Changing your name when you get married can be a pain. You have to notify every individual on earth that this has happened, but after a few years you usually manage to notify most of them, and life goes on. I decided to keep my maiden name as a second middle name. This caused some confusing mix ups with airport security, but I’ve mostly gotten used to explaining why my ID has a dash and the ticket doesn’t. Then things got more difficult, much more difficult…

When you go to apply for a work visa and residence permit in China you need a legal “name change document” if your name has changed. Writing your new name on a marriage license is insufficient for this purpose. This is a problem because in order to be employed in China as an expat we have to prove we have the required skills (education and any relevant company training) to perform the job in question and it just so happens that my diploma has a different last name than my current name. Proving that I am in fact the same person is turning out to be quite the challenge.

Here I sit in a SOS SuperCenter where I’ve been for the past hour, waiting for a massive gold sticker to be put on my CERTIFIED COPY of my marriage license, the day before I am supposed to fly to China for a business visit. I got here through a series of unfortunate events in which I submitted my original marriage license over three weeks ago via mail to be authenticated only to get it back late last week and be told they can’t authenticate the original. Ok. So I’ve brought a certified copy in person (who even owns a certified copy? I have multiple for some reason…How fortunate!), but this is not the end of the story. After both birth certificates and certified copy of the marriage license have massive gold stickers on them we need to get the license notarized at the consulate in Chicago. I’ve taken matters into my own hands at this point and will bring everything to China and see if we can do any of this there at the embassy. I seem to be doing everything the hard way, why not add this to the list! 

For those who are unfamiliar, the gold sticker I am referring to comes from “the office of the great seal” in Michigan. An office I didn’t even know existed. Fun fact for the day. Soon I will have someone validate that the county clerk who validated the secretary who validated the reverend who performed our marriage were all real people with the power to do such things. I can hardly wait. Second in line now…

Update: Names continue to be a challenge for us as we arrived in Shanghai yesterday and found a hand written driver sign that looked like it was for a “David Williama” and a typed one for “David Williams”. Turns out we were meant to go with the man holding the first sign, which we figured out after David talked to someone from the other man’s company on the phone. One of the down sides to having one of the most common last names in the English language I suppose. At least we made it!

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