How to Change Your Name in Texas
The day of your wedding has come and gone, and now it's time to settle in for the adventure of wedded bliss. Of course, one of the most exciting things about getting hitched is that you've officially become a team. And like any great team, you need a great team name. For most couples, this means taking on your partner's last name. If you live in Texas, the process for a name change after marriage isn't too demanding, but it definitely requires some legwork. There are forms to fill out, as well as visits to the Social Security office, the Department of Public Safety, the local courthouse, and pretty much every other place you'd prefer to avoid. Fortunately, there's a way to make changing your name considerably easier. HitchSwitch is a professional name change service that not only guides you through the process of how to legally change your name, it actually does the bulk of the work for you. But just in case you want to know the process behind it all, from what name change forms to fill out to where to go and how much it will cost you, here is a step-by-step guide on how to change your last name in Texas.
The Marriage Certificate
A name change after marriage in Texas starts with the marriage certificate, which you can get at your local county clerk's office. After you've filled out your marriage certificate with the name you intend to choose—in Texas you can take your spouse's surname or add their surname to your own, with or without a hyphen—you must appear in person at the clerk's office with a valid, government-issued ID and a proof of social security number. Unfortunately, there is no state-wide certificate fee, they vary from county to county in Texas and generally range from $30 to $85. Once you've been granted the license, remember to get two or three certified copies from the county clerk's office. These copies will be your keys to the whole name change kingdom, as every government entity, and many private ones, will require it. Just as with the original, the cost of certified copies vary by county in Texas, but generally range from $5 to $15.
Social Security Name Change in Texas
Changing your name with Social Security is essentially ground zero for changing your name everywhere else. Until the Social Security office recognizes your name change, no one else will. The good news with your Social Security name change in Texas, or anywhere in the US, is that it's free. Simply download the application for a new Social Security card and fill it out with your new name-to-be shown on the card, as well as your original name at birth. Take this form, along with a certified copy of your marriage certificate and either your government issued driver's license, a state-issued non-driver identification card or your US passport, and head down to your nearest Social Security office in Texas, which you can find here.
You can also mail everything to the Social Security office, although keep in mind that, as they require original documents, you will be mailing in either your driver's license or passport. All of your documents will be returned to you, but you'll be without them for the duration of the process, which generally takes around two to three weeks. And once you change your name on the card, make sure to inform your employer. You don't want all of those precious tax dollars you're paying going to the wrong person.
Driver's License Name Change in Texas
The next step, after you've changed the name on your Social Security card, is your Texas DMV name change. A Texas driver's license name change is actually a fairly easy process. The most important thing to know is that you'll need to change your name with the Texas Department of Public Safety within 30 days of your official name change. Texas requires you to do this in person at your nearest Driver License office, which you can find here, or by visiting TXDPS.State.TX.us. Many offices in Texas actually allow you to schedule your appointment online.
In order to get a Texas driver's license with your new name change, you'll need to bring a certified copy of your marriage license, as well as your current driver's license or ID card. As long as your license hasn't expired, the fee for a card with your new name change is $11 in Texas. Though you are getting a new card with your name change, your expiration date will remain the same, as you aren't actually renewing your license. Once you have your new Texas license and your new Social Security card, you can begin to change your name on everything else.
Passport Name Change in Texas
Next up is your passport name change. To do this, you'll have to apply for a new passport. The process and cost vary based on how long it's been since your original passport was issued and, unless you're traveling soon and need the passport expedited, you can, and should, do it all by mail. To apply for a new passport in person at the Department of State Passport Agency, it will cost you an additional $60 for expedited processing. If you need to have your passport expedited, you can schedule an appointment at one of the three Texas passport agency offices in Dallas, El Paso or Houston.
As for doing it by mail, if it's been less than a year since your original passport was issued, you won't have to pay any passport or processing fees. Simply fill out the form DS-5504 using the Department of State's online guide, and then mail it, along with your current passport, your certified copy of your marriage certificate and a color passport photo, to:
National Passport Processing Center
Post Office Box 90155
Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155
If it's been more than a year since your passport was issued, you'll have to fill out and submit Form DS-82, along with your original passport, your certified marriage certificate, a color passport photo and a check for all applicable fees. For the renewal of your passport with your new name change, the current fee is $110. The passport office also recommends that you use their overnight delivery service to send your newly issued passport to you. The fee for that is $14.85. You can pay by personal check, cashier's check, traveler's check or money order. Just make it out to “US Department of State."
The timeline to receive your new passport with your name change is four to five weeks, unless you paid for it to be expedited, in which case it will take two to three weeks. If you get it expedited at the passport agency in Texas, you can get it as quickly as five business days.
Petition for a Name Change in Texas
As long as you're taking your spouse's last name, or adding their last name to your own last name, with or without a hyphen, you can change your name via your marriage certificate. Any other form of name change—for instance, if you want to add your spouse's last name and make your maiden name your new middle name—will require you to file a petition to change your name in the Texas county in which you live. This is a more involved and expensive process that requires a lot of paperwork, a court appearance and a fingerprint submission.
The first step is to have your fingerprints taken so you can submit them to both the Texas Department of Public Safety and the F.B.I. The fee is $10. To find out where you can have your fingerprints taken in Texas, contact your local county clerk's office, or go to IdentoGO.com. Once approved, you'll be sent a fingerprint card.
To get the actual name change process rolling, you will need to fill out two forms: the Original Petition for Change of Name of an Adult, and the Order Granting Change of Name of an Adult. You can get these forms from your local county court. Unfortunately, the state doesn't provide online forms to change your name. The first form is the one that you'll use to apply for your name change. The second is the one the judge will sign once your name change has been granted. It's important that the information on both forms is exactly the same in order to change your name.
Once you've filled out the name change forms, DO NOT SIGN THEM. The Original Petition for Change of Name must be signed in front of a notary. You can find a notary near you by clicking here. The Order Granting Change of Name will be signed by the judge. When you have your Original Petition signed and notarized, make at least three photocopies of it along with your fingerprint card.
To file your petition, you will need to go to the courthouse of your Texas county of residence. Bring both the originals and the copies of your forms as well as your fingerprint card and a form of photo ID—either your driver's license or your US passport. You don't need to make an appointment, just show up during normal operating hours. When you file your name change petition, you'll have to pay a filing fee, which varies depending upon what county you are in. Generally the cost to change your namein Texas ranges from $250 to $350.
Once you've filed your name change petition, a date for the court hearing will be set. Most likely you will be able to schedule your hearing, but that also depends on your county. When you go to your hearing, bring your Order Granting Change of Name of an Adult for the judge to sign. Not only should this have the same information as your petition, it also needs to state that the name change is in the public interest and will benefit you. In some cases, to prove that your name change is in the public interest, you may be required to provide a sworn statement in front of the judge.
If the judge approves your name change petition, he or she will sign the Order Granting Change of Name that you provided. Once it is signed by the judge, file it at the court clerk's office. When the court clerk stamps your signed order, your name change is official. Make sure to request at least two certified copies of your Order, since these are what you'll be using to change your name everywhere else. The fees for certified copies vary by county in Texas, but generally range from $10 to $15.
Just keep in mind: Whether you change your name by petition or marriage in Texas, the work doesn't stop once you've updated your official documents. You'll need to change your name with the post office, voter registration, your bank and credit cards, utilities, medical professionals, all of those coffee house punch cards you've got bursting from your wallet, and pretty much anything else you can think of. It's a long process, but as long as you do the initial name change legwork with your driver's license and Social Security card, something that HitchSwitch can make quite a bit easier for you, you'll be fine.