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How To Change Your Name in Florida

Are you a Florida resident considering legally changing your name or gender marker on important identification documents? Maybe you're getting married. Perhaps you're divorcing and want to take back your former last name. Or maybe you're going through a gender transition. Whatever the reason, there's a legal process to follow.

This article details how you can change your name and gender marker in Florida, including:

  • When and how to file a name or gender marker change
  • What paperwork needs to be completed
  • How to start using your new name and gender marker

Identify the Right Florida Legal Name Change Process

When you change your name, there's some legal paperwork to do. The type of paperwork to complete depends on the timing (whether associated with marriage or divorce) and factors such as whether you're a minor or have been in trouble with the law.

Your name is your name by law. Your legal name is found on your:

  • Florida birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • School enrollment and application forms
  • Driver's license
  • Voting registration
  • Countless other documents

Some of these uses of your name touch the law more closely than others. Your name will appear on:

  • Traffic tickets
  • Bills
  • In lawsuits
  • On any background checks required for employment or other reasons
  • On credit card applications and credit reports

Changing Your Name Through Marriage

Marriage is the most common time for people to change their names. Accordingly, it's the easiest to accomplish in Florida. Florida allows you to change your name on a marriage license application form. The forms differ by locality, but you can generally just fill in your new name and list your former name on the form.

Your marriage license can be used to change your name on:

  • Your driver's license
  • Social Security card
  • Other documents

A county clerk will issue the marriage license after you complete the normal Florida marriage license process, and that license is the only legal hoop you'll need to jump through.

Changing Your Name Through Divorce

You can also change your name during divorce proceedings. Florida courts permit you, as a divorcing spouse, to change your name to a former one during a judgment of dissolution of marriage. This can be done at little or no additional cost by informing the court of your desire to return to your former name.

You can generally indicate your request on divorce paperwork, and a Florida name change will become effective once the divorce decree becomes finalized. It's best to change a name before the divorce goes through. Otherwise, you may have to file a separate petition for a change of name.

Petition for Change of Name

All name changes outside of marriage or divorce require a court order. This is a separate legal proceeding and can require significant preparation.

Florida's name change process requires you to undergo a criminal history check. A petition to change your name needs to include:

  • Proof of residency in the county where you file your petition
  • Date and place of birth
  • Father's name
  • Mother's maiden name
  • Previous residences
  • Any previous name changes

You'll also need to include:

  • Your occupation, place of employment, and previous places of employment
  • Any previous bankruptcies
  • Any previous arrests, criminal charges, and convictions
  • Any court judgments against you
  • That there are no ulterior or illegal purposes behind your petition

Changing the Name of a Minor

A minor's name change involves some extra steps. Florida permits a family to change names in one proceeding – parents and minor children together.

A petition must contain the same information mentioned above for the parents. The court can change minor children's names at its discretion. When a single parent files a petition to change a child's name, the other parent must be notified.

File the Appropriate Name Change Paperwork With Government Agencies

There's still more to be done after you legally change your name. You'll find it difficult to prove you are who you say you are if your driver's license lists your old name.

Social Security Card

Before changing your driver's license, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires your name change to be on file with the Federal Social Security Administration. Contact your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office to change the name associated with your Social Security number.

You'll need to provide documents proving your legal name change, identity, and U.S. citizenship. These documents can include a certified copy of your marriage certificate (if your name change was processed after marriage) or even a court order for your name change.

Once you provide original or certified copies of the required documents to the SSA, the SSA will issue you a new Social Security card.

Driver's License and Title

With your new Social Security card in hand, head to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). Make an appointment at the FLHSMV to update your driver's license with your new name. Name changes on your driver's license need to be made in person.

After your Social Security card and driver's license are updated, you'll need to update your vehicle registration and title.

Voter Registration

Changing your name for voting purposes is another important consideration during your name change process. Once you change your name on your driver's license and with the SSA, updating your voter registration information is fairly straightforward.

You can access Florida's online voter registration system or fill out a paper form to update your name. You'll need your new driver's license or Social Security card.

How To Change Your Gender Marker

One of the first steps for changing your gender marker in the state of Florida is updating your Social Security records. This is the case even though your Social Security card doesn't list your gender. Other agencies refer to your Social Security records to confirm your gender. You can change your gender identity and name at the same time for simplicity.

Changing Your Gender Marker With the Social Security Administration (SSA)

You'll need to take a few steps to change your gender marker with the Social Security Administration. These include:

  • Apply for a Social Security card.
  • Submit an unexpired identification document. This can be a driver's license, a U.S. passport, or a state-issued identification card.
  • Submit proof of U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status.

You don't need to provide medical or legal evidence of your gender. The gender identification you request also doesn't need to match the one previously indicated on your Social Security card. You can mail your application and accompanying documents to the Social Security Administration or apply in person.

Changing Your Gender Marker With the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

In January 2024, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles announced in a letter that gender changes will no longer be permitted on driver's licenses. The agency further asserted that "misrepresenting one's gender" on a driver's license could lead to fraud charges, license revocation, or license suspension.

It's unclear what the impact of this letter is on applicants seeking a license for the first time. But, the policy has the potential to impact nonbinary and transgender people seriously.

Take the First Step in Getting a Florida Gender Marker or Name Change

Assembling the necessary paperwork, going to court, and filing the required documents with government agencies can be time-consuming and stressful. You'll want to do it right the first time.

In some cases, you may need tailored legal advice. In that case, consult an attorney. You can search for a lawyer in your area using FindLaw's attorney directory.

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