Area of Law: Family Law
Answer Number: 130
Changing your name upon marriageRegion: Ontario Answer Number: 130
Many people change their name when they get married, as well as for other personal or professional reasons. There are different procedures involved in changing a person’s name depending on their age and the circumstances under which they want it changed.
There are four ways to change your name. First, you can assume your spouse’s surname (last name) upon marriage without completing a formal name change application. Second, you can legally change your surname based on marital status by completing an Election to Change Surname form. The right to change one’s surname based on marital status applies to both men and women.
Third, you can change your entire name for any other reason by completing An Application to Change an Adult’s Name. Last, you can apply to change your child’s name by completing An Application to Change a Child’s Name. Depending on why and when you change your name there may be a fee.
The law governing name changes is the Change of Name Act. All change of name applications are submitted to the Registrar General’s office at:
Office of the Registrar General
PO Box 3000
189 Red River Rd. 3rd Floor
Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5W0
Assuming your spouse’s surname upon marriage and resuming your former surname upon divorce or death of spouse
When you get married, you can change your last name by assuming your spouse’s last name (or combine both of your last names with a hyphen or combine both of your last names with a space in-between). To use this assumed name you do not need to make an application.
By using your government issued marriage certificate, and other government documents to prove your identity, Canadian citizenship and that you are an Ontario resident, you can obtain a new driver’s licence and health card. There is no cost to complete this type of surname change. Once you have a driver’s licence with your new assumed surname, you will be able to use your assumed name on your bank accounts and conduct other business under this new name. This type of name change will not change the surname on your birth certificate.
If you get a divorce or annulment, or upon the death of your spouse, you may once again resume using the surname you had immediately prior to your marriage. Because you assumed your spouse’s surname and did not formally change your surname, you do not need to complete a formal application to resume using your previous name. In order to change your surname on government documents, such as a driver’s licence, you will need to show your divorce papers (or spouse’s death certificate) together with documents (such as a birth certificate) showing the name you want to resume using.
Legally changing your last name upon marriage:
Election to Change Surname form
Upon marriage, in addition to the right to assume your spouse’s surname, you have the right to legally change your last name to your spouse’s last name (or combine both of your last names with a hyphen or combine both of your last names with a space in-between) by completing the Election to Change Surname form. Unlike assuming your spouse’s surname, this type of name change will appear on your Ontario birth certificate. You may also change your last name while you are living with a person in a conjugal relationship outside marriage. This applies to both opposite sex or same-sex couples.
To legally change your last name upon marriage, you will need to complete the Election to Change Surname form, which applies to both those who are legally married and to those living in a common-law relationship. There is no fee to submit this type of application provided you do so within 90 days of being married or of filing a joint declaration of conjugal relationship. After 90 days, the fee is $25. This form is only obtainable by calling 1-800-461-2156. In addition to completing this form, you will need to provide:
- Your marriage certificate, or if living common-law, a Joint Declaration of Conjugal Relationship form
- Birth Certificate(s)
- Change of Name Certificate(s) (if applicable)
- Police records check (if applicable)
After your application is processed you will receive a letter confirming the change. You will then need to order a new Ontario birth certificate, which will show your new name as well as your previous name. You will also be able to obtain other Ontario government issued documents, such as a driver’s licence and health card, which will show your new surname.
Legally change your last name after divorce, annulment, or the death of a spouse:
Election to Resume Former Surname form
After a marriage is dissolved by either a divorce, annulment or the death of your spouse, you may resume using the surname you had immediately before marriage. If you legally changed your last name to that of your spouse by completing the Election to Change Surname form (as opposed to simply assuming your spouse’s surname), then you will need to complete the Election to Resume Former Surname form.
In addition to the form, you will need to submit a copy of your divorce papers (or spouse’s death certificate), your change of name certificate, and your birth certificate, and submit these together with the $25 fee. This form can only be obtained by calling the Registrar General’s office at 1-800-461-2156. Once the change has been completed, you will receive a Change of Name Certificate.
It is important to know that the Election to Resume Former Surname application must be submitted within 90 days of the dissolution of your marriage, otherwise, you will be required to file a formal name change using the Application to Change an Adult’s Name form, which is a longer application process.
Changing a child’s last name
If you want to change the name of a child who is 17 years of age or younger and has lived in Ontario for at least the past 12 months, you must submit an Application to Change a Child’s Name. You must have legal custody of the child, and the child must be unmarried. As with the adult application, this form can be obtained online at ontario.ca in the forms section. The fee to change a child’s name is $22 for each child.
In addition to the application form and the fee, you will need to submit other documents, such as:
- birth certificate (or certified copy),
- if born outside Canada, proof of Canadian citizenship
- copy of name change certificates (if applicable)
- court certified copies of court orders, and police records check (if applicable)
The application form, the fee, and the supporting documents must then be submitted to the Registrar General’s office.
If a child 16 or 17 years old would like to change their name on their own, they can do so if they are married, or if unmarried, as long as they have the written consent of their parents, legal guardian, or anyone who has legal custody of them. In either case, they need to use the Application to Change an Adult’s Name and pay the $137 fee.
For more information on changing your name, you can call the Office of the Registrar General in Toronto at 416-325-8305 or toll-free 1-800-461-2156, or visit ontario.ca.
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