Legal Name Change

In the United States, you generally have a legal right to change your name at any time, provided you don't intend to defraud or deceive another person. When your name change isn't part of a marriage or divorce, you must file a petition for a legal name change with your local court. Here's the procedure you'll need to follow when changing your name as an adult or for your minor child. While the process can slightly vary from state to state, general procedures are outlined below.

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  • U.S. Passport
  • U.S. Postal Service
  • Voter Registration
  • Secondary Sources & Agencies
  • Social Security Card
  • Internal Revenue Service File
  • Drivers License & I.D. Cards
  • Vehicle Title & Registration

1. File Your Petition

The first step in changing your name is to obtain the following form from the District or Circuit Clerk of court in your county:

  • Petition for Name Change

Read the instructions carefully and fill out all sections, except for the dates and signatures. You must verify, or sign, your petition in the presence of a certified notary public. Notaries usually charge a small fee for their services. Once you've signed your petition, and filed it with your court clerk, there will be additional procedures specific to your county. The clerk of your county will let you know the Service and Notice procedures that your county requires. You should expect to pay a fee to the court when filing your Petition.

Usually at this time, the clerk will also set a date for hearing. Any additional requirements must be fulfilled before that hearing date.

2. Have Your Fingerprints Taken

Having a state and federal criminal background check is a not a requirement in all states but many states request this be done when you are seeking a legal name change. The purpose of this is to ensure that you are not seeking a name change for purposes of fraud or to hide from authorities. If your state requires this, you'll need to have your fingerprints taken at an IdentoGo Center prior to appearing before the court. This will cost you about $40. You can find a list of IdentoGo Centers here.

3. Attend Your Hearing

After obtaining your fingerprint card, make copies of all paperwork for your records. Attach your fingerprint card to your petition before filing it with your local court clerk. This must be done prior to your hearing. You also must present the clerk any required Proof of Notice and Service.

After all documents have been properly filed, attend the court hearing as directed and appear before the judge. If the judge approves your request for a legal name change, your Order will be signed.

4. Request Your Change of Name Certificate

File your signed Order with the clerk of court to finalize your name change. You will be issued a certified copy of your Order for your Name Change at this time. You'll need this certificate to change your name on a range of documents, including your passport, driver license and Social Security card. You should expect to pay about $10 for each certified copy of your Order. Getting additional copies can be helpful as this certified document is used to prove your legal name change with various agencies.

Begin Your Legal Name Change

Online Name Change Service for Fast, Easy Filing