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What is the Process to Legally Change my Name?

By J. Beam
Updated May 16, 2024
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There may be any number of reasons why a person would want to change their name. Besides the obvious reasons of marriage and adoption, which generally include a legal name change, people may change their name to disassociate from something negative or infamous, or may simply wish to give themselves a name that is more usable. Whatever the reason, the process for obtaining a name change varies depending on where you live, but is fairly easy to accomplish.

In the United States, a legal name change can be obtained through a court order. Though the specific process may vary slightly from state to state, any US citizen has the right to change their name, either through common law or court procedure. Even though a person may change their name at will and operate a business, write a book, or even sue someone under a different name, it is generally legally recognized so long as there was no fraudulent intent involved.

Still, it is more efficient in the US to obtain a name change through the courts. A simple filing of an application in civil court along with a nominal fee is all that is required. The applicant can probably expect to provide a valid and reasonable explanation for desiring the name change. Further, the court can rule against a name change if the applicant is attempting to change their name to something obviously offensive or immoral, or is attempting to commit fraud.

In the United Kingdom, a legal name change can be obtained through an act of Parliament if it applies to nobility. Otherwise, a Deed of Change of Name or simply, deed poll, is most commonly used. A deed poll involves a simple form to be filled out and signed by a witness. The form is then placed on file with the court. A bank or other official institution will recognize a Deed of Change of Name as legal, but the document does not change one’s birth certificate. Thus, some situations, such as obtaining a passport, require both a birth certificate and the Deed of Change of Name for purposes of identification.

In Quebec, a legal name change generally must be authorized by the Director of Civil Status, who can also amend birth certificates upon authorization. Many governments in other parts of the world are very strict about name changes and most require government authorization before a name change is declared. In most cases, a person must prove that their present name causes or will cause them significant distress before a name change will be considered.

If you wish to obtain a legal name change, then be prepared to start by contacting the proper government office or official for where you currently reside. Also be prepared to produce a legal birth certificate and a logical explanation for your name change. In the United States, marriage, adoption, and citizenship are examples of situations in which the opportunity for a name change is included in the legalities.

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Discussion Comments

By anon347310 — On Sep 05, 2013

I have obtained USA citizenship through naturalization process. On all the documents my name contains first, middle and last name. My middle name is/was my husband's first name, which is customary and legal in my country of origin. During the naturalization interview, the officer in charge told me that It is illegal in the USA to have a male member's first name as the last name. If I wish to continue using that middle name, I need to obtain a court order and reappear after three or four months. So I chose to drop the middle name and was issued the certificate of naturalization, accordingly.

When I went to the office of the Social Security Administration to change my status as citizen from permanent resident, the officer in charge asked me who told me that I could not have that name? She was surprised and issued my new SS card containing my original name. My US passport is in accordance with the Certificate of Naturalization.

Is dropping the middle name considered a "name change"? Is there any law regarding the middle name which the USCIS officer had referred?

Now, I have to renounce my original citizenship, and the High Commission requires a court order for the name change. What do I do? Any suggestions please.

By anon330032 — On Apr 13, 2013

I have to do some changes to my transcript. I graduated May of 2010. I was brought here to the United States when I was six years old. I went by a different name for protection purposes.

I am trying to start my immigration process to become a legal citizen. I need my transcript to have my real name printed on it. What can I do? I have talked to people at my school and they denied my request of name change. They said that I need a judge's court document in order to changed this. How can I do this?

By anon322083 — On Feb 25, 2013

I would like to change my name for my new future, especially for my high school diploma, due to the false parents that have not been supportive for any length of time I spent from childhood into adulthood.

By anon312258 — On Jan 06, 2013

I want to change my name because I don't like the name on my birth certificate and I have not been living under that name at all.

By anon287557 — On Aug 25, 2012

I want to change my name because I want nothing to do with my biological family. I want to get rid of what my father named me and I don't want his last name either. How can I legally change my name?

By anon280789 — On Jul 20, 2012

I don't want my maiden name as my middle name. It's too long.

By anon274903 — On Jun 14, 2012

My last name is horrible. How can I change it to a Korean last name? Is there a law?

By anon271308 — On May 25, 2012

If my father changed his name, can that be a good reason to change my name too?

By anon263190 — On Apr 23, 2012

If a name is changed in Canada, then is it valid in the UK?

By anon234231 — On Dec 11, 2011

I changed my name when I became a us citizen, but now I want to change back to my birth name. What would I do?

By anon195521 — On Jul 12, 2011

I was born in jersey (C.I) and given a name by my birth mother just before I was put up for adoption. When adopted, I was renamed. I haven't had much luck finding my real mum so i was wondering if it's possible to change my name to my birth name other than by deedpoll, as I feel it will make things a lot easier to find my mum if I'm known by the name she gave me. Please advise.

By anon176378 — On May 15, 2011

I want to add a middle name to my legal name before graduation. How do I do this?

By anon144167 — On Jan 19, 2011

when i came to this country my last name was not added in my name. i want to add my last name in all my documents. i have a university degree in my full name. i want it to be recognized.

By anon136884 — On Dec 24, 2010

I would like to change my last name back to my maiden name. and add my maiden name to my children's. is it possible without conflict?

By anon123119 — On Oct 31, 2010

i hate my name. it is bambi and everyone has been calling me a deer and it makes me feel horrible. i don't care. i just want my middle name to be my first name. how could i do that?

By anon114692 — On Sep 29, 2010

I'm 15 years old and female. I really would like to change my first name to one of my two middle names, so how can i do this? Can i do this at my age?

By anon110677 — On Sep 12, 2010

My mother and I have the same first, middle initial, and of course last name. It causes an enormous amount of stress (mostly for me). it even affects some of our finances, credit, mail, privacy and so on, since we share an address also.

I simply just want to switch the order of my name. Should I change?

By anon90141 — On Jun 14, 2010

I am currently a military spouse living in Hawaii. I do not know if this is where I claim residency as we move so often. I was born in CA. I wed a few years back, never added my new last name. And on top of that, I have grown up with the wrong name.

When I was born my mother named me one name, and a few years later wanted to name me another. But throughout my life people have called me by the other name, unless it was for legal purposes since she never legally changed my name. Now I want to add the marital last name, as well as the name I have been going by not legally. But can I do all this in Hawaii? I printed out the forms and it looks like I have to be married or born in Hawaii. I was married in KY. Born in CA. Please help!

By anon88002 — On Jun 02, 2010

I am a 62 year old woman. Unfortunately my given name is normally associated with a man.

I have not had too many issues until recently. I have mail addressed to Mr. and constantly called Mr. in doctors offices, etc. I even had a dr. try to examine my husband even though I was the one on sitting on the exam table.

It causes a lot of stress and wondered if it would be worth it to have my named changed (one letter in one of my names would probably work) at the age of 62.

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