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Legal name change

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How to change names legally, California

If your name change is not from marriage or divorce, then a court order is the only legal way to change your name. A private company cannot issue a legal name change order, although they may help you prepare the court documents for a fee. If you have a reasonable understanding of the court process you could manage your own application.

California courts have an excellent website to assist with filing for your legal name change. Pay the fee ($435 – $450, correct at the time of writing), or request a fee waiver. You may need to submit fingerprint, criminal and financial checks.

Once you have the name change order, we help get your records and identification updated! Each company has a different process and may have a range of forms, emails and letters to send. We provide this for you, personalized and ready to send. Simply attach your court order, sign and send! 

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 NC-100, the 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 $450 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.

You are required to complete the following forms

  • Petition for a change of name form NC-100
  • Attachment to Petition for a Change of Name Form NC-110
  • Order to Show Cause for Change of Name Form NC-120
  • Civil Case Cover Sheet Form CM-010

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

The California courts website is a terrific source of information and where possible, we recommend completing as much of your application online. Get started here.  

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.

Most applicants must publish the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name Form NC-120 with a general circulation newspaper weekly for 4 continual weeks. Arrange the publishing as soon as you can, because the Order to Show Cause must be published at least 4 weeks before the court date.

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 fees 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.

Once you have decided which paper you will publish with and your forms have been 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 $435-450. 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.

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.

Purchase an Easy Name Change kit to receive personalized name change notifications for all your companies. Our service personalizes all your forms, letters and emails so it’s often simply a case of attaching your court order to our notifications and sending!

You’ll need to visit the DMV and your bank in person, as they need to sight the original court order and record your original signature. For any other companies that can’t be managed by email or post, simply follow our researched instructions.

  • 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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INFORMATION HUB

Legal Name Change

You can be known by any name, but to get identification and records changed you need a court order. Fees and turnaround times vary significantly between states. Apply for your court order, then attach to our notifications and send. MORE
Legal name change petitions should be filed with your local court house. Turnaround times vary significantly by county and filing fees are set by your state. Companies generally do not charge to update your name unless a new credential needs to be reissued. MORE
If you’re legally entitled to reside in the USA you can change your name legally. There can be significant costs with your petition and immigration filings. If you are planning on becoming a US citizen it may be cheaper and faster to wait. MORE
This process is managed by your county court. We provide general information to get started on your child’s name change, but it’s always best to contact your local court directly. MORE
Once you have a court document proving your new name it’s then your responsibility to get your records updated. No records are linked, so you need to contact each organization directly and follow a separate process. MORE
If you’ve decided to file a legal name change application with the court we’ve got some information to help you along the way. MORE