How to Change Your Name on Your Drivers License in California
If you recently changed your name due to a marriage, divorce or other circumstance, you are legally required to update your drivers license. Typically, you cannot complete a drivers license name change online. Most states require you to visit a DMV office in person with a marriage certificate, divorce certificate or court order. Nevertheless, it is important to know exactly what documents you need to bring and what fees you need to pay during the transaction. To help you be fully prepared for the process, our informative guide contains all the details you need to know to update your driving license with your new name. You will also get information on drivers license renewal, replacement and other important procedures.
2. By Mail
Certain states allow drivers to update their names on their drivers licenses via mail. If your state offers this method, you will need to send your completed application, payment (via check or money order), proof of ID and proof of name change to your local DMV. Some states may have additional rules regarding what documents you can and cannot send via mail, such as whether documents can be copies or originals, and whether such copies must be notarized. Mail-in name change requests typically take the longest to process, and delays are common if the DMV discovers mistakes on the application.
3. In Person at a DMV Office
Most states require you to visit a DMV office in person in order to change your name on your drivers license. Before you do this, you will have to update your name with the Social Security Administration (SSA). It can take a few days for the SSA to process your request. When visiting the DMV to change your name, you must make sure to have all the proper identifying documents, including proof of your name change. This can include court orders, marriage certificates and divorce decrees. Note that not having all of the required documents, forms and payment will result in a rejected application.
Motorists must apply for a drivers license name change in California through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). However, before drivers may change name on driving license documents, they must change their name with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The DMV verifies the legal modification with the SSA before issuing a new drivers license.
During the DMV name change process motorists must surrender their current driver license to the motor vehicle office and submit payment for the application fee. To learn more about how to change name on drivers license materials including documents such as identification cards, review the sections below.
Instances Where You Must Change Your Name on Your California Drivers License
Motorists must apply for a change of name on driving license documents as soon as possible after they change their legal name. For instance, drivers must change the name on a CA driving license if they meet any of the following conditions:
- Motorists changed their name due to a marriage or divorce
- Drivers change their name due to a legal separation
- Motorists undergo a gender change and choose to change their legal name
- Petitioners file a name change action in court
Note: In instances such as these, you must change the name on your driving license and on your Social Security card. However, before you may complete a driving license name change through the DMV, you must update your name with the SSA and apply for a new Social Security card.
California Drivers License Name Change Time Limits
There is no time limit to changing your name on driving license documents in the state of California. However, you must apply for a DMV name change as soon as possible after the legal change of name occurs to avoid possible discrepancies with your driving record and to avoid delays in receiving DMV-related renewal notices. Additionally, you must change your name with the SSA to ensure that your Social Security earnings remain accurate.
How to Change Your Name with the Social Security Administration
Before changing name on drivers license materials or identification cards, a motorist must change his or her name with the SSA. Before the DMV processes the drivers license name change, the division uses the applicant’s name, Social Security Number (SSN) and birth date to electronically verify the name change with the SSA.
If a driver does not change his or her name with the SSA, then the DMV cannot issue a new drivers license. For this reason, a driver must change his or her name with the SSA as soon as possible after the name change occurs. To apply for a California change of name with the SSA, an applicant must complete the following steps:
- Complete an application for a Social Security card
- Obtain proof of the legal name change (such as a court order, marriage certificate or divorce decree) and submit it along with proof identity
- Mail the application materials to a local Social Security branch or submit all documentation in person
Note: If you attempt to perform a DMV name change in CA but the information you provide does not verify with the information on file with the SSA, then the DMV will mail you a Request for Verification Information Letter.
How to Change Your Name on Your Drivers License in Person
After you change your name with the SSA, you must wait at least 24 hours before changing your identification details with the DMV and requesting a replacement license card. When it comes to changing your name on driving license materials, you must complete the process in person at a DMV office. You cannot complete a by-mail or online driver license name change when changing identification information. To expedite the name change on drivers license process, the DMV recommends making an appointment before heading in.
When you visit a DMV office to change the name on your driving license, you must provide the motor vehicle office with an original or certified copy of a birth date or legal presence document as well as a true full name document. In most cases, drivers who apply for a driving license name change must submit one of the following true full name documents:
- A legal name change document that displays the name of the applicant before and after the legal name change
- A marriage certificate or dissolution of marriage document
- Adoption documents
- A certificate or registration document to verify domestic partnership
When changing the name on your CA drivers license, you must also provide a thumbprint, take a new drivers license photo, pay the application fee and surrender your current drivers license. When requesting a DMV name change, you must also complete an application, which may differ depending on if you have a regular or commercial driver license. If you hold a commercial drivers license, then you must complete a 10-year history record check and you must obtain a medical examiner’s certificate. You may obtain any of these DMV change of name applications in person at a DMV branch or by requesting an application through the mail using the automated telephone service at 1-800-777-0133.
Note: After you apply to change name on driving license materials, the DMV provides you with a temporary drivers license with a 90-day validity period.
California DMV Name Change Fees
When changing the name on your CA drivers license, you must pay a fee of $28 for Class C, M1, M2, commercial or noncommercial Class A or B licenses.
Note: There is no fee to modify a senior citizen ID card or a Social Security card.