Name Change

Generally, under Minnesota law, people can change their legal name through marriage, divorce/legal separation, or by filing a name change action in court. 

Generally, under Minnesota law, people can change their legal name through marriage, divorce/legal separation, or by filing a name change action in court. Changing a legal name through any of those processes requires that you do specific things. The process of filing a name change action involves filling out court forms, appearing before a judge, and it may also involve notifying third-parties. If you do not understand how to fill out the forms and follow the court procedures, you should talk to a lawyer. There may also be Self Help Centers in the Courts where you could get help with the forms and court procedures.

Who May Apply for a Name Change?

Under Minnesota law, to apply for a legal name change the person must:
  • have lived in the State of Minnesota for a least six (6) months before filing the application;
  • file the Application for Name Change in the county where the applicant currently lives;
  • be at least 18 years old (a parent, legal guardian, or next-of-kin may apply on behalf of a minor child); and
  • pay the court filing fee or get a Fee Waiver if you qualify based on your low income
FRAUD: You cannot change your name to avoid paying debts, to avoid being sued, or to avoid being arrested or charged with a crime. This would be the same as having a "fraudulent intent" to change your name.

PRIVACY: With some exceptions, the public can generally access court files. Any information in your name change file will be accessible unless the court determines that the name change is made in connection with participation in a victim or witness protection program.

MINOR NAME CHANGE: Minn. Stat. § 259.10 requires that both parents have notice of an Application for Name Change of their minor child filed with the court. The applicant must show proof that the non-applicant parent(s) have been served with a Notice of Hearing, or if the non-applicant parent cannot be served, then the applicant must publish the Notice of Hearing in the legal newspaper of the county of the non-applicant parent’s last known address. If the non-applicant parent is not known, the applicant must bring a certified copy of the birth certificate to the court hearing to show the judge that the non-applicant parent’s name does not appear on the birth certificate.

How Do I Apply for a Name Change?

Download and read the complete set of Instructions for Name Change (Adult or Minor).

If you are eligible to apply for a name change in the State of Minnesota, you must file an "Application" and other forms with the District Court in the county where you live. Depending on your situation, you may also have to notify third-parties. 

File your forms with Court Administration, including the Criminal History Check Release form. You will need to pay a filing fee or request a Fee Waiver based on low income. When you file the forms with the court, the court administrator will give you a hearing date and time for when you must appear before a judge or will tell you how to schedule your hearing. NOTE: If you are asking to change the name of a minor, you must give notice of the hearing date and time to the non-applicant parent(s). Save that date on your calendar. For information on how to prepare for a hearing, see Tips for Representing Yourself if Court.

Go to court for the hearing. The applicant must bring two witnesses to appear in court who can testify about the applicant's identity. If the application for a name change is made on behalf of a minor (under the age of 18), the minor must be present at his or her court hearing.

If the judge approves the Application, the judge will sign an Order Granting Name Change. The Order will be entered into the court's record and you may get certified copies of the Order from the court administrator for a fee. NOTE: You will need certified copies of the Order to change important documents such as a driver's license, a Social Security card, and bank accounts. It is a good idea to keep at least one certified copy of the name change order with your personal records.

The judge may order you to notify certain public agencies, officials, or other third-parties about your new legal name, or you may want to do so for other purposes. See What to Do After a Name Change tab for more information on notifying others about a name change.

How Do I Change a Birth Certificate?

1.  Mistake. If the information on a birth certificate is wrong or missing because a mistake was made when the birth certificate was created, do not file an Application for Name Change with the court to have that birth certificate changed. Mistakes can be corrected through your local County Vital Statistics office or the Minnesota Department of Health. Procedures to amend (change) the birth record are available on the MN Department of Health website or by calling (651) 201-5970.
2.  Exceptional circumstances. You may file an Application for a Name Change with the court only if you can prove that there are exceptional circumstances that make changing the birth certificate necessary. You must state your reasons on your Application form and specifically ask the judge to order the Registrar of Vital Statistics (MN Dept. of Health) to change the birth certificate. You should talk with an attorney and get legal advice if you want to pursue this option.

What to do if the Applicant is Currently in Prison?

An inmate confined in a correctional facility may request a name change only one time, unless the name change would infringe on a constitutional right of an inmate. Inmates must complete an additional form called Inmate Affidavit for Name Change.
The court publishes different "Packets" of name change forms that are available on this website. Each "packet" includes a set of instructions and forms.
This page is for informational purposes only. Carefully read your court order for specific requirements in your case.

At the court hearing, if the judge granted your name change, he or she may have recommended that you notify certain agencies about your name change and get new identification cards. Listed below are some steps to take to update your personal records with your new name. If you have any questions about getting "certified' copies of the court order changing your name, contact the Court Administrator.

Follow-up Steps Required by Law:

1. Interests in land or real property
Minn. Stat. § 259.11(a) states that name change applicants must file a certified copy of the order with the County Recorder of each county where they, their spouse/domestic partner, or minor children claim an interest in land.

2. Criminal history
Minn. Stat. § 259.11(b) requires that name change applicants with a criminal history notify the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) about their name change within 10 days after being granted the name change. A person required to notify the BCA under this statute who fails to do so is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

Recommended Steps:

1. Get new identification cards.
After you change your name, it is important that you get new identification documents and notify some agencies and organizations about your new name. Each organization will have its own process for updating records. The first thing you may want to do is get a driver's license or I.D. and a Social Security card with your new name so you can show them to the organizations along with the court order granting your name change. 2. Notify agencies and organizations. 3. Update important papers.
You should also think about important papers that have your name on them, like titles to motor vehicles, wills, health care directives, power of attorney documents, etc. You may want to update those documents with your new name to avoid any confusion in the future.

Change or Correct a Minnesota Birth Certificate

If the information on a Minnesota birth certificate is wrong or missing because a mistake was made when the birth certificate was created, you can try to correct the mistake by contacting your local County Vital Statistics office or the Minnesota Department of Health. Procedures to amend (change) the birth record are available on the MN Dept. of Health website or by calling (651) 201-5970.

If there was not a mistake, but you think there are exceptional circumstances for changing the birth certificate now, you may file an Application for a Name Change with the court, but you must specifically request on the application that the judge order that the birth certificate be changed. You should get legal advice on what exceptional circumstances justify a change to a Minnesota birth certificate.
If you are representing yourself in a name change case, you are responsible for following the same laws and rules as an attorney. Read Rights and Duties of Self-Represented Parties.  The following is a list of some of the laws and rules on name change in Minnesota. See also Laws, Rules & Legal Research.

Laws & Rules on Name Change

You should talk with a lawyer to get advice on how the laws and rules may affect your case.