How to Change the Name on a California Drivers License

A drivers license name change must occur when you change your legal name in California. To change name on driving license credentials, you will visit a California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office and apply. You cannot change your name online for any DMV services. Before you can complete a DMV name change in California, however, you must first change your name with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The DMV will only complete a change of name on driving license credentials if you present documents showing that your name has already legally changed. Changing your name at the SSA and DMV is important, because you will not be legally recognized by your new name until you complete these steps. To save time when changing your name on driving license credentials, you must bring documents that show your new legal name. The DMV will verify these documents with SSA records, which is why you must change your name with the SSA first. Find information you need to know about completing drivers license name changes in CA by reviewing the sections below. You can also download our comprehensive guide, which provides in-depth instructions for changing your name on your CA drivers license.

Social Security Requirements for CA DMV Name Changes

Before changing name on drivers license credentials, visit an SSA office in CA. Similar to a driving license name change, you cannot change your name with the SSA online. You may, however, mail the required documents to the SSA if you are comfortable doing so.

You may change your name on your driving license in California because of a marriage, divorce, court order or for other reasons. A name change is not legal unless it is processed by the SSA, and the name change only becomes official when you apply for a new Social Security card. You can start by filling out the appropriate forms, and then you will have to mail or bring your application and name change documents to a local Social Security office. Your Social Security Number does not change if you update your name.

Many of the documents required for a CA DMV name change are the same as those required by the SSA. Acceptable SSA and CA DMV name change documents may include a document showing your U.S. citizenship, a document verifying the reason for your name change and a current, unexpired form of identification. You can download our comprehensive guide to find specific examples of acceptable name change documents.

You may complete a name change on drivers license credentials by visiting a CA DMV office if your name change application is accepted by the SSA. If you need to change the name on your drivers license in California, but you are ineligible for a Social Security Number, you may be exempt from the DMV Social Security requirements, as long as you are legally present in the United States.

How to Change Name on Drivers License Cards in CA

CA DMV name changes can only be completed in person. This is because changing your name on driving license credentials requires that you complete several steps that can only be done in person. Note that you must update your name on car registration documents separately, as this transaction only applies to your drivers license. To change your name on your California drivers license, you must:

  • Change your name at the SSA by following the steps detailed above.
  • Fill out the appropriate DMV forms.
  • Provide legal evidence supporting your name change.
  • Pay an application fee.
  • Surrender the drivers license with your former name.

Make a driving license name change appointment for faster service, or visit a CA DMV Driver License Processing Center, which accepts walk-ins without an appointment. When applying to change the name on your drivers license in California, you will give a thumb print and have a new picture taken. After applying, the DMV will issue temporary drivers license credentials that you may use for up to 90 days. A drivers license showing your CA DMV name change will arrive in the mail. You may check the status of your new license if you have not received it within 60 days to ensure that your application is being processed.

When changing your name on a drivers license in CA, the DMV will not be able to issue a new license if your identity cannot be verified. If documents for your drivers license name change are not accepted, you may be required to return later with additional documents supporting your identity.

CA DMV Name Change Requirements for True Full Names

For any DMV name change in California, you are required to use your true full name. When changing your name on a drivers license for any reason, your true legal name will be displayed on your card. A true full name is the name that appears on your birth certificate, legal presence documents or the legal documents you present to support a name change. These documents are the same ones used by the SSA to verify a name change.