Account
Get our app
Account Sign up Sign in

Ask a Lawyer a Question

You'll hear back in one business day.

You will need the following documents to get a legal name change in Pennsylvania after marriage:

  • Certified marriage certificate (If you don’t have a copy of your marriage certificate, you can use the Marriage Certificate Request Letter).
  • Proof of identification (driver’s license, state ID, or passport).
  • Proof of age (adoption decree, hospital record, or birth certificate).

Your marriage certificate will serve as your primary legal document for changing your name.  After you get married, you will file your marriage license with the county courthouse, and then you should receive a certified copy of your marriage certificate by mail in about two weeks. 

Next, you'll need to notify the appropriate government agencies of your new name.

Your marriage certificate grants you the legal documentation to change your name, but you'll need to notify the Federal Social Security Administration and then the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. You may also need to notify additional agencies depending on your county.

Start by filling out Social Security form SS-5 and take the form to your local Social Security Office. The staff will verify your documents and give you a certificate showing that the Social Security Office has approved your name change. Alternatively, mail your completed form SS-5 to your local Social Security Office with a certified copy of your proof of identification, marriage certificate, and proof of age and your documents will be returned to you with your new social security card by mail.

After 24-48 hours, you can change your name at your nearest Pennsylvania Driver License office. You'll need to bring the certificate approving your name change from the Social Security Office, along with your certified marriage certificate, photo ID, and the various documents that prove your citizenship/legal residency, Social Security, and current address. At your local DMV, you'll need to update the name on your driver's license or state ID card and your vehicle registration.

Your new license and Social Security Card should be mailed to you within six weeks.

Finally, change your name everywhere else.

You can now use your newly issued Social Security card and driver's license (or state ID) to change other legal identification, like your passport.

To get a legal name change after divorce in Pennsylvania, start by gathering the following documents:

  • Certified copy of your Pennsylvania divorce decree.
  • Proof of identification (driver's license, state ID, or passport).
  • Proof of age (adoption decree, hospital record, or birth certificate).

If you don't have a copy of your divorce decree, you can use the Rocket Lawyer Divorce Records Request Letter.  If you don't have a copy of your birth certificate, you can use the Rocket Lawyer Birth Certificate Request Letter. Both take only minutes to complete.

Amend your divorce decree.

Once you have a copy of your divorce decree, check to see if it includes a provision that grants your name change. If it does, this document will serve as your legal proof of name change. If this was left out of your final divorce decree, contact the court that handled your case and ask if they will allow you to amend the document. Not all Pennsylvania courts allow amendments, so if they deny your request, you need to proceed with a petition for name change. For instructions on this process, click here.

Notify the appropriate government agencies of your new name.

Although your divorce decree grants you the legal documentation to change your name, you will need to notify the appropriate government agencies of your new name. You'll need to notify the Federal Social Security Administration and then the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. You may also need to notify additional agencies depending on your situation.

Start by filling out Social Security form SS-5 and take the form to your local Social Security Office. The staff will verify your documents and give you a certificate showing that the Social Security Office has approved your name change. Alternatively, mail your completed form SS-5 to your local Social Security Office with a certified copy of your proof of identification, marriage certificate, and proof of age and your documents will be returned to you with your new social security card by mail.

After 24-48 hours, you can change your name at your nearest Pennsylvania Driver License office. You'll need to bring the certificate approving your name change from the Social Security Office, along with your certified marriage certificate, photo ID, and the various documents that prove your citizenship/legal residency, Social Security, and current address. At your local DMV, you'll need to update the name on your driver's license or state ID card and your vehicle registration.

Your new license and Social Security Card should be mailed to you within six weeks.

Change your name everywhere else.

You can now use your newly issued Social Security card and driver's license (or state ID) to change other legal identification, like your passport.

In order to change your name in Pennsylvania without a recent marriage or divorce, you need to get a court order approving your name change. The steps for finalizing your name change are: 

  • Have your fingerprints taken.
  • File a Petition and Verification.
  • Publish a Notice in two newspapers.
  • Attend a name change hearing.
  • Change your name with the government agencies.

Complete legal documents.

First, have your fingerprints taken by a local law enforcement agency. There will be a fee for this service. You also need a certified copy of your birth certificate. If you don’t have a copy of your birth certificate, you can use the Birth Certificate Request Letter. Then, fill out the legal name change documents for your specific county. For the purpose of this name change, you are the petitioner.  Fill in the civil case cover sheet. There is no defendant for this case; leave those boxes blank.  Fill in the Petition completely except for the right side of the heading. The clerk will fill this in at the time you file your Petition.  Fill in your name on the Verification. Fill in the Notice with your name and the date you file the Petition. Leave the Order and the Decree blank.  The judge will fill in these forms. Sign your name to the Petition, Verification, and Notice. The judge will sign the Order and Decree if your name change is granted.

Next, file the cover sheet, Petition, Verification, Order, Notice, certified birth certificate, fingerprint card, and Decree with the Court of Common Pleas for the county where you live.  These documents must be filed with the Court of Common Pleas that has jurisdiction over the county where you live. Take two copies and the originals to the court clerk’s, or Prothonotary’s office. They will file the documents. Ask for a stamped copy to be returned to you. There will be a fee for this service.

After one month, and less than three months, after you file the Petition, you should receive a copy of the filled out Notice from the court by mail. This Notice should list the hearing date, time, and place. If you do not receive a Notice by mail shortly after one month has passed, call the clerk’s office to check on the progress of your Petition.

Publish the notice.

Once you receive your Notice by mail, have the Notice published in two local newspapers that are regularly circulated in the county where you live. Typically, there is an official paper for the publication of legal notices. You must have your Notice published in the official paper and one other paper before your hearing date. Mail the letter, a stamped copy of the Notice, and a self-addressed stamped envelope to the two newspapers. You should specify in your request that you need a proof of publication returned to you in the stamped envelope.

After your Notice has been published, you should receive a proof of publication from each newspaper. You will need this proof of publication in your name change hearing.

Get a certificate of no judgments.

In Pennsylvania, you must obtain a certificate stating that you have no judgments or liens pending against you. Some courts will perform this service themselves. Other jurisdictions, like Philadelphia, require you to perform the search yourself. There are various agencies in each county that will check with the offices in charge of judgments and liens and provide you with a certificate. There is a fee for this service and you must have a certificate from each county where you have lived for the past five years. If you cannot locate one of these agencies, the clerk of court may be able to direct you to a similar service or the office locations so that you can check for yourself. Ask the clerk which procedure your court requires.

These checks must be completed within the 30 days prior to the hearing. The closer your certificate date is to the hearing, the better. If you can complete these checks in the week prior to your hearing, that would be best.

Attend the name change hearing.

On the date of your hearing, take the stamped copy of all the documents you have previously filed with you to court.  This includes the Petition, Verification, etc.  You will also need to bring your two proofs of publication, and a Certificate of no judgments pending for each county where you have lived for the past five years.

If anyone has a legal objection to your name change, the judge will hear their arguments.  If the judge decides that your name change is not for the purpose of fraud, and that it does not harm the greater society in any way, the court will grant your name change and sign the Decree.

File the signed Decree with the clerk of court and get several certified copies back from the clerk. You will likely need one certified copy for each identification office like the DMV and Social Security Administration. You should also get one certified copy for your records.

Complete your name change.

The Decree will grant you the legal right to change your name. Now, it is your responsibility to change your name with the government agencies like the Social Security Administration and the Department of Motor Vehicles.  

Start by filling out Social Security form SS-5 and take the form to your local Social Security office. The staff will verify your documents and give you a certificate showing that the Social Security Office has approved your name change. Alternatively, mail your completed form SS-5 to your local Social Security Administration with a certified copy of your proof of identification, marriage certificate, and proof of age and your documents will be returned to you with your new Social Security card by mail.

After 24-48 hours, you can change your name at your nearest Pennsylvania Driver License office. You'll need to bring the certificate approving your name change from the Social Security Administration, along with your certified marriage certificate, photo ID, and the various documents that prove your citizenship/legal residency, Social Security, and current address. At your local DMV, you'll need to update the name on your driver's license or state ID card and your vehicle registration.

Your new license and Social Security card should be mailed to you within six weeks.

Change your name everywhere else.

You can now use your newly issued Social Security card and driver's license (or state ID) to change other legal identification, like your passport.

A minor is defined as a person under the age of 18. There are two ways to change the legal name of a minor in Pennsylvania. The first involves the legal name change of the parent with current custody of that child. The second requires a court order.

Get a name change by default.

Under Pennsylvania law, if a parent of a minor changes their name legally, and they have custody of that child, the child will automatically take the new surname of the parent. This applies to biological and adopted parents. Unless the court has issued an order stating that the child will not take the new surname, the child legally bears the new surname of the parent with custody over the child. (Reference Section 703, subsection (a) of Pennsylvania name change statutes).

If your adult name change will affect the name of a minor in your custody, you will need to serve any parent that does not have custody with a copy of the Petition and Notice for your legal name change. Service details are listed under a separate heading below.

Get a court order.

If you want to change the name of the child to a name different from that of the custodial parent, you will need to get a court order approving the name change. The steps for finalizing a minor’s name change are as follows: 

  • Have your fingerprints taken.
  • File a Petition and Verification.
  • Publish a Notice in two newspapers.
  • Attend a name change hearing.
  • Change the name with the government agencies.

Complete legal documents.

First, have your fingerprints taken by a local law enforcement agency. The parent filing the Petition needs to have their fingerprints on record. There will be a fee for this service.  You also need a certified copy of the minor’s birth certificate. If you don’t have a copy of your birth certificate, you can use the Birth Certificate Request Letter. Then, fill out a Petition, Verification, Order, Notice, and Decree. Each parent should sign the Petition and their own Verification. If one of the parents does not consent, they will have to be served with a copy of the Petition.  Details are listed under their own heading below.

Next, file the cover sheet, Petition, Verification, Order, Notice, certified birth certificate, and fingerprint card with the Court of Common Pleas for the county where the minor lives. These documents must be filed with the Court of Common Pleas that has jurisdiction over the county where the minor lives. Take two copies and the originals to the court clerk’s, or Prothonotary’s office. They will file the documents. Ask for a stamped copy to be returned to you. There will be a fee for this service.

After one month, and less than three months, after you file the Petition, you should receive a copy of the filled out Notice from the court by mail. This Notice should list the hearing date, time, and place. If you do not receive a Notice by mail shortly after one month has passed, call the clerk’s office to check on the progress of your Petition.

Publish the notice.

Once you receive your Notice by mail, have the Notice published in two local newspapers that are regularly circulated in the county where you live. Typically, there is an official paper for the publication of legal notices. You must have your Notice published in the official paper and one other paper before your hearing date. Mail the letter, a stamped copy of the Notice, and a self-addressed stamped envelope to the two newspapers. You should specify in your request that you need a proof of publication returned to you in the stamped envelope.

After your Notice has been published, you should receive a proof of publication from each newspaper.  You will need this proof of publication in your name change hearing.

Serve non-petitioning parents.

Any parent that does not sign and file the Petition must be served with a copy of the Petition and Notice of the hearing date and time. You must use a formal process server to serve the copies in person at least 30 days before the hearing. If the parent lives outside of the state, it may be acceptable to serve the parent by certified mail. Either way, you will need to present a proof of service at the hearing with your Decree and proof of publication.

Attend the name change hearing.

On the date of your hearing, take the stamped copy of all the documents you have previously filed with you to court.  This includes the Petition, Verification, etc. You will also need to bring the original Decree changing name, your two proofs of publication, and a proof of service for each parent that did not sign the Petition.

If anyone has a legal objection to the name change, the judge will hear their arguments. If the judge decides that the name change is not for the purpose of fraud, that it does not harm the greater society in any way, and that it is in the best interest of the child, the court will grant your name change and sign the Decree.

File the signed Decree with the clerk of court and get several certified copies back from the clerk. You will likely need one certified copy for each identification office, like the DMV and Social Security Administration. You should also get one certified copy for your records.

Complete the name change.

The Decree will grant you the legal right to change your name. Now, it is your responsibility to change the minor’s name with the government agencies like the Social Security Administration and the Department of Motor Vehicles. To save time, you may fill out Social Security form SS-5 in advance. Take the form, along with proof of identity (like a current driver’s license or passport) and proof of age (like a birth certificate) to your local Social Security office. The staff there will verify your personal documents and give you a certificate showing that the Social Security Administration has approved your name change. Alternatively, you can mail form SS-5 to your local Social Security office with a certified copy of the proof of identification, name change Decree, and proof of age and the documents will be returned to you with your new Social Security card by mail.

The Social Security card and Decree can then be used to change any further identification documents like a passport.

Where should I update my name after a name change in Pennsylvania?

At a minimum, you need to update:

  • Your state ID or driver's license.
  • Your Social Security card.

It is also best practice to update the following (and in some cases may be required):

  • Citizenship and immigration documentation, such as a passport or visa.
  • Voter registration.
  • Payroll and administration records, such as your workplace or school.
  • If applicable, military or veteran records.
  • If applicable, licensing boards and associations.
  • Financial institutions, including banks, lenders, credit unions, credit cards, investment companies/brokerages, and retirement or pension accounts.
  • Legal documentation and accounts for real estate or personal property (vehicles), including deeds, mortgages or lease agreements.
  • Any legal documents including those where you are listed as an agent or trustee, such as a Deed, Last Will and Testament, Living Trust or Power of Attorney.
  • Insurance documents, including auto insurance, home or renters insurance, and life insurance.
  • Bills, including utilities and subscriptions.

You may also want to update the following:

  • Birth certificate (if you need to use it as legal proof of identification).
  • Social media and email accounts.

What if I need help changing my name?

Although simple and straightforward for many people, changing your name can be confusing or challenging -- especially for people trying to change their names outside of a marriage or divorce. 

If you have questions, are unsure of how to move forward, or just want someone to review your paperwork, a Rocket Lawyer network attorney can answer your questions about changing your name and help you through the process. 

 

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.


Ask a lawyer

Our On Call attorneys are here for you.
Characters remaining: 600
Rocket Lawyer On Call® Attorneys

Try Rocket Lawyer FREE for 7 days

Start your Premium Membership now and get legal services you can trust at prices you can afford. You’ll get:

All the legal documents you need—customize, share, print & more

Unlimited electronic signatures with RocketSign®

Ask a lawyer questions or have them review your document

Dispute protection on all your contracts with Document Defense®

30-minute phone call with a lawyer about any new issue

Discounts! Incorporate for FREE + hire a lawyer with up to 40% off*

*Free incorporation for new members only and excludes state fees. Lawyer must be part of our nationwide network to receive discount.