How to Change Name –
Court Order or Marriage Certificate
The reason people need to know “How to Change Name”, is because they need a document changed somewhere…plain and simple. This article will walk you through the main types of important documents and How to Change Name, whether its for you or your child.
No matter why you wonder How to Change Name, the answer is the same: Get a Court Order or Marriage Certificate. The one exception is called Usage – If you can extensively document that you have been exclusively using the Legal Name you want for at least 5 years, you may be able to get official recognition of it, no guarantees. (see SSA rules)
How to Change Name –
Social Security Administration (SSA)
What they want to see: A Court-ordered name change, or Marriage document, or divorce decree, or Certificate of Naturalization showing new legal name and proof of identity. Complete and submit Request. Many other government agencies will require
proof that you already changed your name with SSA before they’ll agree to change your name records with them.
For more SSA Name Change info, see this link.
How to Change Name – U. S. Passport
What they want to see: Government-issued document (e.g. court order) evidencing your legal name change under federal or state law, or your marriage certificate, or at least 3 public records showing your date and place of birth that show exclusive use of your
assumed name for at least 5 years. Complete and submit Application and fees, plus picture ID if required.
For more Passport Name Change info, see this link.
How to Change Name – School
What they want to see: Schools are very picky about How to Change Name. Access your school website or contact the administrator for its policy. As an example, the University of Michigan accepts a certified copy of a court order, or a marriage certificate or a dissolution decree reflecting the new name in full, or other proof.
For more University of Michigan Name Change info, see this link.
How to Change Name – Birth Certificate
What they want to see: Every State has their own way of producing, managing and maintaining records of birth certificates. These are some examples.
(Illinois) Certified Copy of a State Court Order, or (detailed examples of other acceptable documentation (e.g. adoption). For more State of Illinois Name Change rules, see this link.
(Arkansas) A court order from a court of competent jurisdiction. Other conditions and circumstance may apply. For more State of Arkansas Name Change rules, see this link.
How to Change Name – Banking
What they want to see: Bank of America’s How to Change Name policy, for example, is to accept a Legal Court Order, or Birth Certificate, or Marriage Certificate, or Divorce Decree, or Adoption certificate. Contact your bank or financial institution to see their published rules on How to Change Names on financial accounts.
For more information about Bank of America’s Name Change rules, see this link.
How to Change Name –
Driver’s License or State ID
What they want to see: Each state has their own rules about How to Change Name for Driver’s licenses or State Identification Cards. For example, California’s DMV says a Name Change requested will be verified against your current Social Security Administration account records, so SSA Name Change must occur first. They also require you to complete a full request and present it in person.
For more information about California DMV Name Change rules, see this link.
How to Change Name – Employment and IRS
What they want to see: Every employer has their own policy for How to Change Name. However, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has a published policy (Chapter 20) which states that the [employer] MUST accept and process an employee’s request for a change in name when it results from marriage or court action such as a divorce or legal name change.
For more information about OPM’s published Name Change policies, see this link.
IRS policy about How to Change Name is to refer to SSA (much like California’s DMV and many other organizations).
For more information about IRS Name Change policies, see: IRS TAX TIP 2011-23, February 02, 2011, “A mismatch between the name shown on your tax return and the SSA records can cause problems in the processing of your return and may even delay your refund”.
So, How to Change Names?
With a court order or a marriage license, that’s how! Depending on where you live and what kind of name change you want, the costs and the process will be a little different. For the marriage license, they want a government issued license such as from a city or county, and the Name Change choices are limited. For a court order, they want a judge signed Order – the kind you can get after a Petition for Change of Name, adoption, naturalization, or divorce proceeding – and those kinds of Name Changes are nearly unlimited in the exact New Legal Name you can have.
When you’ve gathered enough information about How to Change Name, and you need a court order – Get a properly completed Petition with instructions about how and where to file it … and do it! Everyone who gets their Decree Changing Name is glad they made the effort. When the Legal Name you want is worth it, getting it done is a very satisfying experience.