Changing your name 

How old do I have to be before I can change my name?

If you are under 18 years of age you can’t legally change your name (unless you’re married, in a civil union or de facto relationship). Your parents or guardians have to agree to change your name and apply on your behalf.

If your parents don’t want you to change your name, you’ll have to wait until you are 18 years old and can change it without their permission. On the flipside, if you are aged 16 or 17 your parents can’t change your name unless you agree.

At any stage you could consider just asking people to call you by another name without legally changing it. You just need to make sure you use your legal name for official purposes.  

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How do I change my name?

You can change your name if you are 18 years of age or older (or you’re under 18 but you’re married, in a civil union, or a de facto relationship) and you are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.

You do this by applying to Births, Deaths and Marriages, part of the Department of Internal Affairs. It costs around $170  to change your name (or around $55 for a child under two  years of age).

You have to fill out an application form and sign the statutory declaration that is part of the form in front of a lawyer, Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Justice of the Peace (JP) or another authorised official. The person who saw you fill out the declaration must also sign the form. You also need to provide photo ID and other proof of your identity with your application.

If your birth was registered outside of New Zealand, you’ll need to provide some additional supporting documents to prove when and where you were born and that you are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.

The completed form, the supporting documents, and the required fee can be taken or posted to a Births, Deaths and Marriages office, or can be scanned and emailed, along with payment details.

More about how to change your name, including the downloadable application form, is on the website.

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Can I change my child’s name?

Child is aged between 2  years and 18 years or was born outside New Zealand
If your child is aged two years or older and is under 18 years old (and is not married, in a civil union or de facto relationship) and they were born in New Zealand, or were born outside New Zealand but are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, you can apply to change their name. 

If your child is over 16, you cannot change their name without their consent, and your child’s consent must be recorded on the declaration form.

You'll need certified copies of documents that prove the identity of all your child's parents or legal guardians. If your child was born outside New Zealand, you'll also need documents that show when and where they were born, and that they're entitled to permanently stay in New Zealand.

In general, all parents or legal guardians have to agree to the name change and complete an application form, which includes a statutory declaration. In certain circumstances the form can be signed by just one parent or guardian but you’ll need to explain why it’s not possible and provide evidence in support.

More about changing your child's name if they are aged between two and 18 years, including the downloadable application form, is on the website.

Child under the age of two years and born in New Zealand

If you decide to change your child’s name within two years of their birth, then the process is pretty easy. You just need to complete the appropriate application form. You don’t have to provide additional documents (unless only one parent or guardian is applying and you need to explain why). It costs around $55.

More about changing your child's name if they are aged under two years and born in New Zealand, including the downloadable application form, is on the website. 

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Are there any rules about what names I can and can’t use?

Your name (or the name you give your child) has to include a surname and one or more other names. If there is a religious, philosophical or cultural reason why you only want to have one name you have to explain this in a letter and provide this with your application.

There are some reasons why a name might not be accepted. It must not be:

  • offensive to a reasonable person
  • longer than 100 characters, including spaces
  • an official title or rank, or resemble one (eg, "Justice", "Prince", "Princess", "Sergeant", "President", "Messiah") unless you can justify why you should be allowed that name
  • spelled with numbers or symbols (eg, "V8").

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Now that I’ve legally changed my name how can I get my new name on official documents?

If you want your new name to be on official ID, such as your passport or drivers licence, you will need proof of your name change, such as a Birth Certificate (if born in New Zealand) or a Name Change Certificate (if born outside of New Zealand).

You can request either of these from Births, Deaths and Marriages - there is an additional fee of around $30 for these certificates.

More about this is on the website.

Name change on marriage or civil union register
If you are married or in a civil union, and it took place in New Zealand, you can request a new marriage or civil union certificate with your new name on it. It will cost around $55 to have the name changed on the register plus around $33 for the new certificate.

Name change and your passport
You can do this when you apply for a new New Zealand passport or passport renewal. If you changed your name in New Zealand you can do this online and don’t need any other documents. If your name change was registered outside of New Zealand you will need to provide a name change document. It takes about 15 working days to get a new passport under your new name.

Changing your name on your driver licence
You can wait until you have to renew your driver licence or endorsement (normal renewal fee applies), or pay around $40 for a replacement licence.

You may also need to notify government agencies, utility companies (e.g. electricity provider) and other organisations about your change of name.

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I recently got married and want to use my spouse’s last name. Can I do this or do I have to legally change my name?

If you get married or enter a civil union you have a number of options about what you can do with your name without having to legally register a name change.

You can:

  • keep your last name;
  • take your wife’s, husband’s or partner's last name; or
  • hyphenate or use a combination of both your last names.

The marriage or civil union certificate showing your spouse or partner’s surname can be used as evidence of your new name. (Note, because your name change is being done informally, you can also change back to your original name without having to go through any procedures).

If you and your partner want to create a completely new name (eg, a merged version of your two names) then you have to go through the legal process of changing your name.

More about this is on the website.
If you change your name by marriage or civil union you can still travel on a passport that’s in your original name – just remember to book your travel using the name that’s in your passport. Alternatively you can apply for a new passport with your new name on it (see the previous question).