Change your name in California

This guide can help you:

  • Change your name or your child's name
  • Understand your options if your child's other parent asked to change their name
  • Find out where to update your name on identity documents

If you already changed your name and need a copy of a court order, contact the court where your case was filed.

    Ready to start name change process?

    The steps and forms you need to fill out vary depending on your situation. Answer a few questions to get the right set of instructions.

    Start the process 

    You can legally change your name by filing papers in court. If a judge agrees, they will give you a court order that states your new legal name. You need this order to change your name on identity documents, like your driver’s license, passport, or social security card. 

    Basic steps to change a name

    To start the process, you file forms with the court

    You pay a $435-$450 filing fee. If you can’t afford the fee, you can ask the court to waive it. The clerk will give you a date when a judge will make a decision.

    A judge will make a decision in about 2 to 3 months after you complete a few more steps.

    Before a judge can decide, you must have the forms published in a newspaper for one month. This means that the request shows up in a legal notice section of a paper. There’s a fee to publish in a newspaper.

    You use a similar process to change your name to match your gender identity or to also get a court order recognizing your gender change. But, in these cases, you do not publish your request in a paper. 

    If you’re asking to change your child’s name, your child's other parent may need to get a copy of your request. This is called serving court papers.

    After you get the court order, you will use it to have your identity documents updated.

    You can change California-issued records, like your birth certificate or your child's birth certificate, or your marriage certificate, even if you live out of state.

    You can follow the instructions in this guide. Since you are out of state, there are a few differences, like where you file. Find out more about the differences if you live out of state.
    If you need a copy of a court order, contact the court where your case was filed.

    Consider other ways to change a name

    There are other ways to change your name if it is related to marriage, divorce, or becoming a U.S. citizen.

    A name change will not change who a child's legal parent is. 

    If you want to be added to a child's birth certificate or be legally recognized as their parent, changing their name will not do it. You may need to start a different type of case. This is called establishing parentage. You can ask to change a child's name in this process.

    To correct a clerical error on a legal identity document, contact the agency that issues legal identity documents

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