Changing Your Name on Your Car Title and Registration

By: Staff Writer July 17, 2012
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If you change your name due to divorce, marriage, court order or creative caprice, you will need to notify your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This will help avoid any potential confusion or problems in the future, especially in the way of car titles and vehicle registration certificates.

Is Name Change Notification Mandatory?

Depending on your DMV, you may be required to submit name change notification within a certain number of days. Maryland, for instance, requires notification within 30 days, as does Oregon. Wisconsin has no mandated time period.

While it's best to update the car title, a task that will eventually be required when it comes time to sell or donate the vehicle, many states do not require registration certificates to be updated, reflecting your new name. Usually it comes down to a matter of preference, based on your decision. Don't assume this, however; check with your DMV for clarification.

How to Change Your Name on Vehicle Title or Car Registration

Each motor vehicle agency maintains different policies on reporting name changes, but in general, you can expect some or all of the following procedures no matter which state you live in:

  • Before contacting the DMV, notify the Social Security Administration (SSA). DMV offices will NOT issue a new document if your name does not match the SSA's records.
  • Visit your DMV in person. Unlike submitting an address change, which can be completed online or through the mail, updating a name change requires doing so in person.
  • Bring proper identification confirming your previous name. DMV offices are extremely specific regarding acceptable ID. Visit  your DMV's website for a list of acceptable forms of proof. Do not guess.
  • Bring documentation of your name change. In most cases, depending on the circumstances behind your new identity, these vital records will be a marriage certificate, divorce document, or court papers issued in the U.S. proving your name change.
  • Bring existing vehicle title or car registration.
  • Have proper payment to cover any duplicate title or registration fees.

Keep in mind that many motor vehicle agencies only require one change of name notice. This means if you submit a name change for your drivers license, the DMV will automatically update all of your records. You will, however, still need to apply for a duplicate car title reflecting your new name.

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