Pennsylvania Name Change Guide
In order to change your name, you must complete two major steps:
Legal Name Change: Obtain a legal name change document
Name Change Notification: Notify government and professional organizations of your name change
If you are seeking a marriage name change or divorce name change, and you already have a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or official name change court order, then you have completed step 1. You can immediately proceed to Name Change Notification, where you will find a detailed list of all of the steps involved, as well as links to all of the relevant name change forms and name change information you will need to notify the relevant agencies of your name change.
If you are changing your name, or a minor’s name, for reasons other than marriage or divorce, and you do not already have an official name change document, you must start with step 1, Legal Name Change.
Legal name change, as the phrase implies, is the process of actually changing one’s legal name. In the case of a marriage or divorce, this is accomplished by obtaining a marriage license or divorce decree which clearly states the previous name and the new name. Thus in the case of marriages and divorces, which constitute the vast majority of name changes in the United States, the legal name change process is nearly automatic and stems from the marriage/divorce document. Thus people in these situations can typically jump to the second step of the name change process: Name Change Notification. However, for those people who change their names for reasons other than marriage and divorce, and there are many people who do so for a wide variety of reasons, they must first obtain a legal name change from the court. Typically, a person must petition a court in their state for a name change, and the court can then decide whether or not to grant it. There is a lot of information to know here, and the rules vary by state. (back to top)
Once the legal name change is complete, the job is only half done. A person must then inform a number of important organizations and agencies of the name change in order to make it official. That is, a person must update his or her new name with the Social Security Agency, DMV, Passport Agency, etc., not to mention his or her employer, banks, insurance providers and other professional and personal affiliations. This process can be tedious as it requires the filing of several forms and updating ones name with numerous organizations. (back to top)
NewLastName provides a detailed checklist of all the steps involved in registering one’s new name as well as links to all the relevant forms and information for Pennsylvania’s Name Change Notification process here.