No matter where a person lives, at some point, they may change their name for various reasons, including marriage or a gender change. In the state of Texas, as in most states, a person who changes their name can usually start using it, but they have to take specific steps toward officially changing it on a driver's license, such as paying the fee to do so.
Changing a Name on a Texas License
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), a person who wishes to change their name on their driver's license must visit a Texas DPS office 30 days after their name change occurs and provide documents that verify the change. These must be original, not copies. If they are not in English, they must include a certified translation with the original documents.
If the new name results from marriage, the DPS will accept marriage licenses, divorce decrees, annulments or a marriage verification letter from the Department of State Health Services. If it's another type of name change, they must submit one of these documents:
- Certified court order.
- Amended birth certificate.
- Certificate of Naturalization forms (N-550, N-570 or N-578).
Name Change Outside of Marriage
Texas requires a person to change their name by court order and use that court order to update their license. (If the name change is due to marriage, the state does not require a court order.) They can change their name for any reason, but they'll need to show that they are not doing so in order to commit a crime, such as fraud, or evading creditors or law enforcement.
A person can get only their name changed or only their gender marker changed but they may wish to do both at the same time to avoid having to change their IDs more than once. Also, if they change both at the same, they only have to pay one set of court fees and pay to update their license or ID card only once.
Process for a Gender Name Change
In addition to a court order, when changing a name due to a change of gender, a person living in Texas must use a Petition for Change of Name of Adult Form and an Order Granting Change of Name of Adult Form. Even if they don't request a gender marker change, it's important to remember the name change may disclose their gender identity to the court. However, the court can't deny a name change due to gender identity. If it does, the individual should contact an attorney for guidance.
A person requesting a name change will do so in the Texas district court in their area. They can contact the court and ask about the process and fees, which might vary slightly from county to county.
Court Requirements for a Legal Name Change
When someone requests a court order for a name change, they must show identifying information as well as a fingerprint card. Some Texas counties may also require a background check and ask that the person changing their name give the court information on their criminal history.
A court cannot change a person's name if they have a felony conviction on their record, but there are exceptions. An individual can change their name if they provide proof that they have received a pardon for a felony conviction; it has been at least two years since their discharge from prison; or they have successfully completed probation.
They can also change their name if they wish to change it from the primary name in their criminal history record information. If they are a sex offender, they cannot change their name unless they show proof that they notified local law enforcement that they are seeing a court order for a name change.
Changing a Name With the Social Security Administration
A person changing their name will also need to fill out Social Security Form SS-5 and take it to a local Social Security office. Staffers will verify their documents and give them a certificate showing that the office has approved the change. They can also mail the completed form to the Social Security office with certified copies of proof of identification, marriage certificate and proof of age. The office will return these documents with the new Social Security card via mail.
Once the person has a name change approved by Social Security, they can take their certificate to the DPS to change their name on their driver's license. They do not need to have their new Social Security card to do this. They should receive their new license within six weeks. They can also use their certificate to change other legal identification documents, like a passport.
Fees for a Driver's License Name Change
While the DPS fee to change a name on a license is only $11 in Texas, it can go up considerably if an individual requires a certified court order. Texas court filing fees range from $150 to $300, depending upon the county of residence.
A person seeking a name change can contact their district clerk's office to ask about the filing fee for an adult name change. If they qualify, they can request the court to waive the fee. To do this, they must fill out a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs form, which will require information about their income from various sources. A certified court order also requires fingerprinting and a criminal background check, and in some counties, there may be a fee for both.
- Texas Courts: Affidavit of Inability to Pay Court Costs
- Rocket Lawyer: Application for a Social Security Card
- Texas Department of Public Safety: How to Change Information on Your Driver License or ID Card
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Driver License Fees
- Texas Law Help: I Want to Change My Name.
- Eforms: Order Granting Change of Name of Adult
- Rocket Lawyer: How to Get a Legal Name Change in Texas After Getting Married
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.