How to Change My Last Name for Free

There are numerous reasons for a person to change her last name, the most common of which is due to a change in marital status. The process is not difficult and can be done for free in most states. While the requirements vary by state, some common steps can make the process more efficient.

Obtain a legal name-change document. This is a marriage certificate, divorce decree or official name-change order by a court of law. If you are getting married or divorced, the name-change process is almost automatic.

Request a legal name change. If you are changing your name (or a minor's name) for any reason other than marriage or divorce, and you do not have a name-change document, you must request one via a petition to your local courthouse. The court will decide whether to grant the name change. Procedures for this process vary from state to state. Contact the county clerk or an attorney for information on specific requirements.

Notify your local government office and professional organizations (employer) of your name change. Start with the Social Security office, and then use the Social Security card issued to secure a new driver's license at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). If you travel extensively, you will also want to update your passport. Use your new government-issued ID and Social Security card to change the name on file with your employer, banks and insurance providers.