Can I Change Names while Residing Abroad?

We often have Australian citizens ask if they can change names while residing overseas. This depends on a number of factors, including your name change reason, if you already have proof from Births, Deaths and Marriages and what options are available in your country of residence. We also explain how Easy Name Change kits may be used and what limitations they have if used abroad.

What proof documents do you have?

Large Australian corporations that hold or manage your assets, such as super funds, banks and share registries will insist on a document issued by any Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). If you’re adding your spouse’s surname this is your BDM marriage certificate. If you’re removing their name then also show either your birth certificate or divorce order. If you have already legally changed names then you have the proof needed. We have not researched the acceptance of Australian-issued documents with all the different types of organisations around the world, however, you may be successful in using Australian-issued name change documents.

If you don’t have a certificate issued by BDM to prove your name then you should check with the state BDM office where the event took place (eg; your birth or marriage). Some states may allow you to apply from abroad and can ship the certificate abroad. It may then be used in both countries for your name change.

If you are ineligible to apply for a certificate from BDM, you may be eligible to change names while abroad, but the change would be limited to the records you hold in that country. It’s perfectly legal to be known by your new name in the UK, USA or elsewhere, but keep using your former name in Australia. The end goal is to have the same name in all places as it can make international travel more complicated and you may have difficulties proving your identity.

Can I apply for an Australian legal name change while abroad?

If you were born in Australia your state may allow a name change application to be lodged from abroad. Check with your state BDM office. BDM may decide that your proof documents can’t be accepted if they were witnessed abroad, so it’s recommended you speak with your state BDM to see if this is advisable and receive their written confirmation before proceeding.

If you are an Australian citizen born abroad you won’t be able to apply for an Australian legal name change until you are back in Australia as a permanent resident. That’s because each state requires overseas-born applicants to be a resident of the state for at least 12 months before applying. In NSW this is extended to 3 years.

Can I use foreign proof of name change in Australia?

Foreign-issued documents proving your name cannot be used to change names in Australia. This includes foreign marriage certificates. You may find you can change smaller accounts, like your Internet, insurance and professional associations. However, superannuation funds and banks will insist on sighting a document issued by any Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. As a result, you’ll inevitably need to apply for a legal name change in Australia. The only exception is that most Australian universities allow international students to show an updated passport to change their name.

Can I change names in my country of residence and then change names again later, when I return to Australia?

Depending on your residency status and the name change laws in your current country of residence, the best option may be to apply for a legal name change where you currently live and get your name updated on all records abroad first. You can’t use a foreign-issued name change document as proof of your name change in Australia, such as a UK deed poll, US court order or Indonesian marriage certificate.

Notifying companies of your new name

Each company is different. Some name change processes can be undertaken from anywhere in the world. For example, your insurance company may need you to send an email or you can log into your PayPal account and upload the proof. However, there will be companies where it is simply not possible to have your name changed from abroad. For example, large banks and state driver’s licences must be visited in person so staff can sight original identity documents and witness your new signature. If you are determined to get your name changed from abroad you may find you can get the majority of your records updated, but then your old name remains in a small number of places, which can be difficult when proving your identity.

Australian passports can generally be updated into your new name if you permanently reside abroad. This is decided on a case-by-case basis, so contact the Australian high commission where you reside.

Can I buy an Easy Name Change kit while residing abroad?

You can purchase an Easy Name Change kit from anywhere in the world, but we only allow customers to enter Australian addresses. This is for 2 reasons:

  1. We have not researched if each company would accept a name change lodged from abroad, so we can’t guarantee our instructions and notifications are effective for customers abroad.
  2. You may find additional complications in changing your name in Australia while residing abroad, as already highlighted above.

You may still purchase an Easy Name Change kit and use an Australian address. It is recommended you purchase the print-at-home kit so you receive it only by email. You can use Adobe PDF Viewer to update the address on your letters and forms, then lodge when convenient. If you have already purchased an Easy Name Change kit from any of our sites (Australia, USA, Canada or UK), we offer 50% off an Easy Name Change print-at-home kit in a second country if purchased within 12 months.

Ready to change your name now?