How Does a Legal Name Change Affect Obtaining a Real ID?

Have you changed your legal name and are thinking of starting the process of obtaining a Real ID? Well, you should be prepared for what could potentially become a long and tedious process. But it doesn’t have to be.

An often-repeated set of question that arise have to do with how a legal name change would affect the Real ID application process. Does the application itself become compromised because of a legal name change? Is it okay to continue the process when there is a pending legal decision with regards to a name change?

Wondering what’s required to apply for a Real ID? Click here.

Here’s a cursory look into the process and what is required.

The simple answer is, yes, the application does become impacted by a legal name change. The person applying will have to make sure their name is legally verified before moving forward with the process. Otherwise, the application will be denied because the name isn’t going to go through the legal name verification systems as intended.

So, what can a person do when they are in this situation?

For most people, it would be as simple as finding the right documents and moving forward from there. Start with your birth certificate. A legal name change can be verified with something as straight forward as a citizenship or marriage certificate, if they were done correctly. If you don’t have a proper name change document like those, it is also possible to have a court-ordered document such as the one certifying a divorce maiden name restoration, and using that to prove a legal name change. With one of these two documents, the Real ID application can go through as intended.

The key is to have documentation showing your legal name, including every name change document, right up to the name you’re using now.

However, what happens if you don’t have one of these documents? Then it is very important to move forward with an application to the correct state court, in order to file for a legal name change. The court will require that you complete forms, pay a fee (or use a fee waiver for qualifying low income situations), and comply with other requirements. You can have someone knowledgeable on services like changing a Real ID Name Identification  help you. At the end of the court process, you’ll get a Name Change Court Order, upon approval. Then you can confidently move forward with getting your Real ID.

You should be prepared for it to take some time, so start as soon as possible. However, there are instances where the system works smoothly, and things move along at a reasonable pace – especially if the right documentation is in place and in order. If the conditions are right, in most cases the government agency will ensure that everything goes ahead smoothly and the application is verified quickly.

Remember, a properly certified legal name change is an essential component to the Real ID acquisition process if your ID and Official Records show different names for you and you don’t have the connecting name change documents. Real ID is used to provide additional security at airports for you and everyone else. Of course, we all recognize that in most cases legal name changes are proper and an acceptable personal decision. But let’s be realistic, we all want to feel sure that each person’s identity has been properly checked in air travel (and certain other) situations when that checking can potentially pose a security risk to society if not done carefully and thoroughly.

So, in conclusion, if you plan on getting a Real-ID, and there is a legal name change involved, start soon and make sure your name and identity documents are in order as soon as possible. If they are already, and the Real ID application is submitted, it should go through on time and without any glitches. If not, leave yourself time to get the name change document you might need. Your number one goal should be to begin the process with all relevant documents in hand and get this done as soon as possible. Planning well and starting early will keep you away from the large crowds who will wait until the last minute.

For more information on Real ID Compliance, visit and see what’s required.

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