TN 3 (07-06)

PR 02706.011 Florida

A. PR 06-272 Irish marriage certificate as evidence of name change for purposes of securing replacement Social Security card - Carol L. C~ - Florida

DATE: August 9, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

Although Florida would recognize an Irish marriage, in order for the marriage certificate furnished by the applicant to be acceptable, it must bear a signatures or recognizable seal, and bear the same pre-marriage last name as that listed on the wife's application.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether a document appearing to be an Irish marriage certificate constituted valid evidence of a name change, such that the former Carol L. C~, resident of Florida, could be issued a new Social Security card with the name Carol L. C~.

ANSWER

No. Although Florida would recognize an Irish marriage, the marriage certificate furnished by the applicant bears no signatures or recognizable seal, and bears a different pre-marriage last name than that listed on her application.

BACKGROUND

On May 8, 2006, Ms. C~ applied for a replacement card bearing the name Carol L. C~. She stated on the application that she is a U.S. citizen holding an SSN card in the name of Carol L. C~. She stated she was born Carol L. M~ to Christopher A. M~ and Lorraine A. M~. She supplied a document entitled “Marriage Certificate” for a marriage performed in Ireland on October 15, 2004, with no signatures and an illegible seal. The certificate indicates that Carol M. C~, resident of Ireland, married Peter W. C~, resident of Ireland.

DISCUSSION

When applying for a replacement SSN card to show a name change, the applicant generally must submit an identity document supporting the change. This may be either a court order or a marriage document. The name-change document should identify the applicant by both the old and new names. In addition, the applicant must submit documentation showing a description or photograph, or biographical information that can be compared to SSA's number holder identification data. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name-change document itself, or on two other identity documents. However, if the name change event occurred more than two years ago, the applicant must submit an identity document in the old name and another identity document in the new name in addition to the name change document.

See POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1). If the state where the applicant resides would acknowledge the foreign marriage, and the wife is taking the husband's last name, SSA can process the name change request. See POMS RM 00203.210(D)(8).

“[A] valid marriage according to the law of a foreign nation will be recognized as such in the United States.” In re Estate of S~, 902 So.2d 915, 918 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005), citing American Airlines, Inc., v. Mejia, 766 So.2d 305, 307 n. 5 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000). Ms. C~'s marriage does not appear to be a type expressly prohibited in Florida, such as a same-sex marriage. See Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.212. Therefore, we have no reason to believe that this marriage would not be recognized by Florida, provided the documentation is adequate.

The documentation of the marriage does not appear adequate under Florida law. Although Florida does not appear to have signing requirements for the certificate itself, the state does require signature and seal to validate a marriage at the licensing stage. Obtaining a license requires an affidavit in writing signed by both parties, identifying themselves. See Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.04(1). Furthermore, the license itself must be under the “hand and seal” (i.e., signature and seal) of the official issuing the license. See Fla. Stat. Ann. 741.01(1).

Here, since there is no license, the certificate must carry the burden of validation in order for the Florida requirements to have any meaning. The certificate in this case bears no signatures and the seal is illegible. Furthermore, the pre-marriage name on the certificate does not match the name on the application. Ms. C~ represents that her current card shows her name as Carol L. C~ and her birth name was Carol L. M~. The certificate gives the bride's pre-marriage name as Carol L. M.~ —C~. Furthermore, the application gives the father's name as Christopher A. M~, but the certificate gives the name of the father of the bride as Christopher J. M~. Since the certificate does not properly document a valid marriage, and since it does not show both the old and new names, it is not sufficient as a name-change document.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we believe SSA cannot process the name change based on the Irish marriage certificate.

Mary A. S~
Regional Chief Counsel
By: ______________
Rollin M~
Assistant Regional Counsel

B. PR 06-255 Foreign Marriage Documents as Evidence of Name Change for Purposes of Securing Replacement Social Security card for Florida Resident

DATE: August 7, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

SSA can process the name change because the State of Florida acknowledges a foreign marriage regardless of the country of origin, and the wife is taking the husband's last name.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

Yes, SSA can process a name change for Florida residents based on foreign marriage documents provided the document(s) appear to be properly formalized and SSA has no information that would rebut the presumption that the purported marriage is valid and provided the applicant provides sufficient proof of identity.

ANSWER

Yes, SSA can process a name change for Florida residents based on foreign marriage documents provided the document(s) appear to be properly formalized and SSA has no information that would rebut the presumption that the purported marriage is valid and provided the applicant provides sufficient proof of identity.

BACKGROUND

The Intelligence Reform Terrorist Provision Act (IRTPA) of 2004 (Pub. L. 108-458), which became effective in December 2005, required changes to the way SSA issues replacement Social Security cards. Some of the changes relate to the documentation required to permit SSA to issue a new card with different name. Recent regulations published to address IRTPA issues clarify that reference to a change of the name on the Social Security card is a “verified legal change[s] to the first name and/or surname." 20 C.F.R. §§ 422.103 and 422.110. The preamble to the regulations explained that SSA added the terms “legal” and “verified” to the parenthetical statement that describes name changes to provide a more precise description of the kind of name change we intended as a basis for a replacement card. See “Social Security Number (SSN) Cards; Limiting Replacement Cards,” 71 Fed. Reg. 43,054, 43,055 (Jul. 31, 2006). Pursuant to POMS provisions published over the last several months, you have been forwarding numerous requests for opinions about whether Florida would accept purported marriage documents from various countries as a basis for permitting a name change. Since, as explained in greater detail below, we have determined that Florida would accept foreign marriage documents as a basis for a name change, we are providing this guidance to help you and field office staff process these cases without the need to refer each one for a legal opinion. It is our understanding that once this opinion is published as precedent, you will only need to refer unusual questions not covered below. Of course, we will be delighted to assist you with those unusual cases as they arise.

DISCUSSION

When applying for a replacement SSN card to show a name change, the applicant generally must submit an identity document supporting the change. This may be either a court order or a marriage document. The name-change document should identify the applicant by both the old and new names. In addition, the applicant must submit documentation showing a description or photograph, or biographical information that can be compared to SSA's number holder identification data. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name change document itself, or on two other identity documents. See POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1). POMS RM 00203.200, “Evidence of Identity for an SSN Card,” secton G(2), gives as examples of required biographical information “age, date of birth, or parents' names.” If the state where the applicant resides would acknowledge the foreign marriage, and the wife is taking the husband's last name (or wants to take a new last name that hyphenates both partners' surnames), SSA can process the name change request. See POMS RM 00203.210(B)(1)(a), (c), (D)(8).

Florida strongly supports an individual's right to control her or his own name, and applies this principle to evidentiary matters that are uncontested. “At common law a person could adopt another name at will, absent a fraudulent, criminal, or wrongful purpose. . . . In keeping with the common law tradition, in Florida a person may adopt a name other than his or her own as long as no fraudulent or wrongful purposes are involved.” Isom v. Circuit Court of the Tenth Judicial Circuit, 437 S.2d 732, 733 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1983). “A facially sufficient petition for name change should be granted in the absence of evidence of a wrongful or fraudulent purpose.” In re Name Change Petition of M~, 892 So.2d 1214, 1214 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2005). Furthermore, Florida evidentiary rules presume validity of marriage and will shift the burden of proof to those contesting the validity of marriage: “[P]resumptions affecting the burden of proof declare or implement some strong social policy of the state, like the validity of a marriage . . . presumptions affecting the burden of producing evidence facilitate the determination of the issues. These presumptions negate the necessity of proof in the absence of contradictory evidence.” Insurance Co. of State of Pa. v. Guzman's Estate, 421 So.2d 597, 602 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1982).

Florida generally recognizes foreign marriages as establishing a valid marriage in Florida. “[A] valid marriage according to the law of a foreign nation will be recognized as such in the United States.” In re Estate of S~, 902 So.2d 915, 918 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2005), citing American Airlines, Inc., v. Mejia, 766 So.2d 305, 307 n. 5 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2000). We found no statute or case law that indicates Florida would treat foreign marriage documents differently based on the country of origin.

This liberal policy, however, would be limited in Florida for certain types of marriage that are expressly prohibited. Florida law does not allow same sex marriage. See Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.212 (2006). Florida public policy is against incestuous marriage: “Whoever knowingly marries or has sexual intercourse with a person to whom he is related by lineal consanguinity, or brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece, commits incest, which constitutes a felony . . . .” Fla. Stat. Ann. § 826.04 (2006). The Florida courts have interpreted the prohibition against sibling marriage to prohibit half-sibling marriage as well. See Carnes v. State, 725 So.2d 417, 418 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1999). Florida also has elaborate rules regarding the age of individuals who may marry:

(1) If either of the parties shall be under the age of 18 years but at least 16 years of age, the county court judge or clerk of the circuit court shall issue a license for the marriage of such party only if there is first presented and filed with him or her the written consent of the parents or guardian of such minor to such marriage, acknowledged before some officer authorized by law to take acknowledgments and administer oaths. However, the license shall be issued without parental consent when both parents of such minor are deceased at the time of making application or when such minor has been married previously.

(2) The county court judge of any county in the state may, in the exercise of his or her discretion, issue a license to marry to any male or female under the age of 18 years, upon application of both parties sworn under oath that they are the parents of a child.

(3) When the fact of pregnancy is verified by the written statement of a licensed physician, the county court judge of any county in the state may, in his or her discretion, issue a license to marry:

(a) To any male or female under the age of 18 years upon application of both parties sworn under oath that they are the expectant parents of a child; or

(b) To any female under the age of 18 years and male over the age of 18 years upon the female's application sworn under oath that she is an expectant parent.

(4) No license to marry shall be granted to any person under the age of 16 years, with or without the consent of the parents, except as provided in subsections (2) and(3).

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.0405 (2006).

In addition, Florida has certain requirements for proper documentation of a marriage. Although Florida does not appear to have signing requirements for the certificate itself, the state does require signature and seal to validate a marriage at the licensing stage. Obtaining a license requires an affidavit in writing signed by both parties, identifying themselves. See Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.04(1) (2006). Furthermore, the license itself must be under the “hand and seal” (i.e., signature and seal) of the official issuing the license. See Fla. Stat. Ann. 741.01(1) (2006). In the absence of a license, the certificate or registry document would need to at least contain a seal and signature of the official issuing the license. We do not believe signatures of the parties to the marriage would be an absolute requirement, since Florida requires this for identification prior to obtaining the license, rather than on the license or certificate itself. We presume, then, that the signature of the official issuing the license indicates that the parties adequately identified themselves to the official.

Under these rules, Florida would accept foreign marriage documents for a proposed name change as long as (1) there is no evidence of fraud or improper purpose in the presentation of alleged marriage documents; (2) there is no evidence of a prohibited type of marriage, such as same sex, incestuous, or underage; and (3) the documents contain a seal and signature of the person issuing the license.

There are a number of scenarios to consider when considering POMS application to a name change request based on foreign marriage documentation. In addition to the marriage document, POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) also requires biographical information that can be compared to the applicant's numident data. If the marriage event occurred within the last two years, POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) requires that the marriage document contain either a photograph of the person or biographical information (information on age, date of birth or parents' names) that can be compared to the NH's numident data. If the marriage document indicates that the marriage occurred within the last two years and contains sufficient biographical data to compare to the numident data, SSA can process the name change. However, if the marriage event occurred over two years ago or the marriage document does not contain sufficient biographical information, POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) requires that the applicant provide two identifying documents, one with the old name and one with the new name in accordance with the list of appropriate identifying documentation found in POMS RM 00203.200(e). Therefore, in this scenario, the name change cannot be processed on the basis of the marriage document(s) alone, but can be processed if the NH produces the other identifying documents that comply with POMS. Please note, if an applicant for name change is not an United States citizen, please follow the procedures listed in POMS RM 00203.210(C) and POMS RM 00203.200(H)(2)(d).

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we believe SSA can process the name change based on a foreign marriage document(s) provided the applicant's name change request complies with the law of Florida and the request is processed consistent with POMS.

Mary A. S~
Regional Chief Counsel
By: ______________
Rollin M~
Assistant Regional Counsel

C. PR 06-253 Foreign Marriage Documents as Evidence of Legal Name Change for Purposes of Securing Replacement Social Security Card for an Florida Resident

DATE: August 7, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

SSA can process the name change because the State of Florida acknowledges a foreign marriage regardless of the country of origin, and the wife is taking the husband's last name.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

Yes, SSA can process a name change for Florida residents based on foreign marriage documents provided the document(s) appear to be properly formalized and SSA has no information that would rebut the presumption that the purported marriage is valid and provided the applicant provides sufficient proof of identity.

ANSWER

Yes, SSA can process a name change for Florida residents based on foreign marriage documents provided the document(s) appear to be properly formalized and SSA has no information that would rebut the presumption that the purported marriage is valid and provided the applicant provides sufficient proof of identity.

BACKGROUND

The Intelligence Reform Terrorist Provision Act (IRTPA) of 2004 (Pub. L. 108-458), which became effective in December 2005, required changes to the way SSA issues replacement Social Security cards. Some of the changes relate to the documentation required to permit SSA to issue a new card with different name. Recent regulations published to address IRTPA issues clarify that reference to a change of the name on the Social Security card is a “verified legal change[s] to the first name and/or surname.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 422.103 and 422.110. The preamble to the regulations explained that SSA added the terms “legal” and “verified” to the parenthetical statement that describes name changes to provide a more precise description of the kind of name change we intended as a basis for a replacement card. See “Social Security Number (SSN) Cards; Limiting Replacement Cards,” 71 Fed. Reg. 43,054, 43,055 (Jul. 31, 2006). Pursuant to POMS provisions published over the last several months, you have been forwarding numerous requests for opinions about whether Florida would accept purported marriage documents from various countries as a basis for permitting a name change. Since, as explained in greater detail below, we have determined that Florida would accept foreign marriage documents as a basis for a name change, we are providing this guidance to help you and field office staff process these cases without the need to refer each one for a legal opinion. It is our understanding that once this opinion is published as precedent, you will only need to refer unusual questions not covered below. Of course, we will be delighted to assist you with those unusual cases as they arise.

DISCUSSION

When applying for a replacement SSN card to show a name change, the applicant generally must submit an identity document supporting the change. This may be either a court order or a marriage document. The name-change document should identify the applicant by both the old and new names. In addition, the applicant must submit documentation showing a description or photograph, or biographical information that can be compared to SSA's number holder identification data. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name change document itself, or on two other identity documents. See POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1). POMS RM 00203.200, “Evidence of Identity for an SSN Card,” secton G(2), gives as examples of required biographical information “age, date of birth, or parents' names.” If the state where the applicant resides would acknowledge the foreign marriage, and the wife is taking the husband's last name (or wants to take a new last name that hyphenates both partners' surnames), SSA can process the name change request. See POMS RM 00203.210(B)(1)(a), (c), (D)(8).

Florida strongly supports an individual's right to control her or his own name, and applies this principle to evidentiary matters that are uncontested. “At common law a person could adopt another name at will, absent a fraudulent, criminal, or wrongful purpose. . . . In keeping with the common law tradition, in Florida a person may adopt a name other than his or her own as long as no fraudulent or wrongful purposes are involved.” Isom v. Circuit Court of the Tenth Judicial Circuit, 437 S.2d 732, 733 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1983). “A facially sufficient petition for name change should be granted in the absence of evidence of a wrongful or fraudulent purpose.” In re Name Change Petition of M~, 892 So.2d 1214, 1214 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2005). Furthermore, Florida evidentiary rules presume validity of marriage and will shift the burden of proof to those contesting the validity of marriage: “[P]resumptions affecting the burden of proof declare or implement some strong social policy of the state, like the validity of a marriage . . . presumptions affecting the burden of producing evidence facilitate the determination of the issues. These presumptions negate the necessity of proof in the absence of contradictory evidence.” Insurance Co. of State of Pa. v. Guzman's Estate, 421 So.2d 597, 602 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1982).

Florida generally recognizes foreign marriages as establishing a valid marriage in Florida. “[A] valid marriage according to the law of a foreign nation will be recognized as such in the United States.” In re Estate of S~, 902 So.2d 915, 918 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2005), citing American Airlines, Inc., v. Mejia, 766 So.2d 305, 307 n. 5 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2000). We found no statute or case law that indicates Florida would treat foreign marriage documents differently based on the country of origin.

This liberal policy, however, would be limited in Florida for certain types of marriage that are expressly prohibited. Florida law does not allow same sex marriage. See Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.212 (2006). Florida public policy is against incestuous marriage: “Whoever knowingly marries or has sexual intercourse with a person to whom he is related by lineal consanguinity, or brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece, commits incest, which constitutes a felony . . . .” Fla. Stat. Ann. § 826.04 (2006). The Florida courts have interpreted the prohibition against sibling marriage to prohibit half-sibling marriage as well. See Carnes v. State, 725 So.2d 417, 418 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1999). Florida also has elaborate rules regarding the age of individuals who may marry:

(1) If either of the parties shall be under the age of 18 years but at least 16 years of age, the county court judge or clerk of the circuit court shall issue a license for the marriage of such party only if there is first presented and filed with him or her the written consent of the parents or guardian of such minor to such marriage, acknowledged before some officer authorized by law to take acknowledgments and administer oaths. However, the license shall be issued without parental consent when both parents of such minor are deceased at the time of making application or when such minor has been married previously.

(2) The county court judge of any county in the state may, in the exercise of his or her discretion, issue a license to marry to any male or female under the age of 18 years, upon application of both parties sworn under oath that they are the parents of a child.

(3) When the fact of pregnancy is verified by the written statement of a licensed physician, the county court judge of any county in the state may, in his or her discretion, issue a license to marry:

(a) To any male or female under the age of 18 years upon application of both parties sworn under oath that they are the expectant parents of a child; or

(b) To any female under the age of 18 years and male over the age of 18 years upon the female's application sworn under oath that she is an expectant parent.

(4) No license to marry shall be granted to any person under the age of 16 years, with or without the consent of the parents, except as provided in subsections (2) and(3).

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.0405 (2006).

In addition, Florida has certain requirements for proper documentation of a marriage. Although Florida does not appear to have signing requirements for the certificate itself, the state does require signature and seal to validate a marriage at the licensing stage. Obtaining a license requires an affidavit in writing signed by both parties, identifying themselves. See Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.04(1) (2006). Furthermore, the license itself must be under the “hand and seal” (i.e., signature and seal) of the official issuing the license. See Fla. Stat. Ann. 741.01(1) (2006). In the absence of a license, the certificate or registry document would need to at least contain a seal and signature of the official issuing the license. We do not believe signatures of the parties to the marriage would be an absolute requirement, since Florida requires this for identification prior to obtaining the license, rather than on the license or certificate itself. We presume, then, that the signature of the official issuing the license indicates that the parties adequately identified themselves to the official.

Under these rules, Florida would accept foreign marriage documents for a proposed name change as long as (1) there is no evidence of fraud or improper purpose in the presentation of alleged marriage documents; (2) there is no evidence of a prohibited type of marriage, such as same sex, incestuous, or underage; and (3) the documents contain a seal and signature of the person issuing the license.

There are a number of scenarios to consider when considering POMS application to a name change request based on foreign marriage documentation. In addition to the marriage document, POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) also requires biographical information that can be compared to the applicant's numident data. If the marriage event occurred within the last two years, POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) requires that the marriage document contain either a photograph of the person or biographical information (information on age, date of birth or parents' names) that can be compared to the NH's numident data. If the marriage document indicates that the marriage occurred within the last two years and contains sufficient biographical data to compare to the numident data, SSA can process the name change. However, if the marriage event occurred over two years ago or the marriage document does not contain sufficient biographical information, POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) requires that the applicant provide two identifying documents, one with the old name and one with the new name in accordance with the list of appropriate identifying documentation found in POMS RM 00203.200(e). Therefore, in this scenario, the name change cannot be processed on the basis of the marriage document(s) alone, but can be processed if the NH produces the other identifying documents that comply with POMS. Please note, if an applicant for name change is not an United States citizen, please follow the procedures listed in POMS RM 00203.210(C) and POMS RM 00203.200(H)(2)(d).

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we believe SSA can process the name change based on a foreign marriage document(s) provided the applicant's name change request complies with the law of Florida and the request is processed consistent with POMS.

Mary A. S~
Regional Chief Counsel
By: ______________
Rollin M~
Assistant Regional Counsel

D. PR 06-215 Bermuda marriage certificate as evidence of name change for purposes of securing replacement Social Security card - Thelma W~ - Florida

DATE: July 31, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

Although Florida would recognize a Bermuda marriage, the marriage certificate furnished by the applicant (i.e., the wife) must bear a signatures or seal, and bear the same name as her current Social Security card as her pre-marriage name.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether a document appearing to be a Bermuda marriage certificate constituted valid evidence of a name change, such that the former Thelma V~, resident of Florida, could be issued a new Social Security card with the name Thelma W~.

ANSWER

No. Although Florida would recognize a Bermuda marriage, the marriage certificate furnished by the applicant bears no signatures or seal, and bears a different name than her current Social Security card as her pre-marriage name.

BACKGROUND

The name of Thelma V. P~, having changed her name in 1980 from her birth name of Thelma S. V~. On January 31, 2006, she applied for a replacement card with the name Thelma S. W~. She supplied a document entitled “Certificate of Marriage” for a marriage performed March 28, 1996, with no signatures or seal. The certificate indicates that Thelma S. T. M. V~ married Gordon R. W~ in Bermuda on March 28, 1996. In addition, she supplied a Certificate of Citizenship showing in the name of Thelma S. V~, a New York State Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage for Thelma V. P~ and Gregory P~, and a 1998 passport with the name Thelma S. W~. Our numident data show her names as Thelma S. V~ and Thelma V. P~.

DISCUSSION

When applying for a replacement SSN to show a name change, the applicant generally must submit an identity document supporting the change. This may be either a court order or a marriage document. The name-change document should identify the applicant by both the old and new names. In addition, the applicant must submit documentation showing a description or photograph, or biographical information that can be compared to SSA's number holder identification data. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name-change document itself, or on two other identity documents. However, if the name change event occurred more than two years ago, the applicant must submit an identity document in the old name and another identity document in the new name in addition to the name change document.

See POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1). If the state where the applicant resides would acknowledge the foreign marriage, and the wife is taking the husband's last name, SSA can process the name change request. See POMS RM 00203.210(D)(8).

“[A] valid marriage according to the law of a foreign nation will be recognized as such in the United States.” In re Estate of S~, 902 So.2d 915, 918 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005), citing American Airlines, Inc., v. Mejia, 766 So.2d 305, 307 n. 5 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000). Ms. W~'s marriage does not appear to be a type expressly prohibited in Florida, such as a same-sex marriage. See Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.212. Therefore, we have no reason to believe that this marriage would not be recognized by Florida, provided the documentation is adequate.

The documentation of the marriage does not appear adequate under Florida law. Although Florida does not appear to have signing requirements for the certificate itself, the state does require signature and seal to validate a marriage at the licensing stage. Obtaining a license requires an affidavit in writing signed by both parties, identifying themselves. See Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.04(1). Furthermore, the license itself must be under the “hand and seal” (i.e., signature and seal) of the official issuing the license. See Fla. Stat. Ann. 741.01(1).

Here, since there is no license, the certificate must carry the burden of validation in order for the Florida requirements to have any meaning. The certificate in this case bears no signatures or seals whatsoever. Furthermore, the pre-marriage name on the certificate does not match our numident data. Our most recent data have her name as Thelma V. P~. She documented this name with 1982 New York State Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage, but the marriage certificate shows her name as Thelma S. T. M. V~. Since the certificate does not properly document a valid marriage, and since it does not show both the old and new names, it is not sufficient as a name-change document.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we believe SSA cannot process the name change based on the Bermuda marriage certificate.

Mary A. S~
Regional Chief Counsel
By: ______________
Rollin M~
Assistant Regional Counsel

E. PR 06-191 St. Lucian marriage certificate as evidence of name change for purposes of securing replacement Social Security card - Andrea E~ - Florida

DATE: July 13, 2004

1. SYLLABUS

The State of Florida would recognize a St. Lucia marriage certificate as being valid evidence of a name change for a Social Security card, as long as the marriage is recognized by Florida and is not expressly prohibited by the State (such as a same-sex marriage). Florida strongly supports an individual's right to control his/her name and applies this principle to evidentiary matters that are uncontested. In other words, provided that there is no evidence of fraud or improper purpose, or any evidence to overcome the presumption of the validity of the marriage, an individual may change his/her name.

The St. Lucia marriage certificate includes names of parents, thus fulfilling evidentiary requirements listed in RM 00203.210 and may be used as acceptable evidence for a name change in the State of Florida, provided that the document meets standards prescribed in GN 00301.030.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether a document appearing to be a St. Luican marriage certificate constituted valid evidence of a name change, such that the former Andrea M. S~, resident of Florida, could be issued a new Social Security card with the name Andrea M. E~.

ANSWER

Yes. The certificate appears valid on its face, and there is no evidence of fraud or illegal purpose. Furthermore, the certificate contains detailed biographical information that satisfies POMS RM 10205.185, “Changing Numident Name Data,” so that there is no need for separate documentation of the old and new names.

BACKGROUND

The applicant, a U.S. citizen, holds an SSN card in the name of Andrea M. S~. On May 8, 2006, she applied for a replacement card with the name Andrea M. E~. She supplied a document entitled “Marriage Certificate” for a marriage performed April 13, 2006, with the signatures of a deputy registrar of civil status and four witnesses. The document indicates that Andrea M. S~ married Paul A. E~. The certificate contains addresses and parent name information, all of which matches SSA numident data, except that the numident data show the mother's name at birth as Judith A. T~, and the marriage certificate does not show a mother's birth name, but shows the mother's current name as Judith A. S~.

DISCUSSION

We described the law governing this case in our prior opinion concerning Inga W~, and will repeat those principles here. The facts, however, are different, because in this case the marriage certificate itself contains detailed biographical information that makes additional identifying documents unnecessary.

When applying for a replacement SSN to show a name change, the applicant generally must document both the name change and her or his identity. The name-change document may be either a court order or a marriage document, and should identify the applicant by both the old and new names. In addition, the applicant must submit documentation showing a description or photograph, or biographical information that can be compared to SSA's number holder identification data. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name-change document itself, or on two other identity documents. See POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1). If the state where the applicant resides would acknowledge the foreign marriage, and the wife is taking the husband's last name, SSA can process the name change request. See POMS RM 00203.210(D)(8).

“[A] valid marriage according to the law of a foreign nation will be recognized as such in the United States.” In re Estate of S~, 902 So.2d 915, 918 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005), citing American Airlines, Inc., v. Mejia, 766 So.2d 305, 307 n. 5 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000). Ms. E~'s marriage does not appear to be a type expressly prohibited in Florida, such as a same-sex marriage. See Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.212. Therefore, we have no reason to believe that this marriage would not be recognized by Florida, provided the documentation is adequate.

The documentation of the marriage appears to be adequate under Florida law to validate a name change. Florida strongly supports an individual's right to control her or his own name, and applies this principle to evidentiary matters that are uncontested. “At common law a person could adopt another name at will, absent a fraudulent, criminal, or wrongful purpose. . . . In keeping with the common law tradition, in Florida a person may adopt a name other than his or her own as long as no fraudulent or wrongful purposes are involved.” Isom v. Circuit Court of the Tenth Judicial Circuit, 437 S.2d 732, 733 (Fla. 2d DCA 1983). “A facially sufficient petition for name change should be granted in the absence of evidence of a wrongful or fraudulent purpose.” In re Name Change Petition of M~, 892 So.2d 1214, 1214 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005). Furthermore, Florida evidentiary rules presume validity of marriage and will shift the burden of proof to those contesting the validity of marriage: “[P]resumptions affecting the burden of proof declare or implement some strong social policy of the state, like the validity of a marriage . . . presumptions affecting the burden of producing evidence facilitate the determination of the issues. These presumptions negate the necessity of proof in the absence of contradictory evidence.” Insurance Co. of State of Pa. v. Guzman's Estate, 421 So.2d 597, 602 (Fla. 4th DCA 1982).

There is no evidence in this case of fraud or improper purpose, nor any evidence to overcome the presumption of the validity of the marriage. Given the liberal state standard for justifying a name change, we believe the state's standard for initial proof of a marriage, when offered soley for the purpose of a name change, would similarly be liberal. We can find no reason that the state of Florida would not recognize the St. Lucian marriage certificate as adequate to support a name change. Therefore, we believe the marriage certificate satisfies the requirement for documentation of the change of name.

POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) also requires documentation of identity separate from documentation of the name change. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name change document itself, or on two other identity documents. See POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1). In this case, the marriage certificate information regarding addresses and parent name information matches SSA numident data, except that the numident data show the mother's name at birth as Judith A. T~, and the marriage certificate does not show a mother's birth name, but shows the mother's current name as Judith A. S~. The numident information however contemplates that a mother's name may change and lists the mother's name at birth, rather than current name. Thus, nothing in the certificate contradicts the numident data.

Therefore, the name change can be processed on the basis of the St. Lucian marriage certificate.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we believe SSA can process the name change on the basis of the St. Lucian marriage certificate.

Mary A. S~
Regional Chief Counsel
By: ______________
Rollin M~
Assistant Regional Counsel

F. PR 06-182 Belize marriage certificate as evidence of name change for purposes of securing replacement Social Security card - Inga W~

DATE: July 3, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

The State of Florida would recognize a Belize marriage certificate as being valid evidence of a name change for a Social Security card, as long as the marriage is recognized by Florida and is not expressly prohibited by the State (such as a same-sex marriage). Florida strongly supports an individual's right to control his/her name and applies this principle to evidentiary matters that are uncontested. In other words, provided that there is no evidence of fraud or improper purpose, or any evidence to overcome the presumption of the validity of the marriage, an individual may change his/her name.

The Belize marriage certificate does not contain a photograph or biographical data to compare with the Numident, as required in RM 10205.185; therefore, the individual must also provide two identifying documents: one in the old name and one in the new name. Additionally, the document must meet the standards outlined in GN 00301.030.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether a document appearing to be a Belize marriage certificate constituted valid evidence of a name change, such that the former Inga L. H~, resident of Florida, could be issued a new Social Security card with the name Inga L. W~.

ANSWER

Yes, provided Ms. W~ also furnishes other valid evidence of identity that satisfies POMS RM 10205.185, “Changing Numident Name Data.”

BACKGROUND

The applicant, a U.S. citizen, holds an SSN card in the name of Inga M.~ L~, her birth name. SSA's numident data shows her name as Inga L. H~ with additional names Inga M. L~ and Inga M. K~. On May 16, 2006, she applied for a replacement card with the name Inga L. W~. She supplied a document entitled "Certified Copy of Duplicate Original Marriage Register" for a marriage solemnized or performed on November 16, 2005, at San Pedro Town, Belize, with signatures of a reverend, an assistant registrar, and two witnesses. The document indicates that Inga L. H.~, divorced, married John P. W~.

DISCUSSION

When applying for a replacement SSN to show a name change, the applicant generally must submit an identity document supporting the change. This may be either a court order or a marriage document. The name-change document should identify the applicant by both the old and new names. In addition, the applicant must submit documentation showing a description or photograph, or biographical information that can be compared to SSA's number holder identification data. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name change document itself, or on two other identity documents. See POMS RM 00202.210((A)(1). If the state where the applicant resides would acknowledge the foreign marriage, and the wife is taking the husband's last name, SSA can process the name change request. See POMS RM 00202.210(D)(8).

“[A] valid marriage according to the law of a foreign nation will be recognized as such in the United States.” In re Estate of S~, 902 So.2d 915, 918 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005), citing American Airlines, Inc., v. Mejia, 766 So.2d 305, 307 n. 5 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000). Ms. W~'s marriage does not appear to be a type expressly prohibited in Florida, such as a same-sex marriage. See Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.212. Therefore, we have no reason to believe that this marriage would not be recognized by Florida, provided the documentation is adequate.

The documentation of the marriage appears to be adequate under Florida law to validate a name change. Florida strongly supports an individual's right to control her or his own name, and applies this principle to evidentiary matters that are uncontested. “At common law a person could adopt another name at will, absent a fraudulent, criminal, or wrongful purpose. . . . In keeping with the common law tradition, in Florida a person may adopt a name other than his or her own as long as no fraudulent or wrongful purposes are involved.” Isom v. Circuit Court of the Tenth Judicial Circuit, 437 S.2d 732, 733 (Fla. 2d DCA 1983). “A facially sufficient petition for name change should be granted in the absence of evidence of a wrongful or fraudulent purpose.