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Guide to Changing Your Legal Name and/or Gender in North Carolina

This guide provides an overview of steps and resources to assist individuals who wish to change their legal name and/or gender in North Carolina.

Changing Your Legal Name in North Carolina

Changing your legal name in North Carolina can have several steps, depending on which documentation you wish to update. The process is outlined in N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 101-1 to 101-8.

N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 130A-106 and § 130A-107 provide related information about establishing facts related to birth for persons without birth certificates, including name changes. More information is available here.

The first step to changing your legal name is acquiring a court order authorizing the change.

General Petitions to the Court:

First an applicant must have a Notice of Intent to Change clocked by a Civil Clerk and posted on their local Superior Court's bulletin board for ten consecutive days. If the tenth day falls on a weekend or holiday, the applicant must allow the notice to remain posted until the following business day at 5 P.M. The applicant should keep a copy of your clocked notice in case the one posted is lost or taken off the board. The publication requirement can be waived with evidence that the applicant is a victim of domestic violence, sexual offense, or stalking.

After the Notice of Intent has been posted for ten days, an applicant must file with the court:

  • Petition for a Name Change
  • Two Affadavits of Good Character signed by county residents
  • FBI and State Bureau of Investigation Record Checks

Information on acquiring an FBI background check can be found on the FBI's website. Information on acquiring a background check through the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation can be found on their website. Note that you will also need to have your fingerprints taken in order to request background checks.

Some courts provide sample forms through their websites. The LGBT Center of Raleigh also provides sample forms and instructions.

Please note: Under North Carolina law, an individual is only allowed to change their name once, with the exception of a return to a former name.

Minors:

The parent(s) or legal guardian of a minor may file an application for a change of name. This petition must include the minor’s current name, county of birth, date of birth, full name of the parents as shown on their birth certificate, the name the minor would like to adopt, the minor’s reasons for desiring a change, and if the name of the minor has ever been changed before. N.C. General Stat. Chapter 101 sets forth the requirements and procedures for changing the name of a minor.

Other Documents:

Once an applicant has acquired a court order authorizing the name change, they may wish to have other identification documents updated. These will likely include their social security card, driver's license, and passport.

Social Security cards

In order to change your name on your social security card, you must submit an online application or visit your local field office. More information can be found on the SSA's website.

To prove your legal name change, you must show one of the following documents:

  • Marriage document.
  • Divorce decree.
  • Certificate of naturalization showing a new name.
  • Court order for a name change.

To prove your identity, you must show an unexpired document showing your name, identifying information, and photograph, such as one of the following:

  • U.S. driver’s license.
  • State-issued non-driver’s identification card.
  • U.S. passport.

If you don’t have one of those documents available, the SSA may be able to accept your:

  • Employer identification card.
  • School identification card.
  • Health insurance card.
  • U.S. military identification card.

To prove your U.S. citizenship, you must show one of the following documents:

  • U.S. birth certificate.
  • U.S. Consular Report of Birth Abroad.
  • U.S. passport (unexpired).
  • Certificate of Naturalization.
  • Certificate of Citizenship.

Driver's Licenses

An individual whose name changes from the name stated on a driver license or ID must notify the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles within 60 days after the change occurs and obtain a duplicate card with the new name. NCDMV will confirm the name change with the Social Security Online Verification System, so an individual changing their name must visit their local Social Security Administration Office at least 24-36 hours before changing their name with NCDMV.
Name changes must be completed at an NCDMV driver license office with:

  • A certified marriage certificate issued by a government agency OR
  • Documented proof from the courts or the Register of Deeds establishing that the name change was officially accomplished AND
  • Execution of a notarized DL-101 (obtained from an DMV office)

The North Carolina Department of Transportation website has additional information on name changes.

Birth Certificates

The North Carolina Division of Public Health processes birth certificate changes. In order to change a name on a birth certificate, an applicant must:

  • Mail the completed birth certificate application form in order to provide information necessary to locate the original birth certificate. 
  • Be sure to check the "Name Change" box under Record Changes.
  • Include a certified copy of the name change court order along with your request.

Mail application to:

North Carolina Vital Records
1903 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1900

Please note: North Carolina will accept court orders from other states to update the name and/or gender on a North Carolina birth certificate.

UNC Materials

The University of North Carolina Registrar's Office offers forms for changing your legal name for university documentation, including internal university records and diplomas. 

The LGBTQ Center UNC-Chapel Hill offers information and assistance for transgender and nonbinary students navigating campus life. Their guide to Transitioning at Carolina covers name and gender changes as well as other considerations like housing and campus health.

Credits

Credit to the National Center for Transgender Equality, LGBTQ Center UNC-Chapel Hill, and the LGBT Center of Raleigh for some of the information on this page.