Undergoing a legal name change in Maryland is straightforward if you know the right steps. Today, you will learn the many ways to legally change your name without an attorney. Whether changing through marriage, divorce, or court petition.
Marriage name change
Maryland law allows you to change your name after marriage using your marriage certificate. This works for men, women, and same-sex couples.
You must only use a certified copy (i.e., not a photocopy) of your marriage certificate to change your name on your social security card, MVA driver's license, and passport.
There is no special Maryland-specific rule for name change. Your options are plain and suits common use-cases. Sought-after name changes include:
- Hyphenate both last names
- Take your spouse's entire last name
- Take a portion of your spouse's last name
- Create a brand new last name
- Replace your middle name
- Alter your first name
1. Hyphenate both last names
Joining your last names with a hyphen is a legal and welcome technique for keeping both identities intact. You are free to decide whose surname comes first or last.
2. Take your spouse's entire last name
Taking your spouse's full last name is the common, default, traditional approach. You must, however, accept the loss of your current name when going this route.
3. Take a portion of your spouse's last name
Plucking part of your spouse's last name will not work through marriage. For instance, if they are Hayden Murry-McMichael, you cannot become Mrs. Murry, McMichael, or Hael, etc.
4. Create a brand new last name
You cannot create a brand new last name after marriage in Maryland. That path requires a name petition with the circuit court, not a marriage application from said courthouse.
For instance, if your last name is Johnson and your spouse's last name is Miller, neither Millerson (segmented) nor Smith (fabricated) is possible without a court order.
5. Replace your middle name
Maryland is one of 47 states that allow you to replace your middle name with your maiden name (or last name at birth).
SSA field offices and DMV/MVA locations will only allow a full middle name replacement, meaning you cannot add a second middle name or drop your middle name.
6. Alter your first name
Changing your first name in Maryland is not achievable through marriage, divorce, or common law usage. You must instead petition the circuit court in your local jurisdiction.
Marriage license requirements
You must get a marriage license and certificate to complete a name change after wedlock in Maryland. Let us now walk through the complete name change process…
First, apply for a Maryland marriage license at the clerk of the circuit court office in the same county where your nuptials will occur. (You need not be a county resident.)
Either apply together or have your partner apply on your behalf. If neither lives in the county where applying, the circuit court will accept your downloadable application by mail.
Specify your "delivery instructions" on mailed, non-resident applications:
- Pick up your license in person.
- Receive your license by postal mail.
All application types will ask you to share your:
- Current name
- Place of birth
- Prior marital history
- Social security number (if you have one)
There are three marriage-related fees (it varies by county):
- Marriage license: $25 to $85
- Courthouse civil ceremony: $25 to $35
- Certified copy of marriage certificate: $5.50 each
Maryland circuit courts are open Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. (excluding federal holidays), with select offices having extended hours until 4:30 p.m.
Proof of identity
Submit the following identification and evidence (originals or certified copies only):
- Photo ID, e.g.:
- Current driver's license or REAL ID
- State-issued ID card
- Green card
- Military ID card
- Other government-issued photo ID
- Proof of prior marital status:
- Divorce decree (if divorced)
- Spouse's death certificate (if widowed)
- Minor's birth certificate (if younger than 18 years old)
You do not have to show your social security card or proof of citizenship.
A minor child, aged 15 to 17, is eligible to marry under two conditions:
- They are pregnant or have given birth.
- Their parent or legal guardian grants consent.
There are two caveats, though:
- 15-year-olds must meet both conditions.
- 16- and 17-year-olds must meet at least one condition.
Fourteen-year-olds and younger cannot marry, even with parental consent.
Waiting period and expiration date
You must endure a tricky two-day waiting period. Your marriage license effective date follows two days later at 6 a.m. For instance, apply on Friday to marry by 6 a.m. Sunday.
Your license will expire after six months following the two-day waiting period. For example, if you apply on January 1, it will become invalid on July 3 at midnight.
Upon request, a circuit court judge will waive the two-day wait time on reasonable grounds for Maryland residents and U.S. Armed Forces members.
Receiving your license
There are two scenarios where you will not get your marriage license the same day you apply:
- You applied by mail.
- Your court does not offer same-day issuance.
You have three ways to get your physical license in hand:
- Get it by mail.
- Return for pick up.
- Authorize a third-party pick up.
When applying by mail, either choose a mailing address to receive your marriage license, pick it up yourself, or give signed authorization for someone else to get it, like so:
I (Jane Doe) authorize my friend (David Garcia) to pick up my marriage license. Signed Jane Doe.Example statement allowing third-party retrieval.
Your marriage ceremony
Whoever solemnizes your wedding—judge, clerk of court, or religious official—must return your marriage license to the circuit court within five days after your ceremony.
Your officiant must hand you a copy of the attached marital certificate for your records. You cannot use this document for name change: for that, you need a certified copy.
Order certified copies of your certificate from the circuit court clerk after they record your returned license. Use that document for name change.
Divorce name change
Change your name after divorce using a certified copy of your finalized divorce decree (or Maryland Judgment of Absolute Divorce).
You have the option of returning to any former legal name, including your maiden name, birth name, adopted name, or a prior married name.
Name change is your choice alone. Your ex cannot force you to switch. You are under no legal obligation to revert, no matter what your divorce decree says.
Timing your name change request
If you have filed for divorce, you have up to 30 days before your hearing to request a change of name. The court will approve, provided it is not for fraudulent reasons.
The court will honor name change requests up to 18 months after the initial judgment of absolute divorce. The court will issue an amended record of dissolution.
Obtaining proof of divorce
Order a certified copy of your Maryland divorce decree by mail or online through Maryland's Division of Vital Records.
Current fees are:
- $12.00 for mail orders
- $23.75 for online orders (regular shipping)
- $42.25 for online orders (expedited shipping)
- 6 weeks for mail orders
- 5 weeks for online orders (regular shipping)
- 2 weeks for online orders (expedited shipping)
Court name change
File a Petition for Change of Name within the Maryland circuit court in the county where you live. This path is for those who cannot change their name through marriage or divorce.
Court-petitioned name changes are not just for last names; you have the opportunity to change your first and middle name too. The possibilities are endless.
Court clerk and staff are loath to answer legal questions. Find an attorney for legal advice if your name change veers into complex terrain.
Child name changes
If your child is younger than one-year-old, the Maryland Department of Health will process their name change once for free, with both parents' consent, and without a court petition. Subsequent changes will require a paid filing.
Children under 18 need a parent or guardian to file their petition. Solo petitioners must make a good-faith effort to notify the other parent or guardian. Otherwise, the court will handle it.
Filing fee and waivers
The filing fee is $165, paid in advance. If you cannot afford it, request a prepayment waiver, which defers court fees until your case concludes.
You have the option to request a final waiver from the judge to dismiss the deferred filing fee when your case ends. Eligibility is determined by your income level.
Legal name change forms
There are separate petition forms for:
- Adults (Form CC-DR-60)
- Minors below age 18 (Form CC-DR-062)
- Consent form for other parent (Form CC-DR-063)
You must file your change of name petition in person at the courthouse, not online.
Local newspaper publication
Publication arrangements vary by county. Some circuit courts will handle the publication step for you, while, in other cases, the responsibility for publication falls on you.
Ask if courthouse bulletin board publication is available if you do not want your name published in a newspaper.
After you get your notice published, the newspaper will either file a Certificate of Publication (Form CC-DR-075) with the court or mail it to you to get filed yourself.
The publication fee ranges from $10 to $30, regardless of which newspaper you choose, and is separate from the court's petition for a change of name fee.
You are entitled to ask the court to waive the publication step for good cause, such as Maryland's Safe at Home Address Confidentiality Program (ACP).
The objection period
The publication notice informs the public of your name change intentions. Anyone is free to object to your filing by filing a petition against your case, provided their reason is valid.
Objectors must file their complaint with the court in writing. You will get notified and given 15 days to respond. Either reply in writing or plead your case in person through a Request for Hearing or Proceeding (Form CC-DR-509).
If no one objects to your name change during publication, the judge will sign your Decree for Change of Name. In some cases, a judge will grant your petition without a hearing.
Request your circuit court order
Request a certified copy of your approved court order from the clerk of court. It costs $5 and will have the custodian's signature and a raised seal.
Updating your identification
When you have physical proof of name change, the time has come to update your federal, state, and nongovernmental ID.
Social security card
You must correct your social security card before other documents. Your local Social Security Administration field office handles this.
You have the flexibility to change the name on your passport at either the beginning or end of your new name journey. It does not depend on your SSA card or driver's license going first.
Maryland Code, Health-General, § 4-214 governs the procedures to update a birth certificate for someone born in Maryland.
The Division of Vital Records will amend your birth certificate by affidavit. Changes for minors under 12 months of age are free, while those aged 12 months or older incur a $10 fee.
Use this amendment process to:
- Change your or your child's name or gender marker.
- Change or add paternity information.
- Correct missing or erroneous information.
Send in your old birth certificate to get a free certified copy replacement. Otherwise, fresh copies are $10 each.
Vital Statistics will publish birth certificate data changes to the public record.
In summary, changing your name in Maryland is easier and more cost-effective for marriage and divorce compared to petitioning the court. Either way, you now have the knowledge to move forward.
Plus, here goes an added step: begin now. Our online name change kit is designed to assist you on your name change journey, tailored to your schedule.