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Changing your name

 

We don't give legal advice about this area of law.

The information below may help you to resolve your matter or find out who else can help.

You can legally use any name you want, as long as you don’t use a name to try and commit a crime, like fraud. Some places such as banks and Centrelink may ask to see proof of your identity.

To officially change your name you must apply to the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

If you’re under 18  you can only change your name if your parents or legal guardian agrees or if you’re married or divorced.

If you have a dispute about changing your name you should get legal advice.

Unofficially changing your name

You can change your name informally by asking family and friends to call you a different name. It’s not illegal to start using another name without registering the change. You can legally use any name you want, as long as you don’t use a name to try and commit a crime, like fraud.

Changing your name without formal registration can cause problems with official documents. Many places such as banks and Centrelink may ask to see proof of your identity.

Officially changing your name

You can change your legal name by applying to the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages if you:

  • are 18 or older
  • were born or adopted in Queensland or you were born overseas, and
  • usually live in Queensland.  

There are rules about changing your name:

  • you’re not allowed to change your name for criminal purposes (eg fraud).
  • you can only change your name once every 12 months.
  • your new name must not be a prohibited name (eg a name that is obscene, offensive, too long or not in the public interest)
  • 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 must give a reason for your change of name (eg your mother has remarried and you want to take on the new family name or your current name is difficult to spell or pronounce).

The Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages may need evidence of your identity, age, and that the name change is not for any fraudulent or other improper purpose.

If your birth is registered in another state, you should contact the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in that state to find out how to change your name.

Changing your name if you’re under 18

If you’re under 18, you can usually only change your name if your parents or legal guardian agree, or if you’re married or divorced.

If you’re 12 or over and your parents want to change your name, they must get your agreement. If you don’t agree—get legal advice.

If your parents agree to your change of name, they will need to apply to the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages on your behalf.

Both of your parents will need to apply, unless:

  • only one parent is named on your birth certificate
  • one of your parents has died, or
  • the Magistrates Court approves an application from one of your parents to change your name because it’s in your best interests.

If you’re under the care of a guardian, then they will have to apply to have your name changed on your behalf.

If you’re under the care of 2 guardians, then both of them will need to apply for you, unless:

  • one of your guardians is dead, or
  • the Magistrates Court approves an application from one of your guardians to change your name because it’s in your best interests.

In exceptional circumstances, the court may allow a person under 18 to change their name without the agreement of their parents or their guardians. You should get legal advice.

What if my parents want to change my name?

 

Do I have to change my name if I get married?

You don’t have to change your name to your spouse’s name when you get married—you can use your married or birth name without changing it at the Registry.

If you separate you can use your married or birth name without changing your name at the Registry, but be aware that many places such as banks and Centrelink may want to see proof of your identity.

Do I need legal advice?

You don’t need legal advice to change your name.

You may need legal advice if you:

  • disagree with your parents’ changing your name
  • are under 18 and want to apply to court to change your name without your parents’ or guardians’ agreement
  • are in dispute with the other parent or guardian about changing your child’s name.

How to get legal advice

We may give legal advice about applying to court for an order to change a child’s name. We don’t give legal advice to adults who want to change their own name.

The following organisations may be able to give legal advice:

Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to find out if they can help.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation

Who else can help?

These organisations may also be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.

Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages can give you information and help you to change your name.

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