Changing your name

A person may change their name for various reasons, such when they marry, to hide their identity or to adopt a more ‘acceptable’ or popular name.

You can change your name without formally registering a new name. At law, you can change your name through use and becoming known by your new name however, there are often instances which arise where you may be required to provide evidence of change of name. For such reasons, you can register your change of name.

The NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) is responsible for registering all changes of name in New South Wales. Prior to 1996, NSW Land & Property Information Service (formerly the Land Titles Office, and now NSW Land Registry Services) used to register Deed Polls Instrument Evidencing Change of Name.

Any individual over the age of 18 who was born in NSW, or permanent Australian residents living in NSW for at least 3 years, may register a change of name at BDM (unless you are a ‘restricted person’, such as an inmate, parolee, subject to a supervision order or a a forensic/correctional patent etc).

If you are a parent or legal guardian of a child under 18 years who satisfies these criteria, you may apply to register a change of their name. Children over the age of 12 however must consent to a change of name.

In NSW, you can only change your name once in a 12-month period and 3 times in your lifetime.

Most names can be registered, but not all. BDM will not register a name that:

  • is offensive;
  • is too long (exceeding 50 characters);
  • includes numbers and symbols such as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Jnr, Snr; or
  • could be confused with an official title or rank, such as colonel, premier, judge, saint, queen, prince.

In the case of marriage, if you wish to take your husband’s name, a formal change of name is not always required as a Marriage Certificate will usually suffice as evidence of the change however, in the case of re-marriage, if you continued to use your married name, unless you formally registered your married name with BDM, you must use your name as it appears on your birth certificate when you re-marry.

It is an offence to alter or use an additional or other name with the intention to act fraudulently or with an intention to deceive. Persons found to have done so may be subject to criminal proceedings.

Changing your name is relatively easy, provided you have the proper documentation.


For further information, please contact McKillop Legal on (02) 9521 2455 or email 

This information is general only and is not a substitute for proper legal advice. Please contact McKillop Legal to discuss your needs.

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