Life changes after marriage and for many women along with a change of life also comes a change of name. Miss. T Bhargava, a Mumbai based Lawyer, is engaged and is about to get married in a few months to Mr. B Sharma, a Medical professional. Says Miss. T Bhargava, “First I was wondering if I should replace my surname Bhargava with Mr. B’s surname Sharma after marriage or not. But then I thought I should change it, after all it’s a sign of unity, and also it’s cool.” While this 20-something will go for the traditional and most popular choice, these days many women choose to retain their last name, and some add their husband’s last name to it: heard of Aishwarya Rai Bachhan? This dilemma most women face when getting married or recently married.
To change or not to change the last name is a very personal decision, but if like Miss. T, you do plan to change your name, you will need to get legal and financial documents updated accordingly. Here’s a quick guide to what you should do once you decide to change your name.
Change of name and marriage certificate
There are two ways to change your name. One is to apply for name changed in the state government gazette. If your name change is due to marriage, you can also apply for a marriage certificate at the office of the registrar of marriage.
Keep in mind that it usually takes a month or two for the marriage certificate to reach you. Marriage certificate is the proof of registration of the marriage and a document that helps you get your new name updated across other financial and legal documents.
Though the time to get the certificate is almost the same, the process varies for marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriage Act. As per the official portal of the Indian government, www.India.gov.in, “The Hindu Marriage Act provides for registration of an already solemnized marriage. The Act does not provide for solemnization of a marriage by the registrar. The Special Marriage Act provides for solemnization of a marriage as well as registration by a marriage officer.” Since the process varies slightly across states, we suggest you find out about the process in your state to apply for the certificate.
Permanent account number (PAN)
The next step is to ensure that you get a change of surname on your PAN card. These days it’s almost impossible to do any financial transactions without giving a copy of the PAN card.
“When there is a change of surname post marriage, you need to update your PAN card. The procedure is simple. It’s similar to applying for a new card; the only difference is that you will need to provide your old card number to the authorities. Your new PAN card will carry the old number, but with a new name.”
Keep in mind that you will have to submit your marriage certificate or a copy of the official government gazette, while applying for name change in the PAN card. Even a copy of a joint (with spouse) notarized affidavit will do, to get the PAN updated. Ensure that you inform your employer, chartered accountant and financial adviser about the change in the PAN card name so that your income-tax papers could get updated accordingly.
The next step is to get all your banking relationships up-to-date with your new name. “In case of a woman needing name change after marriage, a marriage certificate is required to be produced for effecting the same in bank records. Banks as per their internal guidelines may seek additional documentation to authenticate the request.”
Generally, the marriage certificate and the joint notarized affidavit from a notary get the job of name change done in banks. When you visit the bank branch, remember to update the change of address along with the name change request. Here, the bank may ask you for your husband’s address proof as well such as a copy of his passport.
“Once your bank statements have your new name and new address, it more or less works as an address proof.”
As far as the affidavit goes, it needs to state the maiden surname, the new changed surname, your photograph and signature as well as your husband’s signature. Usually this notarized affidavit and marriage certificate are needed to change surname on other documents. But keep in mind that getting a change of name at a bank is faster than getting it changed on the passport.
Do ensure that you get the new surname on all your deposit accounts as well as any loan accounts. As far as credit report goes, this is one document where you get a respite from updating your name on your own. “Any changes in customer database, including name and address, get refreshed every month for all loan customers by the bank to Credit Information Bureau (India) Ltd.”
If you already have a passport and need to update your post-marriage new surname, you will have to apply for a re-issue of passport and not a fresh passport. Though the application process remains the same, the documents you will need to get a reissued passport due to name change will be different.
For instance, along with marriage certificate, you will have to submit the old passport in original with a self-attested photocopy and a copy of the husband’s passport.
Other documents where you will need to update your new surname are driving license, voter’s identity card and the likes. “As far as insurance policies go, if you are a nominee, ensure that the correct name is mentioned. You don’t want your old name mentioned as a nominee when you have already changed to a new name. That will only increase problems in the future.”
Also, with a new surname and a possibly new address, you will need to get you know-your-client information updated; name change across other financial investments, such as mutual funds and shares will follow.
“If it’s a property that you own, get the name change updated. Say you own a house, inform the society about the change of surname.”
Ensure there is uniformity in all your financial documents. Of course it’s not as easy as it sounds and you probably have to spend a month or so to get all this done. But it’s best done sooner than later to avoid problems in the future. And if you are a man who wants to take your wife’s surname along with yours, the process still remains the same.
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