Free Legal Name Change Guide & Checklist, Pennsylvania

How do I legally change names in Pennsylvania?
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How to legally change names
Fingerprinting & criminal history
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Fingerprinting
Eligibility
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Eligibility
Newspaper publication
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Newspaper publication
Your hearing
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Your hearing
Updating your records
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Updating your records
More information
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More information

How do I legally change names in Pennsylvania?

Complete the Civil Cover Sheet and the Petition for Name Change forms. Print off one copy of each then sign the forms before a Notary Public were indicated. Arrange for approved fingerprinting. File your forms, original birth certificate and fingerprints together at the County Court of Common Pleas where you reside. Provide your forms to the court administrator for your hearing to be scheduled. You will have your paperwork stamped and be provided with a copy of your forms, plus your Order for Publication. Pay the $262.75 filing fee (while correct at time of writing, fees are subject to change without notice).

Place the necessary notice in an approved newspaper. Return to the court and attend your hearing. If successful, you will be issued with a court order approving your name change. You can purchase certified copies of the order, usually on the same day. Show this order where necessary to have your identification and records updated.

Fingerprinting & criminal history

Your court can provide you with details on agencies that are authorized to take your fingerprints. Submit your approved fingerprint card to the court at the time of filing, then they will be sent to the Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository where a criminal history check will be done. The results will be sent back to the court.

Eligibility

Any Pennsylvania resident can file for a name change in the county where they currently reside. There may be requirements on the length of time you have resided in the state or county before you file. Name change is usually granted whenever there is a sound reason for the change. Name change will not be allowed if your intent is to trick, defraud or deceive anyone.  Your name change should be found to be in both your personal and the public’s interest. 

If you have special circumstances, such as a need for confidentiality, have a felony, have claimed bankruptcy, or have judgments or liens against you there are additional considerations. Contact your county court for specific information relating to your situation.

Newspaper publication

At the time of filing your petition, court administration will provide you with an Order for publication. This document lists your hearing date and other particulars necessary for publishing in a newspaper. Ask the county court staff for an approved list of newspapers where your order can appear. Ensure you arrange for the order to be published at least 30 days before your hearing date. The newspaper may send a certificate of publication to you or the court. It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of the newspaper where the order appeared and take along to your hearing.

 

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Your hearing

Your hearing is usually set to be scheduled within 90 days. This provides sufficient time to have your Order for Publication executed with an approved newspaper. Attend your hearing and take the necessary proof of newspaper publication, plus the stamped copies of your court filed documents. The court must be satisfied that you have a reasonable and proper cause for your name change. Your name will be changed in the absence of fraud or other misrepresentation. 

Once the Judge grants your name change, you can usually collect your court order approving the name change on the same day as your hearing.  This will be at an additional cost and is not covered by your filing fee. This document is essential to prove your name has changed and have organizations update your identification and records.

Updating your records

Your name is considered legally changed once the court issues you an order granting your name change. There is a totally separate process to getting your records updated. Always start by filing form SS5-Application for a Social Security Card within 10 days. This can be filed by mail or in person.

Next, update your state issued ID. File form DL-80 with the DMV. Finally, go onto change names everywhere else. Save hours making a list then calling each necessary company to figure out what to do. We provide ready to send forms for SSA and the DMV, plus forms and ready to send letters for over 500 other organizations.  We cover banks, credit cards, utilities, communication, loyalty and more. No guess work, no unnecessary waiting on hold.  

More information

Pennsylvania Name Change Petition 

Pennsylvania Civil Court Cover Sheet

 

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