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How Do I Legally Change Names?


Anyone wishing to change names in Australia must lodge a legal name change application with Births, Deaths and Marriages. Once approved you receive a legal name change certificate, or if your birth was registered in the state you get an amended birth certificate. A legal name change application is necessary if you want to change one name, all names, the spelling of your name or order of your names. The same cost and process applies no matter how big or small your change.

When changing your name, you have two options:

1) Name change by association. Notify family, friends and colleagues of your new name and start using it immediately. Your name change will have taken effect by reputation in the community and you can use your new name without taking any formal steps. Most organisations will not issue official documentation under your new name (such as the passport office and banks), so you will still have your old name on legal documentation but have a new name in the community by association.

2) Legal name change via Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). Government issued identification, bank accounts and many other companies will only allow you to use a different name if you present a legal name change or amended birth certificate. 

Who can change their name?

Any Australian citizen or permanent resident aged 18 years or over can apply for a legal name change at Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). You don't need a legal name change if you're taking your spouse's name after marriage or removing his name (divorced or otherwise). 

Where do I lodge my name change application?

You can apply in the state where you were born, or in many cases you can also apply in the state where you currently reside. See the table at the bottom of the page for details on which state you can lodge your application in. If you live in a different state from where you were born you may need to provide evidence you have lived in that state for a minimum amount of time before being eligible to change your name. If you were born overseas you can lodge your application in the state where you currently reside but may need to show evidence of residence.

How long does it take and what is the cost?

Assuming you purchase an Easy Name Change personalised kit, you could expect to have most of your documents and paperwork changed to your new name within 6-9 weeks.

There is a separate fee payable directly to BDM in addition to any Easy Name Change kit purchased. Fees vary significantly from state to state.  There is usually a non-refundable element, with a successful application costing between $50 to over $200. For more information on current name change fees for your state, check the Easy Name Change Guide (sent with all our kits) or contact BDM.

Here's the main steps in legally changing your name and approximate timings:

  • 0 days Easy Name Change kit delivered via email (allow 10-15 work days for delivery of premium kits)
  • 1-2 weeks Gather required information, complete and lodge name change application with BDM
  • 4 weeks BDM Certificate of Name Change mailed to successful applicants.  This could move 2 weeks either way depending on your state and current backlog
  • 1 week Easy Name Change notifications sent to your listed organisations and your records are updated

How do I inform companies of my new name?

Once you have legally changed your name you need to start using your new name immediately and you must notify all organisations of your new name as soon as possible. A typical person needs to notify around 20 companies of their new name. Ensure driver's licence and passport are given priority.

You can download your state's legal name change application form in any of our kits. We also include advice on completing the form and lodgement. Our personalised kits provide comprehensive name change procedures, letters, faxes and forms for hundreds of companies. We provide ready to send letters and faxes for all companies that allow name change in writing, so you just need to sign, add documents listed on the bottom of each notification and send! Where any of your companies don't allow name change by writing we provide full procedures.

Haven't lodged your application yet?

If you have not yet lodged your name change application we recommend purchasing an Easy Name Change kit and selecting to download the application form, plus selecting all the companies you need to notify. Use our date selection feature to postdate your letters 6 to 8 weeks, allowing time for your name change certificate to come back from BDM before sending out your name change letters.

What state should you lodge your application in?

 Your birth stateBorn interstate, but reside in
New South Wales
Victoria
Queensland
Western Australia
South Australia
Tasmania
Australian Capital Territory
Northern Territory

If lodging in your state of residence, which is different to your birth state, you need to prove you have lived in the state for 3 months immediately prior to your application.

Born overseas?

You can lodge your application in the state where you currently reside.  You may need to prove that you have been a resident of that state for a certain period of time immediately prior to your application.  If you are not a citizen please read our section on name change for non citizens.

Do you spend a lot of time between 2 countries and not sure what to do with your name overseas? Read our dedicated page here.

Special Circumstances

If a protection order has been made to protect you and/or your children from domestic violence you may lodge your application without having to meet birth state or residence requirements.

What is a deed poll?

Many Australians incorrectly refer to legal name change as a deed poll. Up until 1986, Australians wishing to change names would lodge a deed poll drafted by a solicitor to the Land Titles office. From 1986 legal name change has been managed by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Any adult or child wishing to change names can only do so by successfully lodging a legal name change application with their state BDM office.

 

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