Steps to Legally Change Your Name

By Tom Streissguth

Applying to change your name is a fairly straightforward process, with rules and procedures set down by state law and local courts. In all states, you will need to provide identification and establish that you are a legal resident; you may not change your name to carry out fraud or elude a criminal investigation. In most cases, you can carry out a name change without the use of an attorney.


Verify the residency requirements in your state. The law will allow you to change your name as long as you have established yourself as a bona fide resident by living there for a minimum length of time -- in Minnesota, for example, for six months. You can check this requirement by contacting the local county court, where you will also file the necessary paperwork. Ask for the clerk's office, or visit the court's information desk. You can also find this information online at the court's website or searching "[your state] name change law."

Supporting Evidence

Gather your Social Security card, current valid birth certificate, and driver's license or other form of valid photo identification. These provide proof of your current legal name. Although not all these documents are necessarily required in every state, it's a good idea to have them ready when you go through this process, in case the court clerk, judge, or magistrate asks to see one or all of them.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More


Complete a Petition for Change of Name. This is the form that you file with the court clerk that includes all information required by state law. You can find a blank form online from one of numerous websites that provide legal forms, or from the state or county government website. Make sure you have your own state's form. You can download the form and print it out, or fill it out online and then print it. You will need to provide your current and proposed names, your residence address, your Social Security number, and your reason for changing your name. You may also have to sign an affidavit that you are not a convicted felon or currently have any outstanding warrants. Don't sign the form until you bring it to a notary public, who will verify your identity and witness your signature.


Bring the petition and your documents to the clerk of court, and file the paperwork by handing it over along with a filing fee. Every court sets its own fees, although this fairly simple petition should run no more than $100. The clerk will date-stamp the petition and enter it into the public records, and return a copy to you. You may also have to fill out a proposed Order for the judge or magistrate to sign. The clerk will schedule you for a hearing docket, which for this matter may allow you to attend a hearing on the same day.


Attend the hearing, over which a judge or magistrate will preside. The judge may ask you questions about the reason for your name change, and will also ask for any objection to the change by the other parent if you are filing on behalf of a minor. When the hearing is closed, the judge or clerk will sign the Order, and the clerk will provide you with a copy. You can also obtain certified copies of the Order at the clerk's office. You must provide the Order to anyone who needs to have your legal full name on file, as well as the vital statistics department if you wish to obtain an amended birth certificate.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More
How to Legally Change a Name Without Cost



Related articles

How to Change Your Last Name in the State of Alabama

To apply for a name change in Alabama, you must file a verified petition in your county of residence; the local probate court holds jurisdiction over name changes. Although the procedure is similar throughout the state, counties have varying requirements as to the documents you need to supply.

How to Change Your First Name Legally

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.

How to Change a Legal Name in Oregon

You can change your legal name in Oregon for various reasons, as long as you're not doing so to commit fraud or hide from court actions or financial obligations. Name change proceedings are conducted in the probate or county circuit court of the Oregon county where you reside. Oregon has numerous filing requirements for a legal name change, and you must submit all the forms in order to change your name.

Doing the right thing has never been easier.

Related articles

Procedure to Change an Adult's Name in Georgia

Georgia residents can change their legal name with a petition filed in their local superior court. State law also ...

How to Legally Change a Name in Texas

The state of Texas allows you to change your legal name with a petition, which is then filed in the court of the county ...

How to Legally Change the Spelling of Your Name

Legally changing the spelling of your name requires the same steps as changing to a new name; you must file the ...

Changing a Child's Name in Ohio

The state of Ohio allows you to petition for a change of legal name for a minor child. The process involves the filing ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED