The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation

 

Services › Births Deaths and Marriages › Name Change: Frequently Asked Questions

How can I change my name?
If you are aged 18 or over, or under 18 and have previously been or are currently married, in a civil union or in a de facto relationship, you need to complete a Name Change by Statutory Declaration (BDM 120) application form. Please see 'Changing a Name' for further information.


How do I change my child's name (if aged 2 or under and born in New Zealand)?
The legal guardian(s) can change the child's name by jointly signing a letter asking for this change, or by completing a Request for Name Change Within 2 Years of Birth Application Form (BDM 36) application form. Please see 'Changing a Name' for further information.


How do I change my child's name (if aged over 2 but under 18, or under 2 and born outside of New Zealand)?
To change your child's name, the legal guardian(s) of the child must complete a Name Change by Statutory Declaration of person aged under 18 who has not been married, in a civil union or de facto relationship (BDM122) application form. If one parent or guardian is not able to sign the form, the reason why one guardian may need to act alone must be described in the Statutory Declaration. Please see 'Changing a Name' for further information.

If the person whose name is being changed is aged 16 or 17, he or she must also agree to the name change by signing the application form.


What must the name consist of?
The new name must consist of one surname, and one or more other names, unless your religious or philosophical beliefs or cultural traditions require you to have only one name - in this case you are required to provide a letter of explanation.


What is not acceptable for a name?
The new name (or combination of names) may not be accepted for registration if:
  • it might cause offence to a reasonable person; or
  • it is unreasonably long (that is, it should be less than 100 characters long, including spaces); or
  • without adequate justification, it is, includes, or resembles, an official title or rank (in this case you are required to provide a letter of explanation); or
  • it is not a name (for example, it must not include numbers or symbols).

How long does it take?
The name change application takes approximately three weeks to process. Once completed, you will receive a letter advising you that the change of name has been registered. This letter is not proof of the name change. If the certificate fee was provided with the application, a new birth certificate or name change certificate (if the birth is registered overseas) will be sent to you.

If your birth is registered in New Zealand, the new names will be registered on your birth record. New birth certificates issued from that record will show the new name and all previous names.

If your birth is registered outside of New Zealand, the new names will be registered on the name change register. Name change certificates issued from that record will show the new name and all previous names registered on or after 25 January 2009.

Alternatively if your name change was registered before 25 January 2009, you can apply for a copy of the statutory declaration document for the fee of NZ$20.40. If your name was changed by deed poll prior to September 1995, you can apply for a certified copy of the deed poll for the fee of NZ$20.40.


How can I have the change of name noted on my marriage or civil union registration?
You need to complete all questions in the ' If your marriage or civil union is registered in New Zealand ' section of the form. There is an additional charge of NZ$46.00 for this service (plus NZ$26.50 for a new marriage or civil union certificate once the name change has been completed). We can only do this if the marriage or civil union took place in New Zealand.


Do I need to apply for a change of name if I want to use my spouse's or partner's surname or revert to my maiden or birth surname?
In New Zealand a person can call themselves by any name. Usually, if they are not formally changing their name on their birth registration, they will establish their new name through usage and reputation. An example of assuming a name is acquiring a spouse's/partner's surname after marriage/civil union.