Below are the typical steps a Virginia resident may undergo to change their legal name and update their name and gender marker on all of their documents. Follow the sections that are relevant to you. We have listed these in the order that most commonly works for people, but you don't necessarily have to go in this order. Listed below each step of the process are the items you need to complete that step.
For a more in-depth written guide to the name and gender marker change process in Virginia, check out the Virginia Name and Gender Change Guide, published by Whitman-Walker Health and TransLAW. If you would like help with the name and gender change process, please come to one of our free monthly Name and Gender Change Clinics held at Whitman-Walker Health!
☐Submit your name change application:
WHERE TO FILE: Find the County Circuit Court House in your county.
WHAT TO FILE: Each county in Virginia has different requirements for the name change process. Call your County Circuit Court House to ask for instructions specific to your county.
Generally you will need a completed and notarized Name Change Application. You will probably also need a proposed (unsigned) Court Order. Some counties have their own Court Order forms online, others you can pick up and complete at the courthouse. Call and ask the clerk at your County Circuit Court House.
Here are the forms and requirements for a few counties that we work with frequently:
- The City of Alexandria uses the general state form. Other counties may use it as well, call to check.
- Arlington uses this form.
- Fairfax forms and instructions are listed here.
- Prince William County requirements are listed here. They require a petition to be prepared from scratch and do not accept pre-filled forms.
Follow all other instructions from your County Circuit Court House, including number of copies you must file, whether to include a proposed order or a self-addressed stamped enevelope, etc. You may also want to let them know in advance that you would like several certified copies of the court order.
FEES: Check the website of your County Circuit Court House for filing fee information.
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.
PLEASE NOTE: Any time your forms request a reason for name change you can write "This is my preferred name and I wish to obtain proper documentation."
☐ To update your name and/or gender marker with the Social Security Administration (SSA), go to to a Social Security Office (find the closest one here) with the following:
- Application for Social Security Card (available at SSA office, or online here);
- An unexpired identification document, such as driver’s license, state-issued identity card, or U.S. Passport (it is okay if your ID document includes your former name);
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status, such as a passport, birth certificate or immigration documentation; and
- If you are updating your name, a certified copy of the Court Order for Change of Name; and
- If you are updating the gender marker in your Social Security records, you can show a passport, birth certificate, or court order with the correct gender, or a signed letter on letterhead from your licensed physician certifying your gender. See the National Center for Transgender Equality's Social Security Resource for the exact language to use on your physician letter.
VA DRIVER'S LICENSE / IDENTIFICATION CARD:
☐Instructions for receiving a Gender Change Approval Letter:
If you would like to change the gender marker on your Virginia driver's license or ID card, fill out the Gender Designation Change Request and have it signed by you and your licensed provider. Fax or mail the completed form to the following address:Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
Post Office Box 27412
Richmond, VA 23269-0001
Fax: (804) 367-1604 or (804) 367-0520
Allow at least 5 days for processing. You should receive a letter in the mail approving your request for a gender change. See below for instructions on bringing the letter to the DMV.
☐To update your name and/or gender marker on your driver's license or identification:
Go to the VA Department of Motor Vehicles and bring the following documents:
- A completed Driver's License and Identification Card Application.
- If changing your name, a certified copy of your Court Order for a Name Change;
- If changing your gender marker, a Gender Change Approval Letter (see above for instructions);
- Your valid Virginia issued driver's license or identification card, if you currently hold one;
- If you are applying for a VA issued driver's license or ID card for the first time, you will also need to bring original version of the required documents from this VA DMV list of document requirements, or use their interactive Document Guide.
- Cash, check, money order, or credit card to pay the fee for a new ID.
Note: Virginia does not allow individuals who cannot prove their lawful presence in the U.S. to apply for driver’s licenses, learner’s permits, or ID cards. If you have temporary authorization to be in the U.S. and can present a valid legal presence document without an expiration date, you can obtain a limited duration license (valid for 1 year).
VA BIRTH CERTIFICATE:
If you were born in Virginia, you can change both the name and the gender marker on your birth certificate, and your old name and/or gender will not be shown on your new birth certificate. To change your name and/or gender marker on your birth certificate:
☐To apply for an updated VA birth certificate, submit the following documents to Virginia Department of Health, Division of Vital Records, Attn: Special Services Department, PO Box 1000, Richmond, VA 23218-1000:
- To change your name: a certified copy of the Court Order for Change of Name (If you live in VA, see the first step in this guidance);
- To change your gender: a certified copy of the Court Order for Change of Gender (see below for more details on obtaining this Court Order if you still reside in Virginia);
- A statement or application requesting that your birth certificate be amended.
- The required fee (more information available at the VDH website.)
☐To get a Court Order for Change of Gender
Virginia law says that a Court Order for Change of Gender may be granted "when the sex of an individual has been changed by medical procedure," and requires that a doctor certify that a medical procedure has changed your gender. (Va. Code § 32.1-269(E))
To obtain a court order for a gender change, you must petition your local circuit court for an order signed by a judge that acknowledges your gender change. Note that in Virginia there is a court-issued form for changing your gender.
Virginia courts are not specific about what medical procedure is required; the court reviews each petition on a case-by-case basis and requires only that your doctor certify that the procedure changed your sex. You or your attorney should be sure to obtain a letter from your doctor affirming that he/she has performed “a medical procedure that has changed [client’s name]’s sex” and include that letter in the filing with the court.
Call the Clerk of your local circuit court to get information about the specific requirements are for filing a petition for a court order.
☐If you were born in a state other than Virginia, please consult the National Center for Transgender Equality's ID Document Center for further information on the birth certificate policy in your state.
☐To apply to update your legal name and gender marker on an existing passport, or to get a passport for the first time, apply in person at the nearest Passport Acceptance Facility (you can search for the facility nearest you here) with the following:
- Two 2x2 inch photographs of yourself;
- Proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a previous passport or a birth certificate;
- A valid form of government-issued photo identification such as a previous passport, driver's license or state or tribal identification card;
- A completed form DS-11, Application for a U.S. Passport;
- If you are updating your gender marker, a physician certification of your gender, following the sample in the National Center for Transgender Equality's Passport Resource;
- If you are updating your name, legal documentation of name change; and
- Current applicable fees.
☐To update your legal name only when you already have a valid passport, apply by mail to the address on the form with the following:
Disclaimer: This checklist provides information for Virginia residents on the typical steps associated with changing one's name and gender on identity documents. Please note that the checklist does not include information on all laws and restrictions pertaining to these processes, and every individual may have unique name and gender change needs. This checklist is to be used as a resource only and does not constitute legal advice.