You want to drop your spouse’s surname, but you’re not sure if you have the right proof documents. If you were married in Australia and want to go back to your former name then it’s really simple; just show your marriage and birth certificates together. If you’ve got a more complicated situation then we’re here to help.
What are the basic principles of the married name change and proof documents?
If you want to change names with Australian organisations you must show documents issued by any Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages which link your current name to the name you want to use in the future. When you get married you simply assume your spouse’s surname by showing your Australian marriage certificate. Your birth certificate does not change, so your name has never legally changed. This means you can go back to your birth name or any former married name by showing your birth certificate and all Australian marriage certificates. You don’t need to show the associated divorce order to remove your current surname, but if you were married previously then you should show your prior divorce order or death certificate.
What is my legal name in Australia?
If you were born in Australia your legal name is the one printed on your Australian birth certificate. If you were born overseas it is the name printed on your Australian citizenship certificate. If you get married in Australia your legal name does not change, even if you assume your spouse’s surname. The only time your legal name will legally be different from your birth or citizenship name is if you have successfully applied for a legal name change with Births, Deaths and Marriages. Complications can arise if you are using a name that is different from your legal name but you don’t have an Australian BDM-issued document to prove the change.
If you’re using a name that is different from your legal name, but you don’t have acceptable proof then you can get stuck. In these situations a legal name change application with BDM can be rejected – that’s because the name you want to use may be the same as your current legal name. This means your name never officially changed, even though organisations are using a different name. You may be able to use the statutory declaration method explained below, or contact us for general advice.
Married more than once?
You can resume the use of your birth name no matter how many times you have been married. All you need to do is prove the link between your birth name and each married name. Show all marriage certificates and/or divorce certificates to prove the link between each name. If you are currently married you do not need to show a divorce certificate for this marriage. All marriage certificates must be issued by Births, Deaths and Marriages in Australia.
If you have legally changed names in Australia
You can’t go back to any name you held before your legal name change was issued. Your legal name is the one printed on your legal name change certificate, or you may assume any spouse’s surname providing you have an Australian marriage certificate that was issued after you legally changed names. To resume the use of a surname prior to a legal name change then you will need to apply for another legal name change.
Were you married overseas?
Overseas marriage certificates are not accepted as proof of name change. Over the decades, companies have become more strict about accepting only BDM-issued documents, so if you were married many years ago you may have managed to get your name changed using a foreign marriage certificate, and now you’re finding that it’s no longer accepted and you’re stuck with unacceptable proof. You’re also in a position where you can’t apply for a legal name change to go back to your former name because your name never legally changed in the first place. We suggest using the statutory declaration process (more on this below).
Help! How do I undo this change?
Start by contacting us. Everyone’s situation is unique and we can provide general information on what may be the best approach. We can only provide support by email or chat unless you have purchased our certified kit. This kit comes with an initial consultation call so we can understand your situation and what proof documents you have available. You’ll also have phone support throughout the name change process. If you have a complicated history and several proof documents the certified kit is great value as we provide all the certified copies needed and we won’t rest until you have the name you want!