North Carolina Name & Gender Change Guidelines
Recent changes in North Carolina General Statute (June 2011) have made the name change process more stringent. This is the case for all individuals seeking name changes, not just LGBT people. Below are the steps individuals must take to change their name in North Carolina. This process results in a legal name change. Additionally, a new birth certificate will be issued with your new legal name.
What You Need:
- Name Change Petition
- Notice of Intent to Change Name
- Two Affidavits of Good Character
- Two sets of fingerprints
- Two background checks
Some counties might also require a recently certified birth certificate, photo ID, and a Title search performed by an attorney. It is important to note that, if you prefer, you can hire an attorney to assist you through this entire process.
Total estimated cost: Approximately $200 plus attorney fees
Steps: To change your name in North Carolina, there are several things that you will need to do that take some time and planning. Below, we’ve organized the steps in a way that will hopefully help you save time and frustration.
- Request a Name Change Petition at your county courthouse. In many counties, you will find this form in the Special Proceedings Division. Fee – approximately $5.
- You must complete two background checks – State and FBI. These requests take 8-10 weeks to process and require that you get two sets of finger prints. You can have your finger prints taken at the county detention center (fee – approximately $10 each). Click on the links for directions on how to request background checks. FBI background checks cost $18 (money order or cashier’s check) and the state of North Carolina background check costs $14 (money order or certified check). Once the background checks are complete you can proceed to the next step.
- Identify two people who live in your county of residence to fill out Affidavits of Good Character. These individuals cannot be related to you and must be over the age of 18. These affidavits will need to be notarized. Your local bank is a good place to access a Notary Public. There may be a small fee associated with this service.
- North Carolina General Statute requires that you post a Notice of Intent to change your name at the courthouse. The Notice must be posted 10 days prior to filling the petition. It will also need to be time stamped by the Clerk of Courts Office before and after posting.
- After 10 days, file your Petition with the background checks, Affidavits of Good Character, and a pink Vital Records form. Some counties require additional pieces of information be filed with the Petition (see below). On the Petition, you will be required to provide your true name, county of birth, date of birth, the full names of your parents (as shown on your birth certificate), the name you wish to adopt, your reasons for changing your name, and whether your name has ever been legally changed before (if so, you must provide the facts of your previous name change). You can only change your name one time using the NC name change statute, this does not include changes made in other states or assuming a married name or resuming a maiden name. You will also be required to make a sworn statement that you live in the county where you are filing the Petition and whether or not you have an outstanding tax or child support obligation. NOTE: The reason you provide for requesting a name change is part of the public record. Filing fee: approximately $120.
- The Clerk of Court will review your application and make a determination as to whether a hearing is required. If so, you will be required to appear before the Clerk of Court.
- Decision is made. Applicants are often notified by phone. Make sure to receive both a copy of the pink order and the Clerk’s written court order.
As mentioned above, some counties require that you submit additional items with your Petition. These often include the following:
- A recent certified birth certificate. You must obtain this from North Carolina Vital Records. The waiting period for this is approximately 12 weeks. For a fee of $15, the request can be expedited (2 week wait). You can also go to the Register of Deeds Office in the county of your birth and request a certified copy of your birth certificate.
- Title search. This requires that you meet with an attorney. The Title search must include a judgement and civil action check. There will be a fee associated with this service.
- Attach these additional pieces of information to the Petition.*
Don’t Forget: Once your name change has been approved, you will need to update your information with several government agencies. This includes changing your name with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV requires that you notify them of a name change within 60 days. However, you must change your information with the SSA before you can change your information with the DMV. You must also provide the DMV with “documented proof from the courts or the Register of Deeds establishing that the name change was officially accomplished.”
*Some cases might require additional documentation. For example, if they were previously married and had changed their name when married, they will need to present a copy of the divorce judgment to the Clerk. Another example is if one was discharged from the military for being LGBTQ. In such a situation, it is often the case that they will have a Federal record when the FBI check comes back. If so, they need to give the Clerk a copy of their DD-214, confirming their reason for discharge. For more complicated matters such as these, it would be best to seek assistance from a lawyer in your area.
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