File a Petition to Change Your Name

The court process of getting a court order after filing a Petition for Change of Name can take up to 3 months. First, you file your petition. Then, you will get a court date between 6 and 12 weeks away. If you follow all the required steps and the court approves your request, you will get a court order called a "decree" changing your name. Some courts are busier than others and it may take longer. Make sure you read the instructions carefully.

If you are changing your name to conform to your gender identity, follow the instructions provided here

To ask the court to change your name, follow these steps:


You have two options to fill out your forms:

  1. Complete your forms online.

    or
     
  2. Download and fill out the forms listed below:
    • Petition for Change of Name (Form NC-100), including the Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (Form NC-110).
    • Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (Form NC-120). (Or, if applicable, Order to Show Cause for Change of Name to Conform to Gender Identity (Form NC-125).
    • Civil Case Cover Sheet (Form CM-010).
    • In steps 6 and 7, you may also need the Decree Changing Name Form (Form NC-130).

Some courts also require you to fill out local forms to ask for a name change, like a criminal background information form. Ask your local court clerk if there are local forms you have to fill out. You may be able to find your court's local forms on your superior court's website. Make sure to keep copies of any local forms you fill out.

IMPORTANT:

  • Address confidentiality cases: If you are changing your name and you are in the State Witness Program or you are in the address confidentiality program and are changing your name to avoid domestic violence, stalking, or human trafficking, or are a victim of sexual assault (or asking for a name change on behalf of a victim of sexual assault), you can keep your name change confidential. Make sure you explain your reason in the Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (Form NC-110) because it will affect the steps you have to follow to change your name. You can find out more on item 7 Form NC-100-INFO and on the Information Sheet for Name Change Proceedings Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at Home) (Form NC-400-INFO). If you want the process to be confidential you must attach a Confidentialy Cover Sheet (Form NC-400) at the front of all your filed documents.

If your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center helps people with name change cases, ask them to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case.

The court will keep the original. One copy is for you; the other is for the publication in a newspaper.

Important: You may not need an extra copy for the publication in the newspaper because you may not need to publish your name change request. Read Step 5 below carefully to find out if you need to publish your request in the newspaper.

The clerk will stamp your forms with “Filed,” keep the original and return the copies to you. The Order to Show Cause will have information on your court date, time, and department number. 

You will have to pay a filing fee. Find out how much the filing fee is for a first petition (sometimes called a “first appearance” or “first papers”). If you cannot afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver.

In most cases you must publish the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for 4 weeks in a row. Your court most likely has a list of newspapers that are approved for publishing legal notices.

The cost for publication can vary greatly between newspapers and your court fee waiver will not waive your publication fees. So it is very important that you check the price of publishing BEFORE you put the name of the newspaper in the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name. This is because once the judge signs the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name you must publish in the newspaper listed on the form. You cannot change the form after it is signed by the judge.

IMPORTANT: 

  • Gender identity cases: If you are changing your name to conform to your gender identity, you do NOT have to publish the Order to Show Cause to Conform to Gender Identity (Form NC-125). Follow the instructions provided here.
  • Address confidentiality cases: If you are changing your name and you are in the State Witness Program, or you are in the address confidentiality program and are changing your name to avoid domestic violence, stalking or human trafficking, or are a victim of sexual assault (or asking for a name change on behalf of a victim of sexual assault), you will likely not have to publish the Order to Show Cause either. Find out more under Item 7 of Form NC-100-INFO or on the Information Sheet for Name Change Proceedings Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at Home) (Form NC-400-INFO). If you do not have to publish the Order to Show Cause for this reason, just go to your court hearing on the date written on your Form NC-120.

If you are in state prison or 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 of the Petition for Change of Name Form NC-100, the Attachment to Petition for Change of Name Form NC-110, and the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (Form NC-120 or Form NC-125, whichever is applicable) 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 sheriff's department. Check with that department as to how that should be done.
  • If you are on parole, you must provide copies to the regional parole administrator of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Check with the administrator's office as to how that should be done.

After you have provided a copy to the sheriff, warden, or regional parole administrator, file a copy of the completed proof of service with the court.  You may use Proof of Service (Form POS-040).

File proof with the court that the Order to Show Cause was published in the newspaper (if you were required to publish your Order to Show Cause as soon as publication is complete, and submit a Decree Changing Name ( Form NC-130) for the judge to sign. If no objections have been filed to your petition, the court may grant your decree without requiring a hearing.  You should check with the court a couple of days before the hearing to see if it will be held.  If it is, go to court on your hearing date. Go to court on your hearing date.

If the judge approves your request for a change of name, the judge will sign the Decree Changing Name Form NC-130. Once you get your signed decree, get a certified copy from the court clerk. You can use this to change all your legal documents, including your birth certificate, social security card, and other government-issued identification like your passport or driver’s license.  More information about changing your birth certificate here.

Related Information:



Domestic Violence
If you are a victim of domestic violence, stalking or you are trying to avoid human trafficking, click to learn more about keeping your change of name confidential or read Information Sheet for Name Change Proceedings Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at Home) Form NC-400-INFO

Gender Change
You do not need a court ordered recognition of gender change to change your California driver's license, Social Security card, or U.S. passport. You also do not need a court order to have a new birth certificate issued reflecting a change of gender (for California birth records). You may want to seek a court ordered recognition of gender change to amend your birth certificate if you were born outside of California. Please see the section on Gender Change if you want to find out more about changing your name and gender, or for recognizing only your gender only, and want to find out all your options.

Denial of Name Change
In some limited cases, the judge may not agree to change your name. Click to learn about the main reasons why your petition may be denied.