Keen to escape a lifetime of having my previous surname misspelled, I took the traditional route and took my husband’s surname. Which, of course, meant that I then had to go and update all my official documents.
I was surprised at how difficult it was at times to find the information I needed to update various documents. For example, my passport – there was no clear information available about how to actually change my name (where to go, what form to fill out, etc). So I thought I’d write about how I did it.
Keep in mind I live in New South Wales, Australia, and I changed my name in early 2015. Some of this information may not apply to your state (or country), or there may be a brand new process involved. But here’s what worked for me.
What name should I use when I go on my honeymoon?
To avoid trying to organise a passport in my new name too soon after the wedding (we left in two days to go overseas for our honeymoon), I made sure all travel plans were booked in my old name and used my existing passport. It made things a lot easier.
Getting your marriage certificate
Once I was back from the honeymoon two weeks later, I applied to get my official marriage certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. This document is absolutely critical to the process of getting all your other official documents updated with your new surname – any certificates you received from the wedding ceremony itself are not official. Mine took a full month to arrive after applying – probably because I applied during the Christmas / New Year period when everything is slower (and lots of people are tying the knot).
This cost me $51 and once you have this document, that’s it! Then, the fun begins…
Once you have your licence in your new name, that helps with verifying your new identity for a lot of other services. You are also required to update your licence within 14 days of changing your name or address. Take your official marriage certificate, your birth certificate, your old licence, and a completed Replacement Application form to the RMS office.
You’ll need to pose for a new photo so make sure your hairstyle meets the guidelines (which means no front fringe; my licence shows my hair parting in the middle like curtains on a stage thanks to not realising this requirement and using lots of hairspray that morning. Not a good look). Updating the name, and address if applicable, on your licence will also automatically update those details for any vehicles registered under your name.
You’ll walk out of there with a new licence but no need to pay for it – cherish this moment.
I waited until I had updated almost everything else BEFORE I went to update my passport. This way, I had all the various points of ID that they require in my new name.
To change your name on your passport, you will need to go through the process of applying for an entirely new passport. This is a massive hassle – detailed guidelines are available here.
First, rock up at your nearest Australia Post to ask for a new adult passport form, or you can fill one out online to print a filled-out version. While you’re there you can have your new passport photos taken for $17 (make sure you meet all the criteria). Fill out the form – at some point there will be an option to specify that you’re changing your name due to marriage.
Next, get your photos signed by your guarantor. Remember the guidelines for who can be a guarantor: most importantly, it can’t be your husband or member of your new family, they have to have known you for at least a year, and they need to EITHER possess a current (unexpired) Australian passport that was issued with at least two year’s validity, OR have been on the Commonwealth electoral roll at their current address for a minimum of 12 months. Your guarantor also needs to complete part of the passport forms.
Once you have your signed photos and completed form, collect your other supporting documents. I took my official marriage certificate, birth certificate, updated driver’s licence, an updated credit card showing my new name, and my old/existing passport. Make photocopies of all of these documents, including the details page of your old passport.
Take ALL of these – original documents plus the copies – to an Australia Post. You may need to make an appointment for a passport interview if the office is a busy one. They will check over your forms and documentation, chop out part of your old passport so that you can no longer use it, then return it to you so you get to keep all the stamps, yay.
After they’ve signed off, you’re done! No need to pay as long as you still have two years’ validity on your old passport. Your new passport will arrive in the mail soon after.
Australian Tax Office
Thankfully, this is very simple – it just involved a phone call. The ATO have very clear guidelines available online.
This is also very simple and can be done online quite simply. I used my updated driver’s licence as proof of my new name.
Bank account and bank card details
As well as changing my name on my bank cards and associated accounts, we took the opportunity to open a joint bank account at the same time. For this, we visited our local bank branch in person and provided the official marriage certificate plus our driver’s licences. A member of staff sat down with us in a private room to help make all the changes, so they will guide you through the process.
The process for updating your name with Medicare may differ depending on whether you want to keep a separate card to your partner, or merge both of your names onto a single new card with the same number. We chose the latter option.
You will need to go in person to a Medicare office with your official marriage certificate and existing Medicare card (I also had my drivers licence on me, and I think I had my birth certificate just in case, but from what I can gather this is not a requirement).
We filled out an Application to copy or transfer from one Medicare card to another form – your partner will also need to complete part of the form. I elected to transfer onto my husband’s Medicare card. From memory, I also needed to complete another separate form to change my name. This is something you’ll find out when you go to Medicare in person.
Each super fund may have different requirements for changing your name, so it’s best to simply find out what their particular process involves. Beware, though – most of them will require a certified copy of your official marriage certificate, and they will probably be very anal about making sure your certified copy meets their requirements to the letter.
Case in point: I took my marriage certificate plus a copy to an Australia Post and paid for them to certify it for me. I sent off the copy to my super fund along with the relevant form. They ended up rejecting the copy, saying it wasn’t properly certified because the Australia Post employee had only included their initials and not their full name. All my attempts to get them to send the certificate back to me or tell me whose initials were on the document were met with a “No”. Which meant I had to go back to Australia Post and ask them to do it again with no proof that they ever did so the first time. Thankfully they took my word for it and gave me a fresh, correctly certified copy free of charge which I could then send with a new form to my super fund.
For reference, here’s the requirements my super fund has for certified copies of documents:
Include the following details on the copy: stamp or write ‘This is a true and correct copy of the original’; their qualification (such as police officer); their name; their address and phone number, and; their signature and the date it was signed.
Car insurance (and any other insurance you may have)
For me, this meant updating my details for comprehensive car insurance, plus compulsory third-party / greenslip insurance. I also added my husband to my insurance policy as a registered driver. I was able to update my comprehensive insurance with AAMI over the phone, and walked into an NRMA shopfront to update my CTP insurance in person – these were simply the most convenient options for me at the time, but there are often multiple methods available.
Contracts in your name (eg, mobile phone, gym membership)
Any billing details held by someone else need to be updated to match your new surname, address, and bank details (if they have changed).
In closing: your circumstances are different to mine, so here’s a helpful checklist of other places you may need to change your name.
Image credit: Pure Love Photography