How to Change your Name in the US
How to Change your Name in the US
There are many reasons why you might want to change your name. You may have just gotten married or divorced, or want to start a new life and a new name to go with it. Sometimes people have to change their names after being stalked or to avoid harassing family members or neighbors. Either way, the process is the same whenever you want to change your name in the U.S.
The Steps to Change Your Name
Although you have to take a few steps to change your name legally, it’s not all that difficult.
When You Get Married
When you fill out your marriage license, be sure to enter your new, married name. If you miss this step, it will be more difficult to change it later. You can choose to take your partner’s name or hyphenate; it’s your choice.
After you receive the completed marriage certificate, you can then apply for a new social security card. You can do this in person at the Social Security Administration office or by mail. You will need to fill out a form and show a copy of your marriage license. Your new card should arrive within ten days.
Next, you will need to visit your local DMV and have your driver’s license changed too. Bring your new social security card with you as proof of your new name. You will now want to make sure you change your name on other necessary documents. Each may require a copy of your marriage license and your new social security card. Some examples are:
- Mortgage or lease.
- Bank Accounts.
- Car loans or lease.
- Credit cards.
- Car title.
- Medical offices.
- Voter registration.
- Post office.
- Your passport.
Finally, you will start using your new name in business and personal interactions with other people.
Changing Your Name For Other Reasons
If you choose to change your name for reasons other than marriage or divorce, spend some time thinking about your new name. It’s a big decision, and you should like the name you choose. Try it out on a few people before you commit. You can change any or all parts of your name, first, middle and last. You cannot change your name to avoid the law, bankruptcy, or get out of paying debts.
First, you will need to file a petition with the court to request a name change. You can obtain the form at your local courthouse. You can also download the form from many court websites. You may need supporting documentation such as a divorce decree, immigration paperwork or other forms. In some states, you must undergo a background check and fingerprinting before changing your name. In some cases, the forms must be notarized.
Once you have completed them, drop them off at the county clerk’s office of the court. They will file them and give you a court date. You may also have to pay a fee when registering. Some states also require you to publish your name change in the newspaper before they make a ruling giving the public the opportunity to chime in or object.
Next, you will need to attend your hearing in front of the judge. The court will ask you some questions about why you want your name changed, and generally, it is a smooth process. Arrive at least 15-20 minutes early. In some states, you will need to give a written testimony as to your reasons for the name change. If the court approves your name change, you will leave there with a name change court order.
Now you can use that to get a new social security card. Bring your ID, the court order, and your old social security card to the SS Administrator’s office to fill out a change form.
Visit the DMV to get a new driver’s license as well, once you have gotten your new social security card.
Be sure to change all your other documentation as well such as bank accounts, passport, credit cards, loans, and leases as well as your car title and post office box.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I change my name to anything I want?
Depending on the state yes, however, if the change is due to marriage you may have to follow state laws. You also cannot change your name to avoid debt, commit a crime, or to something offensive or confusing.
Do I have to file in court to change my name?
Surprisingly no, in most states, all you have to do is start using the new name. Issues can arise however when dealing with government agencies who have your birth name recorded.
What are common reasons someone changes their name?
The most common reasons for changing your name are marriages and divorces, but there are other reasons why people want to alter their identity.