Woohoo, you’re married! Now comes the happily-ever-after part, right? Well … if your journey is anything like mine, the real answer is: now comes three weeks of paperwork, driving from one side of Charlotte to the other, and waiting in line after line. If sharing my mishaps can help save just one newly-married soul from headache after headache, I’ll be happy.
STEP 1) MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE
Before you head down the rabbit hole of changing your name, you’ll need a certified copy of your marriage certificate. (See also: Getting Married in Charlotte, NC: Marriage Licenses & Certificates.)
After your marriage license is processed by the Register of Deeds, you can purchase a certified copy of your marriage certificate ($10 per copy). I bought three copies: one for the Social Security Office, one for the DMV, and one for the U.S. Department of State for updating my passport – because that’s what the clerk at the Register of Deeds told me I needed. Do not do what I did. Turns out, I only needed one certified copy. Both the Social Security Office and the DMV simply looked at the marriage certificate, they did not keep it. I mailed in my certified marriage certificate copy for my passport, but I could have used the same single copy to take to the Social Security Office, then to the DMV, then mailed it in the U.S. Department of State. Save yourself the $20.
STEP 2) SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE
** Important: you must change your name at the Social Security Office before you can change it anywhere else.
SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE: WHERE AND WHEN TO GO
U.S. Social Security Administration
2201 Coronation Boulevard
Charlotte, NC 28227
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Wednesday: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Sunday, Saturday: Closed
SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE: WHAT TO BRING
If you’re a U.S.-born citizen applying for a corrected social security card (changing your name because of marriage counts as a corrected social security card), you’ll need:
SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE: WHAT TO EXPECT
Total time spent in office: 2 hours, 15 minutes
The Social Security Office is pretty easy to find. When you walk in, you’ll have to put all your belongings through a computer tomography (CT) scanner, open any purse or bag for security, and walk through a metal detector.
Once you’re through security, turn to the left and you’ll see a large kiosk. Head over and check yourself in. The kiosk will ask if you have an appointment: you don’t because you can’t make appointments for name changes. I asked. You'll answer a few questions in regard to your visit; a ticket will be printed for you; then you wait.
You can use your cell phone in the waiting area, but no sound – so grab a pair of headphones or plan on playing a game, and settle in. It might take a while. I arrived right around 10:45 a.m. on a Monday and left at exactly 1 p.m.
By the time my ticket number was called and I went to window 4 on Checkers Hall, the process took about a minute. I had everything from my passport to my pre-filled application to my certified marriage certificate copy all in my handy-dandy file folder. The clerk seemed very happy about this. She just typed in the bits of information she needed and asked me to swear that all information I provided was correct to the best of my knowledge.
She gave me a piece of paper with my new name on it, the date of application, and a Social Security Administration stamp. This receipt also said, “You should have your new card in about two weeks.”
STEP 3) DMV
** Important: you must wait at least 24 hours after changing your name at the Social Security Office before you can change it at the DMV.
After you’ve legally changed your name with the Social Security Office, you have 60 days to get an updated North Carolina driver’s license or ID card. You cannot change your name online or by mail.
DMV: WHERE AND WHEN TO GO
From personal experience, I would not recommend the Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road location. I spent two hours waiting only to be told at 5 p.m. (along with about 70 other people), “that’s it, no more tickets – go home.” On my way out the door, I asked the clerk if she could recommend a better time or day of the week to visit. She responded, “if you can’t get here at least an hour-and-a-half before open or be patient enough to wait six hours, don’t bother coming – find a different DMV.”
Another personal note: it’s infuriating to me that there’s a DMV location across the street from the Social Security Office – because you can’t do both on the same day. Pesky 24-hour rule.
Mecklenburg County Driver’s License Office Locations:
6635 Executive Circle
Charlotte, NC 28212
201-H West Arrowood Road
Charlotte, NC 28217
6016 Brookshire Boulevard
Charlotte, NC 28216
12101 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road
Huntersville, NC 28078
Hours (all locations):
Monday – Friday: 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
DMV: WHAT TO BRING
To change your name at the DMV, you’ll need:
If you don’t already have North Carolina’s new N.C. REAL ID card, you might want to consider killing two birds with one stone here. I was told by the DMV clerk that beginning in 2020, federal agencies will enforce tougher security standards at airport check-ins, federal buildings, military installations, and nuclear sites. Of that list, the only thing that affects me in my day-to-day life is the airport bit – come 2020, if I want to fly on any commercial airline I’ll need one of these REAL ID cards. You’re paying $13 for a new card anyway, may as well make it the new card the REAL ID card (doesn’t cost any extra). I scrambled to find one of the documents I needed to go ahead and make this happen – luckily, the DMV had a printer.
If you want a REAL ID card, in addition to the name-change documents listed above, you’ll also need one of the following:
DMV: WHAT TO EXPECT
Total time spent in office(s): 4 hours
After my failed Huntersville DMV attempt, I decided to try the Arrowood location. I got there at 6:45 a.m. on a Tuesday and stood in line behind about 40 other people. By the time the doors opened, there were another 20 or so people in line behind me. Letting in 10 people at a time, they opened the door once every 15 minutes.
Once I got inside, I was asked to have all my paperwork out and ready to expedite check-in. After I got a ticket, it was pretty smooth. I waited another 45 minutes for my ticket number to be called. The clerk typed in my information, no questions, no oaths; he took my picture for my new REAL ID (glad I washed my hair); and printed out a two-week temporary ID card.
Note: if your address is different than what’s printed on your current driver’s license, tell that to the clerk before he/she starts typing anything – if you wait until the end, it’ll be too late. Once it gets to the approval screen, no changes can be made to the mailing address. (Overheard this happen to the guy beside me, poor fella.)
Hope this helps!