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How much does it cost to change your name?

The cost to change your name can vary. Find out everything you need to know: step-by-step process, costs, and how to change your name for for free.

evident Editorial Team
November 27, 2023
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When you decide to change your name, a common question you're likely to have is how much does it cost to change your name?

In this article, we dive into legal name changes, breaking down the costs involved, providing tips, and offering guidance on the process.

Let's start by exploring the average cost of changing your name.

Key Takeaways

Understanding the Cost of Legally Changing Your Name

Average Cost of Changing Your Name

The cost to legally change your name can vary significantly, depending on your state or jurisdiction. However, you could expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $500 on average. Remember, this is a general estimate, and the total cost could be higher depending on additional fees and the specific procedures followed in your area. 

Filing Fee and Court Hearing

At the heart of the name change process is the court order. This requires filing a name change petition with the court. Each court has its filing fees, ranging from $100 to $400. This fee generally includes the cost of the court hearing, where a judge reviews your request.

However, some courts might charge an extra fee for the hearing. This is why contacting your local court is important to get accurate information about the costs involved.

Additional Expenses

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Changing your name is not just about court and filing fees. There are additional costs that might come into play, including:

Notarization: You'll likely need a notary public to notarize your name change petition, which can add another $10 to $50 to your expenses.

Certified Copy of Name Change Order: Once the court approves your name change, you'll want a certified copy of the court order. Depending on the jurisdiction, this could cost you another $10 to $25 per copy.

Publishing Notice of Name Change: In many jurisdictions, you must also publish a notice of your name change in a local newspaper, which could cost between $20 and $100, depending on the newspaper's rates.

Background Check: Certain jurisdictions may require a background check, potentially adding another $50 to your overall expenses.

Changing Your Name on Official Documents: After your name change has been approved, you'll need to change your name on all your legal documents, identification, and accounts. These changes, from your driver's license to your social security card, can involve a separate fee.

Changing your name legally can be a costly affair, but there are situations where you can change your name for free. Let's look into that next.

How to Change Your Name for Free

Yes, you read that right! There are situations where you can change your name without spending a penny. Marriage, divorce, domestic partnership, and adoption are the most common circumstances.

When you get married, you can take your spouse's last name or hyphenate both last names without incurring any extra cost. All you need is a copy of your marriage certificate, a legal document justifying your name change. This also applies to entering a registered domestic partnership in some states.

Similarly, you can revert to your maiden name for free after a divorce. The trick here is to ensure your right to change your name is included in your divorce decree. If it's there, the decree acts as a legal document for your name change.

In the case of adoption, the adoptive parents often change the last name of the adopted child. This change is usually included in the adoption process and doesn't require additional expense.

However, remember that while these situations allow you to change your name without a court order, you'll still need to update your name on all identification, accounts, and important documents, which may involve minimal fees.

Changing Your Last Name After Marriage: Cost and Process

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When you tie the knot, taking your spouse's surname can be an exciting tradition. But how much does it cost to change your last name after marriage?

Good news: it's usually free! The act of getting married creates a legal entitlement to change your name. 

Once you're married, you'll receive a marriage certificate or marriage license. This document acts as legal proof allowing you to change your last name to your spouse's or hyphenate both last names. However, remember to request several certified copies of your marriage certificate to facilitate the subsequent name change processes. Depending on the jurisdiction, there may be a small fee for these extra copies.

While changing your last name due to marriage doesn't require a court order, you'll still need to update your identification and official documents. This means visiting institutions like the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Social Security Administration (SSA) with your marriage certificate in hand.

For instance, changing your name on your driver's license may involve a license fee, typically around $10 to $25. Meanwhile, the Social Security Administration doesn't charge to update your social security card, but you'll need to fill out and submit an application.

It's important to remember that each institution has its own requirements for documentation, so always check before you go.

Tips for Legally Changing Your Name

Changing your name is a significant decision and can often be a complex legal process.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the path:

  1. Research the Process in Your Jurisdiction: Name change laws can differ from state to state, so it's crucial to research the rules in your specific jurisdiction. Some courts provide detailed instructions and even the necessary forms online.
  2. Complete All Required Paperwork Thoroughly: Ensure you complete the name change petition and other relevant forms accurately. Any errors or omissions when filing paperwork can delay the process.
  3. Be Prepared for a Background Check: You may need a criminal background check depending on your jurisdiction. You might have to provide fingerprints or other forms of identification proof.
  4. Keep Multiple Certified Copies of Your Name Change Order: Once your name change is approved, obtain several certified copies of the court order. You'll need these for various name change processes later.
  5. Notify Relevant Entities About Your Name Change: You'll need to inform several governmental institutions, like the Social Security Administration and Department of Motor Vehicles, about your new name. Remember banks, insurance providers, doctors' offices, employers, and other organizations where you have accounts or affiliations.
  6. Be Patient: The process can take several weeks or even months, so be prepared for a bit of a wait.
  7. Consider Consulting a Legal Professional: Consult a family law attorney if the process seems too daunting. They can guide you through the process and handle most of the work. Fees vary for legal services, so ask about costs upfront.

Remember, changing your name is a personal journey that should be navigated with care and attention.

Changing Your Name on Your Social Security Card

Once you've legally changed your name, one of the first steps you'll need to take is updating your Social Security card. This is important because the name on your Social Security number must match the name you use for work and income tax purposes. 

social security administration, building, office

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Fill out an Application: Complete the Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5). The form is on the official Social Security Administration (SSA) website.
  2. Prepare Proof of Name Change: Provide a recently issued document as proof of your legal name change. This could be a court order, marriage certificate, or divorce decree.
  3. Show Proof of Identity: You'll need to show an ID with your old name. If you have already updated your ID to the new name, the SSA may accept that too. This could be a U.S. driver's license, state-issued non-driver identification card, or U.S. passport.
  4. Proof of Citizenship: If not already established on your SSA records, you may be asked to show proof of U.S. citizenship. A U.S. birth certificate proof or U.S. passport can serve this purpose.
  5. Submit Your Application: You can mail your application or submit it in person at your local Social Security office. 

The good news is that the SSA doesn't charge a fee for a new Social Security card, making this an essential and cost-free step in your name change process.

FAQs about changing your name

What documents do you need to change your name?

The specific documents required to change your name can vary depending on your location and the reason for the change. 

Generally, you'll need to provide the following:

  1. Proof of identity (e.g., driver's license, state ID, or passport)
  2. Proof of legal name change (e.g., court order, marriage certificate, or divorce decree)
  3. Completed name change petition or other forms required by your local court

Is there a way to change your name for free?

Yes, you can change your name without incurring a court fee in certain situations, such as marriage, divorce, or adoption. However, you may still face nominal charges for updating your identification or official records.

How much is it to change your name in Texas?

In Texas, the cost to file a name change petition can range from $150 to $300, depending on the county. Remember, this doesn't include the costs for additional certified copies, newspaper publication, or fees for updating your identification.

How much does it cost to change your name in New York?

The cost to file a name change petition in New York is $210 in NY Supreme and County courts and $65 in New York City Civil Court. However, some individuals may be eligible for a fee waiver if they demonstrate the fee is a financial hardship. As always, this doesn't include additional fees for certified copies, newspaper publication, or updating identification.

The Bottom Line: The Costs and Processes of Changing Your Name

Changing your name is more than just a personal decision; it's a legal journey with many steps and associated costs. While expenses can vary greatly, the process involves more than just the court fees.

Additional charges for updating identification documents, background checks, and newspaper publication can add up. However, with careful research, planning, and a bit of patience, you can navigate this process effectively.

Remember, whether you're paying for a court order or changing your name due to marriage, it's essential to understand the costs and requirements of your specific jurisdiction.