How to Change Your Name for Less Money

Here's how much it costs to change your name.

Whether you’re changing your name after getting married, changing your name after divorce, or doing it for some other reason, the process of legally changing your name comes with a variety of fees and expenses. The same goes for business owners, who often change the names of their companies because of ownership changes or rebranding. Making a name change can be costly no matter the reason, but you can minimize spending on fees and expenses if you know what to expect.

How Much It Costs to Change Your Name

How much does it cost to change your name? No set price applies to every situation. A variety of factors go into the overall expense associated with this fairly common legal move. Check out some of the fees and expenses you can expect to pay when changing names so that you can seize some opportunities to save money.

Personal Name Change

In order to change your name, you might be required to file a petition with the court in your county or city of residence. The fee for changing your name can vary widely by state: Filing can cost $435 in California but just $150 in Massachusetts, for example.

Depending on your state and situation, you might be eligible to have the fee waived. In California, the court waives fees for low-income residents or residents who receive public assistance.

Other name-changing costs include the following — California and Massachusetts are used to illustrate the range of costs you could encounter:

  • Certified copies: $25 per certification plus 50 cents per page in California; $20 in Massachusetts
  • Published newspaper notice: Required by many states; $305 in the Los Angeles Times; from $23 in the Boston Globe
  • Attorney: Attorney fees could increase dramatically if someone opposes the name change; $100 to $200 per hour in rural areas; $200 to $400 per hour in cities
  • Online legal services: $29.95 for the basic package from MissNowMrs.com; $139 and up for providers such as LegalZoom
  • New U.S. birth certificate: $28 in Los Angeles; $12 in Boston
  • Driver’s license change: $27 to change your name on a driver’s license in California; $25 in Massachusetts
  • Passport name change: $0 to $165 to change a name on a passport

Private businesses charge a fee to change your name with the Social Security Administration. Save money by going directly to the SSA, which will change your name on your Social Security card for free.

Note that if you’re changing your name because you’re getting married, you should put your preferred name on the marriage license application because some states can’t amend the marriage license after it’s been issued.

Learn: 30 Biggest Tax Problems for Married Couples

Business Name Change

The cost of changing a business name also varies by state. To save money, avoid using a paid service; do what you can on your own, such as conducting your own trademark research, updating your company website and designing your logo.

Expect to pay for the following services and fees when you change the name of your business:

  • New business licenses: In California, $115 or $146, depending on the type of business; in Massachusetts, $40 to $375, depending on the type of business
  • New permits: Prices vary by industry and location
  • New website, company literature and other branding media: Prices vary
  • Legal fees: $100 to $200 an hour in rural areas; $200 to $400 an hour in cities

How to Change Your Name Legally

You can call yourself anything you like, but if you want your preferred name on your bank accounts and official documents, you’re required to obtain a legal court order. Here’s how to legally change your name.

How to Change Your Own Name

If you’re changing your name after marriage through the traditional court petition process, you can usually provide a certified copy of your marriage certificate to all the agencies that manage your official documents. If you’re getting divorced, you can request a name change as part of the divorce settlement.

For name changes for a non-traditional marriage, in the case of divorces involving children whose names are to be changed, and for all other circumstances, follow these steps:

  1. Prepare the court documents for the name change petition. You can hire an attorney or use a service like LegalZoom, which starts at $139, or MissNowMrs.com, which starts at $29.95. Or, you can cut that expense by preparing the paperwork yourself.
  2. File your petition with the court.
  3. Attend a hearing. If you hire an attorney to represent you at the hearing, expect to pay $100 to $200 per hour in rural areas or $200 to $400 per hour in cities.
  4. Publish a notice in the newspaper if your state requires it.
  5. If the judge approves your name change, get a certified copy of the judge’s order. You can save yourself the time and cost of a trip — and save money on gas — by getting certified copies on the day of your hearing, if available.
  6. Change your birth certificate and other documents by providing a certified copy of the judge’s order to the Department of Motor Vehicles (or Motor Vehicle Division or Bureau of Motor Vehicles), your bank and other institutions.

How to Change the Name of Your Business

Changing the name of a business is a bit more complicated because of all the government agencies and other entities involved. Follow these steps to make a business name change:

  1. Search the trademark database at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to ensure another business isn’t already using your preferred name.
  2. Notify your secretary of state, whose information you can find at USA.gov/business. Required paperwork varies by state.
  3. Change all licenses and permits that you filed at all levels of government.
  4. Inform the IRS of the change.
  5. Apply for a new employer identification number.
  6. Update your branding, including your website, company literature and signs.
  7. Let your customers know about the new business name.

Related: 6 Reasons to Open a Business Checking Account

Who to Notify After You’ve Changed Your Name

Once your name change is complete, you’re going to need to notify the interested parties. Here’s who you’ll need to notify after you’ve changed your name.

After a Personal Name Change

When you’ve changed your own name, notify the following people and organizations:

  • Social Security Administration
  • DMV (or MVD, etc.)
  • Post office
  • Bank, credit union or other financial entities
  • Employer
  • Doctors
  • Insurers

If you notify these parties by mail, you can save money by purchasing “forever stamps,” non-denominational postage that allows you to mail 1-ounce, first-class letters any time in the future, regardless of postage price increases.

Find Out: How to Buy a House When Your Spouse Has Terrible Credit

After a Business Name Change

Businesses also have to put the word out about their new names. Once you’ve changed the name of your business, inform the following parties:

  • Banks and lenders
  • Business credit card issuers
  • Mail and package delivery services
  • Phone and internet providers
  • Web host and designer
  • Customers
  • Vendors
  • Attorneys

You have opportunities to save money when changing your name, and it’s easier to spot them if you plan ahead. Shop around for the cheapest notary service, print your own documents instead of paying for copies, and avoid unnecessary legal fees. When you’re finished, make sure to inform the necessary parties.