Name Changes in Illinois

A name change in Illinois (including a change to a hyphenated surname) first involves a multi-step process with the County Circuit Court to obtain a “Judgment Order to Change of Name” (Judgment Order) from the judge that is recorded with the Clerk of the Circuit Court.  Certified copies of this document are then used to record the name change with the various governmental and nongovernmental agencies affected by a name change.  The process of obtaining the judgment order will be discussed first and then a “to do list” is provided for many of the other tasks required to record and get new documents from the various agencies and parties.

Qualifications for a name change in Illinois:

  • you have to be an Illinois resident for at least six months
  • you cannot file a name change if you have been convicted in any state of the following crimes (unless 10 years have passed since the end of your sentence or you have been pardoned):
    • any felony
    • misdemeanor criminal sexual abuse when the victim was under 18
    • misdemeanor sexual exploitation of a child
    • misdemeanor indecent solicitation of a child or an adult
    • identity theft or aggregated identity theft
  • you cannot change your name if you are required to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act

Obtaining the Judgment Order:

The process requires completion of these 4 forms or documents (3 copies of each):

  1. Notice of Filing of Petition for Change of Name.  This must be published in a county newspaper for three consecutive weeks.
  2. Petition for Change of Name.
  3. Affidavit by a witness who knows the petitioner and can swear that everything on the petition is true.  This affidavit must be notarized.
  4. Order for Change of Name (for the Judge to sign after hearing on the petition)

After the forms are completed, they’re filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court along with payment of a filing fee.  The clerk will provide a hearing date (this date should be at least eight weeks in the future, to allow time for publication of the Notice).  You then get a copy of the notice of filing to the newspaper with a request for publication.  The first date of publication must be at least six weeks before the hearing and the notice must be published for 3 consecutive weeks.  After three weeks of publication, you get a Certificate of Publication from the newspaper and take it back to the Clerk of Court.  Keep a copy to have at the hearing.  Hearings normally run smoothly, but the judge may ask questions about current identity, credit history, etc., and the reasons for the change.  If the petition is granted, the Judge will sign the Judgment Order.  You then file the order with the Clerk and get at least three certified copies (this may entail another fee) for use in changing other documents.

Post Judgment Order to do list:

The three Government documents that should be changed first are:

  1. Change your birth certificate.  If born in Illinois, you file an Affidavit for Birth Certificate Correction with the Illinois Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, provide a Certified Copy of the Judgment Order, and pay a fee of about $20 (subject to change).
  2. Get a new Social Security card (the number will remain the same) by completing a form SS5 and taking it to a local Social Security Administration office along with appropriate identification and a Certified Copy of the Judgment Order.  They will issue a new card and will notify the IRS within 10 days.  All subsequent communication with the IRS should include the new name exactly as it appears on the new Social Security card.
  3. Get a new driver’s license — by providing a photo ID with the new name, this will facilitate notifying all other agencies.  There is a statutory requirement to notify the Secretary of State within 10 days of a name change.  A name change requires an appearance at a local DMV office.  They will also require a certified copy of the Judgment Order.

After obtaining these three “Government ID” documents, you can embark on making necessary changes to all the other agencies and parties that might be affected by a name change.  A suggested list follows, though, of course, everyone’s situation is different and the list must really be individualized.  Some should be done immediately, while others may wait until you’re reminded of the necessity to make a change.  To a large degree, this is a matter of judgment.

Others to notify and suggested documents to update:

  • other “Government IDs”:
    • passport (complete DS-19)
    • voter registration (a name change requires that you re-register)
    • Illinois FOID card (a change form is filed with the State Police)
  • interests in land or real property, e.g.:
    • deeds
    • car title and registration
  • professional licenses, such as those with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
  • diplomas, transcripts and academic records
  • insurance policies and documents, especially
    • health-insurance wallet cards
    • auto (proof of insurance card should match registration)
    • life and disability insurance (make sure owner and name of the insured are correct)
    • any insurance or benefit programs for which you are the designated beneficiary should be changed to avoid any confusion
  • legal documents such as Wills, Health-care Directives, Powers of Attorney, contracts, trust documents, etc.
  • medical/dental/pharmacy records should be changed with providers
  • banks & financial institutions, especially:
    • savings and checking accounts (especially printed checks to match the new IDs)
    • CDs, stocks, bonds, and other investment documents
    • investment and brokerage accounts
  • loans, mortgages, student loans, leases, and other creditor contracts:
    • notify all credit card companies (banks, department stores, gasoline cards, etc.) to match new IDs. The credit card companies will notify the credit reporting agencies.  It’s a good idea to check with the three national credit reporting agencies several months out to verify that all of your credit information has been retained (the credit report should contain both of the names and information about the accounts under both names so that the credit history isn’t lost)
    • any apartment leases, auto leases, etc. should be changed
  • employers’ human resources department for IDs, W-2s, payroll deductions, 401(k)s and other benefits packages, etc.
  • any applicable social services or entitlements (for example disability, veterans’ benefits, etc.)
  • utility companies (telephone and cellular, cable, gas, electric, Internet, trash, water and sewer, etc.)
  • post office, home address labels, stationery, etc.
  • e-mail & social media profiles like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  • memberships (professional and otherwise)
  • frequent-flier, car rental, and hotel programs
  • subscriptions, circulation departments, mail order clubs, auto clubs, travel clubs, etc.

Note that the above only addresses recording the name change for individual purposes.  There may be business implications, depending on how a business is structured (for example sole proprietorship versus Corporation) such as documents recording ownership, officers, agent, shareholders, contact information, business permits, business accounts & documents etc. related to the business.  Depending on circumstances, there may also be family related issues such as names of spouse, minor children, adopted children, etc.  These have to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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