Article Summary

  • Changing your name on your bank account after marriage is an important step to ensure financial transactions continue smoothly.
  • After the wedding, purchase at least three certified copies of your marriage certificate.
  • Before applying for a change with the bank, you'll need an updated Social Security card and driver's license or other state-issued photo ID with the new name.

Getting married is more than just throwing a big party — it's a major, life-changing event. After the wedding reception and honeymoon are over, several administrative tasks must be completed that are less exciting but important, nonetheless.

If you've decided to change your last name after marriage, you must update personal information on your financial accounts. Although the task can seem daunting, it's a straightforward process once you know what to do.

This guide will outline how to change your name on your bank account after your marriage.

Do You Need To Change Your Name on Your Bank Account?

Changing one's name to match a spouse's may seem like an antiquated, quaint custom. However, it's a custom that is still going strong today. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, roughly 80% of women in opposite-sex marriages have changed their last names to match their husbands'. Also, an additional 5% of married women have changed their names by officially hyphenating their and their partners' last names.[1] Moreover, thousands legally change their last names yearly for any number of other reasons.[2]

Although there's no law requiring a post-wedding bank account name change, it's recommended that all of these adults make sure their names are up-to-date on their bank accounts. Otherwise, the name on someone's driver's license, passport, or other official form of identification (ID) may not match the name on the account. This could potentially limit the owner's access if a bank employee asks to see ID when making a deposit or withdrawal.

How To Change Your Name on Your Bank Account After Marriage

The process for changing your name on your bank account isn't particularly difficult. However, several steps must be taken, including some that must be completed before contacting the bank.

Step 1: Obtain A Marriage Certificate

A marriage certificate is a document issued to the wedding party after tying the knot. This is official proof that you are legally married to your spouse. Typically, a marriage certificate will include the wedding party's names, as well as the name of the officiant and the date, time, and place of the wedding.

A marriage certificate is not the same as a marriage license, which grants the couple official permission to be married. In some jurisdictions, marriage licenses include a marriage certificate section; in others, they are two separate documents. When changing your name, you'll need the marriage certificate rather than the license.

After the wedding, the official will file the marriage certificate (although some jurisdictions allow the wedding couple themselves to file this document) with the government agency issuing the marriage license. Once this step is complete, you can purchase certified copies of the certificate for the name change process that follows. Costs for copies vary by jurisdiction.

Exactly which agency from which you'll be purchasing copies varies by state. You may be able to purchase copies from the clerk of court or recorder's office where you received the marriage license. In other jurisdictions, you may need to purchase certified copies from the county or state vital records office.

It's important to request certified copies of your document; usually, each of these features a raised seal indicating it's an official government-issued certificate. A good rule of thumb is to request three certified copies to have available if needed.

Step 2: Change Your Name with the Social Security Administration

Upon receiving certified copies of the marriage certificate, you must complete a name change with the U.S. government. This involves changing your name with the Social Security Administration and receiving a new Social Security card. Note that your Social Security number will remain the same.

You can visit a Social Security office nearby or apply for a new card by mail. Either way, you will also need to submit:

  • A certified copy of the marriage certificate.
  • Proof of citizenship, such as a certified birth certificate or valid passport.
  • Another form of ID such as a valid driver's license or military ID card (the document must include a photograph of you, as well as your name and date of birth).
  • Your current Social Security card.[3]

Step 3: Update Your Photo ID

Once you have received your updated Social Security card, it’s now time to get a new driver's license or other state-issued photo identification card. You'll need to do this in person at the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You'll need to bring the following documentation:

  • Your updated Social Security card.
  • A certified copy of your marriage certificate.
  • Proof of residence such as a bank statement, utility bill, government mail, lease, or any other official document that includes your name and address.
  • This may also be a good time to change the name on your passport, as well. This can be done via mail through the U.S. Department of State.[4]

Step 4: Change Your Name on Your Bank Account

Once you have an updated Social Security card and photo ID bearing your new name, it's finally time to contact the bank. Some banks allow name changes to be initiated online, while others require in-person visit. At PNC, customers can request name change at their local branch or begin the process by calling the Customer Care Center. Contact your bank to find out what its policies for name changes are.

Whether visiting a bank location in person or using a bank's customer service phone line to initiate a name change, you should be prepared to provide these documents:

  • A certified copy of your marriage certificate.
  • Your updated Social Security card.
  • Your updated photo ID (driver's license, passport, etc.).

You may also be required to supply additional documents, such as a divorce decree, if the maiden name on the marriage certificate doesn't match the name on the bank account. It's important to call the bank and ask for a list of required documents to avoid making an extra trip.

This is also a good time to request a new debit or credit card with your updated name and order a new book of checks to match your account details.

If you wish to add your new spouse to an account or open a new joint account at that bank, you can save some hassle by accomplishing both tasks with one trip to your local branch.

Step 5: Change Your Name on Any Direct Deposits or Withdrawals

Changing your name with any employers or services that initiate direct deposits or withdrawals from the bank account is also important. There's a chance, because the name on the bank account no longer matches the name in their files, the transaction may not go through properly.

How To Change Your Name on Your Bank Account After Marriage FAQs

By law, must I change my name on my bank account after getting married?

No, there's no legal requirement to change your name on a bank account after marriage. However, not doing so can cause headaches. After all, because the name on the account won't match the name on your driver's license, the bank may limit your access to your account.

How much does it cost to change my name on my bank account?

Some banks charge fees for name changes, while others don't. Check with your bank first. At PNC, there is no fee for this service.

How long does it take to change my name on my bank account?

The actual name change at the bank branch shouldn't take more than an hour, if that. However, take into account the time it takes to apply for and receive a certified marriage license copy, as well as an updated Social Security card and new driver's license. Therefore, you should expect the process to take a few weeks from start to finish.

Can I change the name on my bank account online?

Perhaps. This varies per bank; some allow customers to make name changes online, while others require an in-person visit. No matter which name-change method you choose, you'll still need to supply the required documents (a certified copy of your marriage certificate, scans of your Social Security card and photo ID, etc.).

The Bottom Line

Changing the name on your bank account after marriage may seem tricky, but it doesn't have to be a daunting challenge. All you need to know is the bank's requirements and have the correct documents gathered ahead of time.

Done correctly, changing your name on your bank account after marriage can be a relatively straightforward and hassle-free task.