North Carolina Name Change Process
Those who wish to complete a North Carolina name change have a number of options to choose from. It's also worth noting that there are procedures to be followed and legal expectations to be met for the procedure to be considered legally abiding. Here are a number of scenarios anyone in North Carolina needs to know relating to a change of name.
Marriage Name Change Options
Traditionally, it's married women who have always been taking their husband's surname after the conclusion of marriage. The state of North Carolina has a straightforward and simple name change process for anyone who wants to adopt the last name of their husband. What you need is to first obtain a marriage license's certified copy from your county's office of Registrar of Deeds about ten days after going down the aisle. The process comes at a fee and can be completed in person or by mail.
There are a number of name change options after marriage you can always choose from.
You can add the name of your of husband into your own in any order you choose, but use a hyphen to separate the names.
You can also use a space to separate your middle name with that of your newly married husband perhaps to maintain a middle name that is known at the same time taking your husband's.
You can also adopt the surname of your husband on every record or ID you have after marriage if you so want. The state also allows you to take the surname of your husband on your records and ID while at the same time continuing with the use of the maiden name in your social life or work.
You can also decide to enter into marriage without changing your name and leaving the name to remain as it has always been.
Divorce Name Change
At the time of divorce, North Carolina law gives one a chance to adopt a new name; the name change petition has to be filed at the time you are answering your spouse's complaint or filing your own divorce complaint. With the complaint you can request the court change the name to a prior surname or maiden name. As such, the court will be able to issue an order during the divorce process allowing you to change your name. If you change your name within the context of divorce there are no charges.
If you decide after the conclusion of divorce you need a new name you will only need to present the divorce judgment to the court clerk; for a nominal fee you can simply take up one of the name change options specified, such as a prior name of a husband who is the father of your children, a deceased husband's name or the maiden name.
In case you didn't change your surname during the divorce proceedings you still have a chance of returning to your maiden name. The Clerk's Office has a form you can use to revert to a maiden name. This requires the payment of a little fee and varies from one North Carolina County to another. Nonetheless, a divorce judgment copy will be required to change the surname through this process.
To revert to a deceased husband's name after divorce, you need his death certificate's certified copy obtainable from the vital records' state or local office. Fill the form required for this process, pay the fee and file all the documents with the Clerk's Office.
General Adult Name Change
North Carolina requires that you file a petition to effect a name change with a court within the state. While the process is straightforward, there are a number of documents needed. Firstly, you need to have a copy of documents that indicate you are a resident of the state, such as a driver's license of North Carolina, registered voter's card or a non driver's identification.
You also need to get notarized good character affidavits from your county of residence of at least two residents. The good character required is not specified in the state's law but you can always ask from the Superior Court's clerk the required content. You can then submit a written notice of your name change intentions to the Superior Court office within your resident county; the notice has to indicate your current name, new name desired, address and intention of filing the petition. The notice is important since it gives anyone who might be objecting your change of name to contact the Superior Court clerk.
After posting the notice of intent, wait for at least ten days and file the change of name petition with the clerk of the Superior Court. The filing fees are also not uniform across all the counties. After the approval of the petition by the clerk, you will receive a certificate that remains a proof of legal change of name.
You can use name change certificate certified copies to change all the documents important in your professional, business and social life, from Social Security Card, Passport, driver's license, to club membership, if the need be. Remember, your Social Security Number does not change.
Child Name Changes
Before you change the name of a minor in North Carolina you need to keep a number of things in mind. Firstly, the name change reasons need to be very clear, such as stepchild inclusion into your family or adoption. A guardian or parent will indicate the reason for the name change while submitting the petition with the other guardian or parent required to give consent for the process to continue. If both parents are still alive and appear on the birth certificate, they have no choice but consent on the minor's name change. The guardians or parents are then notified about the name change petition giving each parent a chance to come forward in case of an objection.
In case only one of the parents has the legal custody of a minor of about 16 years of age, the minor can apply a change of name through the parent who is the legal custodian; the clerk has to be convinced that the parent who does not have custodial rights has abandoned the child. In case the parent without custodial rights denies abandoning the child the case will have to be determined and transferred as required for that purpose. If child abandonment is ascertained the non-custodial parent's consent is not needed.
If during the name change process a controversy arises relating to the name change, a hearing of the issue before a judge in the state might occur. The judge will then decide on the issue and what the best interest of the minor is. Do not forget that minor name change is not similar to legal adoption nor does it remove the responsibilities of every parent. This means a child living with an ex-wife whose name has been changed to the stepfather's, the obligations and responsibilities of a biological parent still stand.
Remember if you are the mother and the one seeking a minor name change the verification Petitioning Mother Name Change form needs to be filed while a father seeking the same has to file the verification Petitioning Father Name Change form. The noncustodial parent has to sign the Consent to Name Change. If the child is 16 years of age or above you will also need two people who are not related to the child filing two Good Character Affidavits in your county of residency. Some counties also request that an Order for Minor Name Change be completed.
The Clerk's Office should then get you the Order for Minor Name Change, dully signed. The Order's copy should be sent to you via mail. Together with photo identification, birth certificate and the Order you can then change the name of the child to the different offices that need to be notified about the change, such as the Social Security Administration.
Change of Name on Birth Certificate
The North Carolina Vital Records can help to change the name on either a death or birth certificate but do not handle changes on divorce or marriage certificates. In case of a court ordered name change, the process with N.C. Vital Records is clear. The birth certificate, amended with the name change as ordered by the court, will be processed for persons born within the state of North Carolina. The birth certificate form of application need to be completed with the information required to find the original birth certificate.
It's required by the court that a certified copy of the name change be provided after changing your name, together with the request to effect the change on the birth certificate. To process the change of name a $15 fee has to be paid, including another $24 for the requested certificate's first copy and another $15 for every extra copy you want for the altered certificate. Faster services can always be requested for an extra fee.
Cover Social Security, DMV, Passport, IRS
Whether you have changed your name through a court-ordered process for an adult, marriage or divorce, it's important that you have the change reflected on various government documents such as a Social Security Card and driver's license. Remember, the marriage certificate can only be ordered after marriage and a return of the marriage license to the Register of Deeds.
You can start by updating the Social Security documents before you approach the North Carolina Department of Transport for change of name on your non-driver ID or driver's license.
Name change with the Social Security Administration can be done via mail or in person but never online. You will need to complete an application for a Social Security Card, usually through the SS-5 form, legal documents for name change such as a court order, divorce decree or marriage certificate and a proof of identity like passport, driver's license and identification card, including U.S. citizenship proof such as naturalization certificate, citizenship certificate or birth certificate. Remember each of the documents has to be either a certified copy or original. Before you can report to the North Carolina DMV for a driver's license, wait between 24 and 36 hours after the Social Security Administration has changed your name.
After legally effecting a name change successfully you have to report to the local DMV in North Carolina in less than 60 days to have the ID card or North Carolina driver's license updated. You have to change the driver's license in North Carolina in person by visiting the local office; you cannot do it by mail or online. Visit the DMV North Carolina office with the ID card or driver's license you are using currently, legal documents showing the name change such as divorce decree, court order or marriage certificate, including a money order, check or cash of the $10 fee required. Those with vehicles should also change their vehicle records in the state after changing the name on the driver's license first.
Don't forget to send the name change order to the Bureau of Records or Vital Statistics in North Carolina to get a new birth certificate or have it amended.
Name Change with Non-Governmental Institutions
It's also important to also change your name with other non-government institutions once you are through with the government agencies, such as Social Security Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles and IRS.
You can go ahead and contact all other non-governmental and governmental agencies you believe need to know about your change of name, from your employer, insurance companies, credit card companies, Registrar of Voters, financial institutions, such as banks, welfare, professional documents, academic institutions, contracts, trusts, powers of attorney, lawyers and doctors, will and professional associations, among others.
Most of these institutions will require documentation effecting the change while others won't; a phone call or written request will probably be enough.
Recognized documents of the name change event
- Certified copy of marriage certificate for marriage name change.
- Certified copy of divorce decree for divorce name change.
- Court order for general adult name change.
- State or government identification.
- Proof of U.S. citizenship.
I live in North Carolina and wanted to know if when I went change my last name to my husbands last name, am I able to change the spelling of my first name from Tiffany to Tiffanie or is that another process?
Hi Tiffany. No, first name changes are not possible when you change your last name. You'll have to obtain a court order to modify your first name.
After marriage when changing stuff at social security office can you drop first name since it’s never used and use the middle and last name along with the husbands last name?
Hi Jody. No, you cannot drop your first name.
In NC, when I change my last name to my husband's last name, can I make my middle name my maiden name and drop my original middle name given at birth all together?
Yes, you can drop your middle name and insert your maiden name in its place.
In NC, Do I have to petition the court for a name change if I am taking my husbands last name due to marriage? Or can I just use the marriage certificate and present this to the SSA office?
Hi Dani. You don't have to petition the court. Just use your marriage certificate to change your name.
How do I legally change my name as an adult that I have used my lifetime and just found out that it's different on my birth certificate?
Submit a name change petition with the clerk of the superior court in your county of residence.
Hi, so I am about to get married in a few months. I have always went by my middle name. I plan on taking my husband's last name. What are my options? I really do not want to drop my maiden name.
Hi Sarah. You can take your spouse's last name as-is or hyphenate.
Living in Nc and and getting married soon. Want to change my sons last name to be the same as my married name. My sons dad and I, whom i am not marrying, have custodial and non custodial custody in which he lives with me. Am i able to change my sons name if we dont speak much?
Hi LRP. Your son's father can still object to the name change, which would have to be worked out through the court.
Thank you for the information. I am preparing to file pro se divorce in NC, and have children from both my first marriage (husband deceased) and second marriage. My preference is to have both married surnames, hyphenated or not, rather than returning to maiden or prior married surnames. Is this an option under the divorce name change, or would this require a separate petition?
Hi Kat. If the judge allows it, you can change it using your divorce decree.
how long does it take to complete an adult name change
Hi Brandon. You're looking at 2–6 weeks turnaround time.
I have a Application/Notice of Resumption of Former Name that has been signed and sealed by the Clerk of Superior Court here in Wake County, NC. Is this document sufficient for Social Security name change purposes? I hired an attorney to file this for me after my divorce was final because it wasn't done during the divorce proceedings.
Hi Chandra. That's just the application. The clerk will need to provide you a certified copy of certificate of legal name change.
Is there a time limit to changing last name after marriage? I was married in 2017 but intend on keeping my maiden name until finishing school and my husband can adopt my daughter. Can I change my last name from marriage 4 years after the marriage happened?
I was married in Colorado, and we now live in NC. We have been married 6 years, and I'm ready to change to my husband's last name. Do I need any other documentation besides our marriage certificate to change my last name since we were married in another state? Also, can I change my middle name at the same time, or do I need to go through the court for that? I don't necessarily want to change my middle name to my maiden name.
No, you don't need another document. Your Colorado marriage certificate will suffice.
If you want to replace your middle name with anything other than your maiden name, you'll have to get a court order.
I was curious what I have to do to drop the hyphenated name (My spouse last name) off my driver license. My driver license is the only piece of ID that has the hyphenated name on it. My social security card has the same day minus the hyphenated name.
Hi Bernie. You'd have to obtain a court order.
I've been doing some research and asking some of my friends that have hyphenated names. One of my friends told me that she never got a new social security card after she got married/hyphenated her name. Also, she said that she just chose whichever name she wanted to use, when it came to her job and credit cards, etc…
Question: Do people still use their middle name for identification purposes, even if they list their first name and hyphenated name?
If I were to take a state or national test, I'm thinking the hyphenated name option might be an issue in the state of NC. I came across this video not long ago and I might just reconsider a different option.. This happened recently on September of 2017 in Selma, NC.
Informal usage. Not the same as a legal name change.
Only if it's asked for.
That's a non-government organization which has their own internal rules. For all we know it could be something as simple as a flaky data entry system unable to accept certain characters.
Can I change my middle name to my father's first name when I am changing my last name after marriage?
Hi Julie. No, you'd have to obtain a court order for such a name change.
I just want to clarify because I’ve confused myself.
I was married in 2013 and am now ready to change my last name to my husband’s.
Am I correct that for Cumberland County all I will need is a copy of my marriage certificate? And that there is no time limit?
I know I will have to send things to the SSA, would a certified copy of my birth certificate work?
No, there's no time limit.
Birth certificate would be used if you needed to verify your age, such as correcting your date of birth on record.
For name changes, the birth certificate isn't used, as it's not a proper identity document.
If your marriage certificate doesn't sufficiently confirm your identity, you must supply another a supporting identity document, such as a driver's license, state-issued ID card, passport, military ID, employee ID, school ID, or medicare/health insurance card.
Hi im Sharita. I want to know how can i drop my legal first name, to only carry my middle last and new last name. So it would read Renee Harris-Hawkins?
Hi Sharita. You'll have to get a court-approved name change.
Good morning, I got married last year in Lillington, NC, but they did not ask us if I wanted to keep my husband's last name so I kept mine, I am from another country and we are waiting for my SSN, is there any way that I can change it now?
NC marriage license applications don't provide a space to specify a new name, which is why you weren't asked about it.
You'd change your name using your marriage certificate.
I was married in 2014 and yes the clerk does ask you to sign the marriage certificate with your now given as in after they stamp the paper name as I double checked and then signed with my husband's last name. I am aware there is no time limit for the ssa change and due to no driver's license there is small concern for me to change at the DMV. My marriage is completely legalized and my name has been legalized at the clerk of courts office.
So I want to change my first, middle, and last name when I get married. Would it be best if I changed my first and middle name before I get married so I don’t need to obtain a new marriage license? Or can I change the whole thing on the marriage license and then fix all my other documents?
Hi Emy. You'll have to petition the court to change your first name. The rest you can change using your marriage certificate.
I am applying for new federal license and if not that a passport. I was denied by the DMV wanted court ordered proof of official name change for my middle name. I spoke to SS Office and they showed me a law that states only first and names constitue the legality of a name, not middle. I'm looking to get my middle name legal because dmv says it isn't (even though I received a NC license years ago from them reflecting my new name) and SS says differently. Is this due to state and federal laws being different? Do I go to court and make name change for middle name only even though everything reflects new name? Do I have SS change my middle name back to original name before court process?
Four years ago I married in NC and I changed my last name to my husbands and I also changed my middle name to something different than what I was given at birth. Social security office made this change and I chose to show middle name in whole name on card and thus changed my NC license to reflect and all other institutions from banks, irs, credit cards,etc.
Hi Danielle. The SSA changing your middle name to something other than your birth name or a selection allowed by the state is unusual. The SSA is federal, while the DMV is state, so you'll likely have to obtain a court order to get the latter to budge.
Me and the mother of my son want to change his last name to my last name… i work/live in texas she lives in NC. How long would the process take if i needed to be present for any appearances in court? And whatvare the steps we should take in doing this?
Hi Patrick. You'll have to contact the superior court clerk responsible for your NC county regarding expected wait times.
I was married in Onslow County, NC, in 1993 & divorced in Onslow County, NC in 2007. I kept my married name because of our two children. In 2011, I legally married my current husband in the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico (following the Puerto Rican traditional custom where the wife retains her maiden name on the official marriage certificate until her husband deceases). I never changed any of my other legal documents (driver's license, social security, etc.) from my previous married name to my maiden name after getting married in Puerto Rico. Now that my youngest son from my previous marriage is graduating high school, I'd like to officially change my last name to my current husband's last name (still living, not deceased). I have lived in Wake County for the past 3 1/2 years.
How do I accomplish this? Where do I begin? What do I need to do? What documents do I need to provide?
What documents do I need to complete/submit?
Hi Dana. The process is the same as if you were married in any U.S. state: take a certified copy of your marriage certificate to change your name with the necessary agencies.
I got married in SC and signed my marriage certificate with my maiden name, will this be a problem when I change my last name to my husbands in NC?
No, it won't pose a problem.
I have always gone by my middle name and was wanting to drop my first name, make my middle name my new first name, my maiden name as my new middle name, and my husbands last name as my new last name. When I went to social security today to get this done they said I needed a court order to change my first name. Would I be going through the 'Adult Name Change' process?
Yes, you'll have to go through the adult name change procedure.
I have the same situation, my mom was able to "drop" her legal first name about 38 years ago after her first marriage, but laws have changed to prevent those attempting to evade a crime. My question is, If you complete the legal name change process post marriage, will the birth certificate then reflect the married name, or the maiden, sans first name?
North Carolina birth certificates cannot be amended due to reflect a new married name. It can only be modified through a court-ordered name change. It's also not automatic. You have to request the change with NC's vital records office, otherwise the certificate will not change.
Is it possible for the man to take the wifes last name? After I turned 18, I was forced to change my last name to couples last name whom I was living with at the time. When I was able to get away from that situation, I tried to change my name back to my original name. They told me I could only change my name one time after turning 18. I am getting married in the next year or so and do not want my family to have my current last name. I was wondering that if she changed her name to my original name, if I could take her last name when we get married?
Hi Brent. You'd have to petition the court. Furthermore, you're not relegated to a "one time" name change. You can undergo multiple name changes, if you so choose.
Hello, I recently got married but have not taken my marriage certificate to the Social Security office yet because I also want to get a court order to change my middle name.
On my court order request, do I request to change my middle AND last name (to my married name) or should I just change my middle name and then use that court order, along with my marriage certificate, to change my middle and last name simultaneously at the SS office?
I am concerned that my middle name changing, but appearing as the original middle name on my marriage certificate since that has already been filed, might pose a problem? Thank you!
Yes, that makes sense. If you're going to court to undergo a name change, you might as well kill two birds with one stone and have the court order reference both your middle and last name change.
Hi! I just got married and on the marriage license it had no option for “ name after marriage “ or something like that. I got married last Friday so and walking outside the court I just realized that I never wrote anywhere about my new name so I got confused. Now I’m waiting to get the marriage certificate. Do you know if I can go and ask for them to change so whenever the certificate is ready it already comes with the new name or will I have to wait for it to be ready and then go and applay to change it?
Hi Heloisa. You didn't miss anything. North Carolina marriage license applications don't provide fields to specify a new name after marriage. This isn't a hindrance. You can still change your name through marriage using a certified copy of your marriage certificate.
Getting married soon and wanted to keep my name. Do I have to change it at the SS office or do nothing? Can I use my husband's name, but not change it legally in NC?
You can do nothing and your name will not change. That's a perfectly valid choice.
You can opt to use your husband's name informally in social settings if you're not changing it for real. Just make sure you're using your proper legal name in legal contexts.
I'm looking for some guidance and my account and case has already been closed by my family attorney. I have two questions I'm looking to solve:
1- I've had my ex-husband's parental rights for my children terminated in NC based on abandonment. I have the orders for termination documented and signed by the judge. Do I still need him to sign a waiver allowing their name change because he's still alive and is listed on their birth certificates even though he's lost all rights as a parent? I don't see this addressed anywhere on the Clerk of Court site and the clerk won't answer the question for me.
2- The court orders terminating my exhusband's parental rights were done in NC. My children were born in NC and at the time the court orders were completed, i was a resident if NC. I have since moved to SC. Am I still able to file the minor name changes in NC or do I have to do it in SC? I noticed on the forms I have to fill out, it's asking me to verify my county and state of residence so it seemed like maybe it was an important factor in whether or not I would be allowed to do it.
I hate the idea of being automatically denied based on the two items above and am frustrated that the clerk won't tell me and the only way I have to find out is by paying the $250 in fees just to cross my fingers and hope for the best.
Anyone have any insight
Hi Christina. In South Carolina, child name changes are handled by the family court. You have to file a petition/lawsuit to change your child's name. Any parent whose parental rights have been terminated is not required to be part of the lawsuit.
Me and my wife and children are a blended family. Due to intensive stress and border line harassment from our extended family and children's biologicals (names on certain ones birth certificates arent even on there as the legal parent) i would like to change my own name and then change the name of every one else in my household. How could i go about doing that?
That's handled by North Carolina's Superior Courts.
hi anyone know where i can find a template for me to fill out myself for the notice of intent to file petition to change name in north carolina? i found a website that will charge me $10 to give me the template for the petition but i need to file the notice first and i can't seem to find a template for me to fill out and turn it in help!!! thank you
Hi Harold. Can you specify the county?
Hi Harold. I wasn't able to find a document for Stanley County, so you'll have to contact the Clerk of the Superior Court for District 20A.
You can ask if they have forms available for download. If not, can they be mailed, faxed, or emailed to you as an attachment.
I've been divorced for 8 years. I placed my maiden name for my middle and still have my exhusbands last name. I would like to go back to my middle name when I get remarried, as to not have my ex name. What's the easiest way to do this? And if I have to change it twice how long do I wait in between?
Hi Karen. You'd have to petition the court.
My husband and i got married 3 yrs ago. When we got married, my husband used his mother’s last name. So i used his last name too after marriage. Now, my husband recently changed his last name to his father’s last name and i want to change my last name too. I can’t change my last name in SSN if our marriage certificate is not changed since we both used his mother’s last name on that. How do i process that?
Hi Kyle. You'd have to petition the court and the court order you receive can be used to change your name to match your husband's.
Hello. I’m currently married, pending separation and possibly divorce. I would like to know if I can change my name back to my maiden name while still technically married? It’s becoming an issue with my lien holder of my house as it was purchased before marriage and when I have to get documents for assistance I have to explain the name change and show the marriage certificate. Lien holder won’t change it and I don’t want it changed just want to go back to my maiden name. Is this possible?
You'd have to obtain a court order from the Superior Court.
I got my SSC card updated but I didn’t realize there was a 60 day time limit to change my name on my ID. Will I have to pay a fine? Will I be able to have my name changed on my ID?
North Carolina's official DMV website says you must update your license within 60 days of changing your name, but is there a penalty for not doing so?
The answer is no. There's no penalty or fine that the DMV will impose for failing to change your name to match what's on your social security card. You'll be able to change your name as you normally would past the 60-day mark.
Also, if you get stopped by the police—speeding, broken taillight, etc—you could get ticketed if they find out your name hasn't been updated after 60 days of your name having officially changed.
By the way, when you do get around to changing your name on your driver's license, don't forget to update your title and registration and car insurance to match.
My husbands ex wife remarried and I assume legally took on her new husbands last name since she was arrested under her second married last name and I would assume that would only be because it “was” her new legal last name. Now her and that husband have divorced and she is using my husband, her first husbands last name again in N.C. is that allowed?
Yes, if the judge approved a request from her to return to her former name.
Hi, I recently got married and I want to keep all three of my birth names but also take my husband's last name. However, I don't want to hyphen my last name. I was wondering if I could hyphen my first and middle name to create a new first name, make my last name as my new middle name, and take my husband's name as my last name?
Or could I hyphen my middle name?
Hi Ambria. You would have to go to court for this as well.
Hyphenating your first and middle name requires you to go to court. The other changes can be done using your marriage certificate. However, if you do go to court you could do the complete name change as a bundle.
Our marriage license shows my husbands last name with a misspelling. If i take the marriage license and all his supporting documents to show the correct spelling, can i have my last name changed to the correct spelling (not the spelling on the marriage license)?
If you were married in North Carolina, you can request a correction and amendment from the Register of Deeds that recorded your license. If you were married elsewhere, contact the office that recorded and issued your marriage certificate for a correction.
I just carried my husband last name since December 2017. It's like this, I keep my first name, middle name & last name plus my husband's last name. The question now is, I want to drop my first name, just use my middle name as first, my last name as middle, & keep my husband's last name. Is this possible here in NC?
Not through marriage. Such an elaborate switch in your name would require you to petition the court.
Can I take my fiances last name but make my current last name another middle name (without dropping my current middle name). So i would have two middle names. First name, Middle Name, Maiden Name(2nd Middle Name), New Last Name
Hi Carly. You wouldn't be able to do that through marriage. You can replace your middle name with your maiden name, but anything beyond that would require you to go through the Superior Court.
I want to take my step-dads last name. I was not born in N.C., but in Louisiana. I went to my county clerk office and was given the name change packet. I did all the requirements including posting the notice. Upon finding out I wasn’t born in the state they told me to call Louisiana vital records to see if they would grant an NC name change court order, which they don’t. My question is, could I preform an general adult name change and not change my birth certificate but my other legal documents? And could that be performed in N.C.?
County clerk? Are you sure you're not referring to the office of the clerk of the superior court?
Never heard of this. If you're a resident of a North Carolina county, then your name change takes place wholly in that county's superior court.
Yes, you can change your documents while leaving your birth certificate untouched.
If you're a resident of NC, that's where it would be performed.
Update: I called my local county clerk of superior court and asked about this information before going up there. They told me this could not be done and it would have to be changed on my birth certificate therefore it would be based on Louisiana laws. She appeared not to know anything about it being changed without changing the birth certificate. So I got the same response as before. Very frustrating at this point because I’m hearing different information but that is directly from the courthouse.
I am a man who was blessed with a hyphenated last name by my parents. I will be getting married in FL and wish to drop a portion of my hyphenated last name to just keep my father's piece.
I live in NC. Will putting just my father's piece of my hyphenated last name on the FL marriage certificate allow me to legally change my name on all documents including NC specific ones? Or does dropping part of my legally hyphenated name and using it on all legal documents require the formal court process?
Hi JP. You'd have to go to court to remove a portion of your last name.
I am living apart from my husband for over a year now. We are not divorced, just separated. Can I change my name back to my maiden name? If so, what do I need to do to do that?
You'd have to petition the court for a general adult name change. There are no name change allowances for separation like there is for a finalized divorce.
Can you keep your middle name, add your maiden name as a second middle name, and still take on your husband's last name as your own?
Hi Ashley. You'd have to go to court to append something to your middle name.
So my marriage licsense has my madien name on it we got married in NC. I want to change my last name to his. Can i do that even though my marriage licsense has my maiden name? It didnt have a spot for me to say I wanted to change it. And nobody asked if I wanted to change it either
You can change your name fine. The North Carolina marriage license application doesn't provide a spot to choose a new name. It's not a hindrance though.
Valera, I am in NC getting a divorce. Can I keep my married lady name Nuckles but hyphenate it with my Maiden name Schmidt first.. Schmidt-Nuckles. Trying to do it the easiest way.
You can if it's approved by the divorce judge.
Can I, a male, change my first name through the marriage license option? I want to change it from Camron Watlington to Cam Watlington. I don't like how it is spelled and everyone calls me Cam anyway.
Male or female, a first name change requires a court order.
I was married 3 years ago. Due to living in another state and out of the country for half of that time I have not changed my name. Now is a good time for me to do it. Do I need additional documentation since it has been 3 years?
Hi Melissa. The the SSA, you'd provide an identity document in your old name along with your marriage certificate.
Valera, What are my options in NC for taking my husband last name without losing my birth given First, Middle, & Maiden Names?
Hi Angela. Have you considered hyphenating surnames or replacing your middle name with your maiden name?
When I get married, I want to drop my first name and make my middle name my proper name with my last name becoming my middle name with my husband's last name. Is this possible with just the marriage license or would I need to do that through the court?
You cannot change your first name using your marriage license/certificate. You have to go to court.
I am getting married in NC in August. My fiance' and I both want to change our last name to a totally different last name than either of ours. Can we do that with just a marriage licencse or would we have to petition the court? Also, would we need an attorney to petition the court?
You'd both have to petition.
You can do it yourselves.
Could we go ahead and petition the court to legally change his name now, then in August when we get married, just change my last name to his new name like normal? That way we both don't have to petition the court.
Yes, that would work.
Hello, I keep seeing that certified copies are the only thing accepted by social security to change my name for marriage- but what about for my driver's license? Can I just make a photocopy of it or what do I do?
No, a photocopy will be rejected. It must be an original or certified copy.
I am getting married next year, and would prefer to keep my last name (and not drop my middle name). I know I have the option to hyphenate my last name with my future husband's last name, but is there a way for me to keep both last names without hyphenating? So- first name, middle name, last name last name? Would this require petitioning the court? Thank you!
Hi Michele. I do not believe a the space-separator option is possible.
Hello – I am recently married. I do not have a middle name. I want to add a middle name that is in my family, drop my last name, and take his last name. Do I need to petition the court to add the middle name, or is our marriage license sufficient?
Hi Paulina. You can move your maiden name to take the place of your nonexistent middle name. Anything other than that, you'd have to go to court.
I am trying to get my “real” ID through NCDMV. My Mother falsified my birth certificate; therefore, my last name is incorrect. Growing up, I “assumed” my correct last name; but, nothing was ever done to legally change it.
I have a marriage license taking me from the birth certificate name to a married name. Then a divorce decree, taking me from married name to assumed family name. Then a marriage license, taking me from assumed name, to my now married name.
Will that be sufficient for the DMV in proving all the changes in names? All documents have raised seals on them.
Hi Penny. You'll also need to show a document containing your name and social security number (e.g., social security card, tax form) and two pieces of mail showing your current physical address.
Hi Valera … Thank you so much for taking the time to answer me! I know I’ll need to show additional documents with my current name. Will I need to show anything additional for the previous names except what I mention above? Thanks again!
Hi Penny. You should be good to go, but make sure you're bringing acceptable documents.
My son in law wants to change his adopted name back to his birth name. He has reconnected with his parents. How would he do so in NC?
Hi Michele. Your son would have to petition the Superior Court in his county of residence to change his name.
Hi there, I am divorced and recently remarried. I kept my first married last name after divorce for professional reasons. I would like to now add my new last name, drop my middle name and replace it with my current last name (which is first married name). Can I do this with my marriage license or do I need to petition the court since it’s not my maiden name?
Example: current legal name is Michelle B. Plaza
Would like to change it to
Michelle Plaza Sperling
Hi Michelle. You would indeed have to petition.
1. Can my fiancee change her middle and last names at our marriage by putting the new names in on the first line of the application and her maiden (current) name in the box below (last name at birth)?
2. If we are doing a court wedding (magistrate) will we receive a copy of the marriage license that day, or do we have to wait for the certificate after 5-10 days from the County register of deeds?
3. Once we have the marriage certificate, the DMV site states we need "Documented proof from the courts or the Register of Deeds establishing that the name change was officially accomplished". Is that the same as the certificate or a different document?
4. The DMV requires "Execution of a notarized DL-101". DOes that mean we fill out the form and notarized at the DMV or fill it out before and bring it notarized to the DMV?
The application should just ask for current names. The eventual marriage certificate will reflect that. Your fiancee will be able to do a name change fine with the certificate showing the pre-marriage names.
Since the register of deeds is typically located in the courthouse, you should be able to get it the same day.
Yes, it's the certificate. But, you have to change your name with the SSA before you go to the DMV.
Either way is fine.
I've been married twice before and both times had my last name changed to my husband's last name. I am getting ready to get married again and would like to keep my last name (which was my late husband's name) just for simplicity sake as at this point in my life (I'm 68) there are so many places I'd have to change. Everything in here refers to keeping a maiden name. Is there any law in NC against keeping a previously married surname if re-marrying?
No, that wouldn't be a problem.
I just realized I never changed my last name back to maiden (death) on my driver's license. I did however change it with social security. What is needed at the DMV to process a name change on just a license since it's already been changed in social security?
Hi Lindsey. Could you clarify what you mean by "back to maiden (death)"? Are you changing your name because of marriage, divorce, or because you're widowed?
Can me and my husband change our last name to something that isn’t ours? Like his moms last name? Or could one of us change it to that and the other do the process later?
Hi Lexie. You'd both have to file separate court-petitioned name changes. At best, the court may decide to allow both hearings to take place concurrently.
Do you have to have your maiden name as your middle name? Or are you able to have your original first name, middle name, and take the husbands last name on your drivers license?
It's optional. The default is for the middle name to remain unchanged.
This is a wonderfully helpful post. Our attorney shared your link when we had questions about name changes before setting up wills, hcpoas, etc., and I'm so glad he did.
I understand it's not too late to take on my husband's surname with our marriage certificate. But what we wanted to change the spelling of my first name?
My birth certificate, passport, and other legal docs have it spelled Katya, an attempt my foreign mom made to make a traditional name in her country, Katja, easier for Americans to pronounce. It didn't work, and when I was in school in Finland for a bit, the Katya name confused Finnish teachers as to how to pronounce it too. It's been a thorn in my side my whole life. I use "Katja" in most circumstances, but that's a personal use, right?
Do I need to do an adult petition just to change the spelling from Katya to Katja? And would I need to do that in addition to the marriage certificate process to take on my husband's surname? Would I need to do one or the other first?
Thanks for your help and expertise!
Yes, you do. In Superior Court.
You can have the court order your first and last name changed.
No, you can do everything in court. If you'd prefer to split it up by changing your surname through marriage and first name through court, that's fine too.
Hi. I am going back to my maiden name after a divorce. If I still have my original social security card with my maiden name on it, can I just start using it (like for DMV license change) or do I still need to go to the social security office?
Hi Shawn. You'll still need to notify the SSA so that they can update your social security record. There's nothing stopping you from using your legacy card as a placeholder in the time being, but it wouldn't be accurate until they've processed your name change in their system.
For instance, if you applied for a job that required a background check and presented your social security card showing your maiden name, they'll likely run across a name mismatch because you didn't officially revert your SS record. Your card matches your intentions, but not the official record.
Hello, my fiance and I are residents of NJ but getting married next year in NC. Currently I have no middle name and am planning on taking his last name. I also want to change my first name and give myself a middle name that is not my current last name (maiden name).
From the questions and responses on this page I have gathered that the first and middle name changes cannot be done simultaneously along with the last name change with the marriage certificate in NC but can they be done in NJ?
If it cannot be done in NJ either then it seems like I would have to petition the court for the first and middle name changes and then change all my identifying documents etc to match that name and then change all the documents again after I have the marriage certificate to change my last name.
Basically doing a long and difficult process twice. What is the best way to go about these 3 name changes without having to do the process twice?
I understand that it is possible to do all 3 at once AFTER the wedding by petitioning the court – is it possible to do all 3 BEFORE the wedding by petitioning the court? If so, would obtaining a marriage license to marry someone with the same last name be a problem? Thank you!!
Once by court.
No, but keep in mind that once you've got your court order, you'll want to update your ID before applying for the marriage license. Your ID must show your current name.
Thank you for your response!
Hi! I am a resident in NC and just got married. I have a document that says “Application, License, and Certificate of Marriage” that was sent to us. They are certified copies with the stamp from the register of deeds. Is this my marriage certificate or is it a marriage license ? Because it is the same document My husband and I filled out to obtain our marriage license but now it has the ministers info and two whitnesses and the stamp. Can I also use this document to get my last name legally changed to his? Thank you!
Both. Perhaps confusing, but simplifies things by not having to maintain two document types.
Hello I have a question.
How do you change your name if you are a illegal but have social security number. I came here like a tourist and married with an American I didn’t change my name when we married but I would like to change it now but my visa is expired, what do I need to do first??
Can I change my name like this for example?? My original name is Ariana Melany Terrazas Vidal and my husband last name is king but I would like to change it to Melany Terrazas King can I do that ???
Hi Katy. Your visa should be unexpired to change the name on your social security card. Your name change preference would work fine.
Hi! I am in North Carolina and getting married next year. I really love both my maiden name and original middle name but I also want to take my fiancee's last name for our family to be a cohesive unit. Is it possible to keep both my original middle name and maiden name as middle names, and add my future husband's last name as a last name? Ex) Original name: Alex Renee Byrd … Married name: Alex Renee Byrd Wilson
Hi Kaileigh. You'd have to go to court for dual middles.
I recently got married in NC. My marriage certificate has my full name and my wife's full name prior to us getting married (what was on her drivers license) as the application did not have a spot to put her new name.
The DMV rep I spoke with says that the certification needs to have her previous name and new name. She said if it didn't have both names then we would need to get a court ordered name change. The register of deeds in the county we have our marriage license told me that they can't put her new name on the paperwork, but that the DMV should accept it as a way to change her name since she just wants to drop her maiden last name and take mine.
Should we be fine? The SSA rep said it wasn't a problem for getting a new SS card. Butt with Covid the DMV is appointment only and booked about 2 months out to get new drivers licenses.
I'm nervous to wait two months just to find out that they won't accept it and have to wait another 2 months to get a new appointment.
Hi Cole. If this was a NC DMV agent, I don't know what they're going on about. It isn't possible for your new wife's new name to be printed on your North Carolina marriage certificate, as it's not something she could have specified when originally applying for the marriage license.
The SSA rep is correct. If the DMV can't justify their rejection in writing by citing documented regulations or state government statutes, your wife's name change should be accepted using the marriage certificate as-is.
I'm in a similar spot… did social security let you change her last name with the maiden name on the marriage certificate?
Hi Stephanie. Social security wasn't the problem for Cole. It was the DMV that provided faulty information.
My wife wanted to have my last name, but the NC application did not have a spot to put intended name. Our marriage certificate shows her maiden name, how do we change that or do we have to do a petition which would take forever?
Hi Omarrie. She can use the certificate as-is to change her name to yours. No need to petition. Her new name will be derived from your name using the certificate.
Hi, I have a question, My situation isn't specifically mentioned in the article, so I was wondering if you could help me. So my fiancee has two last names and when we get married, he wants to drop one of his last names and then I will change mine to his one last name.
For example if my name is Sarah Johnson and his name is John Smith Jones, he wants to drop 'Jones' and I will change my last name to Smith so I would be Sarah Smith and he would just be John Smith. Is that something that we would be able to do? I'm sorry if this is confusing, I hope I explained it well enough. Thanks!
Neither of you could do this through marriage. It would have to be the whole name.
My daughter who is 24 just got married. She will be changing her last name to take her husband's name. She also wants to take her stepfather's last name as her middle name. Can she do that at the same time?
Yes, using the marriage certificate.
This name change isn't possible through marriage. She'll have to go through the Superior Court.
No. She can do the surname change alone using the marriage certificate, then deal with the middle name later through court. Or save time and do both name changes through court.
I am requesting to change my children's names to my maiden name. We all currently use my married name, and I am divorced. I am in a NC county and I am able to claim abandonment of the non custodial parent by using the child support arrears which are nearing $35,000.
I have to first submit the notice to change their names which goes on the court's "board" for ten days, and then I have to submit the official request. I am changing my last name back to my maiden name as well.
I don't want my kids and I to have different last names. Is it bad for me to wait until I get a decision before changing my last name or does it "look" better to the clerk of court or the judge if I have already changed mine before submitting the final application?
It doesn't matter. What matters is what's in the best interest of your children, from the judge's perspective.
In looking at the documents I will need to change my name on my license in NC it says "documented proof from the courts or the register of deeds establishing that the name change was officially accomplished." What would qualify for that? It has marriage certificate listed separately.
Hi Lyndsay. If you're changing your name through marriage, use your marriage certificate. If through divorce, use your divorce decree. If through court petition, use your court order. That's what it means by documented proof.
My husband passed away 11 years ago I want to change back would I have to go through the courts
Hi Wanda. You can go to your county's clerk of court and fill out a "Application/Notice of Resumption of Former Name" and bring your former spouse's death certificate as well. When you file to obtain your updated social security card, you can use your marriage certificate to return to your former married name. The DMV can use what the court provides you.
I live in NC. Can I change my name back to my maiden name without a divorce?
Hi Cloye. Please review the undo name change article.
If my spouse is deceased, how do I change my last name back to my maiden name?
Hi Jessica. The Social Security Administration will allow widows you to revert their maiden names using their marriage certificate.
In a minor’s name change is the father’s name removed from birth certificate with termination of parental rights completed. This is in North Carolina.
If so, when you complete modification of birth certificate application do you have to request removal of father’s name and legal name change.
You can remove a father's name from an NC birth certificate with a court order. The court may approve it for either termination of parental rights or proof of non-paternity. It is not automatic. Court intervention is required.
You can with a court order in hand.
How do I revert back to my maiden name in NC while remaining married?
Hi Lauren. You can pursue a name change correction using your marriage certificate. Redo the name change procedure you did before, but revert your prior names on the social security application. Where you specify your new name, place your prior name. Also, take a look at the suggestions to print supplemental documents to go alongside your paperwork.
Thanks for responding so quickly.