At the end of October, 2020, all New Mexico driver’s licenses must be be REAL ID compliant. This is as a result of the regulation, mandated by the Federal Government and Homeland Security in response to 9/11 and other terrorist security threats. To be issued a REAL ID requires much more than the documentation now required to apply for a driver’s license or state-issued identification card. The effects of these new requirements are already being felt by countless New Mexico license applicants as they attempt to renew their current driver’s license. Many are being told by the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) agents that their required supporting documentation does not satisfy the REAL ID requirements. A list of the new REAL ID requirements can be found here:

There has been one issue in this new and more complicated process that has caused more grief for applicants than any other. That issue is the discrepancy that is found between the name that is found on a person’s birth certificate or passport and the name that is on a person’s pay stub, on his/her utility bill, on his/her social security card, on his/her property tax statement, or on any of the other acceptable documents that the MVD now asks that you bring to prove identity and place of residence to get a REAL ID. Here’s an EXAMPLE: your legal name on your birth certificate is William John Sanchez but you go by the name Bill, so when you got your old driver’s license, it was issued in the name Bill J. Sanchez. The problem now, however, is the MVD is no longer issuing new or renewed licenses to parties who do not possess a birth certificate or US Passport that matches their current driver’s license name.  The only solution to this problem is to file with the district court in the county in which you reside for a judicial order changing your legal name and directing the agency that issued your birth certificate (Bureau of Vital Statistics and Health Records in New Mexico) to amend your legal name. This sounds like an intimidating process, and it can be, but an attorney experienced in the REAL ID procedure can assist you in navigating the courts and agencies you will encounter in your efforts to legally change or clarify your name.


The laws of the state of New Mexico, allow any person who has been a legal resident for at least six (6) months to change their name to whatever they may wish with only a few exceptions, and they are:

  1. No person may legally change their name for the purposes of defrauding creditors, the public or the government.
  2. The petitioning party is not seeking to avoid criminal or legal actions against them.
  3. You may not change your name to something that is considered to be a racist or obscene slur, nor can you create a name that is deliberately confusing or misleading.

The process requires that you publish notice of your intention to change your legal name for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper outlet that is local to your county. The entire process of legal name change in New Mexico will take at least five (5) weeks, from the date that you file your petition to the date of your hearing before the judge. The process is formally completed by the Judge signing a final decree/order that directs your birth certificate to be amended. We can guide you through the intricacies of this process to ensure a positive and speedy result.

IF you have already applied for a REAL ID and have discovered that you have a name discrepancy problem that is preventing you from obtaining a REAL ID or

IF you are afraid that you might have a discrepancy problem . . .

We can help.

A legal name change may well be your best, or only, path to obtaining a government accepted REAL ID. However, before you take that significant step, contact us. Let us review your situation to determine if you have any alternatives. Or, if a legal name change is your best option, we can walk you through the process. If time is a factor in your decision, be advised that it will always take AT LEAST 5 weeks to legally change any person’s name in the State of New Mexico. We have experience in this area of the law and can guide you efficiently through these procedures and represent you at your court hearing before the judge, drastically increasing the likelihood of success on the very first attempt. This saves you, the applicant, both time and a tremendous amount of stress.


Our name change work is done on an hourly basis or on the basis of an individualized fixed fee quote.