Changing my Name

I had always had the vague thought that I would change my name when I got married.  I liked the idea of the change marking the transition from single to married.  I also liked the idea of having my new family having the same name.  As I got older and more professionally accomplished, I started thinking it would be harder to change my name.  It was and it wasn’t.  I think, no matter what, there’s always an adjustment to a big change and changing my name was certainly that.  It wasn’t hard because I happen to be in a place in my career where I haven’t published a lot, nor have I had a lot of independent practice since I’ve been in post-graduate training for eleventy-billion years.  But still, it is a big deal.  While you may have differing views on what it means to change your name, here’s some straight-forward tips on the paperwork.

First, obtain multiple official/certified copies of your marriage certificate.  Most places need a copy, although if you’re doing the paperwork in person, you will get the certificate right back.  I didn’t realize this and ordered too many.  Six copies would have been plenty. (Although now I can skip down the street shouting, “I’m married!” while blithely tossing certified copies right and left).

Next stop, Social Security.  You can do this by mail but I chose to stop be the office in downtown San Diego.  Apparently, they really enforce parking rules around here which, honestly, is all of downtown San Diego but one nurse gave me dire warnings about making sure I didn’t get towed at the start of rush hour.  The lobby was full but I was done in 25 minutes.  You need documents proving your identity, name change and U.S. citizenship.  Bring these documents along with your application and you will be set.

I received a letter stating, in effect, that my card was on its way.  The SS guy told me that in California, this is enough to bring to DMV to get a new license that day.  This varies from state to state.  I went to DMV because I had some momentum going.  This momentum stopped when I saw the DMV line so I made an appointment for the next week.  I took this time to change my license from VA to CA, so I also filled out my new voter registration.  I needed my old license, my marriage certificate, debit card/check for the fee and enough knowledge to pass the written driver’s test.   Success!  Here’s a link from CA’s DMV site with a helpful checklist.

After the Social Security change, it was time to change my passport.  I dropped my passport in the mail with a copy of my marriage certificate, appropriate fee, typed DS-5504 form and a recent photo of passport quality.  I was so efficient, in fact, that I completely forgot I was going to Canada in two weeks and passports were now required.  (I hadn’t been to Canada since 2003).  Dumb me!  Fortunately, I could use my military id and leave paperwork but just be aware in case you don’t have that form of id.

Next, I had to change my name with my company in order to make sure everything is ok at tax time.  My company is the US Navy, so I had to route a request chit “respectfully requesting” to change my name.  *Gulp!*  I already had legally.  But really, it’s just a form so that the personnel support division (PSD) can forward it to the central pay office to change the name.  Once that takes effect (~3 weeks), I can change my ID card, email, computer login and hospital badge.  I haven’t done that yet because I need to save stuff from my personal drive on the network and email before I switch my accounts.  But I’ve given myself a deadline of this Friday and the formal name change has been made in the system that counts (DEERS and DFAS).

I’ve also had to change my name with my bank, insurance company, certification board/ABO-OTO for my September test, VA medical board, NPI, BLS/ACLS.  It’s a lot and not all done.  It really just makes for a super lengthy to-do list that is fairly painless.  Now I just need to work on my new signature…

PS: There are some commercial sites that will generate the paperwork for you and articles much better than this one to help you along.   I didn’t think the process was too bad.  Just long, ESPECIALLY when I would be somewhere (*cough*the bank*cough*) and realized I had forgotten my marriage certificate.  This was especially annoying since I had so many copies.  I ultimately just put a copy in my  and SMS’ glove compartments which guaranteed that I would never forget it again. (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-43063810-1’, ‘’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

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