Changing your name after marriage or divorce can be a meaningful step towards starting a new chapter in your life. For residents of British Columbia, the process is governed by specific legal steps and requirements. This guide provides a detailed overview of how to legally change your name in BC, outlining the necessary documents and the steps involved in the process.

Understanding Name Changes in BC

In British Columbia, the process and rules for changing your name depend on the reason for the change. The process is streamlined and clear, whether you are changing your name after marriage, reverting to a previous name after a divorce, or choosing a new name for other personal reasons.

Changing Your Name After Marriage

1. Using Your Spouse’s Name Socially

  • In BC, you are allowed to use your spouse’s surname after marriage without legally changing your name. This is known as assuming a name. For many day-to-day purposes, such as social media and non-legal documents, this does not require any formal legal change.
  • If you decide to legally change your surname to your spouse’s surname or a combination of both, you will need your marriage certificate. The certificate used should be the official one issued by Vital Statistics, not just the ceremonial one provided by your marriage commissioner.
  • Documents Needed: Marriage certificate, current identification showing your birth name (such as a birth certificate or passport).
  • Steps Involved: You need to update your name with all relevant government agencies and organizations. Start with your Social Insurance Number, driver’s license, and BC Services Card/CareCard. Then, inform your bank, employer, and other important institutions.

Reverting to Your Birth Name After Divorce

1. Using Your Birth Name Socially

  • Similar to marriage, you can revert to using your birth name socially at any time without a legal name change.
  • If you want to revert to your birth name legally after a divorce, you generally need a legal name change unless your divorce decree allows you to revert to your birth name.
  • Documents Needed: Divorce decree (if it states the reversion), birth certificate, identification in your married name.
  • Steps Involved: As with changing your name after marriage, you will need to update your name with various government agencies and organizations.

If you decide on a completely new name or if reverting to your birth name legally without a supporting divorce decree, you must apply for a legal name change.

1. Eligibility

  • Must be a BC resident for at least three months.
  • Must be 19 years of age or older (minors require the application to be made by a parent or guardian).

2. Documents Needed

  • Current identification.
  • Birth certificate.
  • Additional documents might be required depending on your specific situation, such as immigration status or previous legal name changes.

3. Steps Involved

  • Complete the application form available from the BC Vital Statistics Agency.
  • Pay the applicable fee, which covers the filing and processing of your application.
  • Submit the application along with all required documentation for review by the Vital Statistics Agency.

Updating Your Documents

After your name change is legally recognized, you must update your name on all legal documents, including:

  • Social Insurance Number.
  • Driver’s license and vehicle registration.
  • Passport.
  • BC Services Card.
  • Bank accounts, credit cards, and loans.
  • Legal documents, such as leases, mortgages, and wills.

Important Considerations

  • Timeframe: The entire process of legally changing your name can take several weeks to months, depending on various factors, such as the accuracy of the submitted documents and the current workload of the Vital Statistics Agency.
  • Costs: There are costs associated with not only the application for a legal name change but also for updating documents such as your driver’s license and passport.

Pax Law can help you!

Changing your name in British Columbia is a process that requires careful consideration and strict adherence to the prescribed legal procedures. Whether you are changing your name due to marriage, divorce, or personal reasons, it is important to understand both the steps involved and the implications of your name change. Properly updating your legal documents is crucial to reflect your new identity and to ensure that your legal and personal records are in order. For individuals going through this transition, it is advisable to maintain detailed records of all changes and notifications made during this process.

Navigating the complexities of family law issues in British Columbia requires expert guidance and support. Amir-Homayoun Phil Rigi, an articling student at Pax Law Corporation, brings a unique blend of legal understanding, compassionate client care, and strategic advocacy to a wide range of family law matters. His personalized approach, commitment to efficiency, and dedication to protecting your rights make him a valuable ally. By working with Amir-Homayoun, you can achieve favorable outcomes in various family law proceedings, ensuring a brighter future for you and your family.

Our lawyers and consultants are willing, ready, and able to assist you. Please visit our appointment booking page to make an appointment with one of our lawyers or consultants; alternatively, you can call our offices at +1-604-767-9529.


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