How to Legally Change Your Name in North Carolina

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In North Carolina, Chapter 101 of General Statutes addresses the procedure for how citizens may have their names legally changed in special situations other than resuming a previous name due to divorce. Any citizen may change the name listed on his birth certificate once, by petitioning the Special Proceedings department of the superior court. People resuming former names due to divorce follow law outlined in General Statute Chapter 50. As the court system is unified the procedure does not much vary from county to county, but always consult the clerk of your local court for precise filing methods.

People Who Are Not Resuming a Former Name

Retrieve the name change form packet from the superior court of the county you live in or download it from the court’s website if available. Wake County is among those that publishes the forms on its website (see link in the Reference section) The clerk will tell you what forms to complete and fees to pay. The forms do not vary much from county to county, but may be pre-filled with the county’s name. You must have proof that you are a current resident of the county. Proof includes items such as a recent utility bill or a current driver license.

Consent to a criminal records check. People who are registered sex offenders are not allowed to change their names. You will need to pay the clerk a fee for this service. Court costs are the same throughout the state--a list of fees current as of September 2009 is available in the Resources section. Children younger than 16 do not require a background check.

Complete the public notice form provided in the forms packet. Have it date-stamped at the courthouse and post it with the public notices. The notice will most likely be pinned on a bulletin board near a public entryway. You must post the notice 10 calendar days before submitting your petition. Name changes filed for children younger than 16 do not require this step.

Submit the notarized petition for a legal name change document and two notarized affidavits of character with any necessary fees explained to you by the clerk. You may need to show your birth certificate and other citizenship documents. Children younger than 16 do not need to complete the affidavits of character.

Wait for a letter in the mail informing you of the court's decision. If the clerk finds good cause for your name change you will be issued a certificate with a raised seal signed by the clerk. The clerk will notify the state vital records office to change the birth certificate record.

People Resuming a Former Name

Download the “Application/Notice of Resumption of Former Name” form, the AOC-SP-600. You can access it from the link in the Resources section. Alternately, visit your county court civil division and ask the clerk for a copy.

Complete the form. If you are resuming a previous name following a divorce, complete the "Divorce" section. If you are resuming a previous name because your spouse has died, complete the "Death of Spouse" section and attach a copy of the deceased spouse's death certificate.

Sign the form in the presence of a notary or authorized court clerk.

File the form with the clerk of court and pay the fees outlined by the NC court system.


  • This article is not intended to be legal advice, but simply outlines the procedure for legally changing a name. For complicated situations, particularly where minors with living parents are involved, you should consult a lawyer.



About the Author

Margaret Bryant is a long-time resident of North Carolina. She has recently written extensively for GolfLink and eHow. She has been writing for publication since 1999. Bryant holds a Bachelor of Arts in English language/literature.

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