What do Katy Perry, John Legend, Miley Cyrus, Faith Hill, Elton John, and Bruno Mars have in common? They all use names different names than the ones they were given at birth! From Peter Gene Hernandez to Bruno Mars, John Roger Stevens to John Legend, and Reginald Kenneth Dwight to Elton John, celebrities often change their names to something they feel better suits them. If you want to live like a celebrity, you can, even outside of the “big city lights” of Hollywood. By following several easy steps, you can legally change your name.
Each state has its own procedures in place to legally change one’s name, so make sure to check your own state’s rules. In North Carolina, there are several easy steps you must follow, which can be found in N.C.G.S. § 101-3 and § 101-5. First, you have to give the court a ten day notice of your intention to change your name. After the ten days have passed, you must file an application for a name change in the county where you live. The application must contain several key items: your true name, the county where you were born, your date of birth, your parents’ full names, the name you want to become your own, your reasons for changing your name, and your proof of good character.
In addition, you must also include a criminal history record check. You’ll need a sworn statement where you confirm you live in the county in which you are filing to change your name, as well as a sworn statement saying you do not have any outstanding tax or child support obligations. Wake County, North Carolina, for example, requires you to be fingerprinted along with obtaining a national criminal history record check, so make sure to look to your own county’s requirements and steps for obtaining these documents. Finally, you must include any previous name changes you have had. It’s important to know you can only change your name once, with only a few exceptions; be sure to choose a name that you want to keep long-term! “Lady Gaga” may sound good to you now, but you should be sure your name can “survive the times” as you get older.
If you are a minor, you can change your name, too. While you generally need consent from both of your parents, if you are sixteen or older, one parent’s consent may suffice if you satisfy one of the conditions in N.C.G.S. § 101-2(d). Wake County, for example, waives the affidavit of character for children under sixteen, so make sure to check your county requirements for the differences in changing a minor’s name. Also, if you have been married and want to change your current last name back to your maiden name, you do not have to follow these steps. Check N.C.G.S. § 101-8 and N.C.G.S. § 50-12 for your name change requirements. Finally, the steps listed above do not apply to adoption proceedings.
While not everyone can be on television or play sold out concerts every night, you can still experience a piece of “celebrity life” simply by changing your name, by following the few, easy steps your county requires.