How to Change Your Name After Marriage

May 15, 2021

When it comes to your wedding and getting married there are three things that are commonly said. The first is that the day of your wedding will go by in the blink of an eye. The second is to plan for your marriage just as much as you plan your wedding. And the third is that changing your name after you’re married is a tedious and exhausting task. If you are planning to change your name after your wedding, we hope that this post can simplify the process and keep it stress-free.

Of course for many reasons both personal and professional, many people will not choose the traditional route of taking their spouse’s name. Alternatives include no change whatsoever, hyphenating, creating a new last name or adding your maiden name as a middle name. One of the most common complaints however, has always been that there is no unified system, because changing your name is not a one stop shop. That’s why we have also curated a checklist for where you need to change your name.

So here is exactly what you will have to do to change your name:

Here in Ontario, you can either assume your spouse’s last name or proceed with a legal name change. Assuming your spouse’s last name does not alter your birth certificate, whereas a legal name change does. Assuming a last name is significantly easier and is the more popular route by far. If for whatever reason you need/want a legal name change you can apply in tandem with the marriage certificate.

  1. First things first you will need to apply for a marriage certificate. This is not the same thing as the “Record of Solemnization of Marriage”.

    Before you can get a marriage certificate, your marriage needs to be registered. The officiant who performed the marriage is usually responsible for sending your completed and signed marriage licence to ServiceOntario so the marriage can be registered. You can order a marriage certificate about 6-8 weeks after this happens.

    Once your marriage has been registered by your officiant, you can apply for a marriage certificate here. The file-size certificate is all you need, don’t worry about the long-form as that’s used for divorce proceedings.
  2. Your marriage certificate will arrive in the mail, once it arrives head to Service Ontario with your driver’s license, health card and certificate. Tell them you want to assume your spouse’s name. They will take a new photo on the spot and mail you new health card and driver’s license in the following weeks. Luckily, this is free. Update the name on your vehicle registration(s) at the same time while you are there.
  3. Once all your IDs arrive the fun part begins and you can start to update everything. Usually two pieces of ID plus the marriage certificate will allow you to make any changes.
If instead you would like a legal name change find the application here. Keep in mind not to procrastinate if this is the route you want to take as this must be completed within 90 days of your marriage to avoid a charge.

Here is our checklist in order of significance:

  • Head to your bank(s) and update your name on any accounts, mortgages, lines of credit and credit cards. Some banks require you to contact your credit cards while others will automatically update them
  • Call Service Canada to update the name on your social insurance number (you will not receive a new card)
  • Login to the online portal of the Canada Revenue Agency or give them a call to update your name for tax return purposes. While you’re here additionally update your marital status – note that both spouse’s have to update their status
  • Contact any insurance, car, home, life etc. and update your name
  • Update all your utility bills – whenever you get a new bill, contact the company and update your name (ex. hydro, gas, phone bills etc.)
  • Inform your employer of your name change
  • Contact your Doctor’s office, dentist’s office and all other healthcare professionals
  • Apply for a new passport (this one hits a sore spot with the current Covid-19 situation here in Ontario)
  • Memberships – as you receive email subscriptions, double check the names, or any accounts with businesses, clubs, subscriptions etc.

Something to Remember:

Once you have assumed your spouse’s name you can use either your maiden name or your assumed name interchangeably without penalty. This is great news if you find that you have missed updating your name something a year into your marriage. Whatever your reasons for changing your name, it may be quite a lot of work but it is at the same time very exciting! (The author of this post happily traded in a 9-letter last name that included a ‘z’ and ‘w’ for a 5-letter last name). And if you are reading this post, then congratulations are in order on your wedding!

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