Changing Your Name in Iowa

Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid LSC Funded

If you would like to legally change you or your child’s name, there are certain steps you must take.  These steps vary depending on whether the name change is for an adult or a child.

Name Change for Adults:

There are three ways for an adult to change his or her name. 

First, an adult can change their name after they are married by completing a marriage license.  You may apply for such a license at your local county recorder’s office. 

  • You, your future spouse, and a witness who is 18 years old or older must be present and have photo IDs to fill out the application. 
  • There is also a $35 fee. 
  • Once the marriage ceremony has been performed and the completed Certificate of Marriage has been returned to the Recorder’s office, you will receive a certified copy that you will then use to update your Social Security card, driver’s license, etc.

Second, an adult may change their name as part of a divorce proceeding. 

  • This usually happens when a divorcing spouse wants to return to her maiden name.  In a divorce, a person can only change his or her name back to the name that appears on their birth certificate or to a legal name taken as part of an earlier marriage. 

The last option is for an adult to file a petition for name change in district court.  The petition must include the following information:

  • the person's current name;
  • description of the person; including height, weight, hair and eye color, sex,
  • place and date of birth;
  • the person’s place of residence(s) for the past five years;
  • reason for request;
  • the legal description of all real estate in Iowa owned or in which the person has any legal interest; and
  • the new name the person wants

A certified copy of the person’s birth certificate must also be attached to the person’s petition.  There is a court filing fee of $185 to begin the case.  The petition must be served on the person’s spouse if he or she is married, which will be at a cost determined by the local sheriff.  The Judicial Branch’s website has made a form Petition for Name Change (Adult) available to the public for free.  This form can be filled out and filed with the District Court clerk.  The form may be found at:


Be aware that a person’s name may only be changed once by filing a petition in District Court unless a very good reason can be given to the judge.  This limit does not apply to a name change in a divorce proceeding.

Name Change for Minor Children:

The name change process for minor children is similar to that of adults.  There are two ways to change a minor child’s name. 

  • The first is through either a pending custody action for the child, or a pending divorce action for the child’s parents. 
  • The second option is for the child’s parent to file a petition for name change with the District Court clerk. 
  • The filing fee to do so is also $185.  The petition must include:
    • the child’s current name and county where he or she lives;
    • a brief statement why the name change is being requested;
    • the child’s desired name; 
    • the petitioner’s name and relationship to the child;
    • a description of the child; including height, weight, hair and eye color, race, sex, place and date of birth
    • the current address for the child; and 
    • every place the child has lived since birth.

A certified copy of the child’s birth certificate must be attached to the petition.  If the child is fourteen years of age or older, the petition must include the child’s written consent to the name change.  If the child is under fourteen years old, both parents must file their written consent to the name change.  If one parent does not consent, the court will set a hearing.  At the hearing, the court may waive the need for both parents’ consent if it finds one of the following:

  • The parent has abandoned the child;

  • The parent has failed, without a good reason, to support the child or contribute financially for the child’s birth; or

  • The parent does not object to the name change after receiving proper notice. 

The Iowa Courts website has made a form Petition for Change of Name of Minor Child available to the public for free.  The form may be found at:

Next Steps:

After you change your name, there are several steps you should take to change the rest of your records.  First, you should update your birth certificate.  If you were born in Iowa, both adults and minors must complete an “Abstract to Change Registrant’s Legal Name on Birth Certificate.”  You may obtain the form by calling Iowa Vital Records at (515) 281-4944.  The completed form must be signed by the District Clerk of Court.  You then need to send the form, a certified copy of the court order changing the name, and $20 (check or money order) to the Iowa Department of Health.  The processing time is approximately 4-6 weeks.

Second, you need to update your Social Security card.  To do so, you must have a completed Form SS-5 (available at, proof of your U.S. citizenship (if not already on file or lawful U.S. presence (e.g. citizenship certificate, working visa and 1-94 print out, U.S. passport), certified copy of your name change order, and proof of identity.  Proof of identity may be a driver’s license, state-issued identification card, U.S. passport, employer ID card, school ID, health insurance card, or U.S. military ID.  You may mail these documents to Social Security Administration (SSA) or take them to your local office.  It typically takes about 14 business days for SSA to mail your new card.

Third, you should change your name on any Iowa driver’s license or photo ID you may have.  You will need a certified copy of your updated birth certificate, Social Security card, and two documents that establish your residency in Iowa (e.g. utility bill, bank statement, credit/debit card statement, piece of mail that includes a postmark, Iowa ID card that has not been expired for more than one year).  There is a $10 fee.  Contact your local Department of Transportation (DOT) office for more information and office hours.

Lastly, you should update all other records to reflect your name change.  This may include your health insurance and doctors, bank accounts, utility companies, post office, voter registration, etc. 

  • Iowa Legal Aid provides help to low-income Iowans. 

    • To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:call 800-532-1275. 

    • Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161 or 

    • apply online at

If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website   A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.

*As you read this information, remember this article is not a substitute for legal advice. 


Iowa Courts Information and Forms for Name Change:

Last Review and Update: Oct 10, 2017

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