Note: I am not a lawyer; I am a nerd with a blog. This information could be out of date, inapplicable to your nuancèd situation, or I could have even got some of it wrong. I won’t mock you by suggesting you hire a lawyer (if you were a zillionare you wouldn’t have Googled this), but be sure to check any “facts” I claim before acting on them, double-check them before spending any money acting on them, and triple-check them before submitting potentially binding legal documents based on them.


To change your name on your driver’s license in Alabama without any extenuating circumstances (not getting married, no native tribal government OKing the change, etc.) will cost about $90, including materials; not including whatever you value your own time at; not including replacement certificates for various personal achievements. I vaguely recommend doing things in this order:

  1. Expect to spend about ~$2.00 on postage and printing in total.
  2. A court order for name change costs about ~$37.00, depending on your county of residence. (Madison County was the only one of the few I checked that publishes the fee on their website.)
    • The court (no matter which county) will permanently confiscate the official copy of your birth certificate you submit with the request!
    • Madison County included 3 official copies of the order by default, and the clerk said I could request further official copies @$2.00/ea at any time if needed. YMMV.
      • (I mailed in the form; when it was approved, they called me and gave me the option to pick up the order in person or to receive it back by mail; I went in-person.)
    • A few counties do not use the state-wide standard PS‒12 form; check with your probate court to be sure.
    • If not amending the birth certificate, make doubly sure to always keep an official copy of this court order with your birth certificate.
  3. Amending the birth certificate will cost about ~$20.00.
    • This is NOT strictly necessary! You can save around ~$5.00 to $10.00 by just getting a non-modified duplicate instead!
    • The requirements and pricing can vary significantly depending on your birth locality, especially if amending. Either use this page to find yours or just Google it.
    • If amending, see “Catch-22” below for further complications. If not amending and you don't already have a spare copy, go ahead and send off for a duplicate right now, before requesting a name change court order.
  4. Updating your Social Security card is free.
    • Provided you’re not changing your sex (note that per RM 10212.200 (B)(2)(i)(b), the SSA does not yet allow an “X” marker), you can fill out the information online beforehand to make the physical appointment go a bit quicker and shorten your in-person wait.
      • I did this in-person; I think you can mail in the SS‒5 instead. If you go the mail-in route, don’t fill out the online form; that’s only a precursor for an in-person visit.
    • I only needed to present my current ID, and the court order for the change. (I’m not completely sure why they didn’t require my birth certificate. Perhaps having a Star ID matters?)
    • The confirmation letter they give you is not accepted by the Alabama DMV as proof that the SSA has updated your name, since it doesn’t feature your SSN. If you’re visiting the SSA in-person, and don’t want to wait for the new social security card in the mail before proceeding to the DMV for a new ID card, make sure to request a SSNAP Printout (reportedly pronounced “snap printout”) of the SSA name change during this visit!
      • I was not able to find this tidbit on either department’s website; I had to find it out the hard way — by playing Telephone / Fetch Quest between the two offices over the course of an afternoon. (You’re welcome!)
  5. Replacement ID (“Duplicate Driver’s License”) will be $31.25.
    • If you’re <180 days from expiry, add +$5.00 to the cost, for a “renewal” instead of a “duplicate”.
    • If you’re paying with debit/credit, add +$1.25 to the cost.
    • You are not allowed to use the online or mail-in duplicate/renewal options when changing your name. You may, however, make an appointment online. They’re usually booked out 2~4 weeks.
      • (Specific to the Huntsville/Church Street office:) When you arrive, there may be many people standing around in a line waiting. Walk past them and get a ticket from the clerk; then you can actually start waiting “productively”!
      • There are some DMV offices not listed on the appointment tool. These “secret” walk-in-only offices usually have extremely short waits, since the average person doesn’t know they exist.
    • You’ll need to bring your current ID, the court order, and your social security card. (They also did not ask for my birth certificate; I’m also unsure the reason in this case.)
      • If impatiently bringing your non-amended social security card, remember to bring the SSNAP printout!
    • Update your voter registration while you’re in there! (The clerk will probably remind you of this.)
  6. With your court order plus updated ID in hand, you should now be “armed” to handle “the rest”. Quick list of ideas to jog your memory:
    • Mortgage, Car Title
    • Bank (investment accounts? paypal or similar?)
    • Other Utilities (Phone, Internet, Electricity, Mailbox, Landlord)
      • Huntsville Utilities demands 2 forms of ID + 1 substantiating document if you attempt to file the change online or by-mail. However, if you just stop by their office in-person, they only require 1 form of ID, and no substantiating documentation. YMMV.
      • USPS per se should be notified if you have residential mail service at all (even if you use a non-USPS mailbox as your primary mail service), so that they can properly deliver any mail which is slightly mis-addressed to your residential address and is in your new name.
    • Car/Home Insurance (they may care to see the respective title deed’s been updated)
    • Health Insurance (lol)
    • Doctor/Dentist/etc. (can likely just update these guys on an as-you-see-them basis; they may care to see any relevant insurance cards updated)
    • School/Employer (employment alternatives? LLC / self-employment paperwork?)
    • “Extra” IDs (passport? TSA Pre or similar?)
      • if working in contracting: customer IDs? system access agreements? VARs?
    • Physical certificates (e.g. degrees?)
    • Online certs?
      • CompTIA name change requires a “Score Report” which you have to access from this portal if you didn’t keep the piece of paper after the test (or don’t want to bother scanning it in). You'll browse to CompTIA Login > Manage Exams > Manage Your Exams > My Exams > (right column) My account > View Score Reports.
    • Professional societies?
    • Cheques? Return address labels?
    • E-mail account “From” field?
    • [Other things that come up?]


Between amending the birth certificate and getting the court order for name change, there’s a bit of a pinch:

  1. If you attempt to amend the BC before getting the CO, then (depending on your state of birth) you might be denied for lack of supporting documentation; this could cause annoyance, waste a lot of time and effort, and waste the application fee. There are 3 ways out of this:
    1. Happen to have been born in a state like New Mexico, which seemingly doesn’t require supporting “legal documentation” to amend a birth certificate, but rather allows “at-will” changes. (The name change process has been merged into the “gender designation change” form, which does not list any evidentiary requirements beyond the will of the person in question. It might be the case that name changes are only accepted in conjunction with a gender designation change, but I cannot confirm this. If it is the case, then you might be able to “cheese” the system a bit by burning your birth sex over to an “X” marker as a legal “legitimation of” (excuse for) the BC name change. I would be interested to hear specifics from people who’ve tried this.)
    2. Choose not to amend the name on your birth certificate; only order an unamended duplicate of your existing one to give to the court.
      • I went with this option. Personally, I’d recommend it for general-purpose “vanity” name changes as an adult.
      • If you go this route, you can optionally compress the timeline by sending off for the name change and duplicate/replacement BC at the same time. (Be sure to copy all existing deets off the BC for your own reference beforehand!)
    3. Get the CO before amending the BC.
  2. If you aim to amend the BC after getting the CO, you will be stuck with these 3 painful choices:
    1. Simply let the court have your only official copy of your birth certificate.
      • Be very careful not to misplace your driver’s license in the (potentially doubly-long) interim, if you go this route.
      • Be doubly sure to copy the existing deets off it for your own reference before sending it off.
    2. Happen to already posses a spare official copy of your birth certificate.
    3. Waste $10.00~$15.00 ordering an arguably unnecessary spare official copy of your birth certificate, with your “old” name on it.

“Muh Common Law?”

Let’s say that you don’t want to get the court order. Maybe you’re a sovereign citizen or currently entertaining their psychological impulse. Maybe you live in Madison County and want to avoid spending 37 bucks. Maybe you have some other reason. Whatever. Here’s what I’ve found so far:

First: other states may be more flexible, but in Alabama, you absolutely cannot get a new state ID (“Driver’s License”) until you’ve updated your name with the SSA.

Second: the SSA does not accept name changes without proof of the “name change event” per se (RM 10212.010).

Third: Per RM 10212.165 (H) (and, indirectly, RM 10212.010), the SSA does not currently consider even a common-law-amended state ID to be “evidence” of a ”name change event”; it requires something to attest the change, and their hypothetical Annette Martin’s amended (non-Alabamian) ID card doesn’t link the old and new names together in any way. (It’s unclear whether they would accept two ID cards from the same state issued with the same number but different names as evidence of the change; I couldn’t find policy or anecdote either way on this point, but would be willing to bet it’d not be accepted until or unless the policy’s updated to allow that specifically.)

Fourth: If you are able to amend your birth certificate at-will, and want to use it in lieu of a court order to bootstrap changes to your Social Security card and state ID card, the SSA has published inconsistent and unclear documentation on whether this’d work. RM 10212.001 and the online informational page imply an amended birth certificate would work; Publication No. 05-10513 implies it won’t. The clerk I spoke with in-person said that an amended birth certificate wouldn’t be accepted. But oSSNAP, the online alternative to SS‒5, explicitly names an amended birth certificate as an option for this proof, though SS‒5 itself is ambiguous. Most annoyingly, RM 10212.095RM 10212.090 (which identify themselves as containing the bottom-line answer to this question) are also unclear. (Or maybe I just have poor reading comprehension.)

(The Alabama DMV’s documentation on supporting documents they allow/require to accompany the proof-of-change-with-SSA is even more sparse.)

In any case, I was not able to find solid anecdotes online about lodging name changes with either the SSA or Alabama DMV without a court order, adoption, or marriage documentation; if you have any experience trying this, let me know and I’ll update this post!

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