Marriage Name Change Trends in British Columbia

One of the final considerations after your marriage is your new name. It can be difficult to find the right information online as name changes are different by province. For the most part, BC residents have the same options as most other Canadian provinces, except for creating a hyphenated, or double-barrelled surname. We speak to Easy Name Change marketing manager, Genevieve Dennis, on the legal options for a married name change.

‘It is fairly straightforward to change your name in BC’ says Ms Dennis. ‘The only inconsistency with other Canadian Provinces is that the BC Vital Statistics office requests you file a legal name change application if you want to hyphenate your name.’ Ultimately each organization can set their own name change procedure. While some may allow a double-barrelled surname on the presentation of the official BC wedding certificate, no provincial governemnt department will allow this so you may have mismatching ID.

An increasing trend, typically for brides, is to take their spouse’s surname and move their maiden name into a middle name, or to incorporate their maiden name into one of their children’s names. ‘For all Canadians, if the spouse wants to change her middle name it requires a legal name change. That’s because you have the addition of a new name; your surname becoming a middle name’ notes Dennis.

Unfortunately BC newlyweds have no option to retain their former name if they are taking their spouse’s surname unless they undertake a legal name change. Unlike other provinces, BC residents can’t add their spouse’s surname to their own and they can’t make their maiden name a middle name on presentation of their wedding certificate.

BC applicants must file a legal name change application with Vital Statistics. At the time of writing, this cost $137 (always check the V.S. website for the latest fees as they are subject to change without notice).

Where once the passports office could enact a name change without proof of the client’s name being changed with provincial authorities, this is no longer the case. This means that anyone changing names must file their name change with BC services or get an updated driver’s licence (BCID) first. Only then will the passports office accept a name change request, ensuring the name on the passport is an exact match with the name on the client’s BC Services card or BCID.

While there are all sorts of modern families, we still find our most common name change for traditional couples is the bride taking her husband’s surname and dropping her birth surname altogether. Many people are surprised to learn that over 80% of brides still take this traditional approach to their married name. It is simple to change your name in this way and your marriage certificate is the only document required.

It is also legal for either spouse to be known by both their birth name and married name. Many people in industry will change their legal documents into their married name, yet choose to be known by their birth name in professional circles.

Although small, one of the newest trends is taking a new surname entirely. ‘As many couples take an even approach to life, they can choose a new surname that is of significance to both of them. We especially see this where one party has a distant relationship to their birth family and the other spouse cannot see value in taking on a name with little significance’ remarks Dennis. In these instances, the couple may choose a different name altogether, or create a hybrid of both names, mashed together into a new name.

The final and no doubt simplest option is for both spouses to leave their names as is. Despite this becoming more prevalent, we note it is common for women to reconsider their names with the pending arrival of children. It’s good to know that either spouse has the same rights when it comes to changing names, even if we choose to exercise this many years down the track.

Ready to change your name now?