So, you’re looking to change your last name after getting married, but don’t know where to start.
You are not alone.
In my experience, up to 80% of brides still choose to change their last name after getting married and are very confused about how to go about it.
Let’s see if I can help a little..
What does it mean to change my last name after marriage in Australia?
After you are married, you have the right to use or be identified by, your husband/wife/spouse's last name, if you choose.
Your family or last name that you were born with will always be available to you (and the default) and you can choose to continue to continue to be known/identified by that name if you want.
The process of informing everyone (Department of Motor Vehicles for your licence, passport office, your workplace, banks etc.) of your decision to be known by your new husband/wife/spouse's last name is commonly referred to as 'changing your name' (which is where it can get confusing), because this is not literally the case.
IF YOU CHOOSE TO USE YOUR HUSBAND/WIFE/SPOUSE'S LAST NAME (OR YOU ARE CREATING A NEW HYPHENATED SURNAME OF BOTH OF YOUR LAST NAMES), YOU ARE NOT CHANGING YOUR NAME AS SUCH, AND A CHANGE OF NAME THROUGH THE REGISTRAR OF BIRTHS, DEATHS & MARRIAGES DOES NOT NEED TO OCCUR.
What options do I have?
You have 3 options for taking a new husband/wife/spouse's last/family name after marriage (i.e. those changes that can be made with your Births Deaths and Marriages official marriage certificate as evidence):
- Take your spouse's last name. For example, if Michelle Jones married Andrew Williams, Michelle could change her name to Michelle Williams or Andrew could change his name to Andrew Jones.
- Create a hyphenated or non-hyphenated combination of both of your last names*. For example, the hyphenated surname options for Michelle and Andrew would be Jones-Williams or William-Jones. Either Michelle, or Andrew, or both of them could change to the new hyphenated last name.
The non-hyphenated last name options would be Jones Williams or William Jones. Either Michelle, or Andrew, or both of them could change to the new non-hyphenated last names.
*It is worth noting that, as each of the State offices of the Department of Transport/Roads etc. operate independently, some choose not to allow the use of hyphenated or non-hyphenated combination of both of your last names as an accepted name change option. Please enquire with your State or Territory office before commencing the process.
- Use both your original last name and your spouse’s last name in different circumstances. For example, Michelle may want to continue to be known professionally as Michelle Jones, but personally, she may choose to update her passport, driver’s license and bank accounts to Michelle Williams. Care should be taken with this option as it can be difficult to navigate the two names in situations such as international travel, tax obligations and home/business ownership.
What if I/we want an entirely different last name?
A couple could change their surname name to a different last name entirely, but if it is not one of the above options then they would need to go through a legal name change process via the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) in the state or territory they were born in.
If a couple decides they both want a new last name, it is easiest for one of them to legally change their surname before the wedding, then after the wedding, the other spouse can use their official BDM marriage certificate to change their last name using the process below.
When do I have to change my last name?
While it is common for a last name change by marriage to take place within a few months of a wedding, there is no time frame requirement. A spouse can change from their birth last name to their married last name years after the wedding. And you can revert to your birth surname at any time, regardless of your marital status.
Once you’re married and have decided to change your last name, it's your responsibility to get all your accounts, memberships and identification moved over into your new name.
It is worth noting that, should you plan to travel in Australia or overseas within 2-3 months of your wedding date (e.g. for your honeymoon), it is recommended that you keep all travel details (flight tickets, VISAs, accommodation etc.) in your original last/maiden name and all I.D./documentation the same until you return.
Some couples have experienced difficulties in trying to prove their married last names without an updated driver's licence or passport and most airlines charge a change of name fee of several hundreds of dollars.
What documents do I need?
If you are changing your last name as a bride or groom, your official BDM marriage certificate issued by the State or Territory office in which you were married is the only legal document you need to present as evidence of your right to use your spouse’s last name (if you change to one of the 3 options detailed above).
Almost every institution, company and Governement agency you change your name with will need to see your BDM marriage certificate.
Some companies may also need to see 100 points of ID, certain mortgages will require a signed statutory declaration and some may even need to see certified documentation.
Can I use the marriage certificate that we received on our wedding day?
The marriage certificate story is a long and boring one, but here goes..
The certificate that you receive on your wedding day is known as a presentation or commemorative certificate and is generally not accepted by most institutions as an official form of identification and so can rarely be used as proof of your right to take your husband/wife/spouse's last name after marriage.
Please note that Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) offices do not automatically process and send you a copy of your official BDM marriage certificate - you need to apply for it either online, via a form through the post, or in person.
After your celebrant/religious minister lodges your paperwork with the BDM in the state or territory where your marriage was solemnised, they go about processing your marriage registration.
It is only after this process has taken place, that you are able to apply for an official BDM marriage certificate. Although you will not be notified of exactly when your marriage registration is complete, the process is meant to take 4 weeks which can fluctuate during peak times.
What’s the process?
Whether you do it yourself or pay a company like EasyNameChange to help you, the process is quite similar.
1. Order your official marriage certificate from the state or territory BDM where your marriage was solemnised.
2. Get photo ID in your new name as soon as possible. Some companies accept updated photo ID as proof of name change. Take some photocopies of your photo ID under your old name before changing. Driver licenses often need to be surrendered, so it can help to have a copy should you ever need to prove your old name.
3. Make a list of each company where you need/want to have your name changed - you can download my handy checklist HERE to get you started.
4. Look online or call them to ask what their name change procedure is - you may be asked to return a specific form, send a letter with a certified copy of your official marriage certificate, send a fax, visit a branch in person or something different.
5. Make note of their procedure and record the date of when you sent them the information they require. If the name change does not occur, you may need these details later.
For those using a name change company:
- They’ll let you know exactly what each company requires and provide all of the information in a detailed, personalised checklist.
- They can also send all the forms, letters and faxes - in many cases, you can just sign and send.
Here are some of the most important places to start changing your name:
- Your name change needs to be requested in person unless you live in WA where you can start the process by mail.
- Driver’s licences & vehicle registrations are issued by the road authority from each state or territory.
- It can be useful to make your driver’s licence one of the first forms of I.D. you change as you may be able to use your updated license to prove your name has changed when dealing with other companies.
- It is free to have your driver's license changed, but your old license must be surrendered.
- All states require your original name change document (BDM marriage certificate) and your current driver’s licence.
- If you can't present a valid license when making the change you will be required to present a number of other identification documents and may need to pay a replacement fee. Some states also have proof of residency requirements.
TAS Department of Transport
Phone 1300 135 513
ACT ACT Road Transport Information
Phone 13 22 81
- You must have a BDM marriage certificate or BDM relationship certificate and your current passport. If you were married overseas you will need to provide your foreign marriage certificate with an approved translation (if applicable) and your current passport.
- The name you take must be a standard relationship name change, such as swapping your surname with your spouse's surname, or add their surname to your own.
- Your passport will be updated with your new name, however the expiry date will remain as per your existing passport.
- It's free to update your passport for any name change resulting from a change in relationship provided you have more than 2 years validity remaining, otherwise you must apply for a 10 year replacement passport and full fees are payable.
- Applications must be written on an original passport application form, which can be obtained at any Post Office. You can begin your application online then save and print it once complete.
- All applicants will also need to lodge their application at the post office. Interview times can be arranged by calling 13 7678.
- All name changes must be done in person at a Medicare office and you'll need to take your original BDM marriage certificate and your current Medicare card with you.
- If you have just married, you may want to change who appears on the same Medicare card. For instance, a couple may both want to be on the same card. The purpose of having multiple people listed on one card is so that Medicare benefits can be paid to any person whose name appears on the card.
Australian Tax Office (ATO)
- You can update your name over the phone, by mail or in person.
- You can change names over the phone by calling 13 28 61 during business hours. You will be asked to provide information to verify your identity, so before calling ensure you have the following information at hand; Australian birth certificate, Australian citizenship certificate, Australian passport, Australian driver's license, Australian Medicare card, Australian BDM marriage certificate, Australian change of name certificate.
- You can change names with the ATO by mail by returning the 'ATO Change of Details for Individuals' form with certified copies of the documents listed on the form.
- You may instead visit any ATO shopfront with your original BDM marriage certificate and photo ID to have your name changed on the spot.
EASY NAME CHANGE'S BEST TIPS:
1. Order your marriage certificate from Births, Deaths and Marriages first.
2. Get photo ID in your new name as soon as possible. Some companies accept updated photo ID as proof of name change.
3. Take some photocopies of your photo ID under your old name before changing. Driver licenses often need to be surrendered, so it can help to have a copy should you ever need to prove your old name.
4. Set aside a day to get all your name change notifications done at once. Name changes that drag out can occupy a lot of head space and cause problems if you need to prove your identity.
5. Set a deadline for your name change. Aim to get all your accounts, memberships and paperwork into your new name within a month of starting.
6. If it is all too time consuming and confusing Easy Name Change can provide you with ready-to-send name change notifications, forms and procedures for all your nominated companies. No need to do any calling around or name change research.
Register at www.easynamechange.com.au and enter promo code CHECKLIST to save $5 off any name change kit.
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