Change of Name

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 Contents

Introduction

Your Legal Name

Changing Your Own Name

Naming Your Child

Changing Your Child's Name

Referral Numbers

 

Introduction

It is important for you to know that laws involved in changing your name are different in each province.  The information in this pamphlet will tell you what the law is in Alberta.

 

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Your Legal Name

Your legal name is the name that was put on your birth certificate when you were born.  Your legal name is your first and last names, and your middle names if you have any.  There are legal rules about how names are to be chosen and how to change names; you should know the rules before you change your own name, name your children, or change your children’s names.

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 Changing Your Own Name

How Do You Change Your Name?

 

If you want to change your name you do not have to change it legally.  You can just decide what you would like your name to be and then tell people like your family, friends, employer and co-workers that you would like them to call you by the new name. You cannot put this new name on any identification and it will not change the name on your birth certificate.  

 

You can make an application to legally change your name.  Making a legal name change is the only way to get a new birth certificate with your new name on it.  To change your name legally you must be at least 18 years old and you must be a resident of Alberta.  You can get an application form to legally change your name by going to any Alberta Registries office.  For the location nearest you, check the yellow pages of the phone book under License and Registry Services.

 

You will have to fill out an application and return it to a registry office with the required fees.  In Alberta it costs $120 per application.  Fees are also collected by your local law enforcement agency to obtain your fingerprints.  The local law enforcement agency will charge between $20-$55.  The Registry agent may also charge a service fee.  Contact a registry agent office for payment details.

  

Fingerprint Requirements


In Alberta, you are required to submit your fingerprints for identification purposes when you apply for a legal name change.  Fingerprints can be obtained from your local law enforcement agency and must be presented to the registry agent with your application.  Children do not need to provide their fingerprints when you apply to have their names changed. Fees are charged when your fingerprints are collected and when presented to the Registry agent.  The Registry agent submits your information to Vital Statistics who submits the information to the RCMP Civil Fingerprint Screening Services in Ottawa.  The RCMP Civil Fingerprint Screen Services Fee is $25.  The RCMP will not add your fingerprints to their records but they will be searched against existing fingerprints.  The RCMP will send the fingerprint form back to you in about 8 - 12 weeks of receiving it.


Getting Married


A woman does not have to change her last name to her husband’s last name when she gets married; a man also does not have to change his name when he gets married. When a married woman wishes to use her married last name, which is her husband's last name, she may assume just his last name or her last name combined with his, the order of the two names is optional.  The married man also has the same option.  This is not a legal change of name.  

 

This may vary from province to province.  It is advisable to contact the province in which you were married to determine their legislation requirements.

 

Both men and women have many options on what to do with their names when they get married:

  1. a person can decide not to make any changes to his or her name. 
  2. either the husband or the wife can choose to change his or her surname to the other person's surname.
  3. either the husband or the wife, or both, can decide to combine their two last names and/or hyphenate them.  For example, Janell Cook and Moose Moonbeam could become Janell and Moose Cook-Moonbeam.
  4. Married people can also decide to use the last name that they had at birth for legal purposes and a different last name for social purposes.  For example, after Janell Cook marries Moose Moonbeam she can keep using Cook as her legal name but her friends might call her Mrs. Moonbeam.
  5. Either partner can choose to legally change his or her name.

 

Once married, the woman may start changing her identification.  The woman can take the Marriage Statement or an official government Marriage Certificate to a registry agent to have a driver’s license and vehicle registration records changed to show the new last name.  The woman could then take the driver’s license in the new name and the marriage certificate/statement and go to the next place where she wants to her name changed and so on.

 

All identification should be eventually made to have the same name.  Some organizations will not accept the Marriage Statement as official proof of marriage and will require an official government Marriage Certificate.  Official government documents may be ordered from a registry agent.

 

A husband may also assume the last name of the bride.  As it is not traditionally recognized for the groom to assume the bride's last name, he may have problems with some organizations that will not recognize this change.  An option available to the groom is to have a legal change of name done.  Note: a legal change of name will change the groom's name on his birth certificate.

 

Changing Your Name Back to Your Maiden Name After Marriage

 

You do not have to legally change your name back unless you legally changed it in the first place.  Remember once you become married you do not have to legally change your name to start using your spouse’s last name.  If you did not legally change your name, you may decide to return to the last name on your birth certificate at any time.  Just present your Certificate of Birth proving your birth surname that you wish to use to the organization where you wish to have your name changed, and the identification will be changed.  It is suggested that you check with each organization where you wish to have your name changed to find out what it is that they require to make the change.  This is only if the marriage took place in Alberta.  If the marriage took place in another province, you should contact that provinces’ vital statistics department to determine what the process is for that province.  If the marriage took place outside of Canada, check the customs of that country.

 

Changing Your Name in a Common Law/Adult Interdependent Relationship

 

If you want to, you can change your name to the name of your adult interdependent/common law partner or you can hyphenate your partner’s name with your own.

 

The Adult Interdependent Relationship Act defines adult interdependent partners as:

  1. An adult who has lived with another adult in a relationship of interdependence (ex: common-law type relationship) for a continuous period of at least three years; OR
  2. An adult who has lived with another adult in a relationship of interdependence of some permanence if there is a child of the relationship (either by birth or adoption); OR
  3. An adult who has entered into an adult interdependent partner agreement with another adult.

 

Common-law relationships can include same-sex relationships.

 

Inheritance Rights

 

Changing your name does not in any way affect your inheritance rights.  Having someone’s last name does not give you more rights than anyone else, because other methods are used to determine entitlement to someone’s estate.

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Naming Your Child

Unmarried  Parents

 

If only the mother signs the Registration of Birth, the father’s information cannot be recorded on the Registration of Birth, and the child’s last name will be the mother’s maiden name or the mother’s currently used last name.

 

If both parents sign the Registration of birth, the father must be recorded on the Registration of Birth, and the child can have mother’s maiden name or mother’s currently used last name, the father’s last name, the mother’s maiden name or currently used last name hyphenated or combined with the father's last name (the order of names is optional), or a last name that is ethnically or culturally significant to the parent(s).

 

A combined name is the joining of two last names with or without a space or hyphen (example: Jones Smith; JonesSmith or Jones-Smith). Only one hyphen and only two last names may be used.

 

These rules apply even if the parents live in a common law relationship because they are legally unmarried.

 
 
Married Parents
 

PARENTS HAVE THE SAME LAST NAME:

 

If only one parent signs the Registration of Birth, the father’s must be recorded on the Registration of Birth, and the child’s last name must be the same last name as the parents.

 

If both parents sign the Registration of birth, the father must be recorded on the Registration of Birth, and the child can have mother’s maiden name or mother’s currently used last name, the father’s last name, the mother’s maiden name or currently used last name hyphenated or combined with the father's last name (the order of names is optional), or a last name that is ethnically or culturally significant to the parent(s).

 

PARENTS HAVE A DIFFERENT LAST NAME:

 

If only one parent signs the Registration of Birth, the father must be recorded on the Registration of Birth, and the child’s last name will be the mother and father’s last name hyphenated in alphabetical order.

 

If both parents sign the Registration of birth, the father must be recorded on the Registration of Birth, and the child can have mother’s maiden name or mother’s currently used last name, the father’s last name, the mother’s maiden name or currently used last name hyphenated or combined with the father's last name (the order of names is optional), or a last name that is ethnically or culturally significant to the parent(s).

 

PARENTS NOT MARRIED TO EACH OTHER BUT THE MOTHER IS MARRIED TO ANOTHER PERSON

 

When a married woman’s husband is not the father of the child, the mother may be eligible to complete a Statutory Declaration Re: Registration of Birth (REG 3111).

 

The mother must declare that the following four statements are true (on the statutory declaration).  If she can, her husband’s information may be left off the Registration of Birth:

  1. My husband is not the natural father of this child
  2. At the time of this child's conception, I was living separate from my husband
  3. During my pregnancy, I was a married woman
  4. I am the natural mother of this child

 

If the mother cannot declare the above statements to be true, her husband must be listed on the Registration of Birth, as the father of the child.  The child’s naming options are the same as if the parents are married to each other.

 

The Statutory Declaration must be completed at the time of the child’s birth and must accompany the Registration of Birth to avoid registration delays.

 

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Changing Your Child's Name

A person may not change a given name or surname of a child who is 12 years or older without the consent of the child.

 

Possible Names for Your Child

  

 A child’s surname can only be changed to:
 

  1. the surname or maiden surname of the mother
  2. the surname of the father
  3. the surname of the spouse or adult interdependent partner of the mother or of the father, or
  4. a hyphenated or combined version of the surnames in (1) to (3).

 
A child can not be given any other name, even if both parents agree to it.  Children can request to change their names to anything that they want once they are 18.   
 
Changing a Child’s Name After Parents Divorce

 

After parents divorce, the child’s name can be legally changed to a new name used by either of the parents.  Such a change of name requires the consent of both parents, the consent of the child if the child is over 12, and the consent of the step-parent if that is whose name is being used.  If one of the biological parents refuses to consent, the other parent can make an application in court to change the child’s name anyway, but then that parent will have to prove that it is in the best interests of the child to change the child’s name.

 

 Changing a Child's name After the Death of One Parent


A parent can change the name of his or her child to a new spouse’s name if the other parent has died and it is with the consent of the new spouse.  
 
 
Children and Common-Law Relationships

 

Parents can apply to legally change their children's names or they can informally change their children's names through common usage.  If the parent wishes to change the child’s surname to the surname of the parent’s new spouse or common-law spouse/adult interdependent partner who is also a parent of the child, the parent would need that persons consent, and the consent of the other biological parent.  If the parent wanted to change the child's surname to the surname of the child's biological father, the parent may do so if the alleged father has been declared by the court to be the father or has acknowledged paternity.  If the child is 12 years old or older, the child must consent to having his or her surname changed.

 

Adoption


When a child is adoptedby two parents, the child is given that father's last name, unless the parents choose something else.  The child gets a new birth certificate.  The child must consent if he/she is 12 years old or older.
 
 
Publication of Name Changes
 
Name changes are published in the Alberta Gazette by the Director of Vital Statistics.  The Court of Queen’s Bench can dispense with the need for publication if it will unduly prejudice or embarrass the person.  The Director may also dispense with the need for publication if the change is minor, or if the person is commonly known under the name applied for.

 

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Referral Numbers 

Division of Vital Statistics 780-427-7013
Lawyer Referral Services 1-800-661-1095 (toll free)
Student Legal Services of Edmonton 780-492-2226
SLS Civil / Family Office 780-492-8244

 

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