When you change your name for real—not just on social media or a dating app—it can be confusing, exciting, and stressful all at once. 

A new name is very much an identity marker. It’s more than just a label; it’s something that comes up in almost every other interaction you have with other people. You need to start thinking about getting a new identity as soon as you know that you want to go through with it. 

Now, obtaining a new identity means you must deal with several complex legal issues. Many practical considerations must be dealt with to get a new identity. This can be a cumbersome and challenging process.

This article answers frequently asked questions about obtaining a new identity. 

Note that this is not intended as legal advice but as helpful information regarding what you need to know if you’re looking to take on a new name, appearance, or persona.

Let’s get started.

1. What Is a “New Identity” 

A new identity is a complete transformation of your current persona, including your name, appearance, and all relevant identifying information. 

A new identity is a fresh start. It’s a clean slate and an opportunity to be whoever you want to be. A new identity can help you feel empowered and give you control over your life. You no longer have to carry the baggage from the past or be defined by your current circumstances. 

New identities are anything that helps you break away from the old you and become a better version of yourself. Changing your habits, interests, hobbies, career path, friends, or even just how you view yourself can all work towards helping you create a new identity so that you can move forward with confidence and positivity.

The more time we spend trying to figure out who we are as people instead of what we look like or where we come from will make us happier in the long run.

2. Why Might I Need One?

There are many reasons for wanting an identity change. The most common reason is for personal safety and protection. This is often the case when a person is fleeing an abusive partner or escaping from a dangerous situation such as human trafficking.

For example, if you have a stalker and have already taken all relevant legal actions to protect yourself and are living in a safe environment, but you are still being stalked, you may decide to get a new identity to sever all ties with the person who is stalking you. This protects you from having any further contact with your stalker. 

Similarly, if you’re in witness protection or you have a criminal past that you’d like to leave behind, a new identity is an option that can help you to start fresh. 

Some people are also looking to change their identity to have protection under the law. This is often the case in countries where LGBTQ+ people are persecuted and facing discrimination or violence. In this case, trans or non-binary people may wish to change their name and identity to gain legal protection.

3. How Do I Get a New Identity?

You'll need to undergo an Identity Transition process to get a new identity. This can entail a legal name change and/or a change of appearance. 

Different transitions have different requirements and create different types of documentation. The process of obtaining a new identity generally begins with a court application for a name or identity change. This is usually made to the court in the jurisdiction where the person resides.

This paperwork will inform the court that you intend to receive a new identity and will include information about why you’re requesting a new identity. The data will be in the form of supporting documentation such as a letter from a therapist, psychiatrist, or doctor outlining the reasons for the change. 

There are also legal criteria that must be met to change identity. For example, an applicant must show that a name change is in their best interest and that it is not for fraudulent or unlawful purposes. 

After filing your paperwork with the court, you’ll be required to provide supporting documentation such as fingerprints, photographs, and a written explanation of why you are requesting a new identity. 

The application will then be heard by a judge who will decide based on the application and supporting documents. If the judge grants the application, the person will be issued a legal change of name certificate. This certificate is then sent to various government agencies to change the person’s identity.  

It’s also important to note that you may be required to pay court costs for the process. However, there are a few exceptions to this. For example, if you are a victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault, you may be able to get a new identity without paying court costs.

4. Do I Need An Attorney To Help Me Get a New Identity?

Yes. Getting a new identity is a complex legal process. You’ll need a lawyer to help you navigate it. A lawyer can help you navigate the court system, determine what transition is best for your circumstances, file all the necessary paperwork, and represent you before the court. 

5. Can You Only Change Your Name During This Process?

No. You can change your appearance and your name when getting a new identity. You may also want to consider changing your Social Security number. You can do this on your own or by consulting with an attorney.

But if you’re hoping to change your appearance and obtain a new identity, you must be prepared for some drastic changes. It’s best to meet with a doctor who can help you create a new medical history. The doctor can examine you and determine your diagnosis. 

Once you have a diagnosis, you can get a new medical record set. These records will be used to obtain a new legal identity. In many jurisdictions, you must also seek psychological treatment before changing your appearance and obtaining a new identity. 

Your therapist will help you devise a new appearance and persona that matches your unique personality and background. This way, you’ll be able to start over with a new look, name, and identity.

6. How Long Does the Process Take?

The amount of time it takes to obtain a new identity varies from one case to another. The amount of time depends on the jurisdiction and complexity of your case.

Generally, changing a name and identity takes three to six months, sometimes even a year. 

It takes even longer if you’re hoping to change your appearance or have a new identity. This is because a doctor needs to assess you and give you a new medical diagnosis. 

7. What Are the Benefits of Getting a New Identity

There are many benefits to obtaining a new identity. Some of the most notable benefits of getting a new identity include: 

Having a safer and better life: If you’re under threat or living in fear, a new identity can help you to escape and start again. 
Having better job opportunities: If you have a criminal record, it can be difficult to find a job. It’s much easier to find employment if you have a clean record. 
Taking care of your mental health: Sometimes, changing your identity can be the best way to manage and treat mental illness. It can also help to avoid triggering flashbacks and other symptoms of PTSD. 
Avoiding debt collection: If creditors are pursuing you, a new identity can help you to get off the grid and avoid debt collectors. 
Avoiding family problems: Sometimes, family issues are best solved by getting a new identity. It can make it easier to avoid conflict and get the peace of mind you crave.  

8. What Are the Downsides to Getting a New Identity

While there are plenty of benefits to getting a new identity, there are some downsides to this as well. 

Firstly, depending on the transition you choose, you may have to change where you live or your job. You may also have to cut ties with family members, friends, or loved ones. In addition, getting a new identity can be an emotionally taxing process. There’s a lot of pressure on you to ensure that your story is consistent and you’ve been entirely truthful from beginning to end.

Moreover, your new name and identity are not secret: When you change your name and identity, the information will become public. This means that you cannot keep your new identity a secret, and someone keen enough can still find you.

It’s important to note that a new identity is not a way to escape your past. Your past will always be a part of you.

The Final Words

Getting a new identity is a long and challenging process. It can be emotionally taxing and time-consuming, but it’s a worthwhile and necessary option for those who need it. It can provide security and protection for those who need it most. 

With the right attorney by your side, you can navigate this process with as little disruption to your daily life as possible.