If you have records across both Australia and New Zealand you may be torn between where to lodge your legal name change application. The bad news is that you may need to follow the legal name change process in both countries. That’s because each country only recognises proof of name change documents that have been issued locally. There may be some situations where a New Zealand name change certificate will be accepted in Australia, and vice versa. Consider where you were born, which country has issued your passport and where you intent to reside in the future.
New Zealanders living in Australia
New Zealanders who are permanent residents of Australia are eligible to change names in both New Zealand and the Australian state or territory where they reside. If you intend to permanently reside in Australia in the future you will need an Australian legal name change certificate issued by any Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Without an Australian BDM legal name change certificate, you won’t be able to get an updated Australian driver’s licence or change the names on your superannuation fund or bank accounts.
If you were married in Australia and want to take or remove your spouse’s surname, you can show your Australian BDM marriage certificate as proof. If you were married abroad you will need to successfully apply for a legal name change with Births, Deaths and Marriages in Australia.
New Zealand passports can be updated using a legal change of name document issued in either country.
If you hold an Australian passport and reside in Australia, only an Australian BDM legal name change certificate will be accepted. You may find it easier to apply for a legal name change certificate in Australia, and then use this to update your NZ passport and all other documents. If you still hold some records in New Zealand you may find that most companies allow your name to be updated with either your Australian BDM-issued marriage or legal name change certificate in conjunction with an updated photo ID, however, this cannot be guaranteed. You may experience difficulties with some NZ organisations accepting your proof documents, specifically companies that hold assets on your behalf like banks and share registries. In such cases, you can try closing the account down and reopening a new account elsewhere or you may inevitably need a NZ-issued certificate.
Australians living in New Zealand
If you don’t permanently reside in Australia, the Australian passports office will accept marriage, divorce or legal name change certificates issued by foreign authorities.
You may prefer to change your name in the country where you intend to reside in the foreseeable future. If you have an NZ-issued certificate, get your AU passport changed first. Include both your NZ marriage or legal name change certificate and a copy of your updated AU passport and explain that you reside abroad. If you are given a hard time by Australian companies you can close and reopen your account under your new name, using your updated passport as proof. You may find difficulties in changing names on any Australian superannuation policies as most super funds insist on a certificate issued by an Australian BDM registry. You may be able to sign a statutory declaration in addition to all other name change proof available. Some customers may find there are a small number of Australian companies where their NZ legal name change certificate or NZ marriage certificate is not accepted and may inevitably need to apply for a legal name change in Australia.
Will a legal name change certificate issued in one country be accepted in the other?
It is up to each organisation as to what documents they will accept. This is not a common name change request so we have not researched each organisation’s requirements using name change certificates issued abroad. Australian government departments and financial institutions are the most stringent and usually request an Australian legal name change certificate. Smaller commercial organisations can be more flexible, especially if you also provide a photo ID reflecting your new name.
Generally speaking, Australian organisations tend to be stricter than New Zealand ones, so if you have many records to update in Australia, you may consider lodging your name change application in Australia.
Still not sure where to register your name change?
This is a decision for you to make and we can’t provide any further advice from what appears on the page. It makes sense to register your name change in the country where you intend to reside for the foreseeable future, or where you hold the majority of records that will need updating. Customers may need to apply for a legal name change in both countries to get all records across both Australia and New Zealand updated into the same name. If you need to lodge 2 legal name change applications there are no cost savings or different procedures to follow.
We are unable to advise you which country you should lodge your legal name change application in for your particular situation as we are not legal experts. You should make your own decision based on your personal situation.
We can help
If you decide to change names in Australia, our service will save you hours! It’s free to browse our database. Receive personalised and ready to send forms, letters and emails for hundreds of Australian organisations. In most cases, you will need certified copies of your certificate, so our certified kit is ideal if you don’t have time to find a JP.