There are many things that you need to do when making the decision to get married. It is a big change in life and there are many things that need to be done to make a marriage official on paper and in the eyes of the law. This process may not be as exciting or fun as your wedding, but it is a very important step in the marriage process. Making these changes are crucial to make your marriage official in the eyes of the government. This can help make other parts of the process easier, especially taxes or other documentation that comes along with it.
One thing you definitely need to do is change your name on your Social Security card. There are a few things you need to know before doing this in order to make sure everything goes smoothly. Ensuring you have the right paperwork, information and other items in order will make sure this process goes simply for you.
Getting your name changed with Social Security is the key to help make other name change processes go smoothly, like the Department of Motor Vehicles or your bank. The first thing to do is to collect all the proper paperwork.
You’ll need paperwork to prove that you are a United States citizen. You can use your birth certificate or U.S. passport for this but it is important to note that they must be original copies, even notarized copies are not accepted. If you were not born in the United States, but are going through this process there are a few things you can do if you don’t have a U.S. birth certificate.
If you are a foreign born U.S. citizen, you may also produce a Certificate of Naturalization (N-550/N-570), Certificate of Citizenship (N-560/N-561), Certificate of Report of Birth (DS-1350), or Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240, CRBA). If you are a non-citizen residing in the U.S., that means you will need to show proof of your legal residency. This can be shown with Form I-551 (Lawful Permanent Resident Card, Machine Readable Immigrant Visa), I-766 (Employment Authorization Document, EAD, work permit), I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record), or admission stamp in the unexpired foreign passport.
Next, you’ll need proof of your name change. This can be proved with several things including a marriage document, a Certificate of Naturalization showing the new name or a court order approving the name change.
It’s very important to note that you will need your marriage certificate, not your marriage license. While there is often some confusion about the difference between these items, there is a difference between the two and it’s crucial to understand them or you’ll risk heading to the Social Security office with the wrong document!
A marriage license is the document you receive before you get married, this form provides you with the legal right to get married. It’s often what you see couples signing in movies or at a wedding ceremony to make their marriage “official in ink.”
The marriage certificate is a document you receive after you are married. This is the form the Social Security office is going to need. You also need to make sure you bring the certified copy, not a photocopy or reproduction in any form.
The next thing you’ll need is identification. Most people have this already and on this with them at all times. This can be a driver’s license, government-issued ID card or passport. Military IDs can work as well in some offices, but you may want to call ahead to just make sure. Sometimes they are not accepted or they are only seen as a secondary form of identification. It is always best to check.
Once you have all your personal information, you need the form to make this all happen. That form is the SS-5 from the Social Security Administration. There are many ways you can get ahold of this form.
- Visit a Social Security Administration Office near you to pick up a copy of the application form. To find an office near you, visit www.socialsecurity.gov, call the number at 800-772-1213, or check your local telephone directory.
- Download and print the form: https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf
- Call the Social Security Administration Office at 800-772-1213 to ask for a copy, they could fax it or mail it to you Fill out this form carefully and pay attention to all the details. Even one small error can bounce your application back.
Once you have that form filled out, you are ready to submit. There are a few ways to submit it, you can mail it in or bring to your local Social Security office. Applications for a new or replacement card are processed at all offices and the agency website can be used to find the office closest to your home or work. You can search by zip code for the nearest office at https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp. You can also call 800-772-1213 and ask for the location of the nearest office.
There is no way to apply for this change online because of the important, certified documentation required for the change. If you choose to send your information through the mail, the Social Security office will return your original documents to you. When you get your new Social Security paperwork, the package will also contain your original documents.
If you choose to send your documents via mail, you will have to wait several months for your new card. The process can take up to six weeks.
If you visit an office, the day you bring all your forms you will be issued a temporary social security card with your new name. You’ll still have to wait for a new official card in the mail. But if you’re looking to speed up the name change process this temporary card can help you do so. You can take that card to the bank or Department of Motor Vehicles to get those changed done sooner rather than later. A lot of people take this route because it can speed up the rest of the process and get it done faster.
Like any government office, you may have to wait there for a long time. It is recommended to budget some time for this process in case there is a long wait time. Check the hours ahead of time so you’re not showing up before they close with not enough time. There may be a long wait and these types of offices often close for lunch. It’s very important to check this ahead of time so you don’t risk wasting your time. They are also usually closed on federal holidays like Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Columbus Day and New Year’s Day.
Changing your name on paper can be a very tedious process, but doing your research ahead of time can help save you a headache in the end or forcing you to make a second trip to a Social Security office. Making a marriage official on paper can be the final step into married life for many couples. As much of a headache as the process can be, it can be very exciting to your new card and see your new name on a government document. Take your time getting the paperwork together and double check it before you submit it. Good luck getting this process going and making your new name official.
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