This article addresses the steps you'll need to take to change your legal name in Minnesota. We'll discuss how to:
- Identify the right process for you
- Determine what paperwork should be filed
- Start using your new name
Identify and Follow the Correct Minnesota Legal Name Change Process
The steps you take to change your name will differ depending on why you want to change it. Here's what you need to know.
Most commonly, people change names when getting married. Marital name changes are not limited by sex or gender in Minnesota.
Minnesota law allows people to change their names when applying for a state marriage license. Simply fill out the application form for your name change request with the county administrator and, when prompted, enter the full names you and your partner will use.
Please note that you should fill in your current, premarital names and your post-marital names in separate parts of Minnesota's marriage license application form. Once issued, a copy of your marriage certificate can prove a name change.
Minnesota courts will change the name of a party to a divorce action upon request. This is a common request and prevents the need for a separate proceeding. Once the final divorce decree is handed down, the name change will be included. Get at least several certified copies of this decree.
Petition for a Change of Name
You can change your name for other reasons, too. Maybe you're going through a gender transition process and want a name that better matches your gender identity. Maybe you just never liked the name you were given by your parents. Follow the process below to change your name.
Seeking an Adult Name Change
Minnesota law provides a process for residents to petition a court to change their name. This is a stand-alone process and will involve initiating a separate court action. You have to have lived in the state and county for at least six months. If you meet those basic requirements, you can expect to do the following:
- Fill out a petition form stating your reasons for seeking a name change, and submit it to the local state district court, along with a proposed order granting name change.
- Provide a description of all real property in the state in which you claim an interest. This information is used to update real estate records with the county recorder.
- Submit a criminal history check release form and undergo a state and federal criminal history check.
- Arrange for a court hearing date and attend in person.
- Prove your identity before the court using at least two witnesses.
- Explain to the judge hearing your case why you want to change your name.
Once satisfied, a court can issue an order changing your name. The order is documented in the court's records, and you can obtain certified copies by filing the appropriate court forms.
Name Change Requirements
You can't change your name for fraudulent or other illegal reasons. For example, changing your name to avoid debts, a lawsuit, or criminal charges isn't allowed.
Public policy and public safety concerns impose additional requirements on some categories of people. Minnesota requires people with felony convictions to notify the prosecuting authority of a name change — caused either by marriage, divorce, or petition. State prison inmates face limits on the number of name changes they can request imposed by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension under Minnesota statutes.
Can't Afford the Name Change Filing Fee?
Note that if you can't afford to pay the filing fee for the court forms, Minnesota lets you obtain a fee waiver if you file for what is called in forma pauperis status and your status is approved by the court.
Seeking a Name Change for a Minor Child
If you are seeking a name change on behalf of a minor (less than 18 years of age) and are the parent or legal guardian of the minor child, you file an application for a name change with the minor child's name instead. You will need to notify a non-applicant parent.
File the Appropriate Paperwork With Government Agencies
A marriage license, divorce decree, or copy of the order is used to prove a name change. The next thing you'll want to do is update your day-to-day identification documents. Visit your local Social Security Administration office to receive a replacement Social Security card and, once that's completed, go to the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services office to receive a new driver's license.
Start Using Your New Name
You've gone through the trouble of getting your name changed, so start using your new name!:
- Tell family, friends, employers, colleagues, and neighbors
- Inform your bank, creditors, insurance company, and similar contacts
- Update your email and social media accounts
Want To Change Your Name on Your Birth Certificate, Too?
If you're changing your name as part of a gender transition process, you might want to consider having your name changed on your birth certificate, too. Luckily, the process for amending vital records in Minnesota is simple.
Assuming you're at least 18 years old, all you need to do is submit an application to amend your birth record, along with a certified copy of your name change order and the appropriate fee, to the Office of Vital Records.
Want Legal Help Changing Your Name?
Still have questions about a Minnesota name change? Reach out to a local attorney for legal advice.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.