People change their names for a variety of reasons, and changing your legal name can be a simple process for an individual 18 or over. If you are hoping to change the name of a minor, the process is different and you should use a separate resource guide.
Initial steps: Prove your identity to the court.
If you were born in the state of New York, you must request a certified copy of your birth certificate. To get one, you can either request it in person, or online.
- In person: Go to Room 133 at 125 Worth Street in Lower Manhattan between 9:00am to 3:30pm. You must bring in valid photo identification as well as a completed Request for Birth Certificate application (below).
- Online: Go to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene of New York City website and find the link to “Applying for Birth Certificates Online.” The fee will be $15 for the copy plus $8.30 for mailing and service.
Filing your application in court: You must complete two forms and submit them to your County Clerk’s Office. The forms are included below:
Note: If there was a mistake on your birth certificate, you must make your petition to the Supreme Court. Please call our office with more questions.
- Name Change Petition https://www.nycourts.gov/forms/ncpetition.pdf
- Name Change Order https://www.nycourts.gov/forms/ncorder.pdf
The forms will ask you for some personal information as well as the reason you want to change your name. The courts will also ask about your criminal record and financial status. Don’t worry; this is only to make sure that you are not running from unpaid bills or a criminal record.
If you do have a criminal record and but you’ve finished your sentence, you have to go to the county clerk to get a Certificate of Disposition.
Fees: There is a filing fee in both the County Clerk and Supreme Court for a name change petition. If you’re unable to pay the fee, you can complete an Application to Proceed as a Poor Person (below) and the fee will be waved. https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/6jd/forms/SRForms/ifp_aff.pdf
Publication: Once the court grants your petition, you must publish the name change in a local paper (unless you receive a special exemption from the court because publishing it would put you in danger). It should look like this:
Notice is hereby given that an order entered by the _______ Court, ____county, on the ___ day of ___, bearing Index Number ____, a copy of which may be examined at the office of the clerk, located at ____, in room number ____, grants me the right to assume the name of ___________, the date of my birth is ______, the place of my birth is _________, my present name is _______.
If you have questions about changing your name and you live in New York City, call The Family Center at (718) 230-1379 ext. 150.
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