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What Do I Need To Change My Last Name?

When you decide to legally change your last name, one of the first steps is gathering the proper documentation and materials. Having the right items in order streamlines the name change process and sets you up for success. So what exactly will you need to collect before starting your name change journey? Here is a comprehensive look at key documents and information to have ready. This is a comprehensive list and you may only need a few of the items listed below. Court requirements vary quite a bit, depending on where you live now, so you can check with a name change specialist, your local court or other legal professional to get exactly which of these are required for your court.

Documents & Materials Needed

Proof of Identity

The court will require forms of official identification to verify who you are. Have the following current ID ready:

  • Certified copy of your birth certificate – This establishes details like your original legal name, place and date of birth.
  • Driver’s license – Provides your signature and physical details with your photo. Make photocopies of the front and back.
  • Passport – Shows an additional official ID with your photo and details.
  • Social Security card – Have a copy ready, as you will need to give your number and update your card later.
  • Work or school ID – Additional photo IDs help confirm your identity.

The more forms of valid ID you have, the better, as any discrepancies can raise red flags and complicate the name change process.

Recent Photo

If you have your photo on a current government document, such as driver’s license or state ID, that will likely be needed. If your ID is expired, you may be able to use a US Passport or other government issued photo ID. If you have no photo ID, you may be able to use proof of identity with a livescan report.

Proof of US Citizenship

Some courts ask for your citizenship status. Document options include:

  • Certified birth certificate from the U.S.
  • Current U.S. passport
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Green Card or Residency Card


Getting fingerprinted is standard practice during name changes in some states or if you don’t have other acceptable proof of identity. Be ready to visit an approved site like a live scan facility or police station to get fingerprinted. They will provide copies you can submit along with your petition, if required.

Court Forms

Each state has its own required forms to petition the court for a name change. Visit your county court’s website and get familiar with the following:

  • Petition for name change form – Provides your personal info and explains your request.
  • Additional affidavit forms – Supplemental affidavits with your details.
  • Fee/payment form – Declares your ability to pay court costs.
  • Criminal history statement – States you have no criminal background restricting name changes.
  • Notification of hearing – Provides court date and case details.
  • Background check forms – Allows running checks required before approval.

It can take time for courts to process and mail forms, so don’t delay obtaining them. Thoroughly fill them out in advance. Get name change specialist assistance to complete them all, if you can.

ID Fees

Aside from standard court filing fees, factor in other potential costs like:

  • New driver’s license – Approximately $25-50 in most states.
  • New Social Security card – Free for a replacement to update your legal name.
  • New passport – $130 plus $35 processing fee. Renewal for name change free up to 1 year after renewal

Marriage Certificate

If your name change is due to marriage, have a state-certified copy of your marriage certificate ready. This legally links your maiden name to your married name. Make copies in case additional agencies request it.

Other Documents

Depending on your specific situation, you may need to provide supplemental documentation like:

  • Divorce decree – If previously married, the final divorce decree proves you can revert to a prior name depending on the decree language and rules where you are.
  • Name change forms for children – If changing your child’s name, have their documents ready too.
  • Adoption paperwork – Relevant if wanting to change an adopted minor’s name.
  • Gender transition documents – Doctors’ letters may or may not be needed for transgender name changes.

Consult name change specialists or name change clerks from your local court to understand documents required for your circumstances. Obtain certified copies so they are considered official.

Checklist and Notification Templates

Your Checklist should start with social security, driver’s license, passport, bank, voter registration, and professional licenses. Once your name change is approved, you’ll need a Checklist to keep track updating essential ID and template letters to notify other contacts like:

  • Employers – Update work records, payroll, email, etc.
  • Financial institutions – Change bank, investment, credit, and insurance accounts.
  • Government agencies – Notify Social Security, DMV, IRS, State Dept., voter registration, etc.
  • Utilities – Change names on cable, internet, electricity, gas, phone, etc.
  • Subscriptions – Update magazine, newspaper, gym, etc. subscriptions.
  • Family & friends – Inform those close to you.
  • Everything else – Your template letters should go out to the others, such as credit cards and memberships, insurance and medical providers, clubs and subscriptions. Having those  templates ready will cut down on your time to get your new legal name working throughout your real life.

Keeping organized records and copies of all documents makes navigating the multi-step name change process much simpler. Do your homework to understand exactly what your local courts want to see upfront. Being 100% prepared with necessary documents expedites approval so you can adopt your new name smoothly and efficiently.

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