How Long Will a Name Change Take?
|State||Time to Complete|
|AZ||30 days or less|
|DE||6 months or longer|
|MD||Up to 8 weeks or longer|
Before you file your name change, you probably want to know how long it takes to get the name change approved by the court. The “Time to Complete” listed for each state is only a loose estimate, because there are many factors that can affect the approval time for a name change.
In order to even file your name change with the court, you must meet the residency requirements of the state in which you wish to file. All states require the person filing for a name change to be a resident of that state (often six months and sometimes for as long as a year) before filing for a name change. If you don’t meet the residency requirements for your state, you will have to wait until you do in order to file your name change.
Fingerprints and/or Background Check
Some states require adults to get fingerprinted and either submit the fingerprint card when you file for your name change, or to get fingerprinted and also have a background check completed before you can file for a name change. Depending on the court, background checks can take anywhere from a week to more than a month to complete.
- Colorado – requires fingerprinting and an FBI background check prior to filing for a name change.
- Florida – requires fingerprinting and a state/federal background check prior to filing for a name change.
- Michigan – requires fingerprinting and a background check (for anyone 22 years of age or older) after filing the Petition to Change Name with the court. The court may decide to wait for the results of the background check before issuing a hearing date.
- South Carolina – requires fingerprinting and a background check prior to filing for a name change. Also required are a screening statement from the Department of Social Services, and a sex offender search.
- Texas – requires fingerprinting. The fingerprint card will be filed with the court when you file for a name change.
Publishing the Name Change
Most states require you to publish a notice of your intended name change. Publishing the notice allows any creditors or other interested parties time to object to the name change, should they decide to do so. Publication requirements vary from state to state, and sometimes county to county. Some courts require you to publish the notice and let it run for a certain amount of time prior to filing for a name change. Other courts allow you to file for the name change first, and then complete the publication requirements.
Attending a Hearing
Some states will also require a hearing before your name change is approved. This requirement varies greatly from state to state, county by county, even judge to judge. When you file your application/petition for a name change and a hearing is required, the court clerk will either schedule your name change hearing at that time, or will mail you a hearing notice at a later date. Some courts will even require you to publish notice of your hearing so that anyone objecting to your name change can appear in court to testify.
Heavy Court Caseloads
If the court where you are filing your name change is experiencing heavy court caseloads (more than normal cases being filed around the same time), it can cause delays in processing times, and can take longer to get a hearing date, if one is required. In this case, there’s not much you can do, but wait it out.
Know What to Expect: Contact the Court Clerk
For the most accurate information, you can contact the Court Clerk at the court where you will file your name change, and ask the following information:
- How long are name changes currently taking?
- Are fingerprints and a background check required?
- What (if any) are the publication requirements?
- Is a hearing required?
To know what court to contact, see: Name Change Filing Courts