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Marriage is a huge commitment in life. One of the ways that many couples choose to demonstrate this commitment is by taking the last name of their partner. But in the unfortunate event of a divorce, having the last name of an ex-partner can be a painful reminder of difficult times or perhaps even prevent you, mentally, from moving on. If you find yourself trying to make a new life, or even just return to an old one, reclaiming your last name may be a good place to start.
Name Change Documents
If you choose to re-adopt the original name on your birth certificate, there is no need in Australia to formally register your name change. But the requirements of each organisation you deal with (be it a bank, government agency, transport authority, etc.) may vary, so check with them as to what is required. Unless you filed an official application for a name change, most organisations will require only your Marriage Certificate, or the Divorce Order. Some may also require your Birth Certificate to provide evidence of the link to your birth name.
If you did already apply for a legal name change and wish to formally change it back, you will have to make a new application to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages along with presentation of the aforementioned documents.
Start with Your Driver’s Licence
The most efficient and convenient way to change your name is to begin by changing your name on your driver’s licence as the proof requirements to do so, plus the resulting photo ID, will then generally be accepted by many other organisations.
The only document that is actually required in order to change your name on your licence is a copy of your Marriage Certificate. The best way to do this is have a couple of copies made of the certificate, certified by a solicitor or Justice of the Peace, so that you will be able to leave a copy after showing the original version.
You will need to complete an application form and, in Queensland, visit a Transport and Motoring Customer Service Centre with the completed form, your driver’s license, and the certified copies of your Marriage Certificate. If you do not bring your current driver’s licence, you will still be able to change your name but you will be required to pay a replacement fee. After completing all of the necessary paperwork, your new driver’s will be sent to you by mail. Once you have your new driver’s license with the correct name, you can take it (along with your Marriage Certificate), to amend your details at the bank, for example.
Changing the Name on Your Passport
Similar to the process for changing the name on your Driver’s Licence, you will find it easier to change the name on your passport after changing your licence. It is possible to do it with just a Marriage Certificate, however, and is free to do if your passport does not expire for at least two years.
Are There Restrictions On Changing Your Name?
There are some fairly consistent rules about officially changing your name, including:
- your new name must not be a prohibited name (e.g. a name that is obscene, offensive, too long or not in the public interest);
- you can only change your name once every 12 months;
- you must give a reason for your change of name.
- if you’re in the custody of Corrective Services, you must get written approval from the Chief Executive before applying to change you name—if you don’t, this is a criminal offence;
- you’re not allowed to change your name for criminal purposes (e.g. fraud)
It is important to seek specific advice regarding your circumstances as this fact sheet provides general information only and does not constitute legal advice.
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