One day I was out shopping with a Chinese-American friend and he told me he wanted take his (presumably american) wife’s name when he eventually gets married.
This seemed odd as men don’t usually change their name when they get married, so I asked –
- Why do you want to change your last name? 你为什么要变性？
He stopped and looked horrified. Finally he laughed –
- Thank goodness no one heard you. It’s 换姓名, not 变性. I don’t want to become a woman!
(性 xìng = sex; 姓 xìng = surname)
He then proceed to tell me how difficult it is when no one can pronounce or spell your last name. Hmm, I still wanted to take my husband’s name, even if it is Chinese. After 2 years of marriage, I finally got my name changed!
How to change your name:
Changing your name after marriage is actually really simple. You don’t have to go to a courthouse for a legal name change. All you have to do is:
- 1) apply for a name change through the social security office by using your marriage certificate
2) apply for a new driver’s license by using the marriage certificate and the new social security card
After that your name is officially changed and you simply tell your banks and renew your passport and you are done.
The problem with Chinese documents:
Ever notice how things are just a little bit more complicated with a Chinese spouse?
Well, we married in China and so our lovely red marriage books are in Chinese. American people look at them and don’t know what to make of them, even with the stamped translation. I had to wait an unheard of 3 months for the social security office to change my name as they they would not accept an outside translation of nonenglish documents and had an in-house translator do it. My bank actually refused to change the name on my accounts because they could not read my marriage certificate! The process is the same, add a translation, but just because my marriage certificate is in Chinese, it’s taken a bit longer.
I think our problem was that we used the Chinese government certified translation as opposed to an American one. Some people even suggested we marry again in the US just so we would have an English marriage certificate, I don’t think that is necessary.
The problem in reverse is that our Chinese marriage certificate has my maiden name on it, all my other documents are in my married name. I haven’t found a way to convince the Chinese banks that I’m the same person as before, so unfortunately, I just had to take all the money out of the accounts with my bank cards and then open a new account in my new name.
It was a little bit more difficult than it should have been because we married in China, but it all worked out and I have my Chinese husband’s name now!
No, he doesn’t care, but I am happy!