If you are looking to get a name change in California, it must be done through the court. Here’s how to get a name change in California.

Obtaining a name change in California can be a lengthy, and sometimes confusing, process. Additionally, not everyone who is a California citizen is eligible for a name change.

What are the Requirements to Get a Name Change?

For any individual to get a name change, they must first be eligible by state standards to do so. Here are all the qualifications an individual must meet before they can legally change their name:

  • You must be an adult, 18 years of age or older,
  • You must currently reside in California,
  • You must currently live in the County where the name change action will be filed,
  • You must not be required to register as a sex offender under the Penal Code section 290, and
  • You must not be requesting the name change to avoid creditors.

How to Get a Name Change

Every individual seeking a name change in California will have to follow the same process. Here are all the steps an individual needs to take to get a name change:

Related: How to Change Your Name After Marriage in California

1. Complete the appropriate forms online, or download the forms below and fill them out.

Additionally, some courts may require local forms to be filled out before a name change can be requested, like a criminal background form. It is important to either consult your local court clerk or visit your court’s website to check and see if they require any.

2. Have your forms reviewed.

Determine whether your court’s family law facilitator or their self-help center helps with name change cases, and request to have your forms reviewed. It is important to get your name change form and any additional forms you may have reviewed first so the case can continue moving forward.

3. Make at least two copies of all your forms.

The court will keep the original copy of your forms. One of the copies will be yours to keep, and the other will be used for publication in the newspaper.

4. File your forms with the court clerk.

Your local court clerk will stamp the forms with “Filed”, marking that it has been submitted. They will also keep the original documents and return the copies back to you.

Note: There will be a filing fee that you will have to pay when filing your documents with the clerk. You can find out the filing fee here, or if you cannot afford the fee, you can request a fee waiver.

5. Publish the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (if required)

Usually, it is required to publish the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for four weeks in a row. Your court likely has a list of newspapers that are approved for publishing notices.

6. If incarcerated or on parole, serve the documents.

If you are in state prison, county jail, or are on parole under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, in addition to publishing the order to show cause, serve copies of the Petition for Change Name, Attachment to Petition for Change of Name, and Order to Show Cause for Change of Name, to a government agency as listed below:

If you are in state prison, you must provide copies to the warden. Check with the warden’s office as to how that should be done.

If you are in county jail, you must provide copies to the county’s sheriff’s department. Check with the department as to how that is done.

If you are on parole, you must provide copies to the regional parole administrator of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Check with the administrator’s office as to how that is done.

After providing a copy to the appropriate agency, file a copy of the completed Proof of Service to the court.

Related: What a Process Server Can and Can’t Do in California

7. Go to your court hearing, if necessary.

File the Proof of Service with the court that the Order to Show Cause was published in the newspaper. If no objections have been filed to your petition, the court may grant your decree without requiring a hearing. Check with the court a couple of days before the hearing to see if it is going to be held. If it is, attend court at the correct time.

8. Get your Decree Changing Name from the court

If the judge approves your request for a change of name, the judge will sign the Decree Changing Name form. Once this is signed, get a certified copy from the court clerk. This certified copy can be used to change all your legal documents like your birth certificate and driver’s license.

Related: How to Change Your Name After Divorce in California

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