How Long Does It Take to Change Your Name in the US?
Published June 21, 2022
In the US, legally changing your name cannot be done overnight. Whether you want to change your name for personal reasons or because of marriage or divorce, it involves several steps in different government agencies and departments.
Every state has its own set of rules related to names and identity verification, so how long does it take to change your name varies significantly. In addition, rules can also differ depending on the county or courthouse the petition was filed.
Understanding the basics
Before moving ahead with changing your name, you should know the laws in your state related to the process of name change. Laws on name changes vary depending on your place of residence, but courts are generally known to accept all name change petitions.
However, you are prohibited from changing your name with the intent of escaping criminal or civil liability. In addition, the law prohibits you from changing your name into something obscene, intimidating, racist or offensive.
How long does a name change take?
When estimating how long does it take to change your last name, you should take into account both the bureaucratic process and the time it will take to get used to your new name.
In some states, filing the name change in court is not required. Just choosing and then using a new name in your business or in social settings can be considered a legal name change. However, a court order may be needed to prove that you have changed your name when you deal with banks, the DMV, or the SSA.
Then there are the residency requirements. Different states set their own rules on how long you have established yourself as a resident for the name change petition to get accepted. Typically, this can be between 6 months to a year and petitioners will be required to offer proof of residence.
Factors affecting how long does it take to legally change your name
There are several factors that affect the timing of a name change, including:
- The type of name change you are filing for
- The state where you live
- Your marital status
- Any criminal convictions you have
- Any child support payments you owe
Relevant Legal Documents
The documents you need will depend on the state where you live, so check the rules before you apply. The following are documents you need for a name change:
- Petition to change your name legally
- Supporting evidence proving your current legal name including your driver’s license, birth certificate or other accepted valid ID
- Marriage certificate (if changing your name as a result of marriage)
- Divorce decree (if changing your name as a result of divorce)
- Affidavit declaring you have not been convicted or a felony or have any outstanding warrants
Changing your name in the US cannot be done in an instant. Depending on where you are in the country, the process can take several months to complete. This is why it’s important to understand how the process works and how much time is involved before taking the next step.
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About The Author
Krizzia Paolyn holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She is a professional writer for various digital magazines and renowned publications. It has always been her passion to share her voice, and at the same time, to encourage others to share their voices as well.