Name Change

Transgender students chosen name:
Williams offers support to transgender students who have not yet legally changed their name but would like to use a chosen name. The Registrar’s Office can arrange to have your chosen name appear in most non-private situations across the College, including email, class lists, and directories. Security can also provide you with a College ID that shows your chosen name.

Your legal name will continue to appear on legal documents like the transcript, College bills, paychecks, and financial aid reports. If you are planning to legally change your name in the future, there are advantages to doing so before you graduate. Mary Morrison, Associate Registrar, can fully describe the College’s policies, and the Davis Center staff are always here for support as well.

More on Campus Name Change policy is available at the Registrar’s Office.


To get a legal name change in MA

The information below is provided to give you a rough idea on the legal process in the State of MA to change your name. (last updated: 2/13/12)

In order to file for a legal name change, you need to go to probate/family court in your county. Probate Court locations can be found here.

Paperwork needed:

  • A certified copy of your birth certificate
  • If applicable: any previous name change decrees
  • Name Change Petition Form

Name Change Petition Form

You can get the form at the probate court, or you can download a copy of the form here.

You are the petitioner: fill in your current legal name and address

Reason for change: Some people choose to write: “common usage,” “personal” or “it’s the name that I use.”

To change your name you do NOT need:

  • to be on hormones;
  • to have surgery;
  • to have a note from a therapist.

As long as you are not changing your name in order to commit fraud, you have the right to change your name either through a court process or through “common usage.”

If you are changing your first and last name you maybe required to put a notice in the newspaper. This is a separate charge and you can usually choose which paper to use for this.

Each probate court has different process for handling name changes — in some courts you may go before a judge or before a judge’s clerk; in other courts, the judge looks at the petitioner’s paperwork outside his/her/hir presence. You may be able to finish everything that day or the Clerk’s office may ask you to return in two weeks or so. If you face difficulty changing your name as a result of a criminal record, you may wish to contact a lawyer.


The fee for a name change is $165 as of 2008 and may continue to rise over time. However, the fee should not prohibit anyone from changing their name.

Extra copies:

You will likely want to obtain several certified copies of your legal name change in order to change the documents listed below, and to change bank accounts, health insurance, student records, and any other changes you need to make.

Change your name with Social Security Office

All documents you bring to Social Security need to be originals or certified copies by the issuing agency. You can find the nearest SSA office at the Social Security website.

Paperwork needed:

  1. Fill out a Form SS-5 (download it here), “Application for a Social Security Card.” (This form is also available at SSA office)
  2. Proof of legal name change: A legal name change document, such as a court ordered name change or marriage certificate (if you changed your name through marriage). The document must have the old name and new name listed on it. If it does not have enough identifying information, SSA will request an identity document in your prior name and another in your new legal name in addition to the name change document. (Massachusetts issued court-ordered name changes list old and new name)
  3. If you were born outside of the U.S., you also need to prove your U.S. citizenship or current lawful, work-authorized immigration status.
  4. If you are a U.S. citizen and have not previously established citizenship with SSA, you will need to present a birth certificate, U.S. passport, or other proof of citizenship.

Change your name on MA state-issued ID such as driver’s license or MA ID card

All documents you bring to RMV need to be originals or certified copies by the issuing agency.

Paperwork needed:

  1. Proof of legal name change – A court order showing your legal name change.
  2. Your Social Security Card with your new legal name change
  3. Cash for the RMV fee. (check RMV site here for current fees).

Although changing your name on driver’s license is standard procedure for RMV employees, there have been some incidents where a clerk has tried to deny a name change (often through ignorance rather than malice). As long as you have all the necessary legal paperwork the employee is forbidden from denying your name change. The RMV does not have the authority to ignore a Court Order.

If the clerk denies your name change, ask to speak with a supervisor. Record the name of the clerk, date, time, and reason you were given for the denial. Record the name, date, time, and outcome of speaking with the supervisor. If the supervisor refuses to change your name, ask to speak with the RMV branch manager, and again record name, date, time and outcome.

Most of the above information is from MTPC’s Legal Name Change Kit