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 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 NSW if: 

  • you were born in NSW; or 
  • you were born outside Australia, your birth is not registered in Australia and you have been living in NSW for the past 3 years. 

If you weren’t born in NSW and you haven’t lived here for at least the last 3 years, then you need to apply to change your name in the state or territory where you were born in or have lived in for a certain period 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. Otherwise, here are your options: 

1. Changing your name with both parents’ permission 

If you are under 18, the easiest way to change your name formally is with the permission of both of your parents or guardians. Your parents or guardians will have to apply to the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages to change your name.  

Your parents or guardians will be required to prove that they are your parents or guardians. 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 to complete this application.  

2. Changing your name with one parent’s permission 

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

  • only one parent is named on your birth certificate; or 
  • one of your parents has died or;  
  • one of your parents or guardians applies to the District Court to get an order to change your name because they think this is in your best interests (or there’s another court order that says your name should be changed).

3. Changing your name without your parents’ permission 

If neither of your parents agree to you changing your name, there might be other options that involve you going to court. Going to court is a big decision, but if it 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 NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, to change your name. You don’t need your parents’ or guardians’ 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 and friends 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. 

But if you do 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 can understand the consequences of changing your name, your parents can’t change your name unless you agree (unless there’s a court order).

Need more help?

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

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