Pennsylvania Name Change Forms – How to Change Your Name in PA

Updated March 09, 2022

A Pennsylvania name change form is to be completed by an applicant petitioning for a name change through their county’s Court of Common Pleas. Name changes are often granted by the assigned judge as long as the petitioner files the forms properly, meets the general requirements set forth by State law and is not committing fraud or avoiding debts/convictions. A recently divorced individual who wishes to revert back to their maiden name can do so relatively easily. Similarly, changing one’s name after marriage is as simple as entering the new name on the marriage certificate. An adult may petition for a name change for personal reasons, which involves a much lengthier process. Changing the name of a minor (person under eighteen (18) years of age) is much like the adult name changing process, but also requires the consent of (typically) both parents.

Laws54 Pa. C.S.A. § 701-704

Table of Contents

Name Change After Marriage

Those who are wondering how to take their spouse’s name after marriage, will find the solution to be simple. Sign your marriage license using your new name and, once the license is filed with the county courthouse, you will receive a certified copy of your marriage certificate. This certificate serves as documentation that you have legally changed your name. However, you will still need to notify government agencies, such as the SSO and the DMV, to update your licenses and SSC.

Name Change After Divorce

Visit the Prothonotary office in your county and ask for a Notice (or Election) to Resume Maiden Name Form (or download in Adobe PDF). Bring a copy of your birth certificate (to show proof of maiden name) and a copy of your divorce decree. (It’s only necessary to provide a copy of your divorce decree if you are filing the name change outside the county in which you were divorced.) Complete the Notice to Resume Maiden Name Form and sign it in front of a notary public. The notary will complete the second page. File the Notice Form, a copy of your birth certificate, and a copy of your divorce decree with the Prothonotary’s Office (you may be charged a small filing fee). By law, you can start using your maiden name immediately after filing the notice.

Adult Name Change (No Marriage or Divorce)

You may wish to change your name for a multitude of personal reasons. Keep in mind that a name change cannot be made for fraudulent purposes, to avoid criminal conviction, if you have have been convicted of a felony, or if you have claimed bankruptcy and/or have outstanding judgments.  Furthermore, you cannot change your name to something that could affect the rights of another person and you cannot use a curse word, racial slur, or offensive language in your new name.

Although the forms provided on this site are compliant with State law, some counties require name change applicants to use the forms provided by their county’s court. Check with your local court clerk or Prothonotary’s office to make sure you’re following the proper filing procedures. The following forms will have to be completed and filed with your county’s Court of Common Pleas (do not complete all forms at once – follow the steps carefully):

  • Petition for Change of Name
  • Order of Publication
  • Civil, Court, and State Cover Sheets (if applicable)
  • Fingerprinting Order (if applicable)
  • Fingerprint Card
  • Publication Notice (Notice of Hearing)
  • Certifications
  • Decree for Change of Name

Step 1 – Petition for Change of Name

Download the Petition for Change of Name Form and fill it out. This form can also be used to petition for the name change of a minor. To petition for an adult name change, simply do not fill out any fields that pertain to a minor name change. A statement of verification is attached to the Petition and must be completed by you, the petitioner. This section is used to swear to the truthfulness of the contents of the Petition.

Step 2 – Order of Publication

Also referred to as the Notice of Hearing Order Form, or simply the Order, the Order of Publication Form must be downloaded and completed. Enter only your name at the top of the form, leaving the hearing date and judge’s signature fields blank.

Step 3 – Cover Sheets (If Applicable)

Cover sheets are sometimes used to ensure a civil case moves through the court system without any issues. Not all counties require cover sheets, whereas other counties require a Civil Cover Sheet, a Court Administration Cover Sheet, a State Cover Sheet, or a combination of the three. Ask your local court clerk if any of these forms are necessary and, if they are, collect them from the clerk, or download them, and fill them out.

Examples of Cover Sheets:

Step 4 – File Forms

Make copies of the Petition, Order, Cover Sheets (if required) and file them with the Prothonotary Office in your county. The clerk will ask you to pay all associated filing fees (fees can range anywhere from $100 to over $300). Sometimes the court clerk will provide a hearing date on the spot; otherwise you will receive the Order of Publication, completed by the judge, in the mail. Hearings usually won’t be scheduled until forty-five (45) days after you have filed your name change petition to allow time for the Notice of Name Change to be published in the newspapers.

Step 5 – Criminal Background Check

In some counties, a Fingerprinting Order Form must be submitted to the judge along with the Petition. The judge will sign the Fingerprinting Order and give it back to you so you can start the criminal background check process. If you reside in a county that does not require this Order Form, simply ask the Prothonotary office to provide you with a fingerprint card after you have filed your Petition (see an example of a fingerprint card here). Visit your local police department (or state police department if your municipality does not have a local PD) and get your fingerprints taken. Mail or deliver the fingerprint card to the Prothonotary’s office and they will have the PSP run a background check. Provided you do not have a criminal history, you can continue with the name change process.

Step 6 – Publish Notice

Once you receive the Order of Publication from the court, download two (2) Publication Notice Forms (also referred to as a Notice of Hearing) and fill out all appropriate information. This Notice must be published in two (2) newspapers in your county, or a county contiguous to your county. Papers will charge a fee for the publication of legal notices – perform a newspaper search by county here. Make sure to request copies of the proofs of publication when you submit your Notice Form; this request can be included in a cover letter (example cover letter).

Step 7 – Conduct Name Search

To ensure you do not have any outstanding judgments or decrees of record, an official search must be conducted by the Prothonotary Office, the Clerk of Court’s Office and the Recorder of Deeds’ Office in all counties in which you resided for the past five (5) years. The staff at the Prothonotary Office and Clerk of Court’s Office will conduct the search for you and provide signed Certification Forms once the search is complete (Prothonotary Certification Form; Clerk of Courts Certification Form). However, you must conduct your own search at the Recorded of Deeds’ Office and prepare the certification yourself (use the aforementioned certification forms as examples). You will bring these certifications along with you to the courthouse on your hearing date. It’s important to note that certifications become void after two (2) days; make sure to complete this step right before the date of your hearing.

Step 8 – Attend Hearing

Download the Decree for Change of Name Form (also referred to as an Order of Name Change or a Judgment of Name Change) and bring it to your hearing along with both proof of publication notices and your name search certifications. The Judge will ask you questions regarding the proposed change and, if approved, they will sign the Decree/Order/Judgment. File the Decree with the Prothonotary and ask for a certified copy. This will be used to update your name change with various state and federal agencies.

Driver’s License

If you’ve recently changed your name after marriage, after divorce, or for any other reason, you should update your driver’s license (or photo ID card) as soon as possible. First, download the appropriate name change form from the list below.

Complete the required form and visit your county’s DMV offices. Bring your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or a certified copy of the Decree for Change of Name, depending on your situation. You may be required to present your Social Security Card as well as two (2) other documents with your new name on it. Fees for updating your name with the DMV are $29.50 for driver’s license (commercial or non-commercial) and $5 for learner’s permit or photo ID card.

Voter Registration

Updating your voter registration after a name change is a relatively quick and painless process that simply requires you to re-register to vote. This can be accomplished by following one of the three (3) methods listed below.

Minor (Child) Name Change

When a parent goes through the process of legally changing their last name, their child automatically adopts their new surname. If a parent/guardian wishes to change the name of a minor to a completely different name, they will have to go through a legal process similar to that of an adult name change, ie through the Court of Common Pleas. Bear in mind that if only one parent is petitioning for the name change of a minor, the other parent must receive copies of the Petition and Order of Publication, or they must provide written consent.

Step 1 – Download Forms

Each county in Pennsylvania has a slightly different process, and may include additional forms. Before you begin the minor name changing process, you may want to check with your local court clerk (and possibly an attorney) to make sure that there aren’t any additional steps, or specific forms required for the county in which the minor resides. For most minor name changes in the State of Pennsylvania, the following forms will be sufficient:

Step 2 – Fingerprints (If Applicable)

Any minor aged thirteen (13) or older must have their fingerprints taken at their local law enforcement agency. They will take the minor’s fingerprints on a Fingerprint Card (see an example here) and, most likely, charge you a small service fee. Skip this step if the minor for whom you are petitioning a name change is under the age of thirteen (13).

Step 3 – Complete Petition and Order of Publication

Complete the Petition for Change of Name of Minor Form and the Order of Publication Form (blank except for the minor’s name), and make copies of each form.

Step 4 – Visit Courthouse

Bring the Petition, Fingerprint Card (if applicable), Order of Publication, and a copy of the minor’s birth certificate to the County Court of Common Pleas where the minor resides. File these documents with the Prothonotary’s office and pay all associated fees (typically around $100). Take copies to the Court Administration’s office so your petition can be assigned to a judge.

Step 5 – Publish Notice

Shortly after you file the Petition, you will receive the Order of Publication in the mail from the courthouse. The Order will disclose the hearing date, time, and any other pertinent information. Download and complete the Publication Notice Form and submit it to two (2) newspapers in the county where the minor resides. There will be a fee for publishing a legal notice; call around to find the least expensive option. Each county has a different policy regarding the number of days the Notice must be published before the hearing date. The deadline can be 20, 30, or even 45 days prior to the hearing date; check with your county’s court clerk to confirm the deadline. Request proof of publication from each newspaper so you can prove to the court that you published the Notice.

Step 6 – Parent’s Consent

If there is only one (1) parent petitioning for the name change of their child, they must get the other parent’s consent. The same goes for if none of the parents are filing the petition. Have the parent(s) fill out the Consent Form and sign it in front of a notary public. If consent is not obtainable, you must send copies of both the Petition and the Order of Publication to the parent(s) by regular and certified mail. The parent(s) must sign the return receipt so you can bring it as proof of mailing to the hearing. (Some counties require petitioners to fill out an Affidavit of Service by Regular Mail and Affidavit of Service by Certified Mail – check with your county’s court clerk.)

Step 7 – Judgment Check

In order for a minor to be approved of a name change, they must be clear of any judgments or decrees of record against them. Visit the Prothonotary Office and Recorded of Deeds Office in all the counties where the minor resided in the past five (5) years. They will conduct an official name search of the minor and, if no judgments exist, they will sign a certification (for a small fee – usually around $10) that you can bring to the hearing.

Step 8 – Attend Hearing

On the date of the minor’s name change hearing, bring the proofs of publication, the certifications, the signed Consent Form (or signed return mailing receipts), and the Decree for Change of Name of Minor Form. Leave the Decree Form blank, except for the minor’s name at the top; this will be completed by the judge if they authorize the name change. You will have to explain the reasoning behind the name change, even if it was mentioned in the Petition, and assure the judge that it is in the child’s best interest. If the judge approves, they will grant the petition by signing the Decree for Change of Name of Minor Form. Visit the court clerk and have them make certified copies of the Decree so you can update the minor’s name change on any necessary documents and identifications.