We Go to Battle to
Protect Your Freedom

Free Case Consultation

How to Change Your Name in North Carolina

how to change your name in NC

Changing your name can be a deeply personal decision, often driven by significant life events or a desire to reflect your true self in every aspect of life. Whether you’re aligning your official documents with your gender identity or simply choosing a name that better represents who you are, our state supports your right to make this change. But you may wonder how to change your name in NC.

The legal steps to changing your name (and gender) might seem complex, but don’t worry; we’ll walk through each step.

You want to ensure that your new identity is recognized across all legal platforms, safeguarding your privacy and authenticity in everyday interactions. From filing the initial petition to updating your driver’s license and Social Security records, we’ll cover what you need to know and prepare for.

Understanding the reasons behind a name change, the costs involved, and the impact on your legal documents will help you approach this transition with confidence.

Remember, while the steps to legally change your name are straightforward, each person’s reasons and experiences are unique. We respect and acknowledge the significance of your decision — it’s not just paperwork; it’s about claiming your identity and how you present yourself to the world.

Let’s take this first step together and explore how you can legally change your name and gender in North Carolina.

Legal Reasons for a Name Change: Exploring Other Good Causes

When you think about changing your name, certain typical scenarios might come to mind, like getting married or divorced. However, in North Carolina, there are many other “good causes” that might lead you to consider a legal name change.

Let’s dive deep into what counts as “other good causes” and how they could apply to you.

Personal Identity and Life Changes

Sometimes, the name you were given doesn’t feel like the right fit for who you are or who you’ve become. North Carolina recognizes that personal identity is a strong enough reason for a name change.

This could be about aligning your legal name with your lived identity, which is especially significant in the context of personal growth or life-changing experiences. This includes those who identify with a gender different than the sex assigned to them at birth and want a name that matches their gender identity.

A name change is about making sure that every piece of identification you carry speaks truly about who you are.

Cultural or Religious Reasons

Cultural or religious reasons are also valid grounds for changing your name in North Carolina. Perhaps you’ve undergone a religious conversion and want your name to reflect your new beliefs.

Or maybe you’re looking to reclaim a cultural identity that was lost over generations. In these cases, changing your name serves as a powerful affirmation of your personal choices and cultural or religious identity.

Simplifying or Modifying Name Spelling

You might also want to change your name to simplify its spelling or pronunciation, making your day-to-day interactions smoother and more reflective of your personal preference.

This is common for individuals with names that are frequently misspelled or mispronounced. By modifying your name, you can reduce everyday hassles and ensure that your name is pronounced and remembered correctly.

Steps to Pursue “Other Good Causes” for a Name Change

Publish a Notice

Your first step is to post a “notice of intent” declaring your intention to change your name from your current legal name to your chosen name. This notice must be posted publicly for at least 10 days before you file the official petition to legally change your name. 

However, if you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual offense, or stalking, providing evidence of this to the state waives this requirement.

Prove your status to the court using law enforcement, court, or other government records. Or use documentation from affiliates of the Domestic Violence Center Fund.

File a Petition

After at least 10 days, you can file a petition with the clerk at your county’s court. The petition must be accompanied by several other documents. The petition outlines your current legal name, the new name you desire, and your reasons for this change.

In your application, you’ll need to give

  • your current legal name
  • county and date of birth
  • full name of your parents as shown on your birth certificate
  • the name you want
  • your reasons for wanting the name change
  • whether you legally changed your name in the past

Submit Necessary Documents

Along with your petition, you’ll need to submit proof of your identity and residency. 

You’ll also need to provide:

  • Proof of good character by at least two citizens of the county who know your standing in the community and are not related to you by blood or marriage. 
  • Results of a state and national criminal history record check conducted within 90 days of the date of application. You must first obtain fingerprints to request these criminal history reports. 
  • A sworn statement that you are a bona fide resident of the county and proof of residency (such as a government ID or lease)
  • A sworn statement about whether you have outstanding tax or child support obligations
  • A certified copy or original birth certificate
  • Any other information that the clerk determines is necessary for the complete review of the name change application, such as your social security card and additional identification forms

Payment of Filing Fee and Other Costs

The process involves a filing fee, which you need to pay unless you obtain a form to have it waived due to financial constraints. When you decide to change your name for reasons other than marriage or divorce, you need to file a petition with the court.In North Carolina, this filing fee is $120. 

Alongside the filing, you’ll need to have certain documents notarized, such as affidavits of good character. Notary fees are typically small, but they are necessary to validate your documents officially.

Also, obtaining official copies of documents that support your petition, like your birth certificate or proof of residency, may involve some fees. Fingerprinting and background checks also come with their own costs. 

Court Review and Approval

Finally, a clerk or judge will review your petition and accompanying documents. If all your paperwork is in order and there are no valid objections to your name change, the court will issue an order approving your new name.

Depending on the North Carolina county, you can expect to receive your Order and Certificate of Name Change anywhere from a couple of days to 6-8 weeks later. 

Changing your name for reasons that truly resonate with your identity or beliefs can be a profoundly empowering experience.

If you have any questions or need assistance with the legal processes involved in North Carolina, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Scharff Law to get started.

We offer a free initial consultation so that you can see what is possible. Remember, this is about making sure that your name reflects your true self.

Updating Official Documents After a Name Change in North Carolina

Once you’ve successfully navigated the legal hurdles and your name change is official, updating your documents to reflect your new name is the next crucial step.

Let’s walk through how to update some of the most important documents: your driver’s license, Social Security records, and birth certificate.

Updating Your Social Security Records

After your name change is legally approved, the first stop is the Social Security Administration. You must update your name with SSA at least 3 business days before going to the DMV. Here’s what you need to do:

1- Gather Your Documents

You’ll need your legal name change document, your current Social Security card, and a form of ID like your driver’s license (it’s OK that it has your prior name on it).

2- Visit the Social Security Administration Office

While you can mail in your documents, visiting in person can often expedite the process and help clear up any questions on the spot.

3- Fill Out the Application for a New Card

You will complete an application for a new Social Security card, which will reflect your new name.

4- No Fee Required

There’s no charge for updating your Social Security card, which is a small relief in the process.

Updating Your Driver’s License

After you update your name at SSA, the next stop is often the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In North Carolina, you’ll need to update your driver’s license or ID to reflect your new name.

Here’s how you do it:

1- Visit Your Local DMV Office

You’ll need to go in person. Make sure to bring your legal name change document, typically the court order you received, which proves your name has been legally changed.

2- Complete the Required Forms

The DMV will have specific forms for you to fill out to update your records. These forms will ask for your new legal name and other pertinent details like your address and Social Security number.

3- Gender Marker Changes

If you are also updating your gender marker, you will want to fill out DMV’s  “Sex Designation Form” ahead of time and bring it with you to DMV to request your correct gender identity marker and receive an amended driver’s license.

4- Provide Additional Documentation

Besides the name change court order, you should bring your current driver’s license and another form of identification, such as your Social Security card.

5- Pay the Necessary Fee

There is a fee for issuing a new driver’s license. This fee varies, so it’s a good idea to contact your local DMV beforehand or check online to see how much you’ll need to pay.

Updating Your Birth Certificate

If you were born in North Carolina and wish to update your birth certificate:

1- Complete the Amendment Form

To request an amendment to your birth certificate, you will need to complete a form. You can access that form here.

2- Submit the Required Documentation

Along with the completed application, submit the legal name change document and a copy of your ID.

3- Changing the Gender Marker

The state of North Carolina once let only those who had “sex reassignment surgery” correct the gender marker on their birth certificate. However, now you can apply for a birth certificate gender correction by submitting the NC Department of Health and Human Services Birth Certificate Modifications Form.

The various options to support your request for a gender marker correction are listed on page 6 of the application.

4- Pay the Processing Fee

There is a fee for amending a birth certificate. The exact cost can be confirmed on the Bureau’s website or by contacting them directly.

Updating Your Passport

In June 2021, the law changed. The State Department no longer requires passport applicants to submit a medical certification to change the gender marker on their passports.

Transgender individuals can submit a passport application with the gender marker they choose. You can also choose an “X” gender marker for your passport.

Updating Everything Else

Updating your official documents after a name change is a crucial step in aligning all aspects of your legal identity. If you ever feel overwhelmed, remember that you are not alone. Many people navigate this process every day, and we are here to help.

We Can Help

At Scharff Law, we understand that changing your name in North Carolina can seem complex. However, no matter where you are in NC, we can help you change your name or gender marker.

Whether you’re obtaining a legal name change and/or updating your name on a birth certificate or driver’s license we’re here to provide the support and guidance you need.

Personalized Legal Support

Every name change case is unique, and that’s why we tailor our services to meet your specific circumstances.

From the initial filing of documents with the county clerk to the final submission of your name change form, our experienced attorneys are by your side.

We help you gather the necessary documentation, fill out the required forms correctly, and ensure that every detail is accounted for.

Navigating Complex Requirements

We know the nuances of state and county regulations and can guide you through the process smoothly.

We ensure you understand each step, from obtaining the correct court documents to updating your social security and driver’s license.

Court Representation

If your name change requires a court appearance, having an experienced attorney by your side can be invaluable.

We represent you in court, providing advocacy and support to ensure your petition is presented clearly and professionally.

We prepare you for what to expect, help you manage any questions from the court, and strive to make the experience as stress-free as possible.

Ongoing Advice and Assistance

Changing your name is a significant life decision, and the impact extends beyond the legal process. After your name change is legally recognized, we continue to offer advice and assistance.

Whether you need help updating legal documents, understanding the implications for your social security records, or any other concerns that arise, we’re just a phone call away.

At Scharff Law, we don’t just complete forms and file documents. We help you start your new chapter with confidence. 

Contact us today for your FREE consultation and to learn more about how we can assist with your name change in North Carolina.