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How to change your name and what government agencies to notify

You might change your name through marriage, divorce, or court. Update your new name with Social Security, the motor vehicle office, and other government agencies.

How to legally change your name

The process of changing your name through marriage, divorce, or a court order can vary between states. 


Before you get married, you must apply for a marriage license. After you apply for the license and get married, your new name will be reflected on your marriage certificate. Contact the local government where you are getting married to learn about applying for a marriage license and how to change your name.


When you file for divorce, you can change your name back to the name you used before you got married. In most states, you may do so when you apply for your divorce decree. Contact your local government to learn more about changing your name when you file for divorce.

Court order

In most cases, you must file a petition with your local court to change your name. To do so, you may need to file paperwork and appear before a judge to complete the process. Find your local government website and contact your circuit court to get information about how you can legally change your name.

Government agencies to notify when you change your name

Use certified copies of marriage and divorce certificates or name change orders as proof to notify these federal and state agencies that you changed your name.

LAST UPDATED: February 2, 2024


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