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Legal Process

This website includes information about changing your legal name and/or gender in Santa Clara county.  Some of these processes require some sort of surgery while others only need a letter from a psychiatrist or physician.

** This is still a work in progress, so watch your step! **

The information contained here pertains to one person's experience and knowledge navigating the system with supplemental information from outside sources.  This is not meant to be legal advice.  If you need legal advice please seek legal counsel.

Legal Name Change
This section details how to legally change your name through the court system in Santa Clara County.  These forms and this information only apply to persons living in Santa Clara County.  While other counties will likely have similar processes it will be necessary to check with your local courts to determine any differences.

Step 1: There are five court documents that need to be filled out and filed with the Superior Court.
  • Fill out the Court documents and file them in the following order:
    1. CM-010 - Cover sheet
    2. NC-100
    3. NC-110
    4. NC-120
    5. NC-130
    6. PB-4010 (?) CLETS Background Information Form
  • If you do not want to show up to the court date, ask about having the final official documents sent to you by mail.
*Examples of these forms filled out are attached at the bottom of this page.

Step 2: A newspaper needs to be selected to run a weekly ad for four weeks regarding the legal name change.  There is a copy of a sample notice of legal name change that will be run in the newspaper under: Order to Show Cause.pdf
The court will give you a hearing date and time and with that document you can request the notice be printed in the newspaper.  The newspaper will then report back to the courthouse when the notice has run for four weeks
  • The court is not allowed to recommend which newspaper to use and you must specify the name of the newspaper when filling your paperwork.  In 2007, the court told the writer of this information that El Observador was an inexpensive newspaper that was popular for this kind of thing.
El Observador
99 N First St. Suite 100
San Jose, CA 95113

El Observador is located down the street from the downtown courthouse at the corner of St John St & W Santa Clara St

Step 3: Money!  When you file your paperwork you will need to pay a fee.  You will also have to pay for copies of your official name change to change your name with other institutions.
  • This links to the California Courts page where you can select a county (in this example it would be Santa Clara):
  • Filing the court order cost about $395.00 in 2011. The fee for each of the two copies of the legal name change documents is about $25.50, bringing the total of the two copies to $51.00.
  • If the fees are unmanageable you might want to consider applying for a fee waiver.  Use the link above and look under Waive Court Fees and Costs.

Step 4: Wait... then wait a little bit longer...  You will have to wait to hear from the court regarding their decision.  Unless there are unusual circumstances there should be nothing to worry about!  You will receive your official copies in the mail (double check with the court about the mailing when you file).It is not necessary to show up for your court hearing!

From the time of visiting the newspaper office to the time you receive your final papers, everything should be easy and straightforward. If you decided to have your final documents sent to you by email, then just wait until after the court date to have them arrive in your mailbox. Otherwise, go to the court on the day of the hearing. This is a very anticlimactic experience. (You do not stand before a judge, or anything like that.) You may show up before the time of the hearing (for example, if they told you that your time is 9:45AM on July 15th, you may show up on July 15th at 8AM and they will help you at 8AM).

Whew!  That was a long process but now you get to enjoy your new legal name!

Oh wait... there are a couple more things you need to take care of....

  • Social Security Office - Social Security Card - Do this before the DMV, because the DMV cannot help you until you have filed with SS. They will hand you a sheet of paper with the note, which will make the DMV a very easy process.
  • DMV - Driver's License
  • Passport
  • Financial institutions (banks)
  • Bills and Credit Cards
  • Telephone Company (get them to change that annoying caller ID!)
  • Birth Certificate
  • Educational Institutions (High school(s), University(ies)) - transcripts
  • Car/Life/Health/Home Insurance
  • Hospital records
  • Workplace

Legal Gender Change
No information is provided on this yet. In the meantime, please visit

Legal Assistance
No information is provided on this yet. In the meantime, please visit

Last Update: 2012.07.23 (10/14/09)
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