How to Change Your Name in Brooklyn

couple brooklyn bridge

Have you said your vows and danced the night away with your reception guests? If you did, there’s one thing left to do on your newlywed checklist. You may need to change your name.

A name tells the world who you are on paper. And you have the right to change your name to whatever you want, but some cases are a little easier than others. If you’ve just exchanged vows, your task falls into the “easier” category.

Keep reading to find out how to change your name as a resident of the Brooklyn borough of New York City. With the proper documentation, it’s quick and painless. You may fill out some forms, pay a fee, show some proof, and you are on your way to the new you. Take a look at the step-by-step process for different situations.

Name Changes – Marriage

Just got married? Now’s the time to complete that final step in marital bliss.

You may want to change your legal name. Don’t worry though. This is a relatively quick and painless process.

Step One – Decide Your New Name

Can you change your name to whatever you want? Sure, but in New York, you can only change your surname if it’s through marriage, or go back to a maiden name after a divorce.

Additionally, you aren’t required to take your spouse’s last name. So, if you’re still on the fence about it, you don’t need to do this immediately, or ever. Take your time when deciding because this is a big step.

Furthermore, you also don’t have to take your spouse’s surname as is. You both can adopt hybrid versions of your previous last names. Meaning that if you want to take a part of both your last names and create a new one, that’s okay. You also have the option of taking one of your spouse’s previous names.

Lastly, you can also hyphenate all or part of your spouse’s surname to create your new last name. If you are planning on the name change, the city of New York does require picking one of these options if you are changing it because of marriage.

young woman looks thoughtfully through window

Step Two – Fill out Some Forms

If you got married in New York City, you may have filled out your marriage license form already. On that form is the option to change your surname. If you do go with this option, you may have already picked out your new last name when you submitted your paperwork.

Did you decide to change your surname with your paperwork? If so, your new name is effective as soon as the ceremony is over. That was quick and painless, right?

However, if you want your last name changed in Brooklyn but didn’t fill out that part on your marriage license, you have a couple of choices.

First, you can remarry and check the surname option on your form. This may be a solution for anyone who got married out of state but still wants to change their name within the city.

To do this, go to your local city clerk office in Brooklyn:

Brooklyn Municipal Building

210 Joralemon Street, Room 205

Brooklyn, NY 11201

Remember to bring proper identification when you go down to the office, and complete the necessary forms. You can start the process online by going to the “City Clerk Online” option under Marriage License on the city clerk’s official website. They also keep strict business hours, so be sure to show up between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or you may have to return on another day.

Another option is simply to use your new last name as much as possible. New York allows you to use your new surname without going through their office if you do it without ill intent. Meaning, don’t try to defraud or pull one over on the public with your name change and you should be fine.

So, how do you use your new name frequently without going through the New York marriage license process? Well, you still need to change your name with the DMV, IRS, Social Security, and your banks. In most cases, you only need to show proof of your marriage, and that includes your marriage certificate from wherever you obtained it.

Name Changes – Divorce

Sometimes a person’s tale doesn’t end up in a happily-ever-after and they want to change their last name back. This is a relatively easy process as well.

Step One – Wait for the Divorce Judgment

No, you can’t jump the gun and change your name as soon as you get those divorce papers going. You need a judge to grant you the divorce first.

Before filing those divorce papers, though, make sure you ask for a provision to use your previous or maiden name. Your lawyer may already include it because it is a relatively standard request. But make sure you double-check before the judge passes judgment.

What happens if that provision wasn’t included? You may have to change your name back the long way, and that includes petitioning the court.

hand with pen sign document

Step Two – File Your Divorce Decree

Finally received your divorce decree? You’re almost home free, but before you go to change your name, you need to complete one step first. File your divorce decree with your county clerk’s office, or the Office of the City Clerk in Brooklyn.

Filing your decree ensures that your divorce is public record and that it’s easier to change your last name back if you want to.

Additionally, you need to file your divorce decree with other agencies if you plan on changing your last name with them as well. That includes the DMV, Social Security, and IRS. So, be sure to ask for multiple copies of your decree.

Lastly, your divorce decree is proof of your name change so you don’t have to file any additional forms. Simply present your decree with appropriate identification to the other agencies to get them to change your name in their records, too.

Be careful, though. This only works if that special name change provision is in your decree. If it is not, you may either need to request an amendment that may get denied, or go through a general name change petitioning process.

Additional Name Change Tips

Take a look at some more name change tips to ensure you use the name that you want. It’s your right, so don’t forget these little details.

Other Agencies

It may be easy to forget all the other agencies and companies, but you may need to change your name with them, too.

First, start with the Social Security office. It will make your life easier if their records are up to date and you have your new name on a new SS card. You need your marriage certificate and proof of your old name to get that changed if you are changing due to marriage.

woman reading book with dog

If you are changing your name due to divorce, however, bring your divorce decree and your birth certificate.

Next, go to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Even if you don’t drive a car, your official ID needs to reflect your new name. In both cases, you simply need to bring your current driver’s license, or state-issued ID, and your marriage certificate or divorce decree.

Once you have those taken care of, you can also change your name for other things like the IRS, banks, passport, and work records.

Name Petitioning

If neither of those situations will work for you, you can always petition the court for a name change. This process may be relatively expensive and lengthy. It includes:

·         Filing petition forms, notarized

·         Paying court fees

·         Waiting for judgment

·         Publishing new name in the newspaper

If you have all your paperwork, though, you may not need to go through this process if your reasons for a name change is because of marriage or divorce.

Final Word


Changing your last name can be relatively painless if you know the steps beforehand. And taking the time to fill out the correct forms can save you future headaches. Just be sure you pick out the last name you like, otherwise you may be stuck with it for a very long time.

Rebecca B. Lawrence

About Rebecca B. Lawrence

Rebbeca has been writing about weddings, jewelry, and fashion for years. Her favorite place to hang out, aside from this website, is Pinterest. She loves Art Deco Jewelry, beach-themed weddings, and anything related to the British Royal Family.