North Carolina Name Change Process

Northern Cardinal, North Carolina State Bird

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.

Distinct combinations

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.

Change nothing

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.

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  1. Mona Aguirre

    Are yiu legally ur husbands last name if you didnt take his kast name or how is noted?

    1. Valera

      Hi Mona. Name change isn't automatic. Your husband's surname doesn't become yours just because you marry.

  2. Larissa Campbell

    Hi. I have a question concerning about one of the options for name change. Listed under "Space", it states that this option allows the wife to keep her middle name while taking on her husband's last name.

    Could I use the "Space" name change option, if INSTEAD I keep my maiden last name (NOT my middle name) and add my husband's last name???

    At first, I thought about hyphenating to combine the two last names, but I heard that computers will mess your name up in the system…

    1. Valera

      Hi Larissa. I don't believe you can apply a space separator to your surname.

        1. Valera

          Hi Larissa. Yes, North Carolina does allow you to replace your middle name with your maiden name. Is that what you're referring to or are you referencing that as well as a space-separated surname?

          1. Larissa Campbell

            Sorry for the confusion at the very beginning. Since I've done more research, I was referring to the option of replacing my middle name with my maiden name.

  3. Desiree K

    So can I keep my current middle name, drop my maiden name and take on my husbands last name as my own?

  4. Delilah

    When I first married my husband I decided to keep my maiden name instead of taking his. We've been married for 11 year's now and I'm finally ready to change it. We lived in Florida when we were married but have since moved to North Carolina. Can I still change my last name through the DMV even though it's been so long? Thanks so much for any help!

    1. Valera

      Can I still change my last name through the DMV even though it's been so long?

      Yes, you can still change your name. There isn't a time limit.

    2. Hox

      Hi! I'm in a similar situation– married out of state; now living in NC; did not take my husband's last name when married, but want to change it now.
      I contacted my county superior court office regarding a legal name change, but was told the process would entail changing my *given* name ("the name on your birth certificate", as explained by the clerk), not just my *legal* name.

      I am not interested in amending my birth certificate, just want to take my husband's last name now. Is that possible in NC? Could I not just petition to have my name changed and not file the change with my birth state's Vital Records department?

      I have researched a lot, but can't find any clear answers. If it matters, I was not born in NC. Thank you!

      1. Valera

        Hi Hox. If you're taking your husband's last name, you don't have to go to court. Just obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate and use that to change your name with the various government entities.

        1. Natalia Ragulina

          Hi, I am in a similar situation. So if I obtain a copy of my marriage certificate there would be my maiden name, because I didn't change it when we got married with my husband. So what's the purpose of obtaining the copy of marriage license with my maiden name on it?

          1. Valera

            Hi Natalia. NC marriage license applications don't provide a spot for you to specify a new name after marriage, so the subsequent marriage certificate would simply show whatever your current name was at the time. In this case, it would be your maiden name.

            The purpose of obtaining a certified copy of your marriage certificate is to change your name, if you so choose. The fact that it doesn't specify a new last name to change to does not mean you'll have to obtain a court order to effect a change. The certificate as-is is sufficient.

  5. Rashni

    HI , thanks for your nice and simple explanations. I do not have any middle name, just first and last. Can I use space and add my husband's last name at the end?


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