Gay & Lesbian Name Change

Gay & Lesbian Name Change


Gay & Lesbian Name Change

Although there is some confusion around the possibility of same sex couples entering into a legally binding relationship, any two people are able to register their relationship with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) in their home state.

If you are in a same sex relationship that you want formalized it is possible for one partner to take on the surname of the other partner.  However a word of caution:  there is significant inconsistency between government departments and you will encounter resistance from some organisations.   

Once your relationship is registered with BDM you will need to get your Relationship Certificate. It shows both individuals’ full names. Although this document can be used with some organisations to have your name changed in the same way that a marriage certificate would be used, some organisations will still insist on a legal name change document or marriage certificate. BDM will not issue a Marriage Certificate or Change of Name Certificate unless it is applied for separately and approved.

Your BDM Relationship Certificate is sufficient to get the surname on your Australian passport changed to that of your partner’s. This can either be a straight swap with your own name, or the addition of your partners surname to your surname, creating a double barrelled surname. Your passport will be updated for free providing it has a minimum of 2 years validity remaining. Medicare will also allow you to take your partner’s name and can put you both onto a family card. Once you have an updated passport and Medicare card you will find organisations are more willing to process your request.

Before you begin the process of updating your Passport and Medicare card, you should take around 10-15 photocopies of each item in your current name and have them certified as original copies. This is in case your old passport or Medicare card needs to be surrendered or altered to show that it has expired.  If you feel you need further documents to support your new name you might also want to sign a statutory declaration in front of a person who is authorized to take Oaths, such as a J.P.  This same person can certify copies of your passport and Medicare card.

State road authorities are usually reluctant to change the name on your license on presentation of your Domestic Relationship document from BDM, but might agree to the change once they are presented your updated passport and Medicare card. This decision may vary state by state, and person to person within the road authority.

Once you have a few identification documents in your new name you can approach other organisations to have your accounts and memberships moved into your new name. Expect to get push back from many organisations, especially as their policy may only allow name change on presentation of a marriage certificate, divorce decree or Change of Name certificate issued by the BDM.  If you receive an unfavourable response from an organisation you have four choices:

  1. Leave your name as is with organisations where your name change request is denied, this may result in your ID and accounts being in a combination of your old and new name.  It is legal to have both names across your accounts as you are not legally changing your name –you are simply assuming your partners name and can revert to your prior name at any time.
  2. Go through a legal name change with BDM.  This document will be accepted by all organisations and government departments; however there is a separate lodgement and fee payable directly to BDM.
  3. Be persistent - speak to someone more senior in the organisation.  You may want to highlight that been a loyal customer for some time and they are unwilling to support your request where the passport office and other organisations have been supportive.  You may also talk about closing your account as you may prefer to do business with more progressive and understanding companies.
  4. Close and reopen accounts. Your name change application may showcase an organisation’s odd bureaucratic policies –in some cases it is easier to close your account and reopen it. With an updated passport and Medicare card you may find you have sufficient documentation to open an account in your new name with the same organisation. It is worth highlighting to someone senior in the organisation that you are able to do this, and point out that it is ridiculous policy – they may be willing to reconsider your request.

A word of warning

Gay and lesbian name change is relatively uncommon and most organisations will not know how to proceed with your request. If you have the patience and persistence you may be able to change all your accounts with a Relationship Certificate, however you may get road blocked by organisations that are simply unwilling, or unable to help. Easy Name Change cannot provide any further information beyond what is on this page, as ultimately it is each organisation’s own decision what policies they chose to adopt.

Are Easy Name Change Kits suitable for gay or lesbian name change?

Yes, Easy Name Change kits will provide all the forms, letters and information you need to change your name, in conjunction with the advice above. If you purchase a personalized kit you will should select 'marriage' as your reason for changing names. Some companies may accept this and change your name immediately, where other companies will reject your letter. Where your application is rejected Easy Name Change is unable to provide further assistance - you will be required to get in contact with these companies directly to resolve your situation.

Each letter will have enclosure notes explaining what you need to include as evidence of your new name. Where ‘certificate’ is highlighted, add your relationship certificate. More information is better than less so we strongly recommend you also include a copy of your Medicre card and passport in both old and new names. If the organisation rejects your letter you may need to call up and discuss your situation in more detail with a company representative authorized to change their decision.

Name change rights are not automatic if you have a Relationship Certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, however with some persistence you may be able to take your partner's surname.

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