We Know: How to Change Your Name

What are some reasons I can change my name?

You can change your name if you are marrying, divorcing, becoming a United States citizen, or just because you desire to. You can convert a child's name on adoption into your household, citizenship or any other reason as well.

How do I change my name when I marry or divorce?

If you want to change your name when you get married or divorced, you only need to begin using the new name and present marriage or divorce papers to your local Motor Vehicle Bureau, Social Security Administration, and banking institutions. You can follow the same process if your name change is made on becoming US citizen.

How do I change an adopted child's name?

Changing a child's name on adoption is also automatic, and is part of the adoption process. To change a minor's name for any reason other than adoption, an adult will need to file the petition and attend a hearing.

How do I change my name just because I wish to?

You can change your name by simply using a new name. You usually start this process by asking various agencies (bank, library, Social Security Administration) to change your name, often filling out a change-of-name form. It's easiest to start with a group or agency that does not need an ID in the new name in order to make the change. Once you have one piece of identification, you can use that to help with other agencies. If you want your paycheck to be issued in the new name, it's important to change your name on your Social Security Card early in the process.

For some name changes, such as a passport change, you will need to establish the new name for several years before you will allowed to make a change without going through the court system. You can ask the passport office to list your new name as an also-known-as, so both your old and new names are on the passport.

If you need to make your new name official quickly, you may want to file petition for a name change through the court system.

Why might I want to do file a petition to obtain a name change.

Just because you change your name does not mean your employer, banking institutions and government agencies will accept and use it. The documents produced by a court petition require that they do. Such a petition takes several months to finalize, and costs between $150 to $350.00, depending on the country, locality, or service used.

What name changes are not allowed?

You may not change your name to:

  • Avoid judgments or legal actions against you
  • You may not change your name to defraud anyone
  • To a famous person's name
  • An intentionally confusing name
  • A number or punctuation mark
  • A racial slur
  • Other obscene or offensive words

Who do I need to inform of my new legal name?

Some of the agencies that require notification of a name change are:

  • The Social Security Administration
  • DMV
  • Passport Office
  • Post Office
  • IRS
  • Voter Registration
  • Banks
  • Other financial institutions.

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