Rhode Island Name Change Forms – How to Change Your Name in RI

Updated January 23, 2023

A Rhode Island name change form, also known as PC-8.1, can be filled out by anyone wishing to change their name in the State of Rhode Island. Whether an adult is petitioning for their own name change, or for the name change of a minor, this form must be completed, signed in front of a notary public, and filed with the probate court in the county where the petitioner resides. The exception to this is if an adult wishes to undergo a name change after they get married, or after they get divorced; both situations do not require a petition. Adult name change petitions for personal reasons are typically granted by the court, as there are few laws that obstruct an individual’s right to change their name. When petitioning for a minor name change, a judge is more likely to deny the petition if they feel the reason for the change is of a frivolous nature and not in the child’s best interests.

Laws§ 33-22-38

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Name Change After Marriage

Taking your spouse’s last name after marriage does not require a petition and can be automatically accomplished once the marriage certificate is signed. The only additional steps you need to take to make your new married name official is to notify Social Security of your name change and apply for a new driver’s license with the DMV.

Name Change After Divorce

If you’ve just gone through a divorce and wish to revert back to your maiden name, you may do so without having to file a petition with the probate court in your county. However, it must be specifically stated in your divorce decree that you wish to change back to the name you held before marriage; a birth certificate may need to be presented to prove your maiden name. The divorce decree and your birth certificate should be enough documentation to change your name with Social Security and the DMV.

Adult Name Change (No Marriage or Divorce)

Luckily for Rhode Islanders who wish to make a name change, there are relatively few steps involved in this process compared to most states. Furthermore, the State’s statutes are quite lenient when it comes to naming change laws. Judges are quick to approve name change petitions and sometimes will even sign a name change decree without having the petitioner attend a court hearing.

Step 1 – Complete Name Change Petition

Download the Name Change Petition (Form PC-8.1) and enter all the appropriate information except for your signature – this must be done in the presence of a notary. The Decree section at the bottom of the form will be filled out by the judge if the name change is approved.

Step 2 – Have the Petition Notarized

The Petition must be signed in front of a notary public. You can ask your city or town clerk for a referral, or even visit your bank. (If you have a personal account you may not be charged a notarization fee.)

Step 3 – File Petition

Attach a copy of your birth certificate to Form PC-8.1 and visit your local city or town clerk/probate court to file your petition. The fees involved in filing a name change petition vary by city/town, but it is usually less than $100. The court clerk will provide a date for you to come back to the courthouse and either attend a hearing or pick up your signed decree. This date is usually about thirty (30) days from the filing date.

Step 4 – Background Check

Once the petition has been filed, a Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) report may be required; visit your city or town clerk to learn how this is handled. Some courts may have local law enforcement do the BCI check, or one may be requested through the RI Attorney General’s Office. After receiving the BCI report, attach it to the petition so the judge can look it over.

Step 5 – Publish Notice (If Applicable)

There is no law that requires you to publish a notice declaring your name change in your local newspaper; however, the court where you filed your petition may require that you do so. Ask the court clerk if this is a necessary step and, if it is, find out whether the court will advertise on your behalf or if you must contact a local newspaper yourself. Notify them of your current name and proposed name change so they can run an ad in their next issue. Ask them to send you proof of publication so you can bring it to your court date.

Step 6 – Attend Hearing

Unless the judge has already signed the decree approving your name change, you will be asked to visit the courthouse again to attend a hearing in front of the judge. (Bring proof of publication, if applicable.) The judge may ask you a couple of questions, or they may just want you to give an official statement. If they grant the change of name, they will sign the Decree section of the Petition Form. Have the clerk make certified copies of the Decree so you can change your name on any legal documentation.

Driver’s License

Before you can change your name on your Rhode Island driver’s license, you need to have requested and received a new Social Security card. (Download and complete Form SS-5 and submit it, along with proof of identity, to the Social Security office nearest you.) Once your Social Security card is updated, visit your local DMV office and submit the following documents:

Pay the $6.50 fee and you will receive a new Rhode Island driver’s license with your new name on it.

Voter Registration

It’s important to update your name on your voter registration card if you want to vote in any upcoming elections. You are required to complete a new registration form or complete the registration process online as if registering for the first time. Go to www.vote.sos.ri.gov to register to vote online with your new name. Those who wish to register by mail or in-person can do so by completing the Rhode Island Voter Registration Form. You can submit the completed form with your local DMV office or your local board of canvassers.

Minor (Child) Name Change

Only a parent, guardian, or conservator can petition for the name change of a minor (persons under the age of eighteen) in the State of Rhode Island. The process is almost identical to that of an adult name change, even the Petition Form is the same. However, the process for changing a minor’s name is carried out through family court instead of probate court. Once completed, the minor change of name petitions must be filed in the State of Rhode Island family court for the county in which the child lives. It’s important to note that for a minor name change petition to be approved, both parents have to provide consent. The judge assigned to the matter must be convinced by the petitioner that the name change is appropriate and would benefit the child. The list here provides the necessary contact information for the courthouses within each county.