Name Change

Changing Your Voter Registration

Posted on

If you have registered to vote under your birth name, you can change your voter registration using  the same process  as for changing an address or last name after marriage or divorce. You can either submit a document electronically or contact their local board of elections to get the information changed.

Want to learn more? Visit the Elections Board website and look under “Updating Your Registration Information”.

Changing Your Passport

Posted on Updated on

Name Changes

If you haven’t already, we recommend you change your gender on your passport at the same time you change your name. Click here for instructions on changing your gender marker on your passport.

If you are applying for a passport for the first time, regardless of your age, you must apply in person at any acceptance facility. Click here to find the facility nearest you. What documents will you need?

1) Completed Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport. Note that within this form, you must reveal any legal name change and attach the certified court order changing your name.
2) Evidence of U.S. citizenship (such as your birth certificate)
3) A valid ID and photocopy of that ID. Note that the photocopy must be on a standard 8 ½ x 11” paper, showing the front and back of the ID, and be free from any other images and/or markings. The photocopy must be on only one side of the paper, and you may not decrease the size of the image.
4) Two color passport photos (2” x 2”) reflecting your current appearance
5) Any applicable fees. . Click here to see a fee schedule.

All Minor applicants, including renewals, must also apply in person at a passport facility. Click here to find the facility nearest you. What documents will you need?

1) Evidence of U.S. Citizenship (such as your birth certificate)
2) Photo Identification
3) Parental Consent. Click here for more information.
4) Two color passport photos (2” x 2”) reflecting your current appearance
5) Application Forms. Click here for more information.
6) Any applicable fees. . Click here to see a fee schedule.

If you are 18 or older and you already have a passport, but your name has legally changed via a court ordered change of name, you will need to apply for a new passport. The process and cost depend on how long it has been since your passport was issued. Click here for more information.


Gender Changes

The Passport Agency does not require surgery relating to your gender transition in order to change your gender on your passport. To obtain a new passport with the standard 10-year validity, the Passport Agency only requires “medical certification of gender transition” from a licensed doctor who has treated you or reviewed and evaluated your medical history and with whom you have doctor/patient relationship. The Passport Agency offers no guidance as to what qualifies as “gender transition,” leaving this designation up to your doctor. In our experience, this certification is often based on hormone therapy alone, or hormone therapy in combination with other treatment or surgery.

If you are in transition but have not yet begun hormone therapy, or your doctor does not feel comfortable certifying your transition, the Passport Agency offers a 2-year limited-validity passport reflecting a new gender. Your doctor will need to certify that you are “in the process of gender transition.” After applying for this transitional passport, you can later request a full validity passport without an additional fee within the 2-year duration of the limited validity passport. You will, however, need the physician’s certification of gender transition stating that you have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.

You must apply for a gender marker change in person at any acceptance facility. Click here to find the facility nearest you. What documents will you need?

1) Proof of citizenship (such as your birth certificate)
2) Proof of identity, which must be in your new gender. Click here for instructions on how to change your gender marker on your Maryland-issued ID or driver’s license.
3) Two color passport photos (2” x 2”) reflecting your current appearance
4) Any applicable fees. . Click here to see a fee schedule.
5) Birth documentation reflecting your new gender (click here for instructions on how to change your gender marker on your Maryland-issued birth certificate) OR medical certification from your treating physician (click here for more information on what this certification must include and an example letter)

Note: If you are changing your gender marker on your passport without also changing your name, we strongly recommend that you specifically request a new passport, as the Passport Agency may simply apply a stamp over the old gender marker, which would make it apparent to anyone who saw your passport that your gender marker has changed.

Updating Your Social Security Information

Posted on Updated on

You will need to update your information with Social Security before you can update your ID, learner’s permit, or driver’s license. We suggest you do this right away after getting your name changed by the court. You can do it in person or by mail.
You will need the following documents: (1) a completed Form SS-5, (2) certified copy of your name change decree from the court, (3) something that shows your identity (like a driver’s license or passport) – even if it still has your old name on it; (4) something that shows your citizenship (like birth certificate or a passport) – even if still has your old name on it.
The link to Social Security’s instructions about getting a new card is here (note that Social Security considers anyone over the age of 12 to be an “adult”):

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ss5doc/ss5doctext.htm#o-us-adult

The link to Form SS-5 is here:

http://www.ssa.gov/online/ss-5.pdf

 Changing your gender marker with Social Security
Your Social Security card doesn’t have your gender on it, but you should still change your gender with Social Security if you plan to change it other places. You do not need to have gotten a legal gender change to change your gender with Social Security. You can update your information in person or by mail.
You will need the following documents: (1) a completed Form SS-5, (2) a letter from a physician saying you are receiving clinical treatment (like hormones) OR a gender change decree from the court; (3) something that shows your identity (like a driver’s license or passport); (4) something that shows your citizenship (like birth certificate or a passport).
If your identity or citizenship documents do not have the same name (if you got your name legally changed, but did not update all of your documents) you might want to bring a copy of your name change decree as well.
Instructions for changing your gender with Social Security are here:

https://faq.ssa.gov/ics/support/KBAnswer.asp?questionID=2856&hitOffset=76+64+27+15+13+6+4&docID=3382

The link to Form SS-5 is here:

http://www.ssa.gov/online/ss-5.pdf

Changing your MVA ID, License, or Learner’s Permit

Posted on Updated on

Changing your name with MVA

MVA requires that you change your name on your ID, learner’s permit, or driver’s license within 30 days of receiving your name change decree. However, you have to change your information with Social Security first. Requests should be made in person at an MVA office.

What documents will you need?

  1. your current ID, learner’s permit, or driver’s license with your old name
  2. a certified copy of your name change decree from the court (Don’t have a name change decree? Click here)
  3. a completed  application for a new license, available at the MVA office
  4. if you are under 18, you will need to bring a parent with you to sign the application.

You will also be charged about $20-$25 for the new card.

If you are applying for an ID, learner’s permit, or driver’s license for the first time, use the MVA’s document guide, available here, to determine what documents you will need to take with you.

You do not need a court order to change your gender marker on your ID/driver’s license/learner’s permit.  If you want to change your gender marker, you can do it at the same time you are changing your name. (See additional instructions below.)

Have more questions about changing your MVA ID? Visit the MVA website.

Changing your gender marker with MVA

You can change your gender on your ID, learner’s permit, or driver’s license without getting an order from the court.

Gender marker changes are only done at the Glen Burnie MVA. You can either go in person or mail your request to: MD MVA , ATTN: Driver Wellness and Safety Division, 6601 Ritchie Highway, NE, Glen Burnie, MD 21062.

If you mail in your request, make sure to keep copies of everything you mail. Note that if you also want to change your name at the same time, you need to go in person.

You may be charged $20-$25 for a new license.

What documents will you need?

  1. your ID, learner’s permit, or driver’s license
  2. a letter from you asking to have your gender marker changed
  3. letter(s) from a doctor or psychiatrist stating that you have received appropriate clinical treatment for transition and that your gender should be changed
  4. if you’re also changing your name, everything listed above in the name change section

Have more questions about changing your MVA ID? Visit the MVA website. You can also See PFLAG’s information about changing our gender marker.

Changing your Birth Certificate

Posted on Updated on

Changing your name on your Maryland birth certificate

The Maryland Division of Vital Statistics is in charge of changing birth certificates. Please note that Maryland Division of Vital Statistics will only change your name on your birth certificate if you have gotten a legal name change (an order from a court that says your gender has been changed.) Changing your name on your birth certificate can be done in person or by mail.

You will need the following documents:

  1. letter requesting your birth certificate to be updated
  2. something that identifies you (like a driver’s license or ID, or a copy of your old birth certificate)
  3. certified copy of your name change decree from the court (Don’t have name change decree? Click here)

The fee for a new birth certificate is $24.

Have more questions about changing your birth certificate? Visit the DHMH website.

Changing your gender marker on your Maryland birth certificate

Please note that Maryland Division of Vital Statistics will only change your gender marker on your birth certificate if you have gotten a legal gender change (an order from a court that says your gender has been changed.) Changing your gender on your birth certificate can be done in person or by mail.

You will need the following documents:

  1. letter requesting your birth certificate to be updated
  2. something that identifies you (like a driver’s license or ID, or a copy of your old birth certificate)
  3. certified copy of your gender change decree from the court (Don’t have a gender change decree? Click here)

The fee for a new birth certificate is $24.

Currently, the law only requires the Division of Vital Statistics to issue an “amended” birth certificate for gender marker changes. This means that they may attach a sheet to your current birth certificate that shows your new gender identity.

Have more questions about changing your birth certificate? Visit the DHMH website.

Changing Your Name with a Maryland Court

Posted on Updated on

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a “legal” name?
My friends and family already call me by my preferred name. Do I need to get a “legal” name change?
Who can get a legal name change in Maryland? Is it only for trans people?
Can I get my name changed if I am under 18?
How can I get a legal name change?
Do you have to hire a lawyer to change your name?
How much does a name change cost?
I cannot afford the fees. What should I do?
Do I really have to publish my name change in a newspaper?
Where do I file my name change request?
What can I expect at the clerk’s office?
Will the court contact me during the review process?
How long will it take for the court to grant the name change?
What will I need to do once my name is changed?

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

What is a “legal” name?

When you were born, the name given to you on your birth certificate was your “legal” name. It is likely that this name continues to be used on all official documents, such as Social Security, court records, and your state-issued ID, learner’s permit, or driver’s license.

My friends and family already call me by my preferred name. Do I need to get a “legal” name change?

This is your choice. Some people are satisfied with using their preferred name with friends and family. Some schools or employers will also agree to use your preferred name on school records or paystubs.
However, without a legal name change, you may not be able to have your preferred name on your State-issued ID or driver’s license, your passport, or other official documents .

Who can get a legal name change in Maryland? Is it only for trans people?

Any Maryland resident of any age can get a legal name change. You do not need to have been born in Maryland to get a name change, but you need to have lived in Maryland for at least one year.

You can change your name for any reason except for “fraudulent purposes.” This means you cannot change your name so that you can try to pretend to be someone else, like a celebrity, or to avoid paying back a loan.

Can I get my name changed if I am under 18?

Yes. The process for getting a minor’s (under 18) name changed is basically the same for an adult. However, the form is a little different, because minors cannot file petitions with the court. A parent or legal guardian has to file the petition for you. If you have a second parent or legal guardian, he or she also has to give written consent to the name change .

How can I get a legal name change?

Maryland Circuit Courts will issue “name change decrees,” or an official document stating that your legal name has been changed. You can ask the court to change your name by filling out a form (also called a “petition”). If you are a minor (under 18) your parents will have to fill out forms as well. You then submit these forms to the Circuit Court in your county, along with a fee (or a fee waiver.) There will not be a trial.

The judge assigned to your court will then send you a notice that you have to place an ad in the classified section of a local newspaper stating that you are changing your name. Depending on the county, the newspaper might notify the judge that the ad has been placed, or you may have to notify the judge yourself. The judge will wait 30 days after the ad has been placed to see if anyone objects to your name change. If no one does, then the judge will review your petition and order that your name be legally changed. You will get an official document (a name change decree) in the mail .

DIY

For adults (over 18 years old) – Maryland Court instructions for name change

For adults (over 18 years old) — Example of the name change petition

For minors (under 18 years old) — Maryland Court instructions for name change 

For minors (under 18 yaers old) — Example of the name change petition 

Do you have to hire a lawyer to change your name?

No. You can file the petition yourself using the information provided by the court (see above.) However, if you find the process or the forms confusing, you can contact FreeState Legal Project for additional assistance.

How much does a name change cost?

It costs $155 to submit your petition to the court. The cost of the classified ad you place in your local newspaper will vary depending on where you live. In Baltimore City, for instance, it costs $84.

I cannot afford the fees. What should I do?

People who cannot afford the fees can ask the court for a “waiver,” which means you do not have to pay them. If you would like information about this, contact FreeState Legal Project for more information.

Do I really have to publish my name change in a newspaper?

Sometimes a judge will agree to skip the requirement that you put an ad in the newspaper. Contact FreeState Legal Project for more information.

Where do I file my name change request?

Name changes should be filed (turned in) at the clerk’s office at the Circuit Court in the county where you live. Click here for a list of Circuit Courts and their addresses.

You can file the petition by taking it to the court yourself, or you can mail it. If you are paying the court fees, you should pay them at the same time you turn in or mail your petition. Some courts have rules about what types of payment they will accept. We recommend you contact the Circuit Court in your county about how to make your payment.

What can I expect at the clerk’s office?

  • If you plan to deliver your petition in person, bring two copies of your petition to the courthouse. You will file the name change at the clerk’s office in the Circuit Court. Some courts may direct you to a specific office within the court, such as the Civil Division or the Family Division office. You will give your payment and one copy of the petition to the clerk. Ask them to stamp the second copy and give it back to you for your records.
  • If you are mailing the petition to the court, send your payment and two copies as well as a self-addressed stamped envelope. Include a note requesting that the clerk mail you a stamped copy. Make sure to tell them what address to mail the copy to.

Clerks should treat all visitors with respect, regardless of what type of matter they are filing. If you feel that you were not treated with respect by court staff when trying to file a name change, contact FreeState Legal Project for more information.

Will the court contact me during the review process?

The court may send your additional documents BEFORE granting the name change. For instance, if you request the court to waive court costs or the newspaper publication, the court will mail you a notice of its decision about these requests. If you are required to publish the name change, you will want to watch your mail for information from the court or the newspaper about publication.
Additionally, judges may occasionally ask for additional information from you when considering the petition. It is very important that you respond immediately to these requests, since they may be time-sensitive requests.

If you receive a document from the court that you find confusing, contact FreeState Legal Project for assistance.

How long will it take for the court to grant the name change?

It will likely take several months from beginning to end. It depends on how busy the court is where you live.

What will I need to do once my name is changed?

When the court approves your name change, you will receive several certified copies of your name change decree. You will need to update your name on your:

  • Social Security Card
  • MVA ID or Driver’s License
  • Birth Certificate
  • Passport
  • School records, bank records, etc.

See section on “Changing Your Identity Documents”