Scottrade Won't Accept My Weird Foreign Marriage Certificate

Kim tells Consumerist that while she lives in the United States, she got married in the Cayman Islands. That sounds very beautiful and romantic and all, but she wondered: would she have problems with the handwritten marriage certificate when she returned home and needed to change her last name? Nope. No private or government institutions had any trouble with the handwritten certificate…except Scottrade. Apparently, online brokerages are stricter about name changes than the U.S. State Department. Who knew?

Kim writes:

I just wanted to share a little story of an issue that I’m having with Scottrade. I’ve been a customer with Scottrade for over 10 years now, and have never had an issue before.

Last year, I got married in the Cayman Islands. I received a Marriage Certificate that was a form that was handwritten and signed by the minister that performed the ceremony. I was actually a little nervous about it at first, but over the next year, I changed my name with the Social Security Administration, the State Department of Motor Vehicles, and the US State Department (for my passport). I also changed my name with credit cards, banks, my employer, etc. No one has given me any trouble except Scottrade.

Scottrade’s legal department requires that a seal be visible on the copy of the marriage license that they are provided. My marriage license does not have a seal, whether on the copy or the original. I spoke with the local branch, and they passed the information to the legal department (including letting them know that I had already changed my name in most other places with no problems). The legal department wouldn’t budge, and will not allow me to change my name on my account.

I spoke with another customer service rep, and they told me that it is possible to open another Scottrade account in the new name (which, of course, won’t be a problem because I have all of the proper ID to prove that my new name is legal). However, I’d rather not do this since I would potentially lose all of my account history information, which is handy to have for tax purposes later on.

Do you have any other suggestions of what I can do to get Scottrade to recognize the marriage license that no one else seems to have a problem with?

If they won’t accept her name change–with or without a wedding–as legal when her Social Security card, driver’s license, and passport have all been changed, then what should she do? Suggestions from other destination wedding brides who changed their names are welcome.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Tongsy says:

    Close her scottrade account and go with someone else. That’s what she should do.

    • VA_White says:

      Yes. Took the words right out of my mouth.

    • tbax929 says:

      Agreed. Vote with your feet, and stop letting companies make ridiculous demands on you. If it was good enough for the damn SSA, DMV, and State Department, it’s good enough for Scottrade.

    • Admiral_John says:

      Yep, if they refuse to budge on this she has two choices: get a county issued marriage license or go to a different brokerage. I say go to a different brokerage.

    • RandomHookup says:

      One issue — moving the account probably has some tax implications. Don’t cause yourself to have to pay more taxes because they won’t change the name on the account.

      • Shadowman615 says:

        Might not if it’s just directly transferring everything to another brokerage. But obviously look into it first! One would hope just threatening to do that would get some manager to get this taken care of anyway.

        • Shadowman615 says:

          Oh, and losing the account history should be a non-issue, really. Just print (or print to a pdf so you can save on the computer if you need to) all of the account statements out before leaving.

      • craptastico says:

        she’d only have tax implications is she sold the securities, not for moving them from one account to another

    • DanRydell says:

      You people are crazy. How the hell are you able to do any business at all when you refuse to do business with any company that makes any minor transgression? Their fault here is being too strict with SECURITY on an account that probably contains a lot of money. And because of that you would take your toys and go home? Come on now.

      It appears that she’s going to need to open a new account somewhere; she chose Scottrade in the past for a reason, and I think she’d want to choose them again for the same reason rather than switching out of spite.

      • sonneillon says:

        A company gets 15 minutes to fix a minor transgression with me. After that I find some place else if it is feasible. Sometimes I’m stuck (contract) and I have to dance for nickles on a phone tree.

      • healthdog says:

        The problem for me would not be the minor trangression. It would be Scottrade’s absolutely ridiculous inflexibility once presented with the logical facts, combined with their “solution” of HER going to more trouble to open a new account.

        That would lead me to believe that their organization is full of insane bureaucrats. And yes, unless it is a utility company, insane bureaucrats will cause me to leave as a customer.

        • Gulliver says:

          I wonder how the post would be different if the OP had said , she went to get money from her Scottrade account, but alas, there was no money in it. A woman obtained a marriage license from Country X and changed the name on my account. She cleaned me out, and they won;t even allow me access to MY money.
          Here is a simple solution. Get a marriage license in the US. Go to the county or city where she lives. Present them with the information that you need a valid US marriage license and presto bango she is taken care of.
          By the way, in the United States they are not required to accept a marriage as valid from another country or even state. Gay people can marry in Canada, but is not considered legal in the socially backward USA.

          • healthdog says:

            She has proper identification from all the relevant Government agencies. If the SSA and DMV accept her info, and Scottrade would accept it as enough to *open a new account*, then they are being insane. She should not have to do anything else, and I would not if I were in her shoes.

    • jimmyhl says:

      If she runs into the same issue with another brokerage, transferring out of SC isn’t going to do anything to help her.

      • Sammich says:

        Except it would be a new account under the name on the rest of her ID. They won’t require the marriage certificate at all.

    • Difdi says:

      RTFA before posting. Makes your post less useless.

  2. marciepooh says:

    Does it matter why she changed her name? Why does she have to tell them why she changed her name?

    • MuffinSangria says:

      Why does she even have to show the marriage cert? A name change isn’t always because of marriage or divorce. She has the properly legal US docs to support her name change. Why the hell would Scottrade need a marriage cert?

      • FatLynn says:

        I think that if you change it for reasons other than marriage, you get a specific document that the OP would not have.

      • Dover says:

        What proper US docs does she have to support the change? She has stuff with her new name and stuff with her old name, sure, but nothing showing the change. As far as I know, a court order (due to divorce or name change petition) or a marriage certificate are the only accepted documents.

        • MuffinSangria says:

          Maybe just the states I’ve lived, but all the name changes I’ve seen from marriage/divorce are all accompanied with court documents. You have to go through the courts to change your name, a marriage cert doesn’t automatically change it. I’m sure she had to bring in the court docs to get a new ID, passport, whatever.

          • Claire says:

            In Texas at least, a Marriage Certificate is all you need. I didn’t receive any documentation other than the Marriage Certificate when I got married, and the clerk at the Marriage License office indicated that the Certificate is all I’d need.

          • Dover says:

            Actually, it sounds like she just needed the marriage certificate for her DL, SS card, and passport. In fact, I’ve never heard of needing court documents in addition to a marriage certificate. What states have you lived in?

          • pop top says:

            When I changed my name I just had to fill out a form to send into the state (MI) with a copy of my marriage certificate and that was that. My marriage cert was the only thing I had to take with me to the SOS and the SSA as well.

          • psm321 says:

            Actually, in most states, the common law on name changes is still in effect. Legally speaking, all you have to do to change your name is start to use the new name. Of course companies aren’t obligated to honor that. IANAL.


        • kc2idf says:

          How about her two Social Security cards, both with the same number, but with different names?

          How about her two passports, both with the same number, but with different names?

          How about her two driver’s licenses, both with the same number, but with different names?

          • Dover says:

            She would have had to surrender the DL (in most states) and passport in order to get new ones, so that wouldn’t work. Two social security cards might be an acceptable method if Scottrade would accept them, but isn’t really “properly legal US docs to support her name change”.

            • jimmyhl says:

              In PA they punch a hole through your old license when they issue a new one and let you keep the old one.

            • Cantras says:

              In my experience they let you keep your passport, they just mark it as invalid. I have 2-3 old ones either with me or at my parents’ house.
              (I got to use it in a scavenger hunt! One of the items was an expired passport, and I happened to have the most recent one in my desk)

            • MNGirl says:

              In Minnesota they clip the corner off and give it back to you. I have a pile of old ID’s in my file.

          • Cantras says:

            They actually don’t let you keep your old DL. I was surprised. The lady got very snippy with me when I said I’d like it for name change proving purposes. “WHO’S asking for that? NO ONE should need that!”
            Off the top of my head, I think I had to give the SS people my previous card as well.

            Every place I wanted it changed with wanted a copy of the certificate. My credit union wanted it notarised (the notary found this sortof stupid, and in fact the whole name-change process was a big stupid ordeal with my CU and no-where else). I think the reason for wanting the certificate — or order or whatever — is that it proves the direction the name change went. I *do* have a passport card with my old name on it. It doesn’t show the issue date. If I give you my passport card and my passport, how do you know which one is more recent?

            • BrianneG says:

              in california they punch a hole in the DL and hand it back to you. I have both old and new in my wallet because I recently went through the marriage and name change thing. T. rowe Price was really good about the name change but I faxed them the CA marriage certificate. I wonder if her county can record the cayman islands certificate and seal it.

        • StutiCebriones says:

          In some states names are common law and can be changed at any time. I changed my name when I graduated from college. Your state may well be the tightass you portray it as, but there are lots of states that aren’t. The only time it was a problem was two years ago when I applied for a passport, but the State Dept. simply asked for copies of IDs and photos before and after, and the passport was routinely granted once I mailed them copies.

    • Dover says:

      She needs to prove the change, not just her new name, and the marriage certificate is that documentation.

    • nova3930 says:

      I would not be surprised if there is some SEC regulation regarding account name changes that they have to abide by. A good friend of mine is an Edward Jones rep and he said they get DAILY regulation updates and additions of anywhere from 20 to 100 pages in length that they have to know and abide by or risk going to prison….

  3. balthisar says:

    Google “apostille” and you’ll find a solution to getting your document recognized.

  4. MaliBoo Radley says:

    My husband (born in the London, UK) has a handwritten birth certificate. I was absolutely surprised when I first saw it. It’s actually in lovely calligraphy. On more than one occasion, when it’s needed to prove identity, people have been quite dubious. Luckily, he can hand over his passport when people need more proof.

    • ktetch says:

      I couldn’t remember if mine was or not. I just looked in my secure document storage after your comment, and yes, mine is too (although the calligraphy isn’t so good.

      • MaliBoo Radley says:

        When I saw that, it really did match that whole “England is precious, twee and quaint” idea. Then I lived in London. That went away in a quick second!

    • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

      I also have a handwritten birth certificate. Born in 81, and it was done in the state of Washington, filled out by a calligrapher friend of my mother. Never had any issues with it!

      • MaliBoo Radley says:

        That’s interesting. I didn’t know we did that in this country. I was born in Virgina in 78. My certificate was typed. My mom’s was as well, and she was born in 51 in Washington, DC.

        The other thing about my husband’s BC is that it’s on A4 paper (sorta like legal paper size), so it’s this rather large, grand document.

        • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

          Yeah, I think it could have been typed if they had chosen to, but it was my mother’s specific choice (and, IIRC, the offer of the calligrapher friend who wanted to do it as something special) to do the certificate that way.

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Seek legal anevues. If all legal identification has been changed they should not stop the name change. I’m sure agencies like th AG and the like could provide assistance.

  6. OneTrickPony says:

    It sounds like she did not obtain her “Registered Marriage Certificate” after her Cayman Islands wedding.

    “One certified copy, sometimes called the Bridal Certificate is yours to keep for your records. …It is your responsibility to obtain the Registered Marriage Certificate (RMC) of your marriage from the General Registry, unless you have arranged with your Civil Registrar/Marriage Officer to obtain this and forward it to you. The RMC has the words “secure copy” on the reverse. On the front it will have the details of your marriage, a watermark of the Coat of Arms of the Cayman Islands and the raised seal of the Registrar General. This document is your legal Marriage Certificate and should be secured with your other important documents.”

    It sounds like she needs to request a registered copy from the Cayman Islands General Registry.

  7. ThunderRoad says:

    Will they except transferring all your assets to another brokerage? Problem solved.

  8. Geekybiker says:

    Goto the courthouse, get a US certificate. This can be done in an afternoon.

  9. Benny Gesserit says:

    A real head-scratcher – I spoke to a couple of women where I work who’d gotten married in the south but they both said the same thing: they did a civil ceremony here in Canada and treat the Island wedding cert as more of a souvenir.

    If it were me, I’d close the account and take the business elsewhere.

    • craptastico says:

      changing brokerage accounts for something trivial like a clerical issue is silly. you pick a brokerage based on their research, fees, etcetera, not on whether they have security that is lax enough to change things just off of a phone call. while this may seem nit picky, overall i’d rather have a broker that is by the book in terms of this stuff

  10. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    Does this mean that she didn’t change her name in the US at all, it was somehow part of the wedding ceremony? I always assumed that a matrimonial name change was done the same as a non-matrimonial name change, through the courts, with the wedding license/certificate as the supporting document.

    • msbask says:

      Not in New York. After I got married, I just used my marriage certificate to change my name with the DMV. After that, everywhere else was easy.

    • Dover says:

      In most places, the marriage certificate is the only documentation needed to accept a husband’s last name. Additional changes or a husband accepting the wife’s last name would need a court order.

    • AnonymousCoward says:

      There are lots of ways to do a name change, all of which have different documentation. For a marriage, the marriage certificate is the only documentation that’s needed or provided.

    • sirwired says:

      AFAIK, the name change is not part of the marriage certificate itself in any jurisdiction. The marriage cert. only records the names at the time of the ceremony. However, marriage is accepted as a reasonable time to change your name, and it is at this time you can choose your new name, providing that the new name is “reasonable” based on the previous names of the couple. (If you wait too long to do so, the DMV and SSA want you to get a separate court order.) The new names are NOT recorded on the marriage cert.

      As an interesting factoid, in most (if not all states) you technically don’t need to do a single thing to change your name other than start using your new name. (Really, this is what you are doing when you change your name as a result of marriage.) That said, it can be a real hassle to convince the DMV, SSA, and State Dept. to change it on your legal documents without the proper court order or a timely marriage cert.

      Outside of marriage, the purpose behind going to court to change your name is to make sure you aren’t doing so to escape financial obligations or the criminal or civil justice system.

      • BrianneG says:

        my marriage certificate has both my old and new names. I had to know what name I was going to use when we applied for the marriage license. In CA, the marriage license is exactly what the marriage certificate will be, it’s just signed, sealed, and recorded.

        The MC is my proof of name change and was necessary for every business and agency that changed my name.

      • MNGirl says:

        On my marriage cert. (in MN) it shows my former name, my husbands name, and then it states what each name we will both have after we are married. That was all I had to fill out.

  11. jimmyhl says:

    If I’m not mistaken she cannot simply transfer her stock or mutual fund holdings from one brokerage to another. Instead she would have to liquidate her holdings and deposit the cash proceeds in the new brokerage. That could entail unwanted sales of holdings at a loss and other unwanted changes in the portfolio. If this is true, she needs to find a way to satisfy SC’s need to document her name change. The poster who suggested requesting the Cayman authorities to issue a document with a raised seal is probably on the right track.

    • Dover says:

      Brokerages use an automated clearing house to transfer securities, liquidation would probably not be necessary (and should be avoided if possible).

      • jimmyhl says:

        Well, that’s good news for her as long as she can find an obliging new brokerage. if not it’s the same problem all over again. Thanks for the info.

        • johnva says:

          The receiving brokerage generally will help you out with coordinating it, because they want to get your business.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      I’ve done it. Although it was with a retirement-type (IRA, etc) account. Nevertheless she should be able to transfer securities and everything.

    • johnva says:

      Totally false. With some halfway competent assistance from the sending and receiving brokerages, liquidation is not at all something you have to do in order to transfer your account. You are not forced to incur tax liability in order to move your account, which could be the case if you liquidated your holdings. The securities themselves can be transferred (though the sending brokerage might give you a little grief over this, the receiving end should basically handle it for you).

  12. benk1342 says:

    This almost happened to my wife after we got married in Japan. Our marriage certificate was written entirely in Japanese, though there was a translation (that I had filled out myself) that had been certified by the U.S. Embassy. We had no problems using it to change my wife’s name with social security, the state, or even USCIS (she is not a US citizen), but our local bank freaked out because nothing on the certificate explicitly said her name was changed. In the end the head office said it was fine, though.

    I know it’s a pain and you shouldn’t have to do it, but you can have your name judicially changed in addition to the matrimonial change. This is different than just getting married over again—this is the process people use when they are changing their names for reasons other than marriage. They probably have forms at the court house. You’ll have to pay a filing fee and there might be a hearing. But at the end you’ll have a court order that shows your name change that the bank will have to accept.

    But, as I said, this is a pain and you shouldn’t have to do it.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Just filing a duplicate marriage with local justice of the peace might not be a bad idea and would probably be cheaper. It would provide a solid US based record of the marriage.

      My wife and I almost got married in a helicopter over Niagra falls. Because of the national border they were going to have us repeat the vows on the ground. Bad weather prevented this plan all together.

    • ramfan1701 says:

      I’m going to probably have to do this because the DMV here in Denver is being so stupid. My husband’s name is technically hyphenated, but he really only uses the last part of it and that’s all I want to take. I had no issue getting a new SS card with just the single last name, and all of my banks, utilities etc have been fine. But after 2 trips and 3+ hours of waiting, (not to mention taking the time off work) I was told by the DMV that per their ‘policy’ I can only take his name exactly as it is on the marriage silence, i.e. the hyphenated name. So, I’d either have to get a new SS card (which I don’t want to do, since the hyphenated name is cumbersome) or, more likely will just go through the court.

      The whole experience has been infuriating and has only solidified my hatred for government bureaucracy. (I’ve had many other issues with the way they’ve handled this; this is just the most egregious part of it)

  13. areaman says:

    My friends got married in Mexico. But first they were married in a small ceremony in the US.

    Wasn’t there a celebrity ‘marriage’ not recognized by the legal system when they wanted a divorce because the couple were ONLY married in Fuji?

    And this might sound kind of odd but I feel like using a marriage certificate issued by the Cayman Islands is like using my Costco card as a form of ID outside of Costco.

    • RandomHookup says:

      It’s no different than recognizing any other kind of government act — adoption, divorce, etc. What some people do is get married by someone allowed (or maybe even not allowed) in that location, but don’t get a license (it’s not always easy to get married in another country). They get the license and a second ceremony back home.

  14. amcfarla says:

    Executive Email Carpet Bomb.

  15. delicatedisarray says:

    I got married in Arkansas, I am currently live in Texas. The county I was married in keeps their marriage documents they same way they have been since the civil war. In large, grand, gilded leather books. So, my marriage certificate lists that the documentation is in book such and such, page such and such, line such and such. It is hand written, very large, and absolutely beautiful! We moved to Texas after our wedding for my husband’s grad school, this is where I went through the process of my name change and also got a Texas driver’s license, it was a royal pain. I had to explain over and over again what it was, what the notations about books meant, and that yes, this really is what was issued to me by the state.

    My advice, good luck and keep pushing. I had to go back to the TexDot people three times before they would issue me a Texas drivers license. Thankfully this is something you can switch groups on if they refuse to cooperate, it isn’t your social security card or driver’s license.

  16. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    Scottrade is VERY strict. They forced me to probate my mother’s estate (we were leaning away from it) in order to get a small amount of money, that just about covered the costs of probate. There were other cost savings to be had from probate so it wasn’t the end of the world, but it was in contradiction to Texas Law. Enforcing the law to get a court order would have cost even more though.

    I still use them though, they were very helpful when it came to processing everything and telling me what I needed.

  17. Garbanzo says:

    My husband changed his name using the common law method. He also had no problem with the State Department, but some companies wanted something “official” looking. He got an official looking “certificate of legal name change” from a Nolo Press book and got it notarized, complete with notary seal. If you go this route, your new passport with your new legal name should be plenty of documentation to satisfy the notary.

  18. Serenefengshui says:

    When will the tide of name changing end?

  19. Mr. Pottersquash says:

    go to vital records, get a sealed copy of her updated info, had it over. done.

  20. Winteridge2 says:

    Lucky for her she is not a native of the Iroquois Nation – she might still be in the Caymans. Even Britain will not recognize their passport. This could be war!

  21. dilbert69 says:

    Wouldn’t the new passport be sufficient proof for ScottTrade?

  22. dilbert69 says:

    Wouldn’t the new passport be sufficient proof for ScottTrade?

  23. thebearinboulder says:

    We had a similar problem after getting married in Vancouver BC a few days before our honeymoon cruise. Those shifty-eyed Canucks, they can’t be trusted. In this case it was the Colorado DMV that refused to take a foreign marriage certificate and US passport as proof of name change. The various idiots insisted that passports prove nothing – you can get a passport with the name of your dog or even “Donald Duck”! (Yeah, prove it!) They would, begrudgingly, admit that the US Passport was proof of identity (after pointing it out on their own website), but that doesn’t prove “name change” even though she still had her old passport and DL.

    Fortunately Colorado allows you to “renew” your vows. Many states don’t. So we just went to the county clerk, basically married ourselves (per state law), and made the microenphelites happy. I have no idea what people do who don’t live in states that allow you to renew your vows. You’re legally married – everyone accepts that – and you could get it serious trouble if you swear that you aren’t currently married when getting a new (not renewed) marriage.