Not all brides opt for adopting the same surname as their new husband. And some husbands prefer to take the surname of their new wife. Either way, the process does not have to be a complicated or difficult one. In South Africa, the Department of Home Affairs will take between three and four months to issue a computerised marriage certificate to women from the time of their actual wedding ceremony. In the meantime, your handwritten certificate is usually acceptable to use when applying for your new Identity Book and your passport. It is, therefore, wise to make copies of your handwritten marriage certificate and your passport and ID book with your maiden name and get them certified by the police. This will ensure that you always have some proof of your maiden and married surnames in the event of losing the originals. Keep at least one copy of each at a trusted friend or family member’s home in case of fire or flood damaging all of your copies.
The first step is to change your surname in your ID book. This is generally the most widely accepted form of identification. Use this document to apply for your driver’s licence next and then your passport. To make these changes, you usually require your 1) birth certificate, 2) current driver’s licence / ID book (depending on which you are changing) and 3) certified marriage certificate. There is usually a specific name change form that you will need to complete, so ask for this.
Fortunately, most of the changes to other relevant documents can be done by faxing or emailing the certified copies of your marriage certificate to the various institutions, so it is not likely that you will need to stand in queues for hours on end, as many envision. However, it is wise to confirm receipt of your faxes and / or emails telephonically to ensure that the process is not unnecessarily delayed. Credit cards need to be changed individually.
For the first few months (at least), keep a Photostatted copy of your marriage certificate in your purse so that your details can be changed if and when required. This is especially useful for shops at which you have an account or for banking. Try to change any and all documents to reflect your new surname within these first few months so that there are no complications further on down the line.
Remember to inform your employer of your name change and have all of your tax forms, pension funds and medical aid details changed. This can usually be done through your company’s Human Resources Department. You will also need new business cards, email signatures, a name badge and a new plaque on your door or desk (if applicable).
Grooms–to-be that decide to change their surname to reflect that of their new wives’ will usually need to get court papers for this. It is best to contact your lawyer and ask him or her about what protocol you will need to follow as this differs for men from country to country.
You will also need to change your name with your local post office, voting registrar, doctor, lawyer, and so on.
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