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How to Change Your Name in Washington

Many people change their names:

  • When getting married
  • When going through a divorce
  • As part of a gender transition
  • For personal reasons

But it's a significant change.

You are usually given your name soon after birth, and it's recorded on your:

Your name is, in more ways than one, your identity. Changing your name, which legally changes your identity, requires some paperwork to accomplish.

Basic Steps for a Petition for Name Change

This article will cover how to:

1. Identify and Follow the Correct Washington Legal Name Change Process


Washington permits a spouse to change their last name when applying for a state marriage license. Simply enter your intended name when filling out the application form. Though be sure to sign it in your current, legal name. Since the application is made before the marriage, you're still legally your old self at the time.

Once issued, a valid marriage certificate can be used as proof of your change of name. Certified copies of your marriage certificate, with your changed name, can be shared with various agencies such as insurance companies and banks, to put these agencies on notice.


Washington State gives courts the power to change your name after a divorce. Many divorcing spouses wish to keep their former last names that they had before getting married. And because the divorce process involves the courts anyway, it's straightforward to change your name back at the same time.

The courts will add the change of name to the final divorce decree. Like the marriage certificate, the divorce decree is proof of your name change.

Petition for a Change of Name

Changing your name outside of marriage or divorce will require petitioning a court for an order granting you a change of name. Washington makes it easier than many other states, but it still takes time. You should be prepared for what lies ahead. This will likely involve:

  • Filling out an application petitioning for a name change;
  • Providing your reasons for seeking a change of name;
  • Filing the petition in your local district court;
  • Paying a filing fee (or a recording fee) to the county auditor;
  • Going through the legal process involved in requesting a copy of the order changing your name.

Name change information can be found on your county district court's website. There, you will find the specific process and filing fees for your county. For example, in King County, a name change hearing may be required along with the petition for the name change, and the recording process may take up to eight weeks to process. This process involves getting a hearing date to be seen in front of a judge.

Note: A court will also refuse to grant a name change if it's sought for an illegal, fraudulent, or otherwise illicit purpose. There are also some special provisions for special cases.

State prisoners and registered sex offenders can change their name in Washington State (this differs from many other states), but courts will consider their applicants under a different standard.

The Evergreen State specifically prohibits state prisoners and sex offenders from being denied a name change when it's requested for religious or (legitimate) cultural reasons, or to reflect marriage or divorce.

Assuming all requirements are met, a court may grant a petition and issue an order changing your name. It will take a few weeks for the order to be recorded, but once that happens your new name is yours. That court order will be proof of your name change.

Minor Children Name Change

Each county is different regarding the process for name changes, but for all minor children, at least one parent must consent to the name change. A name change petition would be filed in the district court where the minor child resides. A court date would likely then be scheduled, to determine whether the name change is in the minor child's best interest.

As these requirements vary by county, it is best to look into your district's requirements before filling out forms.

2. File the Appropriate Paperwork With Government Agencies

A marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order will serve as proof of your name change. But it's your identification that's generally important to your daily life. Filing the right paperwork with government agencies will get that sorted.

Your first step is to contact your local Social Security office to update your Social Security Card. Washington's Department of Licensing (DOL) recommends doing this before updating your driver's license, as they'll verify the name change with the Social Security Administration first. Getting your driver's license updated is the next step.

Updating Your Driver's License

Once you have the new Social Security Card, you will need to schedule an appointment to visit a DMV office in person. At this appointment, you'll need to bring the filing fee as well as acceptable documentation.

Along with updating your driver's license, you'll also want to make sure you change your name on your vehicle registration (this is not an automatic change) as well as any accounts such as Good to Go! (toll passes).

Updating Your Birth Certificate

If you were born in Washington State, you may wish to update your birth certificate with your new name to make it easier to file updated documents. This can only be done once the name change has been approved.

To request an updated birth certificate with your new name, you will need to send a certified copy of the legal name change (it is very important that it is a certified copy) to the Department of Health - Center for Health Statistics.

3. Start Using Your New Name

Once you've changed your name and completed all the paperwork, start using your new name. Tell your family, friends, employer, colleagues, and neighbors. And look into changing your name with your bank, insurance providers, and others. Updating your social media profiles and email is a good idea too.

Get the Name Change Forms You Need in Washington

Whether it's due to marriage, divorce, or personal preference, a name change involves paperwork and research. Fortunately, the process doesn't have to be a hassle or require hiring an attorney to help you out. A lawyer can, however, help you to change your name as part of the legal process. FindLaw's directory can help you locate a lawyer near you.

US Legal Forms' Washington name change forms can also help see you through all the necessary steps.

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