Name Change in Pennsylvania
This guide is for how to complete a civil name change in Pennsylvania. This can be used to obtain a personal name change outside of changing your name following divorce.
What You Will Need Before you FileIn order to file a civil name change in Pennsylvania, you will need to start by obtaining a physical copy of your finger prints. This will require you to go to a place that still provides actual fingerprint cards. Generally, a UPS store can still provide you a physical fingerprint card for less than $20.00.
You will also need a list of the places that you have lived in the last five years, specifically, you will need to know the counties that you have lived in for the last five years. It is important to have this list as you will need to provide the Court with a judgment search from each county you have lived in.
What You Will File With the CourtYou will file a Complaint with the Department of Court Records or Prothonotary of the county you currently live in to change your name. In the Complaint, you will include your current name, the name you want to change to, a list of your addresses for the last five years, and you will attach your fingerprint card. There is a fee to file the Complaint with the Department of Court Records. At this point in time, the Department of Court Records will request a background check from the State Police Department. You will be notified when the background check is returned to the Court.
When You Will Go To CourtWhen the background check is returned, you will go to Motions Court to schedule your name change hearing. (This step may be different depending on the county that you live in in Pennsylvania. Please check with your local rules to schedule your hearing.) You will want to schedule the name change hearing at least 6 weeks out from the day you attend Motions Court as you will need to do two things in between the two court dates. This includes:
1) obtaining judgment searches from all counties you have lived in in the last 5 years;
2) complete a publication in one legal publication and one general publication (local newspaper) advertising your upcoming name change hearing.
At this point, you will go back to Court for your final hearing with proof of judgment searches and of publication and you will provide both to the Court. If all paperwork is in order and there is no one there to object, your name change will be approved.
What To Do After the Name Change is ApprovedAfter the final hearing, you will want to get between 2 and 5 certified copies of your name change order. You obtain certified copies at the Department of Court Records or the Prothonotary (depending on your county). You will then start by changing your social security card, driver's license, and passport. Once these documents are changed, you can start to change your bank accounts, life insurance, health insurance and other legal accounts. At that point, you are all done and can operate under your new name.