Changing your name after you get married is a personal decision that every man and woman has to make. Yes! Men can change their names too if they want to.
If you decide to change your name after you get married, then be prepared. I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit of a chore. It is not as simple as waving a wand. I wish it could be done with just one form! Unfortunately, it’s a P-R-O-C-E-S-S that can take months, depending on how organised or how much spare time you have.
Think of it as your next project, after the wedding planning is over! It is not nearly as much fun but it is a necessary evil if you want to change your name.
I’ll use myself as an example: Julie Mary Cotter married Cameron Lee Muir at a beautiful wedding in Dingle, Ireland in July 2009. I’ll use any excuse to talk about my wedding!
Your options are:
Most people will just need an Official Marriage Certificate (so don’t over-complicate things unless you need to!)
Changing your name after getting married and taking your partner’s last name, hyphenate, or double-barrel, can be done with just an Official Marriage Certificate issued from your state’s Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (BDM). Easy-peasy!
If you want to do anything else, like the name mash-up or the name creation, you will need to get an official Name Change Certificate. This is a much bigger decision to make and shouldn’t be made lightly. If you go down this route, you will end up with a new birth cert, effectively erasing the records of your old name, s it’s not for the faint-hearted!
As most people will go down the Official Marriage Cert route, I am going to focus on that.
The Official Marriage Certificate is not the one you sign on the day of your wedding (that’s still a legal document, so don’t lose it but it’s not the FINAL certificate).
In NSW, to get the final Marriage Certificate from Births, Deaths, and Marriages, you have a few options:
In both these cases, they take your application and match it up with the celebrant’s paperwork, and voilà!
3. Your celebrant can order it for you.
Smart couples go for option 3!! Honestly, there are only advantages to doing it this way. It will cost the same, but you’ll save yourself a bit of hassle by giving yourself one less thing to do. This isn’t normally included in the celebrant’s fee, so you’ll need to pay them for the actual cert.
Next, decide if you want the standard certificate or one of the commemorative ones. There are currently 17 designs to choose from.
If you order the commemorative cert, you get both, the standard one and the pretty one. You will use the standard one to change your name everywhere. The only point of paying extra for the pretty one is if you intend to frame it.
Note- they don’t come together in the post (because a contractor takes care of the pretty ones) so don’t panic when the first one arrives, and you think there has been a mistake. The other will follow shortly.
Standard Certificate $60
Normally it takes anywhere from 1 week to 3 weeks (depending on how busy BDM is), so be patient. Use that time to prepare for Step 3.
Changing your name after getting married means you need to have the final Marriage Certificate in your hands before you can approach most organisations but there are a few things you can get a jump start on while you are waiting for it to arrive.
You can do this straight away. We can do it as part of the ceremony if you want! It’s a nice idea to put your maiden name in brackets so people can still find you. Although, on second thoughts who cares about their high school sweetheart tracking them down on Facebook after they are married?, unless you want an opportunity to gloat about how wonderful your life is now!)
Personal email address
You can do this anytime, even before the wedding.
Work email address
I’m pretty sure everyone in the office will know you are getting married. Just try keeping that a secret while you are engaged. No doubt you’ve had to quickly close your Pinterest boards a few times as your boss walks by and panic when you have forgotten to collect your seating chart from the photocopier.
It’s good that your colleagues know. They can sort out your business cards, your voicemail. and your new email address and signature while you are on your honeymoon.
THE LIST of where to change your name after marriage- in order of importance
Bring the all-important cert to the NSW Service Centre and they will print you a new license on the spot. If you do this within a year of getting married, they don’t charge you for the re-print. It’ll still have the same expiry date as your old one but with your new name.
Bring your new driver’s license and your new Marriage cert and they will change your account name, no bother.
This is a good one to do next, as most medical practitioners will want to know if your Medicare has changed before they start changing your records.
Be careful. Be very very careful! Do not get excited and book the flights for your honeymoon abroad in your married name unless you have your new passport. Airport security will not care less about your easy-to-make mistake. No amount of tears will get you on the plane. So figure out your timings. You could be waiting up to 8 weeks to get your marriage cert from BDM (unless you pay extra for priority) and then you need to leave enough time to apply for and get your new passport which could be an additional few weeks. Depending on when your honeymoon is, it’s probably not worth the stress. Consider changing your passport when you get back. You may be eligible for a free passport if your current passport still has two years of validity.
Obviously, this advice is for Australians only. If you are from another country like me, you will need to check the rules with the passport office in your own country.
By now, you will have the main items changed, and you can breathe a sigh of relief. However don’t rest for too long, as you still have another bazillion to go. Thankfully there are no legal time limits for changing your name, so it’s fine to have both names in circulation at the same time.
Mind, Body & Soul
You made it. I’m exhausted just writing about it….never mind actually doing it. Good luck and just know, we’ve all been there. It’s horrendous but you will get through it. Actually, I still get the odd piece of mail with my old name and I’ve been married 14 years!
Here is a video on the same topic in case you prefer to get your content that way.