Pennsylvania Name Change Requirements

Note for residents of Allegheny or Lancaster Counties: Our documents are designed to meet state requirements for requesting a name change. While most of our customers have used our documents successfully in Allegheny and Lancaster counties, there have been reports that some courts reject the documents and require the petitioners to use the court-supplied name change documents. Before proceeding creating your documents through our questionnaire, you may want to check with your local court clerk or Prothonotary’s office to learn more about local forms and filing procedures.

Note for adult petitioning for a change of surname (last name): You cannot use our documents if you are requesting a change of last name for yourself and you are also a parent or adoptive parent of a minor child. Your local court clerk or Prothonotary's office can assist you with special procedures relating to this circumstance. (Reference: Pursuant to section 703, sub-sections (a) of the Pennsylvania statutes (Title 54, Chapter 7), as a "General rule" - Whenever an order is made under this chapter changing the surname of anyone who is at the time thereof the parent of a minor child or adopted minor child, then under the care of such parent, the new surname of such parent shall, unless otherwise ordered by the Court, thereafter be borne likewise by such minor child. Pursuant to sub-section (b) of this same section, "Further change on attaining majority" - Any minor child whose surname has been changed pursuant to subsection (a) upon attaining majority shall also be entitled to the benefits of section 702 (relating to change by order of court).)

Note for adult petitioning for a change of surname (last name): due to divorce or current divorce action: Separate, simpler name change procedures exist. Your local court clerk or Prothonotary’s office can assist you with special procedures relating to this circumstance.

General Summary of Name Change Laws

The Courts are often willing to accept name changes for almost any legitimate reason. However, the granting of an application for change of name is discretionary with the Court. For an order/decree/judgment of name change to be granted, the Court must find compliance with the requirements of notice and the requirements for the allegations in the application. The Court must also find good and sufficient reason for the change, find the change consistent with the public interest and if the change of name is for a minor child, find that the change is in the best interests of the minor child.

You cannot change your name for a fraudulent purpose, such as to avoid debts, you cannot change to a name that could affect the rights of another person, such as a celebrity, you cannot use a curse word, racial slur, obscene and/or an offensive word as part of your name and you cannot change to a name that would cause deliberate confusion (for example, a name with punctuation and/or a number in it).

IMPORTANT NOTE: For name change actions which involve a minor, courts typically seek written consent from every adult who retains legal rights over the minor. As such, the applicant must directly notify each of these parties (Service of Process).

Again, please remember, our name change materials are designed to cover simple, uncontested name changes ONLY. Our products/services should not be used if you have been convicted of a felony, have claimed bankruptcy and/or have judgments/liens against you. Instead, you should consider contacting an attorney in your area. These circumstances could cause complications, which may result in your action being denied and/or contested.

Overview of Process in Pennsylvania for an Adult

In Pennsylvania, the process for obtaining a name change for an adult begins with the filing of a Petition to Change Name which sets forth the reasons for the change with the Court of Common Pleas in the jurisdiction in which the adult resides. The Petitioner must attach to the Petition a certified copy of their birth certificate as well as an official set of the Petitioner's fingerprints. The Prothonotary/Clerk shall transmit the fingerprints along with a copy of the Petition to Change Name to the Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository. After the Petition has been filed, the Court requires that a notice be published to announce the Petition to the public. A Hearing date will be set for a day within three months of the filing. After these requirements have been met, the Petitioner shall appear before the court at the Hearing to offer proof of these efforts. The Court will hear any objections to the Petition offered by third parties and review the Petition. If everything is in order and the Court agrees to the intent and nature of the Petition, the Court will sign an Order making the name change official.

NOTE: Procedure slightly differs in Philadelphia County and as such we offer separate name change materials for an adult in said County.

Overview of the Required Steps for an Adult in Pennsylvania

Here are the basic steps involved in changing an adult's name (NOTE: Procedure slightly differs in Philadelphia County and as such we offer separate name change materials for an adult in said County.):

  1. Fill out or have us complete all of the Adobe ".PDF" fillable forms included.
  2. Print all of the forms, including multiple copies of certain forms if needed.
  3. All necessary signatures must be witnessed and notarized by a Notary Public.
  4. Make arrangements to have your fingerprints taken.
  5. File the necessary forms with your local Court of Common Pleas. At this time, you will also submit a set of fingerprints to your local courthouse for transmittal to the Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository.
  6. Pay the filing fee.
  7. Make arrangements to publish in your local newspaper a notice of the proposed name change (only if required by your local jurisdiction ' most jurisdictions require this).
  8. Appear in person before the Court as necessary (most cases involve a hearing).

Overview of Process in Pennsylvania for a Minor

In Pennsylvania, the process for obtaining a name change for a minor begins with the filing of a Petition to Change Name of a Minor which sets forth the reasons for the change, by the parent, guardian or custodian of the minor, with the Court of Common Pleas in the jurisdiction in which the minor resides. The Petitioner must attach to the Petition a certified copy of the child's birth certificate as well as an official set of the minor's fingerprints. The Prothonotary/Clerk shall transmit the fingerprints along with a copy of the Petition to Change Name of a Minor to the Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository. After the Petition has been filed, the Court requires that a notice be published to announce the Petition to the public. A Hearing date will be set for a date within three months of the original filing.

During the interim, any adult who has a legal right to notification of the Petition (such as a parent, legal guardian/custodian, etc.) shall be given proper direct notice by the Petitioner. This is referred to as Service of Process. IMPORTANT NOTE: You may be able to speed up and/or eliminate the service process by also filing a parental Consent Form with the Court. This form is included in our name change materials. Please consult your local Prothonotary or Clerk to obtain the local requirements and information on the availability of using this form.

After these requirements have been met, the Petitioner and minor shall appear before the court at the hearing to offer proof of these efforts. The Court will hear any objections to the Petition offered by third parties and review the Petition. If everything is in order and the Court agrees to the intent and nature of the Petition, the Court will sign an Order making the name change official.

Overview of the Required Steps for a Minor in Pennsylvania

Here are the basic steps involved in changing a child's name:

  1. Fill out or have us complete all of the Adobe ".PDF" fillable forms included.
  2. Print all of the forms, including multiple copies of certain forms if needed.
  3. All necessary signatures must be witnessed and notarized by a Notary Public.
  4. Make arrangements to have the minor child's fingerprints taken.
  5. File the necessary forms with your local Court of Common Pleas. At this time, you will also submit a set of fingerprints (for the minor child) to your local courthouse for transmittal to the Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository.
  6. Pay the filing fee.
  7. Make arrangements to publish in your local newspaper(s) a notice of the proposed name change of a minor child (only if required by your local jurisdiction ' most jurisdictions require this).
  8. Notify parties who have a legal right to direct notification (service of process).
  9. Appear in person with the minor child before the Court as necessary (most cases involve a hearing).

Pennsylvania Name Change Forms

Self-Prepared

Adult Name Change $29.95
Minor Name Change $29.95

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