District Of Columbia | National Center for Transgender Equality

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District Of Columbia

Welcome to our one-stop hub for name and gender change information. Find out how to update your name and gender on state and federal IDs and records. 

COVID-19 disruptions: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many courts and government offices have made significant changes to their operating procedures. This may cause delays in the processing of your name or gender marker change requests as a result. Contact your local court or other government offices for more details. You should keep dated copies of any materials you submit by mail or electronically. We understand this is a hardship for many, and we encourage you to reach out for support if you are distressed.

Not sure where to start? Here's a quick overview.

Please note that we are no longer accepting applications for the Name Change Program, but you can find information on how to update your legal name in this guide.

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Last updated November 2021

Name Change, Driver's License & Birth Certificate Policies in:

Federal IDs and Records:

District Of Columbia Name Change Laws

Name Changes for Adults

Overview:

The name change process for an adult requires filing an Application for Change of Name of an Adult at the DC Superior Court. Applicants will be required to show proof of DC residency and photo identification. There is no requirement to publish notice of the name change, though applicants are required to notify their creditors and other interested parties directly via certified mail.

At the time of filing, the applicant will be notified of their hearing date. Hearings are typically brief, and on occasion the judge may simply sign the name change order on the hearing date without requiring the applicant to appear before them.

Whitman-Walker Health offers step-by-step guidance on the process in their Name & Gender Change Guide for Residents of Washington, DC

 

Step 1: Fill out Application for Change of Name of an Adult

The Application for Change of Name of an Adult packet is available from the DC Superior Court. The file consists of three pages of instructions, the 4-page application, the Order and Notice of Final Hearing (copies of which will be sent to creditors), the Order for Change of Name (which is what the judge will sign on the hearing date), and the Affidavits/Declarations of Service by Mail and Personal Service (which the applicant will have to return with on their hearing date).

The applicant should wait to sign the application until they are in front of the court clerk at the courthouse.

The fee to file a name change with the DC Superior Court is $60.00. Applicants may submit an Application to Proceed without Prepayment of Costs, Fees, or Security to request a waiver of this fee. (Note that if the applicant receives any of the public benefits listed in questions 1 and 2, they will qualify for a fee waiver and do not need to fill out the rest of the form.)

 

Step 2: Gather Documents

In addition to the application packet filled out in Step 1, the applicant will be required show a copy of their birth certificate, an unexpired photo ID (driver's license, state/DC ID card, or passport), and proof of DC residency. If the applicant has an unexpired DC driver's license or ID card with their current address, that is the easiest proof of residency. If the applicant does not have this, however, they will need to find other documents to provide proof, such as:

  • Utility bill (water, gas, electric, etc.) issued within the last 60 days
  • Telephone bill issued within the last 60 days
  • DC property tax bill issued within the last 12 months
  • Pay stub or W-2
  • Bank statement issued within the last 60 days

 

​If the applicant does not have any qualifying documents to prove residency, they should contact Whitman-Walker Health Legal Services at (202) 939-7627 to discuss other options.

If the applicant's current legal name does not match that on their birth certificate, they should also provide certified copies of the court order(s), marriage license(s), divorce decree(s), and/or other documents that made these changes. If the applicant's original birth certificate is in a language other than English, they should also provide a certified translation into English.

 

Step 3: File with the Superior Court

The applicant should take their completed application packet, all supporting documents, and filing fee to:

Judge-in-Chambers
Superior Court of the District of Columbia
Room 4220
500 Indiana Ave. NW
Washington, DC 
20001

The applicant should sign the application once they are in front of the clerk to file their paperwork.

The clerk will assign a hearing date, which will be indicated on the Order and Notice of Final Hearing. The applicant will receive a copy of the signed Application and Order and Notice to take with them.

 

Step 4: Notify Creditors and Other Interested Parties

The applicant should make enough photocopies of the Application and the Order and Notice to send a copy to all of their creditors, as well as any other interested parties (e.g. a parole office, or the court in an ongoing lawsuit or bankruptcy proceeding). Examples of creditors and interested parties are listed in items 15-20 in the instructions on pages 2 and 3 of the application packet. 

Notification must be sent via USPS Certified Mail with Return Receipt, and costs $7.33 for each notice. It is important to keep the tracking number for each notice as proof that they have been sent, in case the receipt cards are not returned by the hearing. The applicant should retain the return receipt cards as they arrive, and submit them along with a completed Affidavit/Declaration of Service by Mail. Notices must be sent within ten days of the filing date.

 

Step 5: Attend the Hearing

At their hearing date, the applicant should check in with the clerk and show that they have their return receipts from Step 4 as well as the Affidavit/Declaration of Service by Mail.

Name change hearings in DC Superior Court are usually fairly brief and relatively informal, and if the name change is approved, the applicant will leave the hearing with a signed copy of their Order for Change of Name.  They may proceed with updating their identity documents.

The most common reason for name changes to be denied in DC is because of procedural problems with the notification requirement in Step 4. Typically, if a receipt has not been returned to the applicant in time, or if there is another procedural problem with the name change, the case will be "continued" and a new hearing date set. The applicant will have another opportunity to provide notification to interested parties prior to the new hearing date.

Last updated December 2021
 

 

Name Changes for Minors

Overview:

A name change for a minor (under the age of 18) must be filed by the minor's parent or guardian on their behalf. The parent must file an Application for Change of Name of a Minor at the DC Superior Court. The parent will be required to show proof of the minor's DC residency and photo identification. There is no requirement to publish notice of the name change, though applicants are required to notify their creditors and other interested parties directly via certified mail.

The non-filing parent's consent to the name change is required by filling out a Consent to the Request For Change of Name (included in the name change packet). If one parent is missing or absent, the filing parent must complete an affidavit form provided by the court outlining the steps taken to locate the missing/absent individual. If there is an open Family Court case, an ongoing child support order, or an open Civil Protection Order concerning the minor, that will affect how the court assigns the case. In those situations, the minor and their parent or guardian should consult an attorney before filing.

At the time of filing, the parent will be notified of their hearing date. Hearings are typically brief, and on occasion the judge may simply sign the name change order on the hearing date without requiring either the parent or the child to appear before them.

Whitman-Walker Health offers step-by-step guidance on the process in their Name & Gender Change Guide for Residents of Washington, DC

 

Step 1: Fill out Application for Change of Name of a Minor

The Application for Change of Name of a Minor packet is available from the DC Superior Court. The file consists of three pages of instructions, the 4-page application, the Consent to the Request For Change of Name, the Order and Notice of Final Hearing (copies of which will be sent to creditors), the Order for Change of Name (which is what the judge will sign on the hearing date), and the Affidavits/Declarations of Service by Mail and Personal Service (which the applicant will have to return with on their hearing date).

The non-filing parent must fill out the Consent to the Request For Change of Name. If the non-filing parent is absent or otherwise unavailable, the filing parent must complete an affidavit form provided by the court outlining the steps taken to locate the missing/absent individual.

The parent should wait to sign the application until they are in front of the court clerk at the courthouse.

The fee to file a name change with the DC Superior Court is $60.00. Filing parents may submit an Application to Proceed without Prepayment of Costs, Fees, or Security to request a waiver of this fee. (Note that if the parent receives any of the public benefits listed in questions 1 and 2, they will qualify for a fee waiver and do not need to fill out the rest of the form.)

 

Step 2: Gather Documents

In addition to the application packet filled out in Step 1, the parent will be required show a certified copy of the minor's birth certificate, an unexpired photo ID (driver's license, state/DC ID card, or passport), and proof of the minor's DC residency. If the applicant has an unexpired DC driver's license or ID card with their current address, that is the easiest proof of residency. If the applicant does not have this, however, they will need to find other documents to provide proof, such as:

  • Utility bill (water, gas, electric, etc.) issued within the last 60 days
  • Telephone bill issued within the last 60 days
  • DC property tax bill issued within the last 12 months
  • Pay stub or W-2
  • Bank statement issued within the last 60 days

 

​If the parent and minor do not have any qualifying documents to prove residency, they should contact Whitman-Walker Health Legal Services at (202) 939-7627 to discuss other options.

If the minor's current legal name does not match that on their birth certificate, they should also provide certified copies of the court order(s), marriage license(s), divorce decree(s), and/or other documents that made these changes. If the applicant's original birth certificate is in a language other than English, they should also provide a certified translation into English.

 

Step 3: File with the Superior Court

The parent and minor should take the completed application packet, all supporting documents, and filing fee to:

Family Court Central Intake Center
Superior Court of the District of Columbia
Room JM-520
500 Indiana Ave. NW
Washington, DC 
20001

The parent should sign the application once they are in front of the clerk to file their paperwork.

The clerk will assign a hearing date, which will be indicated on the Order and Notice of Final Hearing. The parent will receive a copy of the signed Application and Order and Notice to take with them.

 

Step 4: Notify Creditors and Other Interested Parties

The parent and minor should make enough photocopies of the Application and the Order and Notice to send a copy to all of the minor's creditors (if any), as well as any other interested parties (e.g. a parole office, or the court in an ongoing lawsuit or bankruptcy proceeding). Examples of creditors and interested parties are listed in items 17-23 in the instructions on pages 2 and 3 of the application packet. 

Notification must be sent via USPS Certified Mail with Return Receipt, and costs $7.33 for each notice. It is important to keep the tracking number for each notice as proof that they have been sent, in case the receipt cards are not returned by the hearing. The parent should retain the return receipt cards as they arrive, and submit them along with a completed Affidavit/Declaration of Service by Mail. Notices must be sent within ten days of the filing date.

 

Step 5: Attend the Hearing

At the hearing date, the parent and minor should check in with the clerk and show that they have their return receipts from Step 4 as well as the Affidavit/Declaration of Service by Mail.

Name change hearings in DC Superior Court are usually fairly brief and relatively informal, and if the name change is approved, the applicant will leave the hearing with a signed copy of their Order for Change of Name.  They may proceed with updating their identity documents.

The most common reason for name changes to be denied in DC is because of procedural problems with the notification requirement in Step 4. Typically, if a receipt has not been returned in time, or if there is another procedural problem with the name change, the case will be "continued" and a new hearing date set. The parent and minor will have another opportunity to provide notification to interested parties prior to the new hearing date.

Last updated December 2021

District Of Columbia Drivers License Policy & Procedures

Overview:

In order to update the name on a DC ID, the applicant must first change their name with the Social Security Administration. For more information on that process, visit the Social Security Record section of the ID Documents Center. Once the Social Security records have been updated, the applicant must then submit their Order for Change of Name (or other court-ordered name change) to a DC DMV location. The DC Department of Motor Vehicles addresses name changes here.

In order to update the gender on a DC ID, the applicant must select M (male), F (female), or X (unspecified/other) on a DC Driver License or Identification Card Application. No other documentation is required.

 

Step 1: Gather Documents

In order to update the name and/or gender on a District of Columbia ID or Driver License, the applicant must submit the following to the DMV:

  • A completed DC Driver License or Identification Card Application form indicating Male, Female, or Unspecified
  • Appropriate documentation of identity, proof of lawful presence (e.g., United States citizenship or lawful presence as required by federal law), proof of DC residency, ability to drive, etc (use the Document Verification Guide to determine what documents are necessary)
  • If changing the legal name, a certified court order for name change (please note applicant must change their legal name with Social Security before visiting the DMV)
  • Appropriate fee ($47 for first-time or renewal, $20 for a duplicate)
 
Step 2: Visit DMV Location

The applicant must take their completed application and all supporting documents to a DC DMV service center.  A list of centers is available here.

Last updated December 2021

District Of Columbia Birth Certificate Laws

The District of Columbia Department of Health will amend the gender on a birth certificate upon receipt of:

  1. Birth Certificate Gender Designation Application Form, and
  2. Statement of Licensed Healthcare Provider Certifying the Applicant's Gender Change, signed by a licensed provider, attesting that the individual "has undergone surgical, hormonal or other treatment appropriate for the individual for the purpose of gender transition based on contemporary medical standards or the individual has an intersex condition." 

D.C. Code § 7-210. Both forms are available here.

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