Changing your name on a Social Security card is easy—as long as you provide the right evidence. These steps are for people who already have Social Security cards. You'll need proof of identity, citizenship, a completed Social Security form, and proof of your name change.
How to notify Social Security of your name change
If you've changed your legal name, the first step is to inform the Social Security office of your new name. To get a Social Security name change on your card, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires three types of documents, regardless of how or why you changed your name. These documents must indicate and prove your:
- New legal name
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or U.S. immigration documents
You can't change the name on your Social Security card online because the SSA requires original documents. You can either mail in the originals or certified copies from the issuing agency, or you can take your documents directly to the nearest SSA office in your county. Going to an SSA office is the quickest and best way to get a Social Security name change, and it provides you with peace of mind that you'll get your original documents back. The SSA also returns mailed original documents, but there's always a chance they could get lost.
Proof of your new legal name
You must submit documents to the SSA to show proof of your name change. If you've had more than one name, provide documents that show the order in which your name has changed. For example, if you were married, then divorced, and then remarried—changing your name each time—you'll bring your marriage licenses and divorce decree.
If you've only had one name change since you got your last Social Security card, you may show only the last document in which you received your new name, such as a marriage license or a court order, depending on how your name changed. Keep in mind, though, that the SSA has the right to ask for documents showing your previous names, so when in doubt, it's best to supply them.
The documents needed for proof of name change include one of the following:
- Court order in a name change proceeding
- Marriage license
- Divorce decree or judgment
- Certificate of naturalization with a new name
- Order or judgment of adoption
A certified copy of your birth certificate can show proof of your name when you were born. You can use other documents to validate your prior names so long as they're either originals or certified copies. You can also use expired documents.
Proof of identity
There are several ways to prove your identity, although you only need one. The best ways are:
- U.S. driver's license
- State ID card
- Unexpired U.S. passport or other passport if you are a noncitizen
If those are unavailable, you can show the following if they contain your photo:
- School or student ID card
- Employer ID card
- U.S. military ID card
- Health insurance ID card
Proof of United States citizenship or other status
Proof of U.S. citizenship or other legal status requires providing one of the following, such as a:
- U.S. birth certificate
- U.S. passport
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Certificate of Citizenship
- Report from the U.S. Consul of a birth abroad
- Form I-551 (Lawful Permanent Resident Card, Machine Readable Immigrant Visa) with your unexpired foreign passport
- I-766 (Employment Authorization Document, EAD, work permit)
- I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) or admission stamp in the unexpired foreign passport
Other documents needed for a Social Security name change
Once you have your documents, you'll need to fill out Social Security Form SS-5. The form is relatively easy to fill out. The full name you want to use goes in the first block. This is the “name to be shown on card." Then fill in the name you were born with, followed by the other names you've used.
You don't need to fill in your parents' Social Security numbers because this isn't an original application for a Social Security number. Listing your parents' names is sufficient. Complete Nos. 1 through 18 on the form. Bring the form with your documents to your local SSA office, or mail the form with your documents.
While you must provide the SSA with several documents and the completed SSA Form SS-5, the process is simple and takes only a few weeks to get a new card. Once you've changed your Social Security card to your new name, you can make changes to other documents, such as your driver's license, much more easily.
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