There are several reasons for changing a name---marriage, adoption and divorce are a few. The trail of documents we leave behind as we grow up and live our lives makes changing your name a bit more complex and creates a further series of follow-up changes to be made in order for life to go smoothly. Each legal name change requires documentation, a fee or both; by the time you've finished, it can cost several hundred dollars, so it's best to plan carefully before setting out to change your name.
Your name given at birth is immediately entered on two legal documents---a birth certificate and a Social Security account. Birth certificates on which the names are changed for adoptions require motions to be filed with a state or county civil court, often requiring a filing fee of £65 or more. Corrections or name changes can be made to a Social Security account for free using form SS-5.
Throughout childhood and adolescence, names are entered on documents by schools, employers and organisations, such as churches. The only documents from this group on which we may wish or need to change our names are school or college transcripts, where the school or an employer may require it. Generally, all that is needed is a copy of a court order, marriage certificate or other legal document with the name change. Most institutions demanding name changes do so for organizational reasons and make the change without a fee.
The documents that we accumulate as adults often cost some money to change. A marriage certificate or divorce decree can be used in most states to serve as legal change of name (events that vary widely in expense but almost always cost more than the filing fee for a name change in a civil court). As we accumulate licenses, each requires alteration with each name change. Vehicle registrations, driver licenses, registrations and identification cards may have amendment fees of £16 or less to change your name, or cost the same as a new license, depending on the state.
Identification procedures have changed in most states due to Universal ID regulations issued by the federal government. Changing names on any document or license may require certified copies of documents and identification with photographs that may add the cost of procuring and mailing these documents.
International travellers or tourists need to change names on their passports using Form DS-5504 or DS-82; correction or changes of names after 60 days of initial issuance costs £39, and expedited service requires an extra fee. Name changes on insurance policies and professional bonds generally require no fees. Brokers and CPAs generally handle name changes on financial instruments as part of their professional services.
Every time you change your name, you create a new "alias" and leave documents in your wake. Whenever your name is entered in a database, such as those used by law enforcement and credit bureaus, the other name or names you changed are reported as "aka" or "also known as."
A simple name change initiated by a marriage or divorce can cost fewer than £65 if there are no licenses or passports to change. Depending on the state, though, change of name by court order, including changes to passport, licenses and miscellaneous document retrieval, with attorney or other professional fees can end up costing £325 or more. Changing your name can be expensive and is not a task to be taken lightly.