How to Change Your First Name Legally

By Lisa Magloff

The process for legally changing your first name is the same as for legally changing your last name. It differs somewhat from state to state, but in all states you need to ask permission from the court and obtain an order from a judge. This order allows you to change your birth certificate and other documents. In some states, you must also undergo a police check before beginning the name change process, as some people are prohibited from legally changing their name, for example, people on the sex offenders register.

The process for legally changing your first name is the same as for legally changing your last name. It differs somewhat from state to state, but in all states you need to ask permission from the court and obtain an order from a judge. This order allows you to change your birth certificate and other documents. In some states, you must also undergo a police check before beginning the name change process, as some people are prohibited from legally changing their name, for example, people on the sex offenders register.

Step 1

Obtain a petition for name change. You can obtain copies of the petition form from the county court in the county where you live.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More

Step 2

Fill in the petition. The petition will generally require you to list your reason for wanting a name change. The form may also ask you for information about criminal convictions and may ask you to certify you are not changing your name to evade legal obligations, such as debts.

Step 3

Sign the petition and have it notarized. In some states, such as New York, you will also have to submit a certificate of disposition if you have any criminal convictions. The certificate can be obtained from the court where you were convicted.

Step 4

File the petition with the civil clerk of the county courthouse in the county where you live. You will also need to pay a fee. The amount of the fee varies by state. The clerk will then assign you a case number and a date for your court hearing.

Step 5

Attend your name change hearing. Answer any questions the judge asks. Once finished, the judge will sign your name change order, and the court clerk will give you a copy.

Step 6

Publish your name change if you live in a state where this is required. In some states anyone who has changed a first or last name must announce this in a local paper. The exact requirements vary by state. The clerk in your county courthouse can give you all the details. You can be excused from publication if the judge has decided it is too risky. For example, if you are a victim of a hate crime and do not want to publish personal information.

Step 7

Submit proof of publication to the clerk's office where you filed for your name change. Buy certified copies of your name change order from the clerk. You can then take a certified copy of the order to the state vital records office and request a new birth certificate. You can also use certified copies of the order to change your driver's license, passport, Social Security card and any other identification you have.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More
How to Legally Change Your Middle Name

References

Related articles

How to Change a Name After Marriage in Colorado

Colorado state law is based on English common law, which allows anyone to change his name without legal process. Colorado has modified this legal principle; in many cases, a court order is required to change your name. If you change your last name to your spouse's last name because of marriage, you avoid the need for a court order. You will have to comply with the requirements of various issuing authorities to replace your identity documents with new versions that reflect your new last name.

How to Change Your Name to Your Maiden Name Post Divorce in New Mexico

The state of New Mexico allows you to legally change your name back to your maiden name, even if you didn't request the name change in your divorce. Changing your name post divorce requires a little extra paperwork and a court filing fee. Start to finish, the process of legally returning to your maiden name can take as little as six weeks, depending on how quickly the court can hear your case.

Legal Name Changes in Texas After a Divorce

If you changed your name when you married, you get to choose whether or not you want to change your name back when you divorce. Though this process is typically completed during the divorce, Texas also allows you to change your name outside the divorce process. Thus, if you don't change your name, but reconsider after your divorce and decide that you do want to change your name, you can follow the court process to change it.

Doing the right thing has never been easier.

Related articles

How to Legally Change Your Last Name in Kentucky

In Kentucky, any person over the age of 18 who has lived in Kentucky for at least six months may petition the local ...

How to Change Your Last Name in Texas

Residents of Texas who are over 18 years old can change their name by filing forms in the District Court of the county ...

Family Law on Name Change in Illinois

To file for a change of name in Illinois, you must submit a petition to the circuit court in your county and make an ...

How to Legally Change a Name Without Cost

The first step of legally changing your name may be only the tip of the iceberg cost-wise. Rules and procedures vary ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED