Married Name Change for Americans Living Abroad

Changing names in the country where you reside

US citizens living abroad may want to change names after marriage. You should first understand the laws surrounding name change in the country where you currently reside. Speak to Vital Statistics, Births, Deaths and Marriages, the General Registry Office or a similar foreign agency abroad for more information.

If your US passport has a visa for that country, you may be unable to apply for a new US passport until your visa is due for renewal. Speak to the immigration department where you reside to learn more.

If you hold a marriage certificate that was issued by an authority in the country where you reside you can simply present that to all local authorities and organizations to have your name changed in all the necessary places.  

In most countries marriage name change is known as an ‘assumed name’, meaning your birth name is always yours to claim. For this reason it’s legal in most countries should you be known by your birth name in your US passport, yet use your married name on your records and identification as issued in a foreign country. You should always travel with your marriage certificate should you need to prove your identity or explain why your identification documents don’t match.


Changing names in the USA

As the SSA accepts foreign issued marriage certificates, you can file form SS-5 with social security to start the process while living abroad. Keep in mind that most state DMV’s will not reissue your driver’s license unless you attend an office in person, and many require your license is updated within so many days of SSA being advised. It’s your choice if you want to start changing names while abroad, or get your name changed with American agencies when you return to the USA.

US organizations have a range of name change procedures and can ask for whatever documents they choose as proof of name change. Not every company will accept a foreign marriage certificate. We recommend changing names on your US photo ID before applying to other companies, this way your name change is less likely to be rejected. 


Image Credit: By Josep Renalias (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


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