizenship or lawful immigrant status, along with your marriage certificate. There’s no fee for this service, and once processed, you will receive a new Social Security card with your new name.

Step 3: New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC)

Next, update your driver’s license or state ID at the New Jersey MVC. You must do this in person and bring your new Social Security card, current driver’s license or ID, and a certified copy of your marriage certificate. The MVC will then issue you a new license or ID with your new name.

Step 4: Update Your Passport

If you hold a valid U.S. passport, you’ll need to update it to reflect your new name. The process varies depending on how long you have had your current passport. Visit the U.S. Department of State's website for specific instructions related to updating or renewing your passport after a name change.

Step 5: Notify Additional Agencies and Accounts

Other entities that may need to be informed of your name change include:

Contact each organization directly as they may require different forms of notification, such as a letter or a specific form along with copies of your identification and marriage certificate.

Historical References and Notable Examples

The tradition of changing one's surname upon marriage dates back centuries and has evolved over time. For instance, historically in England, under the doctrine of coverture, women were not recognized as independent legal entities separate from their husbands, which necessitated an automatic surname change. While this is no longer the case legally or socially, many still choose to adopt their spouse's surname after marriage.

In recent years, there has been a rise in hyphenated surnames or couples creating a new surname that combines elements of both original names. Such decisions exemplify the modern approach to marital name changes where tradition meets personal choice.


In conclusion, while changing your name after marriage in New Jersey involves several steps across different agencies and organizations, by following this guide diligently, you can navigate the process with ease. Remember always to keep copies of all filed paperwork and confirm that all records reflect your new legal name accurately.