Your Married Name Options

Your Married Name Options


Your Married Name Options

The great thing about changing names after marriage is that there’s no official registration or application process! Your marriage certificate is the only document needed to start the process. This allows you to take any of the names listed below.

Didn’t get married in Canada? No problem! Any official marriage certificate is accepted. An official certificate is one that has been issued by a government authority. This means that religious certificates are not accepted. If the marriage certificate is not in English then you need to arrange for an official translation, then you are free to take any of these names.

The same options are available to either spouse at any time

It's worth noting that either party in the wedding can take any of the names below. As a couple you do not need to have the same name. There’s no time limit to changing names. If you’ve decided against changing names for now you are free to change your mind later. On the flip side, if you’ve changed names and it simply doesn’t feel right you are not stuck with your name. You can go back to your former name or any of the other options below by simply showing your birth and marriage certificates. 

1. Drop your current surname

This remains the most popular choice. In traditional couples, it is estimated that 75% of brides will drop their current surname and be known by their husband’s surname. It can be surprising to learn that this has become increasingly popular over the last 20 years.

2. Drop your surname on legal documents, but continue to use your former name socially

It's perfectly legal to change names on all official records (like your driver’s license, passport, health care, bank and insurance policies), but continue using your previous name socially. No need to change business cards, your blog or ask friends to use your new married name! This is because a married name is an assumed name, which means your birth certificate is not updated (or if born overseas, your Canadian citizenship certificate). You can switch between these names too! Just be very mindful of which records are in what name so you don’t accidentally book overseas flights in a name that is different from your official identification.

3. Joint surnames*

Some may call these dual names, others call it double-barreled. If there’s a hyphen between the 2 names it could even be called a hyphenated name! All that happens here is that both surnames are used. There’s no rule as to which surname goes in what order. It’s your choice if you want either a space or a hyphen between the two surnames. If this is the path for you, be sure your records are consistently in the same name. For example, always use the same order and if you place a hyphen between your names you should always have a hyphen. 

* BC is the only province that does not allow joint surnames on presentation of a marriage certificate. Residents need to apply for a legal name change. 

Choices beyond a marriage certificate

Maybe now is the perfect time to ditch that annoying middle name! Or perhaps you don’t want any of these names! After all, not everyone has a family worth honoring. If you decide to change to another name that is not already listed here then you’ll need to apply for a legal name change with Vital Statistics or your provincial government service office. You can change as much or as little of your name as you like! A legal name change usually costs between $100 - $200. You’ll need to complete a special form, you may be required to get fingerprints and a criminal background check and perhaps publish a notice in a newspaper.

If you’re thinking of a legal name change, it may be a good idea to arrange this before applying for your wedding license. Once you are married your partner has the option of assuming your last name by simply showing the marriage certificate.

Name changes in action!

To help illustrate the full range of married name choices, let’s say that Kim Jackson is marrying Chris Smith. The newlywed couple can choose from the below names at any time (and the couple do not need to have the same surname);

  • Kim & Chris Jackson
  • Kim & Chris Smith
  • Kim & Chris Jackson-Smith (or Smith-Jackson)
  • Kim & Chris Jackson Smith (or Smith Jackson)

Leaving your name as it is

By far the simplest choice! While it’s traditional to change names from marriage, there is certainly no obligation or law requiring it. Both spouses have the option of leaving their name as it is. Whatever decision you make it’s not permanent either! You always have the option to take any of the married names listed here or go back to your former name at any time, no matter how long you have been married.

The same married name options are available to either spouse! No special registration is required and you only need your marriage certificate to get started. We explain the 3 new married name choices available. If you want to take a name not listed here then apply for a legal name change.

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