Changing your name

Changing your name is a big decision. You can change your name informally by asking people around to call you what you like, but you can consider formally changing your name if you want formal recognition of your new name. It is important to talk to family and friends about your decision – especially since people under 18 can’t change their name without permission from parents.

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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. You don’t need to fill in any forms for this.  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 to your original name.

But if you change your name informally like this, this change may not be reflected in all aspects of your life. For example, when you apply for your driver’s licence, a passport, a Medicare card or Centrelink, your new name will not be recognised because there’s no official record to show that you’ve changed your name.

Formally changing your name

If you’re under 18 and you want to change your name formally, you’ll generally need the permission of both of your parents/guardians.   Your parents/guardians will have to apply to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. To change your name in the Northern Territory, you need to have been born there or lived there for more than 12 consecutive months.

If you weren’t born in the Northern Territory and you haven’t lived there for more than 12 consecutive months, then you need to apply to change your name in the state/territory you were born in/have lived in for a certain period of time.  To find out how about the laws in other states, please click Change State at the top of the screen.

Generally both of your parents or guardians will need to sign the form to change your name unless:

  • only one parent is named on your birth certificate; or
  • one of your parents has died or;
  • one of your parents/guardians applies to the Supreme Court or Family Court to get an order to change your name because they think this is in your best interests.
  • you’re under 18 and married, or you have been married before.  If you’re in this situation, you don’t need anyone’s permission to change your name – see the section on Over 18’s (below).

How to apply to change your name

For the application form to change a child who is older than 12 months click here. Please note that if you were born interstate you will have to apply with the state you were born in, and if you were born overseas there will be additional requirements.

How much does it cost to change your name?

It costs $92.00 to change your name formally. If you need to get the registration and certificate in a hurry, or you need to have it sent by express post you will need to pay an additional cost.

What documents do I need to show to change my name?

Your parents/guardians will have to provide evidence to prove that they are your parents/guardians.  They will also need to show some documents that prove who you are. For more information on what documents you need to show to change your name, visit the Northern Territory Births, Deaths and Marriages website here.

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.   

If you’re over 14 years old, your parents can’t change your name unless you agree or a court decides that it’s in your best interest. In deciding what’s in your best interests, the court will take into account your views, but they don’t have to follow them.  Other things the Court can consider include:

  • how you feel about each parent
  • how often you see both of your parents
  • any feelings of being confused about your identity; and
  • if you’ll be embarrassed by having a different name from the person you normally live with

I’m over 18 – how can I change my name?

If you were born in the Northern Territory or you have lived there for more than 12 consecutive months then you can apply to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to change your name. You can download an application form here.

If you are 18 or over and apply to change your name, you will also have to provide evidence to prove who you are. For more information on what documents you need to show, click here. Please note that if you were born interstate you will have to apply with the state you were born in, and if you were born overseas there will be additional requirements.

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