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Change your name

Region: Ontario Answer # 716

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. The law governing name changes is the Change of Name Act.

There are five ways to change your name:

  1. You can assume your spouse’s surname (last name) upon marriage without completing a formal name change application.
  2. You can legally change your surname based on marital status by completing an Election to Change Surname form.
  3. You can legally resume using your surname after a divorce, annulment or the death of your spouse by completing an Election to Resume Former Surname form. (Note that the right to change one’s surname based on marital status applies to both men and women).
  4. You can change your entire name for any other reason by completing An Application to Change an Adult’s Name.
  5. 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.

1. 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.

To get a copy of your marriage certificate, go to ontario.ca.  Visit a ServiceOntario centre with your marriage certificate and other required documents to change your name on your health card and driver’s licence.

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.

2. Legally changing your last name upon marriage:

Election to Change Surname – Form 1

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 1. 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 1, 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, there is a fee.  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. Visit ontario.ca for information on how to do this.

3. Legally change your last name after divorce, annulment, or the death of a spouse:

Election to Resume Former Surname – Form 2

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 1 (as opposed to simply assuming your spouse’s surname), then you will need to complete the Election to Resume Former Surname – Form 2.

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 the prescribed fee. Once the change has been completed, you will receive a Change of Name Certificate.

Request Election to Change Surname or Election to Resume Former Surname forms

You can request the Election to Change Surname form or the Election to Resume Former Surname form from the Registrar General’s office by calling toll-free 1-800-461-2156, or in the Greater Toronto Area 416-325-8305. You may also send a written request to:

Service Ontario – Office of the Registrar General
PO Box 3000
189 Red River Rd. 3rd Floor
Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5W0

4. Formal name change for reasons other than marriage:

Application to Change an Adult’s Name

The Application to Change an Adult’s Name is used to change your name for other than martial reasons. With this type of application you can change all of your names, as opposed to only your surname. There is a fee for this service. This type of name change will change the name on your Ontario birth certificate. The form is available online at ontario.ca. You can also request it by calling toll-free 1-800-461-2156 or in the Greater Toronto Area 416-325-8305. There is a fee for this service.

To change your name for a reason other than marriage, you must be:

  • 16 years of age or older, and
  • have lived in Ontario for at least one year before submitting the application.

In addition to completing the form, you will be required to submit other documents such as:

  • if born in Canada, original birth certificate (or certified copy),
  • copy of marriage certificate (if you are currently married) or a Joint Declaration of Conjugal Relationship form (if you are living common-law)
  • 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)

If you are 16 or 17 years old, and you are married, you can complete this application without the consent of your parents or guardian. You will, however, need to submit proof of your marriage. If you are 16 or 17 years old and not married, you will need to obtain permission from your parents, guardians or anyone who has legal custody of you before you can change your name.

Once the name change is completed, you will receive a Change of Name Certificate.

5. 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. This form can be obtained online at ontario.ca. You can also request it by calling toll-free 1-800-461-2156 or in the Greater Toronto Area 416-325-8305. There is a fee for this service.

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)

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 fee.

Submit completed name change forms by mail or in person

All name change application forms, fees, and supporting documents must then be submitted to the Registrar General’s office by mail or in person.

By mail:

ServiceOntario – Office of the Registrar General
PO Box 3000
189 Red River Rd. 3rd Floor
Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5W0

In person at:

ServiceOntario
47 Sheppard Ave. East, Unit 417, 4th Floor
Toronto, ON M2N 5N1

More information

For more information on changing your name applications and fees, 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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