In this Learn About law video, attorney Kevin O'flaherty explains what is required to change a name in Illinois.
In this article...

In this article we discuss the process of legally changing your name in Illinois.

In this article, we will explain how to legally change your name in Illinois. We will answer the questions: what are the eligibility requirements for a name change in Illinois?, what forms are required for a name change in Illinois?, and what happens at a name change hearing in Illinois.  We will also explain how to publish notice of a name change in Illinois and what to do after your name has been legally changed.

There are two different processes to change your name: (1) through petition to the court; and (2) a simplified process as a result of marriage or divorce.  In this article we will focus on how to change your name through the court petition process.  If you’d like to learn how to change your name after a divorce, check out our article: How to Legally Change Your Name After a Divorce in Illinois.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for a Name Change in Illinois?

In Illinois, in order to be eligible to legally change your name:

  • You must be at least 18 years old (to learn how to change the name of a minor, check out our article: How to Legally Change a Minor’s Name in Illinois);
  • You must have resided in Illinois for at least 6 months; and
  • You are not required to register a sex offender.  

If you have convictions for a felony or certain misdemeanor sexual offenses (that do not require to register as a sex offender) on your record, you cannot change your name until 10 years have passed since the end of your sentence.

What Forms Are Required for A Name Change in Illinois?

In order to initiate the process of applying for a name change, you must fill out the following forms and submit them to the clerk of court in the county in which you reside:

  • Request for a Name Change: This form, which you can obtain from the clerk’s office, requires you to provide certain information about yourself and your reason for wanting to change your name.  The form must be signed by a witness who knows you.
  • Notice of Filing a Request for a Name Change:  This is a form that you will provide to a local newspaper that will provide the paper with the information it needs to publish notice of your name change.  
  • Order for Name Change: This is the court order that the judge will sign if he or she approves your name change, and that you will ultimately provide to government agencies to change your name on your social security card, drivers license and other documents.

When you file these forms with the clerk of court, you will be charged a filing fee and the clerk will set a hearing date for your name change petition.  The hearing date will be scheduled at least eight weeks from the date that your request for name change is filed in order to give you time to publish notice of your name change with a local newspaper.

How to Publish Notice of a Name Change in Illinois

Once you have filed your request for a name change, it is your responsibility to publish notice of your name change in a paper of general circulation in the county in which you reside.  The first date of publication must be at least 6 weeks prior to the hearing date, and the notice must run in the newspaper once a week for three consecutive weeks.  

Once the notice has been published in the newspaper for three consecutive weeks, the newspaper will provide you with a Certificate of Publication that you should file with the clerk of court prior to your hearing date.  Some newspapers may send this directly to the clerk, in which case you need not file it yourself.

What Happens at a Name Change Hearing in Illinois?

Your name change hearing will be very straightforward if all of your documents are in order.  You should bring the following documents with you:

  • Request for Name Change;
  • Notice of Filing a Request for Name Change;
  • Order for Name Change;
  • Certificate of Publication;
  • A photo ID showing your current name;
  • If you have a felony or sexual misdemeanor conviction on your record, evidence that shows that it has been 10 years since the end of your sentence.

The judge will review your documentation and may ask you a few questions about the reason for your name change or your background.  The judge will then either grant or deny your request.  

What to Do After Your Name Has Been Legally Changed

After the judge has signed your order for name change, you should update the following documents:

  • Your social security card;
  • Your driver’s license or state ID card;
  • Your passport
  • Bank accounts, retirement accounts, and insurance policies; and
  • Credit cards.

November 16, 2020
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