How Much Does It Cost To Change Your Name Legally?

6 min


“Proper names are poetry in the raw, like all poetry they are untranslatable” – W.H. Auden

Brilliant quote isn’t!!! We are all living in a world where everything can be labeled as a brand. It may be Pen or a dog; everything has its own name. We humans are branded with the name given by our parents. Name is the fundamental essence of one person’s life; it articulates who you are and reminds us our cultural history from time to time, like father to son. The most peculiar thing about our name is that, it will stay in the heart of our loved ones even after we departed from this life.

how much does it cost to change your name

The time you were born, your birth name will be recorded in two legal forms, which are birth certificate and Social Security account. Commonly, the name changes in birth certificate are mostly done for the adoption cases. Where a person needs to file a motion in his state or county court with average of  $100 to $300 of court filing fee. But for brand new name change or correction in SSA, you need to file SS-5 form with no cost.

It is not a common thing when people think about to change their name (first or last) legally because of some unavoidable reasons.  It may the case of divorce or after the marriage. Changing of a name requires few legal procedures follow-up and filling out documents. Those who are planned to change their name would be curious to know how much does it cost to change your name legally. Whatsoever the reason that a person chooses to change his or her name, there is no simple way to put the total expenses involved in this whole name changing process. Because It may sound little complex with all the legal terms and procedures mentioned in this article, but it can be accomplished if you are prepared to give yourself for some time to research more.

Why does anyone want to change their name?

To commit to change your name will not going to be a simple decision. For real time scenario, it was happened to one of my friend recently, when she changed her last name to her husband name. So, I was helping her with the whole legal processes. Which was intrigued me to write this post for all my readers to understand the cost and the amount of patience need to put throughout this processes.

Here are some common indispensable reasons, when people want to go for the changing name decision.

  • Married
  • Divorced
  • Adoption
  • Sometimes names can be confusing

How should I legally change my name?

In your whole life, you enter your name in several documents; from school or college and till apply for the job. Changing the name is not much difficult, but when it comes to paperwork, you must rename the credit, debit card; Insurance, Driver License, Passport, Social Security account and Tax files, etc. It would be wise to make your decision if your pour the money on legal filings and its procedures if you not aware of this process.

So, knowing more will help you to achieve your each step of your goal within a short period.

How to choose your name?

It should not all about the money when you committed to choosing your brand new identity. If you are just changing the last name to replace it with your husband’s name or divorced and revert to your old name, then it will be a piece of cake to accomplish it. Also, when you found the right name, make sure that it will be stick with you till your life end as like a crown.

So, take your time and ask your family or friends for help!

  • Your name should not resemble any racism or belligerent
  • Incites violence or offensive
  • It may be silly, but don’t choose a name that is purposefully confusing.
  • Don’t select the name with numbers.
  • No celebrity or any famous figure. (E.g., George Clooney or LeBron James)
  • Not for any dishonest reasons like, to avoid bankruptcy.
  • Ten Steps to get your name changed officially in any state:

Ten Steps to get your name changed officially in any state:

  1. A Person committed to change his or her name
  2. Contact and get an appointment from the state or country courthouse. You may need an attorney for document filing.
  3. You can also get an Attorney if you find any difficulty in changing your new name or reason for changing may be invalid.
  4. Contact or refer your state courthouse official website for fee structure.
  5. Inquire about the generic legal forms in office supply stores and Fill it accordingly.
  6. Petition form for name change
  7. Order for name change
  8. Affidavit of name change
  9. Court will check your past records for if any fraudulent reasons or to avoid any legal issues.
  10. In some countries, you need publish your name in the newspapers, and in some states court order form would be pinned on Department of name change. So, It varies depends on the country or state.
  11. After finalized everything, your application sealed and stamped as it has been approved.
  12. A copy of Court order along with a letter with the subject line on “please change your records since its official that your name has been changed” to the Driver License Department, Bank you have your personal account, IRS, birth certification records…etc.
  13. Don’t worry about correcting your family, friends or colleagues from calling in the old name. Always proud of your name!!!

Even after you got the court order approved, there are some legal documents or records should be replaced with the new name of yours. These may require one phone call or visit with the evidence for your reason for changing the name (E.g Marriage Certificate, Divorce notice)

  • Social Security account
  • Credit / debit card company records
  • Driver’s License
  • Passport
  • IRS
  • Employers registrations forms/payroll records
  • Post office records
  • Electric / utility records
  • Education alumni associations documents
  • Mortgage forms
  • Insurance records
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Voter’s office records
  • Investment account records
  • Your personal attorney records (legal documents, will, etc.)
  • Passport office records

Once, you have changed your new name in all the above records, and you will be officially known by the new name.

How much does it cost to change your name?

From the above, you at least got a slightest idea about how these name change processes would happen and what are all the legal changes need to be done after the court order approval. Now talk about the cost, how much does it cost to change your name?… Well, it all depends on the state or country you live in.

For example, below is the average cost of changing your name in these major states in US.

 Filing FeeAttorney feeNewspaper publication costAverage
How much does it cost to change your name in California (CA)$395$200-$500$100$500 – $800
How much does it cost to change your name in  New York (NY)$210$200 – $300$100$600 – $700
How much does it cost to change your name in  Minnesota (MN)$320$200 – $300$50 -$100$600 – $800
How much does it cost to change your name in  Pennsylvania (PA)$125$150 – $00$50 -$100$500 – $700

Unmask the hidden Costs

Other than the major costs like filing fee, newspaper publication fee, attorney fees, there are some additional prices you might not aware of it. In business talk, people call this as Hidden costs; it can be administrative expenses, taxes, clerk fees, copying and recording costs, additional documents like motion or affidavits. It may be few dollars, but at the end of the day you will see the bubble burst in your monthly budget.

So be mindful that these hidden monsters are taken care as early before they have a large bite on your wallet.

Here is some money saving tips for keep your wallet safe;

  • Inform your credit or debit card companies, bureaus, and IRS about the name change so that you will not get into any trouble in the future.
  • Every states or country has different name change laws. So, understand your law before you through the money into it.
  • Depends on the states you reside in, you are not allowed to change your name more than once. So not to lose any more money, you might want try stick with your new name for a longer period.
  • Always keep safe of your old identities
  • If you have or had any legal obligation to the state or country court for conviction of fraudulent or immigrant issues, then you should notify your state bar before going to publish your name in the newspaper.
  • Fee waiver option is helpful if you are a person who is under the low-income group.

How Fee waiver works?

As said earlier, if you are a small income personal and who could not able pay the court administrative fees, then you can ask for “Fee waiver” option to the court. You will be asked lots of questions before the fee waive on court administrative fees.

  Eligibility:

  • If you are a person who is already receiving any public benefits like, Medical care or utility benefits.
  • The household income is lesser than the amount mentioned in the court application form (Form FW – 001)
  • Courthouse may do a background check on you and finds you can’t able pay the fees
  • Fee waiver benefit will expire in 60 days automatically after your case is over.

If you find still the above methods seem so daunting, you can approach a professional name changing agency for $50-$100. They will take care of all the administrative works and send you the final results. Of course, this may be a costly way, but it might save the colossal hassle of red tapes involve in the name changing process.