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 formally change your name in South Australia if: 

  • you were born in South Australia; or 
  • you were born outside Australia, your birth is not registered in another state or territory in Australia and you have been living in South Australia for the past 12 months (however, the 12-month requirement can be waived in some situations).

If you weren’t born in South Australia and you haven’t lived here for at least 12 months, then you need to apply to change your name in the state or territory 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

You can change your name yourself after you turn 18. Here are the options for changing your name while you are under 18. 

1. Changing your name with both parents’ permission 

If you are under 18 and you want to change your name formally, you will generally need the permission of both of your parents or guardians.

Your parents or guardians will have to apply to Births, Deaths and Marriages South Australia to change your name. Your parents or guardians will be required to include evidence 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 change a child’s name may be made by one parent if:  

  • that parent is the only parent named on your birth certificate; or 
  • one of your parents has died; or  
  • one of your parents or guardians applies to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for approval to change your name (or there is another court order that says your name should be changed).

3. Changing your name without your parents’ permission 

There might be situations where you want to change your name, but you don’t feel safe to ask your parents, or your parents don’t agree.  

In these situations, there might be other options for you to change your name that involve you 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 over

If you are over 18, then you can apply to Births, Deaths and Marriages South Australia to change your name. You do not need your parents’ permission to do this.  

When you apply to change your name, you will have to include evidence to prove who you are.  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 by 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 change your name informally like this, this change won’t appear on your legal documents such as a driver’s licence, passport, 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 in South Australia says that if you can understand the consequences of changing your name, your parents can’t change your name without your permission (unless there’s a court order).

Need more advice?

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

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