fbpx

The Journey to Your New Name

If you’re getting married, divorced, making a gender transition, or have always felt like your name does not fit you, you’re probably ready for a legal name change. If you don’t want the hassle of dealing with paperwork and legal documents, you can have professional providers complete the process for you.

*Note: This article was originally published on Pride Pocket prior to merging with MyUmbrella*

If you’re getting married, divorced, making a gender transition, or have always felt like your name does not fit you, you’re probably ready for a legal name change. If you don’t want the hassle of dealing with paperwork and legal documents, you can have professional providers complete the process for you. 

You can use sites like US Legal Forms that guarantee 100% satisfaction on name change completion. Their going price for California is $129. However, if you are someone that likes to handle legal affairs with a more direct approach, you can fill out the necessary documents on your own.

Be prepared for this journey to take several weeks as it is not a one-stop fix-all, but a step-by-step process.


Your journey begins with contacting The Social Security Offices. This step in your journey is completely free and simply requires filling out an application and having proof of your current identity. You’ll need an official document describing your reasoning behind the desired name change. If the reason is not due to marriage or divorce, a court order will be required. To ensure that you’re not changing your name to escape associations with criminal activities, your fingerprints may also be required. As long as you show no intention of trying to deceive, your name change request will most likely be granted. 

If you’re transgender, you may want to take this opportunity to have your sex changed on your Social Security card. Once the requirements are met, the agency will send you an updated card in about 14 business days.

With your new Social Security card in tow, it is time to update your state identification card or your driver’s license. The exact proof that you’ll need to bring to the DMV varies from state to state, but general requirements are usually a birth certificate, proof of Social Security, and documents that prove your residence, like a phone bill. A signed physician’s note may be required in the case of a gender change. If the reasoning behind your name change is a change in your marital status, then a marriage certificate or a divorce decree will be required to be. Like with Social Security, if the reasoning is not due to marriage, a court order document will need to be presented to the DMV.

If you’re someone that likes to travel, the next stop in your name change journey is to update your passport. It may cost you up to $165 to change the name on your little booklet. You’ll have to round several items. Depending on how old your passport is, you’ll need the appropriate completed application, your current passport, a color passport photo, and whichever name change document you’re using (marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order). 

You can also take the opportunity to change your gender along with your name on your passport. A signed physician’s note will need to be sent in as well. If your Social Security and license reflect your current gender, then a signed physician’s note will not be necessary. The process will take up to six weeks unless you choose to expedite it. In this case, it will take two to three weeks.

The final step on your journey is to update your professional and personal documents. Any professional licenses you hold are going to need to match your new name. Any bank accounts are also going to need your new name attached. Lastly, don’t forget to change any business cards, credit cards, or nameplates to your new name!

Application to Change Social Security
Know Your Rights for Transgender Equality
Which Rules for Which States Regarding Name Changes
To Update Your Passport That is Less Than a Year Old
To Update Your Passport That is Older Than a Year


Did you enjoy this story? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to find out when new stories are published.

Learn how to join our Writers Cohort here.

Want to continue building community? Download our iOS app.

Join Us

My Umbrella Writers Cohort

Related Posts

Growing up LGBTQ+ in a Small Town

Being away from the negative people in my community and being by myself in my room most of the time has made it a bit easier I would say. Definitely not a piece of cake though.

Telling Our Stories

Reading the messages that my readers send me is one of the best parts of my day and they motivate me to keep writing.