There are a variety of legitimate reasons why people change their names. If you want to do it because you do not like your birth name, no one is going to judge. That is one of the valid reasons to do so.
The best way to go about changing your name is to follow the proper procedures and fill out the name change form the correct way. Keep in mind that each state has its own way of doing the same process.
To learn more about how to fill out a name change form, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about.
What is a Name Change Form?
The name change form is a legal document telling the government which name you want to be known as. Sometimes you will need a court order to change your name at the bank, government agencies like Social Security, and for the passport as well as Driver’s License offices.
One thing of note is that the name change form may go by different names. It will depend on the format your state goes by as to what title they use for their forms. Those different titles will use words like petition, application, hearing, judgment, and certificate.
Why do You need a Name Change?
The reason(s) will depend on you. You could be getting married or divorced, changing your gender identification, entering the witness protection program, hate your birth name, or had a falling out with your family.
Some people do it because of their celebrity status, which means that the actual reason can be as simple as you liking another name than the one you already have. The hard part of name changing is getting all your identification changed to your new name.
That is a long and difficult process, especially when you have a lot of credit cards to switch over to your new name.
Name Change Forms
Consequences of Not Getting a Name Change
There are no legal consequences unless you break the law, but the consequences for not using the form and following the process on the civil side can be severe. For example, you will not be able to access your SSI payments or bank accounts if you change your name and do not give the government and your banks the court order stating you have changed your name.
Then if you like to travel, you have to purchase your tickets in your old name because immigration officials do not like two different names on two different documents. If your ticket has your new name and your ID has your old one, you won’t be able to fly.
Those are just a few of the consequences that you will face if you do not follow proper protocol. There are very good reasons why this procedure is so strict and unbending. Just think back to when we said criminal issues at the beginning of this section to get your answer.
How to Change Your Name
Changing your name legally is a lot different than changing your name for social engagements, etc. There is a long and often slow process to go about the change legally.
Step #1: A visit to the county clerk’s office- here you will need to bring some money for the forms, a pen to fill them out with, and your i.d. including your SSI number, along with proof of residency.
Step #2: Fill out the petition- this can be done at home and either taken into the county clerk’s office, e-mailed, or sent through the mail. Make a few copies of the completed petition just in case something goes wrong. There may be a filing as well.
Step #3: Court date is set- the county clerk will do this for you then notify you of the time and date of the hearing. The wait may be between a month and 2 months approx.
Step #4: Publish your name- this must be done in almost all the states and you should be given the correct document by the state to use for this purpose. Make sure to have enough money for publication as well as other fees you will collect as you go through this process. Step #5: Sign the decree- this is done once the judge approves your petition. It must be done and you need this decree in order to change your name at government offices, banks, and other legal institutions.
Should I Change My Name after Marriage?
This is a situation you and your future spouse will have to discuss and then decide which direction you will go. Some women do change their name after marriage and some do not. Then some just combine both names and use a hyphen.
Common Name Change Situations
There are a lot of reasons why names are changed. Here are a few of the most common ones:
- gender identity changing
- personal preference
- professional identity
- religious reasons
- birth situation
You cannot change your name for illegal purposes, to commit a crime, avoid debts, prevent lawsuits, illegally mislead others, and are a sex offender avoiding arrest, etc.
Process of Social Security Card Name Change
The first step in the process is to get your marriage license, divorce decree, or court order. Once you have one of those legal documents, you will need to go to the SSI office nearest you and fill out Form -SS-5 and follow all instructions.
Process of Passport Name Change
The same three documents will be required when you apply for your new passport in your new name. This can be done by mail and there are two different processes you can take. One is for less than a year after you got your passport and one is for longer than 1 year.
#1. Less than a year
- fill out form DS-5504 (online or PDF)
- your current passport
- original name change document
- new passport photo
- no fee
Once you have gathered all that information and printed the form off, you send it all to National Passport Processing Center, P.O. Box 640155, Irving, TX 75064-0155
#2. More than a year after receiving your passport
- fill out form DS 82
- your current passport
- original name change document
- new passport photo
- renewal fee
Once that is done there are two different places to send your information. The first is For residents in CA, FL, IL, MN, NY, or TX you send your documents to National Passport Processing Center, P.O. Box 640155, Irving, TX 75064-0155.
The second address is for everyone else: National Passport Processing Center, P.O. Box 90155, Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155
Process of Completing a Name Change
The process for changing your name can be quite slow and you will have to put up with using your old name until everything has been completed and every important institution is notified with the right documents.
This could take up to a year due to all the requirements and forms that have to be filled out. One of the ways to speed up the process is to make a list while you are waiting for your court date of all the places you need to contact and get all the forms each individual institution requires.
Start filling everything out as soon as you can and make your copies of those official documents when you can.
How much does it cost to change your name?
Except for marriage which can cost between $30 and $60 approx, depending on the state and city you get married in, it is hard to place an exact figure. The name change for SSI is free, but the passport office is either free or the current renewal fee.
For a court-ordered name change, there will be filing fees, application fees, publication fees, and so on. Each state will have its own fees, and some may be the same as others, but not always.
Others, such as banks, credit cards, and driver’s licenses, are up to the institutions and vary between states and companies.
How long it takes to change your name?
That is up to the government office in charge of recording your marriage, divorce, and court order. It can be as little as 30 days and as long as 6 weeks approx. It is hard to say how long each state will take to process the paperwork.
Can someone else change your name?
The only way anyone can change your name is if you are a minor under the age of 18, and they are your legal guardian or parent. Other than that, no one can change your name for you, and you cannot change their name.
The process should make you think twice about changing your name for reasons less than marriage, divorce, or some other legitimate reason. It can get long, tedious, and costly to change your name so it is something you need to take seriously. Initially, there is a lot of work involved in notifying the right agencies but once that is done, your life will settle down and become normal again.