If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably planning on changing your legal name and/or gender marker in Vermont. If so, we want to start by congratulating you on this leg of your gender journey! Changing your legal name and/or gender marker can take a lot of time, consideration, planning, and patience…and the next steps can seem overwhelming and daunting. However, you don’t have to do it alone. Our SafeSpace Anti-Violence Program & Trans Program are here to support you through this. 

So, where to begin? 

 

First Steps

You can change your legal name without changing your gender marker, and vice versa. If you are planning on changing both, you first need to start with filing an “Order Changing Name” (aka legal name change) through your local probate court. 

Legal name changes are filed through the Vermont Probate Courts. Each county in Vermont has a probate court, so Step 1 is to identify yours by searching on this page. It’s important to know where your probate court is located because this is the location to which you will bring or mail your forms. But more on that later!

Gender marker changes used to be filed through the probate courts, but in an effort to streamline the process, they are now processed directly through the Office of Vital Records. They are located at 108 Cherry St, Burlington, VT 05401 and will accept all paperwork through the mail. 

Once you complete these two steps, you can then file changes at other institutions such as the Social Security Office and DMV (although, you do not need to change your gender marker on your birth certificate in order to change it on your license. But more on that below.) 

But first, let’s break down those steps for you!

 

Legal Name Changes – Probate Court

In order to change your legal name on most documents, you will first need a court order. To change your legal name in Vermont you will need:

  • A certified copy of your birth certificate
  • If you are married – A certified copy of your marriage certificate 
  • If you have minor (under 18) children – A certified copy of each minor’s birth certificate
  • This form 
  • Either a check for $150 or an accepted fee waiver application (see below)

How to change your legal name (from VT Law Help):

  1. Mail or bring documents to your local probate court. VT Law Help suggests that you bring an extra copy of the paperwork you submit and ask the clerk to stamp it with the filing date for your records. 
  2. The court will send you a notice with a hearing date.
  3. Plan to attend a short hearing. The judge may ask you a few questions, like confirming that nobody is forcing you to change your name. There is no opposing party. 
  4. If the judge approves your petition, they will issue an Order Changing Name.

Note: You can get a certified copy of your Vermont birth certificate from the Department of Health’s Vital Records Office. Submit an application form or apply online and pay $10 per copy requested. This process varies from state to state. If you were born outside of Vermont, you should contact your state’s Department of Health or Vital Records Office to ask about getting a copy of your birth certificate.

Once the Order Changing Name is issued, you can get a certified copy for a $5 fee at the courthouse. Having several copies is useful. If you have multiples, you will not need to wait for one agency to return a copy before you can apply to change another record. (VT Law Help

 

Legal Name Changes – Birth Certificates

After the judge issues the Order Changing Name, you can now change your legal name on your birth certificate. To do this, mail the below documents to: 

Vermont Department of Health

Vital Records

108 Cherry Street

PO Box 70

Burlington, VT 05402

Documents you’ll need (from VT Law Help):

  • Cover letter saying you want to change the name on your birth certificate
  • Certified copy of Order Changing Name
  • No specific form is required, but we recommend that you submit an Application to Correct or Amend a Vermont Birth Certificate.
  • If you would like certified copies of the updated birth certificate once issued, submit an application form and $10 per copy requested.

You can get a certified copy of your updated birth certificate if you request it and pay the $10 fee. You can call ahead (802) 863-7275 to confirm this if that feels good, as we know sending important documents by mail can be stressful. 

Note: Vermont only allows for two sex marker options on birth certificates: “male” and “female”. At this time, it is not possible to change the gender marker to reflect non-binary identities on your Vermont birth certificate. 

Fee Waiver Forms

A fee waiver form allows you to waive the filing fees involved in these processes. To be considered for a fee waiver, you must: 

  • You must complete all sections on the form. This includes information about your income, expenses, and assets, including a house, car, cash, and bank accounts.
  • You must sign the form in front of a notary, which means you swear to the truth of the information you give. The clerk at the court can serve as a notary for you.
  • You can file the application along with any other required forms needed for the type of relief you are seeking from the court.

You apply by filling out this form. If your application is denied but you cannot afford the filing fee, connect with our Trans Program Coordinator at (802) 860-7812 and we will do our best to help you. 

Gender Marker Changes

Not all documents in Vermont require you to first change the gender marker on your birth certificate (Check out the “What if I Wasn’t Born in Vermont?” section for more). If you want to change the gender marker on your birth certificate, you do so by sending the below forms to the Office of Vital Records. To do this you will need:

  • To have been born in the state of Vermont**
  • A physician’s affidavitNote: You do not need to have had surgery or hormone treatment to change the gender marker on your birth certificate. 
  • This form
  • A certified copy of your original birth certificate

You then mail these forms to the Vermont Office of Vital Records at:

Vermont Department of Health

Vital Records

108 Cherry Street

PO Box 70

Burlington, VT 05402

If the Office of Vital Records approves your application, it will process the change. If the office denies your application, you can appeal to the probate court (see below). 

 

**What if I wasn’t born in Vermont? 

If you weren’t born in Vermont, you can change your legal name on your birth certificate but not your gender marker; you can only change your gender marker by going through the process in your birth state. You can, however, change your gender marker on your Vermont driver’s license. 

To do this, you will need: 

  • A notarized letter from a therapist/doctor stating you have gone through necessary treatment
  • Name change order from the judge

You do not need an updated version of your birth certificate. They will accept your original birth certificate as long as you have the above forms. If the DMV clerk denies this, request to speak to the supervisor.

For more details, check out the DMV section of this guide.

To find information on how to change your gender marker in the in which state you were born, use this tool created by the National Center for Transgender Equality

 

If Your Application is Denied

If your application has been denied by a judge or vital records office, you have the right to appeal. You have thirty days to file a Notice of Appeal. For support around this process, check out this guide created by VT Law Help. 

Now what?

Once you have your legal name and/or gender marker changed on your birth certificate, you can now change other official documents such as your social security card and driver’s license.  

For Social Security Card: 

  • Bring the orders to your local SS office. They will make their own copies and then they will send you a new SS card in the mail.

For Driver’s License: 

  • Bring the orders to your local DMV. They will make their own copies and you will have to pay a fee for a new driver’s license. 

For more information about changing your paperwork at other institutions, check out this guide created by a PCVT volunteer.

 

For More Information

For a more extensive guide (which includes information about changing your name/gender marker with other institutions), check out this amazing guide created by a PCVT volunteer! 

Additional information can be found at VT Law Help’s website