How to change names via Civil Union NZ
Couples in civil unions in New Zealand enjoy most of the same rights as married couples, and that extends to the right to assume the name of your new partner. In theory, if you want, as a symbol of your love and togetherness, to take your partner's name, you are perfectly at liberty to simply start using it.
In practice, however, you might find it easiest if you officially register your new name with Births, Deaths and Marriages (part of the Department of Internal Affairs) first. You will also need to do this if you and your partner want to hyphenate your names, or merge them, or if you want to take totally new names entirely.
If you are over 18 and were born in New Zealand, the process is simple. Download a name change by statutory declaration (BDM120) application form from the Births, Deaths and Marriages website www.dia.govt.nz/Births-deaths-and-marriages. Fill it in and post it to the address on the form, along with the appropriate fee. This is $127.70 at the time of writing (Feb 2012), although check the site before writing out your cheque or credit card details as fees are liable to change. You will also want an updated birth certificate as evidence of your new name. This currently costs $26.50. You need to get the form witnessed by a person authorised to take statutory declarations - a list of such professions is given on the form.
If your birth is registered outside of New Zealand, you will also need to send a certified true copy or an original of a document or documents proving evidence of your date and place of birth, and of your status as a New Zealand citizen or a person who is entitled to be in New Zealand indefinitely. A list of allowable documents is given on the site.
Then, start informing all the relevant government bodies and companies. Start with the passport office. If your civil union was in New Zealand, you don't even need to send in your civil union certificate. Just download a full passport application from the site www.passports.govt.nz and send it in your nearest New Zealand passport office. If you are sending in your application from within New Zealand, the fee for a new passport is currently $153.30 and your application will take up to 10 working days to process - if you need your new passport urgently, you can order a faster service for an increased fee. You will need to send two identical recent colour photos in with your application, and you will need to get the form witnessed by someone who is over 16 and has a valid New Zealand passport.
Next, get a new driver licence showing your new name. You will need to fill in a replacement licence application (DL2), which you can download from the site or pick up at a driver licensing agent. You will also need to show evidence of your name change - your civil union certificate or statutory declaration issued by Births, Deaths and Marriages - identity and address. The fee for a replacement licence is currently $38.20. The form, documents and fee must be handed in in person at your local driver licensing agent.
Once you've got your new passport and driver licence showing your new name, and particularly if you have registered your name change with Births, Deaths and Marriages, you shouldn't have any trouble getting other organisations to update your records. Make a list of everyone you need to contact and order it so that the most important are at the top and the least important at the bottom, and then work through it methodically.
Within a few weeks, everyone will have been notified of your new name, and you will be readily identified as a couple.
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