General: Changing Your Identity in North Carolina (FAQs)
Authored By: Legal Aid of North Carolina
How Do I Legally Change My Name in North Carolina? +
Changing your name is a legal process that you can do yourself or you can have an attorney do for you. The following information and sample legal forms are provided for your convenience. You should contact an attorney if you have any questions about legally changing your name.
- A Notice of Intent to Change Name must be filed in by a Civil Clerk and posted on the courthouse bulletin board for ten (10) consecutive calendar days. If the 10th day falls on a weekend or a holiday, you must allow the notice to remain posted until the following business day at 5:00 pm. You should keep a copy of your clocked notice in case the one posted is lost or taken off the board.
Please note: Under North Carolina law, you are only allowed to change your name once, with the exception of resuming your former name.
- After your notice has been posted for ten days, you will file your Petition and your two (2) Affidavits of Good Character in the Civil Clerk’s office. (See enclosed Petition and Affidavit of Good Character). The Affidavits of Good Character must be signed by non-related persons who reside in the county where you are filing the documents. This should also be the county in which you reside. The Petition and Affidavits of Good Character must be signed in front of a notary public or they will not be accepted for filing. Call the Clerk’s office to ask whether someone there can serve as the notary public.
- Once your documents have been reviewed by the Clerk’s office, the Clerk will sign an official Order and Certificate of Name Change in triplicate. A true copy will be mailed to you. A copy will remain in the court file. Do not date or sign the order.
Can I Change My Child’s Name? +
Under NC law, one parent cannot change the name of a minor child without the consent of the other parent if both parents are living. A minor child older than 16 years old may change her/his name with the consent of the parent who has custody without obtaining the consent of the other parent if the clerk is satisfied that the other parent has abandoned the minor. To determine abandonment, the clerk may attempt to reach the other parent.
If you have questions or concerns about this process, please contact an attorney.
Can I Get a New Social Security Number? +
In 1998, the Social Security Administration (SSA) began a new policy of helping battered women acquire new Social Security Numbers (SSNs). If the SSA representative at the Social Security office is not aware of the current policy for assigning new SSNs in domestic violence situations, refer the representative to Program Operations Manual System chapter RM 00205.
You must apply for a new SSN in person at any Social Security office. You can find the nearest office in your local phone book, on the Social Security Administration website www.ssa.gov, or by calling 1.800.772.1213.
The SSA office will help you complete:
- A statement explaining why you need a new number, and
- An application for a new number
You will need to present:
- Original documents establishing your age, identity, and U.S. citizenship or lawful alient status, such as a birth certificate and a driver's license;
- One or more documents identifying you by BOTH your old and new names (e.g., a copy of the clerk's order);
- Evidence you may have documenting the domestic abuse (e.g. police or medical reports, protective order, letters from a shelter, family member, friend, or others who have knowledge of the domestic violence); and
- If you are requesting nes SSNs for your children, you will need to present evidence that you have legal custody of the children.
*BE ADVISED: Changing your identity, including your SSN, may have certain negative impacts, including:
• Inability to get a passport due to the lack of having a birth certificate under your new identity
• Difficulties or delays in receiving federal/state benefits, such as disability, SSI
• Difficulty trying to prove past abuse if past medical records and court papers are in a different name