What girl doesn’t grow up dreaming of finding Mr. Right, being whisked of her feet, and riding off into the sunset together? You scribbled “Mrs. Right” all over your notebooks and binders a billion times and started all over with your new crush until you finally meet The One. Then it’s Mrs. One a billion and one times over and over again. Getting hitched doesn’t mean your name automatically changes, though, not even back home, but it’s a boring task nonetheless. And as if it wasn’t hard enough being from the same country, it’s infinitely more difficult in a foreign country, but I’m here to record my experiences so others don’t have to go through the same unnecessary stress I did accomplishing this small dream.
*Note. I am American and married a Korean national only in Korea. Things might be different for those who hold different citizenship.*
So let’s get started. Before I walk through a very detailed explanation of how to acquire the needed forms, I will give you a check list. You will need:
- Korean Marriage License(결인관계증면서), translated into English and notarized by a U.S. Embassy approved notary,
- an appointment at the U.S. embassy,
- a 2×2 in. photo of yourself on white background, no smiles, regular clothes (preferably black, solid clothes), and try not to be too photoshopped.
- the applications for a new passport as well as social security card
You’re married and in Korea once you get your marriage registered at the local 구청, all you need to do is print the marriage certificate which your Korean spouse can easily do. If they don’t know, they can go to this website: http://www.efamily.scourt.go.kr (only your Korean spouse can access this). Once you have your marriage certificate, you need to get it translated into English by an official English translator. I used this woman. Be mindful that when you get a translation, MAKE SURE THEY PUT THEIR PERSONAL OFFICIAL TRANSLATOR INFORMATION ON IT. The Korean notary office will not accept it otherwise. Once you have your marriage certificate done, you will need a Korean notary just like previously mentioned. One place I know that does the embassy approved notary is located on this map called “MOFAT” or 외교통사부 아포스티유:
Once you are there, go to the fifth floor. Looking around you will see some big, lawyer office couches and on the other end of the hall you will see an office building in typical wood paneling fashion. Go there and you will sign that says “Notary 공증 <–” Go into that room. Now, hopefully you speak some Korean because no one would speak to me in English. They will know why you came to them if not. Just hand over your documents. They will ask you to fill out your information for a sheet of paper then to sign another paper that you swear the information is not falsified. Hand over the 25,000원, and leave with one item completed. (In the event that something is wrong with your translation, there is a translation office in the basement of that same building but they might need to show you which elevator to take because that does matter. I found out the hard way.)
One of the steps to changing your name legally in America is by changing your social security number. To do that, go to the following link and print the form. Fill it out and bring it with you. Note that you will not need a second married certificate notarized because the embassy will just copy the one you brought for the SS application. Consider this an accomplishment as well:
Next is filling out the application for a new passport which can be found here. Once you fill it out, agree to their Terms and Conditions and print the application. Make sure to put your new name in the number 1 box and list your maiden name in the number 9 box that says “List all other names you have used”. Print and bring it with you to…
…your appointment at the embassy! To do that, just go to the embassy website in Seoul and make an appointment for a passport change. The passport will cost you 110 USD unless its been less than a year since you received your passport. From what I have heard, the SSN change is free. Here’s the US Embassy website:
Keep in mind that once you get your new passport, you have TWO weeks to report this to immigration or you will receive a fine. The Korean government is serious about keeping updated information on its residents.
A small note about getting your picture taken. Korean photo stores are all over the place and pretty reasonably priced. The problem is they Photoshop until you do not recognize yourself anymore. Photoshop treated pictures are fine for Korean official use but not in America. And also, sizes are different. The passport application has the guidelines printed in the instructions as well so don’t worry. You might not actually have any trouble with a photoshopped picture. How will they know anyways?
Show up no more than 15 minutes before your appointment at the embassy and once you clear through security, enter and begin the end of the journey to changing your legal name to that of your new husband’s!
I will have a post soon on updating your information on your visa with immigration. I will mention this as well here. You need to report any change from 14 days that your name was changed……even if you do not receive it until 10 days or more later since they ship it to the Phillipines. It’s a catch-22. Have some kind of proof of the deliver date because my husband called furious at the ridiculous regulation and they said they’d only forgive it if I proved we received it so late. If you fail to do this, you will incur a huge fine.
Also, when you go to immigration, you will need a document from immigration called the 외국인사설증면서. The bank will want this to change your name on the account which in turn will allow you to move your money freely.