Changing your name

For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, please contact us here. 

Changing your name is a big decision. You can change your name informally by asking people around to call you what you like at any time. You can also change your name formally, although in some cases this can be a bit more difficult while you are under 18 if your parents don’t agree.  

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Which laws apply to changing your name?

You can change your name in the ACT if: 

  • you were born in the ACT; or 
  • you currently live in and have lived in the ACT for the past three months.

If you weren’t born in the ACT and you are not an ACT resident, then you need to apply to change your name in the state or territory where you were born or where you have lived for a certain amount of time. You can click the icon on the top right-hand side of the screen to show laws from other states and territories. 

Changing your name when you are under 18

If you are married or have been married before, or if you are in a civil union, then you can formally change your name yourself, without your parents’ permission.

1. Changing your name with both parents’ permission

If you are under 18, the easiest way to formally change your name is with the permission of both of your parents. Your parents will have to apply to Access Canberra to change your name.  

Your parents will be required to prove that they are your parents. They will also need to show some documents that prove who you are. The application form has a checklist of documents that you will need to include with this application.  

2. Changing your name with one parent’s permission

An application to formally change your name can be made by one parent if: 

  • only one parent is named on your birth certificate; or 
  • one of your parents has died; or 
  • you are between age 12 and 16, and it’s not practical or reasonable to get the consent of both of your parents;
  • one of your parents applies to the ACT Supreme Court to get an order to change your name and the court decides that the change is in your best interests 
  • there is another court order that says your name should be changed.

3. Changing your name without your parents’ permission

In some cases, you can make an application to change your name without your parents’ permission or involvement. This can happen where: 

  • you are 16 or 17 and want to change your name to better reflect your gender identity; or 
  • you are under 16 and the court has allowed you to apply by yourself.

There are other options to formally change your name without your parents’ permission, but these involve going to court. If going to court is something that you would like advice about, you can contact us here.

Changing your name when you are 18 or older

If you are over 18, then you can apply to the ACT Registrar-General’s Office to change your name. You don’t need your parents’ permission to do this. 

When you apply to change your name, you will have to prove your identity. The application form has a checklist of documents that you will need to include.

Informally changing your name

If you want to use a different name, you can change your name informally by asking people like family, friends and your school to call you a different name. Changing your name informally is a free and easy way to change your name, and it gives you time to decide if you want to stay with your new name or change it back.

If you change your name informally like this, this change won’t appear on your legal documents such as a driver’s licence, a passport, a Medicare card or Centrelink because there’s no official record to show that you’ve changed your name.

Can my parents change my name if I don’t want to change it?

We sometimes get asked by young people if their parents can change their name without their permission, for example if one parent wants you to use their name after a family divorce. The law says that if you are over 14 and you can understand the consequences of changing your name, then your parents can’t change your name without your permission (unless there is a court order).

Need more help?

For free and confidential advice about this topic, please contact us here. 

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