Free Legal Name Change Guide & Checklist, California

How do I legally change names in California?
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How to legally change names
Preparing your Petition
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Preparing your petition
Have your forms reviewed then make copies
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Check and copy your paperwork
Check newspaper fees
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Check newspaper fees
Filing your name change
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Filing your name change
Attend your Hearing
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Attending your hearing
Update your records
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Update your records
More information
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More information

How do I legally change names in California?

Please see our separate pages if your name change is a result of marriage or divorce. For all other changes you will need a court issued legal name change order for your identification and account records to be changed into a different name.

Start by completing your legal name change petition. Ensure it is reviewed and you make at least 2 copies before filing with the district court where you reside. Pay the $435 filing fee* and the court clerk will provide a hearing date, usually 6 to 12 weeks away. Attend the hearing and once successful you will be issued a legal name change order. Fee waivers may be possible for special circumstances.

The court order changes your legal name, however it is up to you to arrange identification and records to be changed into your new name. Social Security must be updated within 10 days of your name change, then update your Californian license and finally change all other records. Easy Name Change provides personalized notification kits so that you can easily update your identification and all the necessary accounts as soon as possible after receiving your court order.

*Fees correct at time of writing. Subject to change at any time.

Preparing your Petition

You are required to complete the following forms

Depending on the county where you file, there may be other requirements, such as criminal background forms. There are additional requirements for name changes accompanying transgender or witness protection. In such cases check with the court directly.

Have your forms reviewed then make copies

Ensure you have your forms reviewed before filing so you can ensure they are correctly prepared. This will prevent delays in your case. You can get more information about this from a family law facilitator, self help center or qualified professional.

Make 2 copies of your completed forms. You will need to file the original with the court, keep one copy for your own reference, and one additional copy for publishing your name change in a newspaper. 

Get your name change notifications here

Check newspaper fees

Most applicants must publish the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name  Form NC-120 with a general circulation newspaper for 4 continual weeks. Your court can provide a list of acceptable newspapers. Contact the newspapers to check their fees, as once you state which newspaper you intend to publish with, you are unable to alter your petition and therefore must publish with that paper for your name change petition to be granted. Newspaper fess can vary greatly so it is best to do this research before filing your documents with the court.

Publishing the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name is not necessary for witness protection, transgender, domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault victims. 

Filing your name change

Once you have decided which paper you will publish with and had your forms reviewed, you should file your documents with the clerk, who will stamp ‘filed’ on your copies and keep the original. The clerk will complete your Order to Show Cause form with the details of your hearing.

At this stage applicants should pay the filing fee, which for a first petition is $435. Your court may have other fees once successful, such as receiving your order or making certified copies.

* Fees correct at the time of writing - subject to change without notice.

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Attend your Hearing

Attend your hearing with all the necessary documents as advised by the clerk. You are always required to bring the Decree Changing Name Form  NC-130, plus copies of the newspaper where your Order to Show Cause was published.

If the judge approves your name change, she will sign your Decree Changing Name form NC-130 and your name will have been legally changed. To complete your name change you must then contact all the necessary organizations to get your identification and records updated. An Easy Name Change kit provides all the necessary name change forms and notifications to update your records once your name has been legally changed.

Update your records

An Easy Name Change kit will save you from having to contact each organization directly to get their form, or else learn what process you must undertake. There are a number of name change processes, with some companies having special name change forms, others requiring a letter or fax, then the DMV and most banks need you to visit in person. We’ll provide all your paperwork and let you know what to send where, who to call and where to email. Our name change kits save customers around 10 hours of research and hassle.

More information

  • If you are intending to become a US citizen you can have your name legally changed as part of the citizenship process
  • If you are legally changing gender you can have your name changed as part of that legal process
  • You do not need to be US citizen to change names by Californian courts, but you should be a US permanent resident and residing in California.
  • If you hold a green card it may cost between $400 to $500 to have it updated into your new name. While updating your green card is not a legal requirement after name change, proving identity and travelling abroad will be much easier.
  • The exact process can vary between counties, so always start by contacting your local clerk of court for forms, turnaround, proof of identity requirements and more.
  • Need more information? Check out  Californian name change FAQs

 

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