If you live between two countries it can be difficult to know where to change names and what process to follow. Changing names, whether by marriage, divorce or legal name change, is available to any Australian citizen or permanent resident. This is regardless of where else you may hold a passport or any other country where you may also reside.
The first thing to think about is where you hold the most number of records and accounts that you access on a regular basis. If you want a different name reflected on your passport, licence, bank accounts and other records in Australia, you must follow the name change procedures for Australia. Australian authorities and most Australian companies will not recognise any official name change document, marriage certificate, court order or deed poll issued in any foreign country.
If you also want to update your name abroad to be updated then you should check with the relevant organisations in that country and ask what their policy is on accepting Australian-issued name change documents. Contact the driver licensing department, passport office and tax registry abroad to check if your records can be changed with the proof of name change documents you have available.
Changing names in Australia – Legal Name Change
An Australian citizen whose birth was registered in Australia can change names at any time, regardless of where they currently reside. If you are an Australian citizen who was born abroad or an Australian permanent resident, you will need to provide proof of residency for the past 12 months prior to applying. (NSW applicants must prove residency in the state for 3 years before they can apply.)
Lodge your legal name change application with Births, Deaths and Marriages in the state where you were born (if applicable), or else in the state where you normally reside. Vic and NSW applicants apply online via the BDM website. All other states have a paper form that must be mailed together with certified identification documents. We can also provide the legal name change application form and process if selected in any Easy Name Change kit.
Changing names in Australia – Marriage and reverting to prior name
Get your Australian identification and records updated into your new name following your marriage, or revert to your prior name at any time. You must show your Australian marriage certificate. If reverting to your prior name you also need to provide either a divorce decree or birth certificate.
Married overseas? Foreign marriage certificates are not accepted as evidence of your new name. You must successfully apply for a legal name change with BDM.
Changing your name outside of Australia
As there are over 160 foreign countries, we can’t begin to explain what process to follow in another country. If you decide to update your name abroad we recommend starting with a government-issued photo ID, such as your foreign driver’s licence or passport. If you can get a foreign government photo ID changed, it can be used to support your name change application with other companies from that country. You may also need to show your Australian legal name change document, marriage or divorce certificate. If Australian documents are not accepted, you may need to follow the name change process that is allowed in that country.
Can a foreign name change document be accepted in Australia?
Australia is one of the most stringent countries in the world for name change proof. If you ordinarily live outside of Australia, the passports office accepts internationally issued documents as proof of your name change. Once you have an updated Australian passport, you may show that together with an international marriage, divorce or name change certificate and get your Australian records updated. If you ordinarily reside in Australia you must show a marriage or legal name change certificate issued by Births, Deaths and Marriages to have your passport updated. In such situations, an Australian legal name change may be inevitable.
Will I need two name changes?
Every country has different policies, so this is general advice only. It is usually easiest to change names in the country where you reside now and intend to reside in the foreseeable future. Follow the name change procedure for that country. If you move countries in the future, take all your proof of name change documents and approach each relevant company when you move and ask for your name change to be updated on your record. As you were not a resident of the country when you changed names, and have proof that you have been living elsewhere with a different and legal name, you are more likely to have your name change accepted. If your current proof documents are not accepted you may need to apply for a second name change.
What if I only change names in one country?
If you decide to only change names in one country, just be mindful of which account or record is under which name. If you need to prove your identity you should have sufficient proof available to prove both your names. It can get messy when you have half your records under one name and half under another name, but you won’t be breaking the law.
Be mindful of the name on your passport. Only make travel plans under that same name.
How can Easy Name Change help?
We’re a name change notification service. We provide customers with personalised and ready to send name change forms, letters and emails, plus detailed name change instructions for each company. Just sign and send! Our kits save customers from hours of waiting on hold, searching for forms and writing letters.
If you need to change names in Canada, the UK or USA, visit our international sites by clicking the country flag in the menu bar at the top of our home page. We provide the same full research, quality name change forms, paperwork and procedures for companies in these countries.