Eastern PA Trans Equity Project offers transgender residents of Pennsylvania with assistance with legal name changes. This includes:
If you want to learn more about the technical process for legally changing your name in Pennsylvania please review the information below
Please note: Changing your name in Pennsylvania is a legal process that requires going to court. No attorney-client relationship is formed merely by using this site, accessing the information contained here, or using the forms provided. All information is provided as-is. Please read our entire legal disclaimer at the bottom of this page.
The ability of an adult or child to obtain a change of name will depend on the facts of each case. When a transgender person asks to legally change their name they are relying on the discretion of the judge, who is assigned to hear the petition for a name change. Discretion means that the judge may make any decision that they deem necessary under the circumstances.
A name change cannot be made for fraudulent purposes, to avoid criminal conviction, if you have been convicted of a felony, or if you have claimed bankruptcy and/or have outstanding judgments.
Adult Name Changes
While transgender adults may wish to change their name to align with their gender identity, the Commonwealth is concerned that an adult may wish to change his/her name to avoid credit problems, a history of criminal acts, or use a new name to commit fraudulent acts. Therefore an adult must file a petition in the Court of Common Pleas in their county to obtain a name change. In addition, an adult is required to publicize the fact that their name is about to be changed. Instructions and forms are available on this website by clicking here.
Step One: Fingerprint Card
Obtain a fingerprint card from the Court Administrator’s Office. Once you have received the fingerprint card, take it to the Pennsylvania State Police Barracks or a municipal police department for completion. You may have to pay a fee.
Step Two: Petition and Background Check
Go to the Prothonotary or Clerk of Courts Office and ask for the forms for an adult name change. Alternatively, you may complete the forms available on this website if your county is supported.
Once you have completed the forms, take three copies of the Petition and Cover Sheet along with the completed fingerprint card, and two copies of the Order of Publication with you to the Clerk of Court at your County Courthouse.
You will next take a copy of the Name Change Petition to the Court Administrator’s Office. There you will be assigned the date, time and Courtroom for your hearing.
Step Three: Publication
Also referred to as the Notice of Hearing Order Form, or simply the Order, the Order of Publication Form must be downloaded and completed. Enter only your name at the top of the form, leaving the hearing date and judge’s signature fields blank. Provide two copies of this form to the Clerk of Courts.
After one month, and less than three months, after you file the Petition, you should receive a copy of the filled-out Notice from the Court by mail. This Notice should list the hearing date, time, and place. If you do not receive a Notice by mail shortly after one month has passed, call the clerk’s office to check on the progress of your Petition.
The notice must be published in two newspapers. You may publish the notice in a local newspaper in your county of residence or in the nearest county available. An official paper for publication of legal notices may also be used. For example, the local county bar association may have a publication for legal notices that you can use.
Proof of publication must be presented at the hearing. A copy of the notice taken from the newspaper may be submitted to the Court as proof of publication. However, if the Court finds that the publication of the notice would jeopardize the safety of the person seeking the name change, the Court can issue an order waiving the publication of the notice.
Step Four: Proof of Financial Standing
The Commonwealth is concerned that adult individuals will attempt to avoid financial obligation by changing their names. Therefore an adult petitioner must present official proof that there are no outstanding judgments against them. Official proof should consist of a judgement/lien check. This is sometimes referred to as a “name search.” In most counties this is completed, signed and sealed by the Prothonotary’s office or the Recorder of Deeds office although in some counties you may be required to hire an outside firm (Title Search Firm) to complete this step. On the day before or morning of your hearing, you should pick up a copy of the report and bring it with you to your hearing.
Step Five: The Hearing
If required, on the morning of your hearing, pick up a copy of the report of the Clerk of Judicial Records – Deeds Division.
Go to the assigned Courtroom at least 15 minutes before the scheduled hearing and wait to be called.
You need a copy of the Petition with Civil Cover Sheet, the fingerprint card, the certification from the Deeds Division and certification of publication from two local publications (e.g. newspapers and/or County Law Journal).
Dress in clothes you would wear to a job interview and appropriate to your preferred gender. Address the Judge as “Your Honor.”
The Judge may ask you why you want to change your name (Example: “I request this change of name because I am a transgender person and I would like my name to be consistent with my identity and appearance”).
Step Six: Legal Name Change Order
Assuming no one objects, the Judge should sign an order granting your petition for legal name change. It is possible that you will be able to obtain certified copies of the Order the same day. If not, you should be able to obtain them within two business days.
You will receive one copy of the Order at no charge. You should buy at least three additional certified copies as they will be needed for changing your legal identification (Social Security, Driver’s License, Passport, Birth Certificate) You may want additional copies for changing your medical records at the hospital, your bank records, your employer and various other entities with which you may need to have records changed to reflect your new name and gender.
EPTEP may be able to assist you with changing your name in Pennsylvania. This includes helping you with completing your name change documents and instructions for going to Court.:
The costs associated with completing a legal name change in Pennsylvania can vary from county to county. Costs may be reduced if the person requesting the name change completes the process themselves vs. hiring a lawyer. This is called “Pro Se” status.
If a Petitioner is financially unable to pay court fees, they may request “In Forma Pauperis” status. The Clerk of Courts or Prothonotary may assist with completing this motion.
If the Petitioner feels that their personal safety will be jeopardized by publishing the notice of their name change in their local newspapers they may request that the court waive the publication requirement. This can further reduce costs, but the Petitioner must appear before the Court and affirm that their safety would be in jeopardy.
Overall, the costs associated with a legal name change will range from $400-$600 excluding any attorney’s fees.
EPTEP offers financial assistance to qualifying candidates for legal name change. Grant may cover the full amount or a partial amount of the cost of your legal name change. To apply for a legal name change grant the applicant must be a transgender adult from Lehigh, Northampton, Monroe, Montgomery, Berks, Bucks, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Carbon, or Schuylkill County.
Disclaimer: The Eastern PA Trans Equity Project is not a provider of legal services and neither it or any of its representatives are licensed attorneys. The information contained in this website concerning name change procedures has been taken from public sources and is meant to give general information to the public for educational purposes only. All such information is provided as-is with no warranty, express or implied, regarding its accuracy. The information was obtained 1 Jan 2020, but laws, regulations and court procedures change and Eastern PA Trans Equity Project is under no obligation to monitor these changes or to update this information. It is your responsibility to seek out and comply with all applicable laws, regulation and court procedures then in effect in order to properly change your name. Please also note that the information provided is not specific to your individual situation. If you have any questions or concerns, including any questions or concerns regarding your individual circumstances, you should speak with an attorney licensed to practice law and actually practicing law in the court jurisdiction in which you live. Use of this website does not, in and of itself or in conjunction with any other circumstance, create an attorney-client relationship between you and Eastern PA Trans Equity Project or any of its representatives. By using this website, you acknowledge and consent to the above and knowingly and intentionally waive and release any claims, causes of action, losses or damages you may have against Eastern PA Trans Equity Project arising out of the information made available to you through this website.
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