Changing Your Name on Your Drivers License/ID Card

By: Cara Hopkins July 17, 2012
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Throughout the history of our country, people have changed their names for various reasons, including:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Adoption
  • Change in citizenship

Our modern era has introduced even more reasons: from newlyweds taking a hyphenated version of both their last names, to transgender name changes, to more and more folks who simply desire a name that more authentically represents who they are.

However, it is one thing to start demanding that everyone call you Cornelius Awesome from now on, and quite another thing to make your name change legal.

You may need to update everything from your Social Security card (which is done with the Feds, rather than at the state level) to your vehicle title, vehicle registration, voter registration, and passport.

Of all of the legal documents that will reflect the change, your drivers license or ID card is arguably just as important, because it is something you carry with you every day.

So, Captain Tyrannosaurus Radpants, what is needed to change your name on your drivers license or ID card?

Proof of Identity

If you already have a driver's license or ID, most states don't consider a name change as grounds for a "new" license, but rather as a duplicate license, similar to changing your address. In this case, you retain your existing driver license number and renew your license or ID card according to its current expiration date.

However, if you do not currently have a driver license or ID in your state, you may need to provide other official documents such as an updated Social Security card reflecting the new name as well as completing the required application for a new license.

You will need to present any related documentation such as a marriage license, divorce decree, adoption papers, naturalization/citizenship documents, etc.

In the case of a voluntary name change that is not related to a change in legal status (from single to married, change in legal guardianship, etc.) depending on where you live, you may still need to get a judge to sign off.

Many states will let you change your name pretty easily, but they want to verify that you are not taking an alias in order to commit crimes or to evade the authorities.

Have you ever changed your name on your drivers license? How was the process for you?

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