ID Documents | Rhode Island
The Transgender ID Project is a free resource for transgender people living in New England who want to update their legal name and gender marker on state and federal documents.
How do I obtain a legal name change in Rhode Island?
Luckily for Rhode Islanders who wish to make a name change, there are relatively few steps involved in this process compared to most states. Furthermore, the State’s statutes are quite lenient when it comes to naming change laws. Judges are quick to approve name change petitions and sometimes will even sign a name change decree without having the petitioner attend a court hearing.
Step 1 – Complete Name Change Petition
Download the Name Change Petition (Form PC-8.1) and enter all the appropriate
information except for your signature – this must be done in the presence of a notary.
The Decree section at the bottom of the form will be filled out by the judge if the name
change is approved.
Step 2 – Have the Petition Notarized
The Petition must be signed in front of a notary public. You can ask your city or town
clerk for a referral, or even visit your bank. (If you have a personal account you may not
be charged a notarization fee.)
Step 3 – File Petition
Attach a copy of your birth certificate to Form PC-8.1 and visit your local city or town
clerk/probate court to file your petition. The fees involved in filing a name change
petition vary by city/town, but it is usually less than $100. The court clerk will provide a
date for you to come back to the courthouse and either attend a hearing or pick up your
signed decree. This date is usually about thirty (30) days from the filing date.
Step 4 – Background Check
Once the petition has been filed, a Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) report may be
required; visit your city or town clerk to learn how this is handled. Some courts may
have local law enforcement do the BCI check, or one may be requested through the RI
Attorney General’s Office. After receiving the BCI report, attach it to the petition so the
judge can look it over.
Step 5 – Publish Notice (If Applicable)
There is no law that requires you to publish a notice declaring your name change in
your local newspaper; however, the court where you filed your petition may require that
you do so. Ask the court clerk if this is a necessary step and, if it is, find out whether the
court will advertise on your behalf or if you must contact a local newspaper yourself.
Notify them of your current name and proposed name change so they can run an ad in
their next issue. Ask them to send you proof of publication so you can bring it to your
We suggest you ask the court to waive this requirement to protect your privacy.
Step 6 – Attend Hearing
Unless the judge has already signed the decree approving your name change, you will
be asked to visit the courthouse again to attend a hearing in front of the judge. (Bring
proof of publication, if applicable.) The judge may ask you a couple of questions, or they
may just want you to give an official statement. If they grant the change of name, they
will sign the Decree section of the Petition Form. Have the clerk make certified copies of
the Decree so you can change your name on any legal documentation.
Name Change for a Minor
A name change for a minor follows the steps above, but both parents must consent to the name change. Judges may consider whether to grant a name change for a minor according to what is in the ‘best interests of the child’.
They typically evaluate the best interest of the child by looking at a variety of factors, which may include the child’s preference (taking into consideration their age and experience), the length of time a child has used that name, the difficulties, harassment, or embarrassment a child may experience from the present or proposed name, and the motives or interests of the parent.
To demonstrate that the name change is in the best interests of the child, along with the name change petition you may want to submit evidence showing the judge why this is in the child’s best interest. Examples of such evidence would be letters from teachers, family, or friends confirming their use of preferred name, letters from providers confirming the child’s gender identity, etc.
How do I change the name and gender on my Rhode Island driver’s license?
Here are the instructions for changing name and gender on a Rhode Island driver’s license or identification card: https://dmv.ri.gov/licenses-permits-ids/drivers- licenses/name-address-change.
If you are changing your name, you must first change it on your Social Security card. It will take at least 24 hours for changes at Social Security to become effective for the DMV to process your transaction.
You must complete the following form: file:///C:/Users/gsbwb/Downloads/license-app-with-checklist-2022-01-28.pdf and go in person to your local DMV office with the
completed application and the required documentation, which for a non-REAL ID includes:
● If you’re changing your name, a certified name change order from a court (it
doesn’t need to be a Rhode Island court) and a Social Security card with your
● If you’re changing your gender you must submit a completed Gender Designation
form: https://dmv.ri.gov/sites/g/files/xkgbur556/files/documents/forms/license/gender_d. You can self-attest your gender, and so you don’t need a letter from a medical provider. Also, Rhode Island allows you to choose “M,” “F,” or a non-binary “X.”
● One document from the “Proof of Identity Document List.”
● Two documents from the “Proof of Residency Document List.”
NOTE: Beginning May 3, 2023, if you want to use a state ID to fly domestically or enter a federal building, it will need to be a REAL ID. In addition to the requirements above, to get a REAL ID your “Proof of Identity Document” must also show that you are either a U.S. citizen, Permanent Resident or have some other proof of lawful residence. Here is the list of permissible documents: file:///C:/Users/gsbwb/Downloads/real-id-
identification-documents-checklist-2021-12.pdf. For more information about obtaining a
RI REAL ID, see: https://dmv.ri.gov/licenses-permits-ids/real-id.
If I was born in Rhode Island, how do I change the name and gender on my birth certificate?
To change your name on a Rhode Island Birth Certificate:
o Download the Application for a Certified Copy of a Birth Record here.
o Box 1: Fill in all requested information. After “New name if changed in
court”, fill in with your current legal name.
o Box 2: Indicate that you are requesting your own birth certificate.
o Box 3 asks “Why do you need this record?”. Check the “other use” box
and specify you are seeking to have the name on your birth certificate
updated to match your court ordered name change.
● Name change court order (certified copy)
o This is the official name change order you received from your local
o You must provide the Office of Vital Records with a certified copy, not a
photocopy. This document will eventually be mailed back to you after your
request is processed.
● Photocopy of a form of photo ID
o Accepted forms of photo IDs can include your driver’s license, state ID,
US passport, military ID, certificate of naturalization, or alien registration
● Payment ($35.00):
o $10.00 to process the change to your birth certificate
o $25.00 to mail you an updated version of your birth certificate
o Payment can be made by check or money order, payable to “General
Treasurer of RI”.
To update the gender marker on a Rhode Island Birth Certificate to “M,” “F,” or non-binary “X”:
You will need to contact the Office of Vital Records to prepare an affidavit for you. This can be done at the same time as updating the name on your RI birth certificate. As of March 2021, medical documentation is no longer required to update the gender marker on your RI birth certificate.
Contact the Office of Vital Records by phone or by email:
● By phone: (401) 222-5339
● By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inform the Office of Vital Records you are seeking to change the gender marker on your
RI birth certificate and that you are requesting an affidavit.
● Tell them the gender marker currently on your birth certificate and the gender
marker you are seeking to change to.
● Give them key biographical information, including name at birth, updated legal
name, date of birth, and place of birth.
A sample script for email or phone call is provided below:
I am seeking to change the gender marker in the sex field on my Rhode Island birth certificate from (M/F) to (M/F/X). I am writing to request that your office prepare an affidavit for me to sign to initiate this process.
My key biographical information is:
Name at Birth:
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Please contact me at (phone number) or (email address) with any questions.
After this request, the Office of Vital Records will prepare a formal affidavit for you. They will send you a copy via email or mail.
Where can I get help changing my name and gender on various ID documents?
The Transgender ID Document Project is a joint project of GLAD, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), and law firms Ropes & Gray LLP and Goodwin. It matches a resident from any of the six New England states with a pro bono (free) attorney at one of these law firms. However, because of the popularity of the program, it may be several weeks before you are contacted by an attorney from one of these firms. For more information and to apply for the Project, go to: https://www.glad.org/id/.
However, in most cases, by using the information and forms provided here, you can update these documents fairly easily on your own without the assistance of an attorney.