TN 10 (09-06)
PR 02706.049 Utah
A. PR 06-189 Validity of a Foreign Marriage in the State of Utah - Germany and the Republic of the Fiji Islands
DATE: July 10, 2006
SSA can process the name change because the State of Utah acknowledges a foreign marriage in the Republic of the Fiji Islands, and the wife is taking the husband's last name.
You requested opinions on whether the State of Utah would recognize marriages occurring in Germany and the Republic of the Fiji Islands. You also asked if the marriage certificates were valid proof of a legal name change for the individuals requesting replacement Social Security cards under a new name.
Utah recognizes the validity of marriages contracted outside the jurisdiction of the state, provided the marriage is valid by the laws of the jurisdiction in which such marriage was contracted. Utah would recognize the marriages at issue. Utah recognizes the common law right of an individual to assume a name, which upon common acceptance in the community becomes that person's name, so long as such name is used nonfraudulently. Because Utah recognizes the common law right to change one's name with no required documentation, a married woman may one assume her husband's surname upon marriage, as long as it is not for fraudulent purposes. As such, the marriage certificate is valid proof of a legal name change for Jamie F~ (nee G~) and Priya D.~ P~ (nee N~).
Jamie F~ (nee G~)
You provided us with a copy of an application for a replacement Social Security Number Card in the name of Jamie F~ (nee G~). The application indicated that Ms. F~ is a U.S. citizen. You also provided us with a copy of a German marriage certificate, which states the surnames of the bride and groom and appears to be a custodian-issued certification of the record; a copy of a Utah Driver's License in the name of Jamie G~; and a copy of a U.S. passport in the name of Jamie G~. Priya D.~ P~ (nee N~)
You provided us with a copy of an application for a replacement Social Security Number Card in the name of Priya D.~ P~ (nee N~). The application indicated that Ms. P~ is a 'Legal Alien Allowed To Work. You also provided us with a copy of a marriage certificate from the Republic of the Fiji Islands, which states the surnames of the bride and groom and appears to be a custodian-issued certification of the record; a copy of a U.S. Immigrant Visa in the name of Priya D.~ N~; a copy of verification from the Department of Homeland Security that Priya D.~ N~ is a Lawful Permanent Resident authorized to work in the U.S.; and a copy of a Republic of Fiji Islands passport in the name of Priya D.~ N~.
Utah statutory provisions state that [a] marriage solemnized in any other country, state, or territory, if valid where solemnized, is valid here unless the marriage would be prohibited under another section here of the Utah marriage statue. Utah Code Ann. §§ 30-1-4 (2005). Ms. F~ and Ms. P~ have presented what appear to be custodian-issued marriage certificates, which under Agency policy, may serve as evidence of a valid foreign ceremonial marriage. See POMS GN 00305.020, GN 00301.050.
With regard to the question of whether the marriage certificate is Valid proof of a legal name change, POMS RM 00203.210B provides " that in order for a marriage certificate to be acceptable as an identity document it must show, in addition to the new name, the person's age or date of birth or parents' names." The marriage certificates that you provided contain the required information necessary to be acceptable as an Agency identity document.
In addition, POMS RM 00203.210B.1.d provides" that whether a legal name change for a U.S. resident based on a foreign marriage is valid depends on the law of the State where the applicant resides." There is no Utah statutory provision or case law that provides a definitive answer to the question of whether a marriage certificate is valid proof of a name change; however, Utah recognizes the common law right to change one's name at will, and the State has codified a process to produce a record of the change. See Utah Code Ann. § 42-1-1 through 41-1-3 (2005); In Re Porter, 31 P.2d 519, 521 (Utah 2001). Further, marriage appears to be an event from which a name change is recognized without having to file a separate name change petition. See e.g., Utah County Marriage License Requirements, http://www.co.utah.ut.us/Dept/ClerkAud/marriageLic/index.asp(" If the bride plans on changing her last name, the . . . Drivers License Division will want to see the certified copy of the Marriage License.").
The information that you provided to us indicates that the applications for replacement Social Security Number Cards from Ms. F~ and Ms. P~ reflect their spouses' surnames. It appears that Ms. F~ and Ms. P~ intend to become commonly and generally known in the community under their spouses surnames, which comports with the common law requirement for a legal name change, i.e., common acceptance in the community of the assumed name.
Moreover, the information you provided does not reflect that the requested name changes are for fraudulent purposes.
Therefore, we believe the marriage certificates are valid proof of a legal name change.
Accordingly, we advise that:
(1) The State of Utah recognizes foreign marriages;
(2) The State of Utah would recognize the foreign marriages at issue as valid; and
(3) The marriage certificates presented by Jamie F~ (nee G~) and Priya D.~ P~ (nee N~) are valid proof of a legal name change.
Deana R. E~-L~
Regional Chief Counsel, Region VIII
Teresa H. A~
Assistant Regional Counsel