Legally Changing Your Name in Arizona

Tired of being referred to by your given name and not the name you have used for the last 50 years?  Frustrated with being pulled out of the TSA line at the airport because your name doesn’t match your ticket?  Just want to shorten your legal name (i.e., from Phillip to simply Phil)? Don’t want to use your ex’s name anymore?  Legally changing your name is not difficult, you just need to follow the following steps.

Are there limitations on a name change?

Keep in mind that a Court will not change a name if it might impact the rights of another person, or for the purpose of committing or furthering any offence of theft, forgery, fraud, perjury, organized crime or terrorism or any other offense involving false statements.  You must not have convicted any felonies or have any criminal charges (felony or misdemeanor) pending against you at the time of the name change.  Also, the name change will not release you from any obligations incurred or harm any rights of property or action in your previous name.

What are the steps to change your name legally in Arizona?

Step 1:  Prepare and file the following documents with the Court – a Civil Cover Sheet, Application for Change of Name for an Adult (A.R.S. § 12-601) (the “Application”) and pay the filing fee. In the Application you can request whether you want your birth certificate changed.  If you are born in Arizona, the Office of Vital Records will be ordered to amend the birth record to reflect the new name.  If you are born in any other state, the agency will be requested or ordered to amend the birth records to reflect the new name change.

Step 2:  Once the Application is filed, you must schedule an appearance hearing with the Court, which should be no less than 8 weeks out to give you time to publish the required notices.   After you have the hearing scheduled, give notice of the name change by publishing a Notice of Hearing on Application for four (4) consecutive weeks in a local paper.  Once completed, file the Notice of Hearing on Application along with the Affidavit of Publication you will receive from the local paper.

Step 3:  If you are married, prepare a Marital Waiver of Notice, which will need to be signed and notarized by your spouse agreeing to the name change.  This should also be filed with the Court prior to your hearing date.

Step 4:  As the hearing date approaches, prepare an Order Changing Name of an Adult and lodge it with the assigned Commissioner at last five days prior to the hearing date.

Step 5:  Attend the hearing!  You must attend the hearing date for the order to be signed.  Your attorney or the Court will ask you questions about the reasons for the name change and your understanding of the limitations.  If approved, the Court will sign the Order and present papers to you to take to the Clerk.  Your name is formally changed now, but your not finished yet.

Step 6:  Once the Order is signed, obtain a certified copy of the Order from the Clerk of the Court.  You should obtain at least two certified copies of the Order.

Step 7:  Immediately take the order to your nearest Social Security Administration office to have a new social security card issued in your new name. Remember to take a certified copy of the Order with you.

Step 8:  Two days after changing your name with the Social Security Administration, you should take the paperwork they give you to the Arizona Department of Transportation (MVD) to change the name on your Arizona driver’s license.  The new license should be applied for within 10 days of the name change. Note that at this time you will not be able to obtain an Arizona Travel Id for a couple weeks after the name change.   You will get a temporary one until a new official one arrives in the mail.  Also, remember to take the Order with you to MVD.

Step 9:  If you are traveling, and it has been over a year your passport was issued, you will need to request a new passport. You will need to submit the correct form with the U.S. Department of State, along with the most recent passport, the certified copy of the Order and one-color passport photo via USPS.

Step 10:  If the Order changes your birth records, prepare the proper paperwork with the Arizona Office of Vital Records or State of your birth to reflect the change.

What else needs to be done?

Now comes the fun part.  You may now start changing all of your accounts to your new name.  Bank accounts, credit cards, employment records, health insurance, utilities, etc. all should be changed to avoid confusion in the future. Of course, don’t forget to let us know so we can update your estate plan documents.

Do I need a lawyer to change my name?

No, the process is not complicated, and you can do it yourself.  However, if you have unusual circumstances, time constraints or would prefer to have us walk you through the process, please give us a call.