It’s one of the most common questions a celebrant is asked. Short answer, it can get complicated.
Depending on what part of your name, if any, you want to change after you get married, the process can differ. It can also differ depending on which State or Territory you married in, and which State or Territory you live in.
WOWSERS. LET’S HELP CLEAR THIS OUTSTARTING WITH A FEW SIMPLE THINGS
- Anyone can choose to change their name after marriage (or not), regardless of gender identity.
- There is no time limit for changing your name, take all the time you need.
- Yes, you can change your mind!
If you are simply taking your partner’s surname after marriage, or if you are going to do the double-barrel surname thing (with or without a hyphen), you DO NOT need to register a formal change of name with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in your State or Territory. This is called changing your name “by custom”, and the registered marriage certificate issued by the authorities is enough. More on that below.
If you plan to create a completely new surname together, or if you plan to make any changes to your given names (ie first and middle names), then you DO need to register an official name change. In this case, you will need a Change of Name certificate. For more guidance on this, talk to your celebrant, or contact your local registry.
A surname change “by custom” after marriage is the most common. You can start using your new surname immediately after your marriage ceremony, but to update your identification, you’ll often need to show proof that your marriage is registered. That’s why the commemorative certificate you receive from your celebrant on the wedding day usually won’t do the trick for name changes – because the government hasn’t received the paperwork yet!
So, you’ll need the REGISTERED marriage certificate. Depending on your State or Territory, sometimes your celebrant can arrange this for you (and may or may not charge an additional fee). In States and Territories with electronic lodgement of marriage documents, celebrants can often order the certificate as part of the lodgement process.
In paper-based lodgement States and Territories, such as Western Australia, it’s usually a certificate you’ll need to order yourself, and should be available around a month after your wedding day.
Need to know how to order that certificate? Or what to do now you have that certificate in hand? Check out our handy name change guide here!