It’s true, your wedding day is one of the best days of your life! Everything comes together to create perfection, and at last, the stresses about your dress, the table plan and whether there’s enough free drinks are all worth it. If you choose to take your partner’s surname, you feel excited (and maybe a little hesitant) as people begin to call you ‘Mr and Mrs [insert name here]’, before you whisk off on a honeymoon that you never want to end.
Sadly, then it’s back to reality. Now begins the journey of officially changing your last name…
Read on to find out what my experience looked like after recently tying the knot!
Where to start?
As a (fingers crossed) once in a lifetime event, changing your surname doesn’t tend to feature in the ‘how to be a grown up’ curriculum. I had initially assumed that this would form part of the marriage registration or certificate, but soon discovered this isn’t the case. With limited recollection of a few vague instructions from the Registrar, I was left to my own devices.
“Hey Google, how do you change your surname after marriage?”
Step 1: Change your ID
The guidance and checklists I found online all had the same thing at the top of the list – update your Driving License with the DVLA. Of course, I’d already updated my social media profiles by this point but agreed that this was a good next step.
Cue another Google search, and I discovered that I needed to collect a D1 application form from the Post Office. Sigh! In hindsight, I should have been thankful that I could easily walk into town to grab one, whilst getting some fresh air – rarer now that home is my main office. A week later, I had finally got around to filling in the form (realising I needed to create a new signature, doing a pretty shoddy job, but deciding I didn’t want to repeat the process all over again), and was back at the Post Office to send it off with my marriage certificate and old license. After getting over the confusion of tracked postal options, step 1 was complete. Woohoo!
Discovering it’s a free service (besides postage). Meanwhile, I won’t be paying £75 to update my surname on my passport until it expires in 2030.
The extra time and effort to collect and send the form in person, compared to doing it digitally, which is doubled if you make a mistake!
Worrying about whether our only marriage certificate would return in one piece, and whether I’d skimped on the cheaper tracked postal option.
Step 2: Inform government & council
In addition to the DVLA, I read that it was important to inform HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the council of my name change. Happily, I found that it was possible to update both departments online, however, it didn’t go quite as smoothly as I’d hoped.
Initially, I’m pleased that I noted down the elusive 12-digit number that is my government gateway ID (go previous me), however this quickly turned to disappointment as I entered it online and was told that my account had been deleted. Whilst the process to create a new ID was relatively straightforward, it was reliant on me proving who I was using documents still linked to my maiden name, ruling out my updated Driving License. I opted to use information from a payslip and realised I’d forgotten the login to access these online, then tried re-setting my password with both my work and personal emails, yet received no link. Attempt abandoned!
I got there with HMRC eventually, and also found a simple form where I could upload a copy of my marriage certificate for the council, however this experience got me thinking about the all-too-common practice of forgetting my username or password. On the one hand, it would have been useful if the payslip website had informed me which sign in field was incorrect, however I had to admit that my own poor organisation was partly to blame. I’d recently listened to a talk on the importance of cyber-security at a conference and was pushed to start using a password manager where I can securely store and remember a broader range of logins for different sites. I would highly recommend doing this if you don’t already.
The ability to update information online, at a time and place of convenience.
The need to recall (and create new) login details that are used irregularly, adding time and frustration to the process.
Finding out my husband’s National Insurance number, which was required by HMRC.
Step 3: Update bank details
Next, I needed to inform my banks and building societies that I was now a Mrs. I wouldn’t say that I have more than the average number of accounts, but when changing my name, they sure seemed to add up. To make it more complicated, I was greeted with a variety of different processes to follow for different banks:
Send message via chat, and upload copy of marriage certificate
Print, fill in, and post form with previous and new signatures
Visit branch with ID and marriage certificate
It probably goes without saying that using the in-app chat was the best and quickest experience offered to me, as I sent one 27-word long message, and my name was updated the same day. Meanwhile, I appreciated the frustration often heard from participants during financial research sessions, experiencing a dwindling number of physical bank branches. For my main Current Account, with no branches near my house, I had to plan ahead and took the required documents into the office for several weeks, until I found time to visit a bank (with counter service, which wasn’t available at the closest branch) in London. This meant the time between setting out to and completing my name change was over a month.
Of course, along with a new name comes new Debit and Credit cards. Don’t get me wrong, I still get a small thrill when receiving post, especially if it contains something new and shiny, but along with it came more admin! I’m sure like a lot of you, my card details are saved with many providers, from e-commerce sites where I shop regularly, to other services such as Airtime Rewards. As a result, this meant repeatedly updating my card details – this is where the features of scanning card details and auto-fill became my new best friends.
Receiving and signing new bank cards, with the latest designs and an expiry date several years away.
The extra time and effort to visit branches in person, compared to updating details digitally.
The know-on impact on payments and need to update online accounts with my new name and card details.
Step 4: Insurance and utilities
Yes, there’s more. Having read online that incorrect details could negatively impact any claims (cue alarm bells), I decided to swiftly update my name on our car and home insurance policies. As a joint policy holder with my husband, who had originally set up both accounts, I had to ask for some help accessing the policies online (obviously I didn’t know the passwords) to make the necessary updates. Again, after following different processes – a phone call and live chat – both had been updated within 15 minutes.
For our utilities, thankfully most of these were in my husband’s name, so I ducked out of contacting several providers. Though this did get me wondering whether my name should also be on these accounts… more admin incoming.
Jazzy waiting music (instead of monotonous dial tone), with regular updates on my position in the queue before my call is answered.
Receiving an immediate email confirmation of changes to the policy, offering peace of mind.
The need to rely on my husband to help make changes, though he should surely share some of the admin, right?!
Step 5: Inform your employer
Compared to the more ‘official’ processes I went through, updating my name with System Concepts was a breeze. I wasn’t asked for any documentation (they must have believed the wedding photos), and everything was updated following a short email and quick phone call to IT. I was also thankful that my work email address doesn’t include my last name, meaning there was no need to update clients with new contact information.
Whilst changing my name at work, I was also prompted to think about my pension, and after digging out some letters, finally got around to registering my account online. Whilst I had to phone the provider to update my name, and was passed through several different departments, it was the perfect opportunity to correct other details that were out of date, including my address. Ok, I admit that this one has been on my to-do list for a while!
Feeling relived that my new surname has been changed on all of the accounts I interact regularly.
Unsure which (of countless) phone numbers to call and being transferred between different pension departments.
Firstly, well done if you made it to the end of this article. I must admit that I haven’t even covered everything here – changing your name is a loooooooooong process! And I know that there are still countless other service providers and accounts awaiting my new details. On the other hand, my life admin is truly back on track; my pension letters are no longer being delivered to my mum’s house and my password management is A LOT better. Was it worth all the hassle? I think so; the new name is finally starting to sink in as I venture into a new chapter of life.
Has this got you thinking how you could improve a process for your customers? If it has, get in touch with one of expert consultants to discuss how we can help…