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In today’s world, women are independent, educated and employed. They have been to universities, earn their own living, cast their votes with pride, drive cars and bikes confidently and hence a lot of documentation was done in their name before their marriage like education certificates, employment records, aadhar cards, PAN card, Voter ID Card, driving license etc.
Now the question arises, whether you as a woman should be conditioned to change your maiden name in all the documents as a necessary legal procedure or is it just social convention? The answer to this is that Indian law does not require/mandate you to change your surname after marriage. It is a social norm.
Also, it is a myth that your surname will automatically change after marriage or marriage registration. There is no such thing as automatic change in name, there is a due procedure for that, in the lack of which, your name will remain the same.
We see so many celebrities retaining their surnames like Deepika Padukone and so many adding their new surname to their maiden names like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja etc. They retain it because their name is a brand and it would harm their celebrity image, fan following and reputation to jump to any other surname.
Also, you can very well have an emotional attachment from the surname you have been associating yourself with, since birth. And it could be because of sheer unwillingness to adopt any other surname you would not want to put after your name, that you would want to retain your surname.
Though there are many reasons why women would not want the change, there are reasons for you to exercise the different side of this option. Let us first look at the reasons why a woman might want to change their names after marriage:
To avoid the confusion
Surname works more or less as a tag to people. It is expected from a family to have a common surname for all the members. If not, it creates confusion, especially when there are kids involved. For example, Miss Mishra if remains Mishra after marriage, and her husband and kids are, say, Sharma, then it becomes ambiguous for official as well as informal purposes to understand the family dynamics.
To make paperwork easy
What name is one going to have on one’s passport? On her marriage certificate? On the birth certificate of her children? On the ration card? Joint bank accounts? Credit card? Will? Property papers? All of it is easy when the surname is the same as that of her husband’s.
Name does not change your identity
Women go through many changes and adjustments after marriage — new home, new family etc. It takes work and it is honestly a struggle to adapt to a completely new environment. You might think, why create another fuss about not changing the surname and why not simply do what society tells us to do? Your name though is a part of your identity but your identity is not all about your name. This attitude of picking the battles you want to fight is a reason why women change their names after marriage as a social norm.
Now that we have laid down that there’s no legal statute, rule or regulation that mandates the change of surname after marriage, let’s look at the different legalities attached in changing the name.
There are three mandatory things, which are needed to be done for authorizing the name change:
For the affidavit, you need to:
You should always keep a copy of the affidavit with yourself. This is an important document that could come in handy in the future.
After the affidavit is made and submitted, the next step is to publish an advertisement in the local newspaper indicating that you have changed your name. You have to choose two newspapers, one English newspaper and one in the official language of the state.
For example, if you live in Madhya Pradesh, you can opt for Dainik Bhaskar and Times of India/Hindustan Times.
After you have picked your two newspapers, send a request to them, stating the following details:
You should also add your husband’s name and address to it. Once your notification is published in the newspaper, it is advised to collect as many copies as possible as they can be helpful in the future.
Now only one formality is left, which is publishing the name change in the official Gazette of India. After this is done, your name change will be legally complete.
This is mandatory if you are a Central Government employee. However, it is a substantial proof of your name change. Though it is optional for others, it is actually helpful to go through this as well, as it's not a long and painstaking procedure.
Here is what you need to do to submit the Gazette notification:
Carry a copy of the ‘Deed changing name form’ available with the Controller of Publication, Department of Publication;
Alternatively, a letter of declaration from you, stating the need for changing the name;
Carry original copies of advertisements published in the newspapers.
Carry two attested photographs to ensure that there is no interruption in the procedure.
Carry address and identity proof. (The address should be the same throughout, otherwise your application will be rejected).
However, before sending in the following details, it is helpful to call the controller’s office and make due inquiry about what all needs to be sent. The office of the Controller of Publication will send necessary information and copies of all the documents. Once again, it is very important to keep all of this safely for future reference.
Even though you are not a Central Government employee and the gazette procedure is merely optional for you, sometimes banks make this a mandatory requirement so it is better to go through with it to be better safe than sorry.
Your name is your own choice. The law does not mandate a man or a woman to change it necessarily. Hence you do not have to change your name in any official documentation like Aadhar card or PAN card after marriage.
As mentioned and stressed on before, name change after marriage is not necessary for any kind of documents, whether it’s Passports, Aadhar, Pan card or any other document. However if you have a passport before marriage, and you want the name mentioned in it to be altered, you can do that by following some simple steps like:
In case you wish to change you name after marriage, you will have to submit a copy of your husband's passport along with a copy of the marriage certificate that has been attested or supporting evidence such as joint photo with equivalent affidavit (Annexure D').
The above must be submitted either on Passport Seva Kendra or you can make online submission of documents on the website.
The corrected Passport will be sent to you after a few days.
This paper is written in the hope that it will help the readers in getting rid of any myths, problems and confusions about their maiden name and the name they are socially, not legally expected to adopt after marriage. This is written as a support to all the female readers out there who should know that law expects every individual to have a name but it never conditions it to be in certain barriers or boundaries, and doesn’t expect an individual to change it. No official/legal documentation mandates that. It is for the woman to exercise her choice whether to retain her name or to change it. In case she chooses to change her name, this article seeks to work as her legal guide in explaining all the necessary procedures involved.