If you changed names after marriage, you probably only assumed your spouse’s name and your birth certificate or Canadian citizenship certificate only lists your birth name. If you applied for a legal name change then your married name will be noted on your birth or citizenship certificate and you can’t follow the process below to revert to your former name (see our section on legal name change). The important difference between these scenarios is that anyone who assumed their spouse’s surname is free to revert to their former name at any time no matter what their personal situation and they already have the proof documents needed to make the change.
What proof do I need?
If you changed names after marriage by showing your marriage certificate then it’s easy to go back to your former name! The process is much the same – just show the documents below as evidence of your married and former names. These documents are either:
- your divorce order (providing it lists your married and former names), OR
- your marriage, together with either a birth or citizenship certificate showing your former name. You don’t need to be divorced or separated.
What name can I take?
Keep your current name: There’s no need to change names after divorce. You can continue to be known by your married name.
Use your former name: You can go back to the name you held prior to marriage. For most people this is their birth name.
Married more than once? You can be known by any married name, even if you have since divorced. This means you can choose to be known by any name you have held from birth or marriage. For example, you were married twice and you want to return to your first husband or wife’s surname. You simply need government-issued documents that prove the link between your names. These may be Vital Statistics issued birth and marriage certificates.
Want a different name? If you want a name other than one you have previously held you must apply for a legal name change with the Vital Statistics office in your province. You will receive an amended birth certificate that lists your birth name and new legal name. This process allows you to change just your surname and/or your given names too. Around 10% of divorcees do not want their spouse’s surname but do not want their birth name either.
Ready to start changing names now?
Great news – you can start using your preferred name straight away! We’ll help you notify all the various organizations of your new name. Just send off our personalized forms, letters and emails! Full instructions for all companies are provided. Get the paperwork in under 10 minutes – just click the button below!