Virginia | National Center for Transgender Equality

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Virginia

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 current COVID-19 public health crisis, many courts and government offices are temporarily closed or operating for emergency business only; contact the office nearest you for details. You may unfortunately experience delays in getting a response from state or federal government agencies or in the processing of your name or gender marker change requests as a result. For your safety and the safety of others you should not travel to any government office at this time. 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.

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Last updated May 2020

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

Federal IDs and Records:

Virginia Name Change Laws

To obtain a legal name change in Virginia, an applicant must submit a petition to the court. No publication is required. The application and public record can be sealed for the health and safety of the applicant and their immediate family. Individuals who are currently incarcerated or are on probation may be eligible for name change at the discretion of the court. (Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-217 (West)).

For instructions on legal name changes for minors under 18 in Virginia, see NCTE's Name Changes for Minors in Virginia resource.

Virginia Drivers License Policy & Procedures

By July 1, 2020, the Virginia DMV is expected to begin providing a gender-neutral designation option for for Virginia driver's licenses and state IDs, pursuant to Virginia Senate Bill 246. We will post more information as it is available.

In order to update name and/or gender on a Virginia ID, the applicant must submit an application for a new ID and (1) a court order certifying the name change (if applicable) and/or (2) a Gender Designation Change Request signed by a physician, psychiatrist, nurse practitioner, clinical social worker, psychologist, or professional counselor, certifying the applicant's gender identity. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles addresses name change here.

Virginia Birth Certificate Laws

By September 1, 2020, the Virginia Registrar will implement a new, simplified process and form for obtaining a new birth certificate, without the requirement for proof of a "medical procedure," pursuant to Virginia Senate Bill 657/House Bill 1041. This page will be updated as we have more information. As of April 13, 2020, we believe the Virginia Registrar is still operating under the policy described below. As of March 18, 2020, Virginia Vital Records physical office is closed until further notice, but continues to process customer mail-in applications and answer customer telephone inquiries.

The Virginia Registrar will amend an individual's birth certificate "to show the change of sex and ... a new name" upon receipt of "a certified copy of an order of a court of competent jurisdiction indicating that the sex of an individual has been changed by medical procedure" and a certified copy of the court ordered name change (if applicable). Virginia Code Ann. §§ 32.1-269.

To apply for an updated birth certificate, an applicant should submit:

  • An Application for Birth Certificate
  • A certified copy of the court ordered gender change (see instructions below) AND the petition and documentation you submitted to obtain the gender change
  • A certified copy of the court ordered name change, if applicable
  • A copy of your identification (see the application form for acceptable list of ID)
  • Payment of the applicable fee ($10 to update the certificate + $12 per each copy) made out to the State Health Department

Mail application to:

VDH, Office of Vital Records
P.O. Box 1000
Richmond, Virginia
23218-1000

How to Apply for a Court Order for Gender Change in Virginia

  1. Petition​: ​​​​​Download the Petition for Change of Sex and fill it out with the proper information, including the desired sex marker. Sign the completed Petition in front of a notary public.
  2. ​Order: ​Many VA county courts may request that along with your Petition you fill out an Order for Change of Sex.
  3. ​Letter from Provider: Attach a letter from a licensed provider indicating that the sex has been changed by medical procedure. VA law does not specify what medical procedure means, but the letter should be acceptable evidence as long as the provider certifies that the ‘sex has been changed by medical procedure’, whatever that may mean for the individual and the provider. See our Model Provider Letter (please note: this model letter is not approved by the courts and some judges may ask for additional information. Please let NCTE know what happens with the judge in your county so we can track results).
  4. ​Where to File: If you are a resident of Virginia, file the Petition and the attached letter at your local County Circuit Court House. If you are not a resident of Virginia but have a Virginia birth certificate, you may file for a court order for gender change in your current state of residence, or you may file for a court order in Virginia, in which case you would file the Petition and the attached letter at the Richmond City Circuit Court. You may send in your application via mail.
  5. ​Filing Fee: Pay the designated filing fee of $98 ($86 + $12 to have the court order served to Vital Records), payable to the Circuit Court where you are filing. Please note that if you are filing this petition at the same time as a name change petition, you will have to file two separate petitions with separate filing fees. Depending on your income, you may qualify for a waiver of the filing fee. You can use the Petition for Proceeding in Civil Case without Payment of Fees or Costs to request a waiver, and attach any financial statements or other information supporting your need for the fee waiver.

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