Evidence of name change
Australian birth certificate endorsed with change of name details
A full original Australian birth certificate issued by a State or Territory Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages (RBDM) endorsed with the change of name details is acceptable evidence of a person’s change of name.
Citizenship certificate issued in the new name
An original Australian citizenship certificate issued in the new name by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is acceptable evidence of a person’s change of name.
If an applicant requesting a name change has submitted an Australian citizenship certificate as the cardinal document, the passport must be issued in the name appearing on the citizenship certificate. If the applicant wants to include a different name in an Australian travel document to that on the citizenship certificate, the applicant must submit a change of name certificate issued by RBDM in the state of (previous) residence.
Where an applicant claims the details (such as spelling, date of birth etc) are incorrect on their Australian citizenship document or any other DIAC document, they are to be directed to DIAC to have the certificate amended and a new certificate issued before any change will be acceptable for inclusion into a passport.
See also ‘ Citizenship certificate - subsequent name change ’.
Citizenship certificate - subsequent name change
The existence of a RBDM name change (or revised birth) certificate does not preclude an applicant seeking to have appearing in his/her Australian travel document the name/s recorded on a valid DIAC citizenship certificate.
As DIAC is not always advised of name changes and the RBDM name change certificate is not linked to DIAC records, it is possible for a person to hold a valid DIAC citizenship certificate after formally (with a RBDM) renouncing the name recorded on their DIAC citizenship.
Should an applicant seek to have the name recorded on a presented valid citizenship certificate appear in their Australian travel document, and present a RBDM issued name change or revised birth certificate at the same time refer the case to passports firstname.lastname@example.org.
Change of name certificate
RBDM change of name certificate
A change of name certificate issued by a State or Territory Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages (RBDM) in Australia should be obtained where a person:
- was born overseas and wishes to change the name appearing on their citizenship certificate and they are normally resident in Australia;
- was born in Australia or overseas and normally resident in Australia marries overseas and wishes to include the married name in the travel document;
- was born in Australia but normally resident overseas and wishes to adopt a new name should apply for a name change certificate from the RBDM in the State or Territory of birth or previous residency.
Foreign change of name certificate
An foreign change of name certificate (with English translation if requested) should be obtained from a local equivalent of a foreign government authority responsible for registering name changes where a person:
- was born overseas and is not normally resident in Australia and wishes a new name included in a travel document and the person is unable to obtain a name change certificate from an RBDM in Australia. See ‘ Overseas marriage/divorce/death of spouse ’.
Deed Poll document
Original Deed Poll documents may be accepted as evidence of a change of name, if it was issued by an authority that kept a register of names under a law of an Australian state or territory. Such authorities, although not a RBDM at the time of the issue of the document, acted in a similar capacity to current RBDMs.
The table below lists the state/territory authorities that registered Deed Poll documents.
Note: A Deed Poll document registered in South Australia is not acceptable.
Accepting a Deed Poll document
State or Territory
Past or present registering Authority
Accept as Evidence of Name Change?
Office of the Registrar of Titles, or Office of Regulatory Services
Land Titles Office, now Department of Lands
Queensland Supreme Court
Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages
Office of Titles and Deeds, Registrar of Deeds and Transfers
General Register Office
Registrar General’s Office
Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages
Marriage or registered relationship certificate
Names in passport Section 53(3) Australian Passports Act 2005
Regardless of the names appearing on an applicant’s Australian citizenship or Australian birth certificate (the cardinal documents), under the Australian Passports Act 2005, Section 53 (3), the given name/s and family name appearing on a valid Australian RBDM marriage or registered relationship certificate may appear in an Australian travel document.
Given name/s to appear in an Australian travel document
The applicant may choose to have appearing in their Australian travel document the given names/s from their cardinal document or Australian RBDM marriage or registered relationship certificate.
An applicant may nominate the whole group of given name/s exactly as they appear (order/spelling) on a single valid RBDM or DIAC certificate.
Note: To appear in an Australian travel document the given name/s chosen by the applicant must be compatible with the family name combinations outlined in the section ‘ Family name/s to appear in an Australian travel document ’.
Family name/s to appear in an Australian travel document
The applicant may nominate to appear in their Australian travel document the family name/s shown on their RBDM marriage or registered relationship certificate.
The applicant (either bride or groom; or either partner of a Registered Relationship) may choose one of the following family name options from the names appearing on their RBDM registered marriage or registered relationship certificate:
- Retain their existing family name (the family name on their cardinal document);
- Adopt their spouse’s/partner’s family name;
- Adopt the family name as recorded on a RBDM marriage or registered relationship certificate;
- Add their spouse’s/partner’s family name to their own name, either with or without hyphens and either by adding the name before or after their existing family name.
For example, if Mary Smith marries Barry Brown, their names could be:
Mary Smith Brown
Barry Brown Smith
Mary Brown Smith
Barry Smith Brown
For example, if Lisa Smith registers her relationship with Tammy Jones, their names could be:
Lisa Smith Jones
Tammy Jones Smith
Lisa Jones Smith
Tammy Smith Jones
Inconsistent family name/s across certificates
Occasionally, an Australian RBDM marriage or registered relationship certificate will record a family name that does not match (is inconsistent with) the family name on the applicant’s Australian birth or Australian citizenship certificate.
In such cases an applicant may nominate to appear in their Australian travel document one of the two following options:
- any single or combination of family name/s recorded on a valid Australian RBDM:
- marriage, or
- registered relationship certificate.
- the family name/s as recorded on one of the following valid Australian documents from which they chose the given name/s:
- RBDM birth certificate (exactly as recorded), or
- DIAC citizenship certificate (exactly as recorded), or
- RBDM marriage certificate (sing/comb), or
- RBDM registered relationship certificate (sing/comb).
It is important to note that:
- The family name recorded on the RBDM marriage or registered relationship certificate may appear in the Australian travel document singularly or in combination with the family name of the applicant’s partner as is current practice.
- If using the inconsistent family name appearing on the RBDM marriage or registered relationship certificate, as the name to appear in the travel document, no spelling variations are permitted.
Family name/s on subsequent travel documents
Once a combination of family names is nominated and appears in an Australian travel document, the person cannot nominate a different combination of names to appear in a subsequent Australian travel document without a RBDM name change certificate.
Consistent with current policies the person may revert, on a subsequent Australian travel document, to their birth/citizenship name or previous married/registered relationship name.
Unacceptable marriage certificates
Marriage certificates issued in Australia by a marriage celebrant or religious leader are not acceptable for change of name in a passport. Such marriages need to be registered with a State or Territory Registrar Births, Deaths and Marriages (RBDM) and an RBDM marriage certificate produced in support of the married family name in an Australian travel document.
An Extract of a marriage certificate or Certificate of Particulars of Marriage issued by some RBDMs are not acceptable documents for change of name as they do not contain a registration number which can be validated against the RBDM record.
An applicant normally resident in Australia, who was married overseas, is required to submit a change of name certificate issued by RBDM before the name on the foreign marriage certificate can be accepted for use in an Australian passport. The original of the foreign marriage certificate (suitably translated) is required only when a gratis family name change is requested.
An applicant born overseas and residing overseas who is unable to register a name change or marriage certificate from any RBDM in Australia may use the name specified on a marriage certificate (suitably translated) issued by a foreign authority. See ‘ Overseas marriage/divorce/death of spouse ’.
Where an applicant has assumed the name of his or her common law partner (de-facto relationship) a RBDM change of name certificate is required before the new name can be accepted for inclusion in an Australian passport. Normal fees apply.
If the de-facto relationship has been registered with RBDM in the relevant states and territories, the relationship certificate is required before the new name can be accepted for inclusion in an Australian passport. A gratis passport may be issued provided normal requirements are met.
Same sex marriage
Same sex marriages are not recognised in Australia (Marriage Act 1961- Section 88EA) and therefore a same sex marriage certificate may not be used as evidence of a name change.
In cases of same sex marriages, a name change certificate issued by RBDM or the relevant foreign name change authority must be presented. Normal fees apply.
Alternatively, the applicant may consider obtaining an Australian RBDM issued registered relationship certificate from the relevant states or territories. This would be accepted as evidence of a name change.
Reverting to Australian birth or citizenship name/s
Either person recorded on an Australian marriage or registered relationship certificate between adults may revert to their Australian birth or citizenship name at any time provided neither person has formally renounced their Australian birth or citizenship name.
There is no requirement for divorce papers or a revocation of a registered relationship certificate if reverting to an Australian birth or citizenship name/s unless the applicant:
- is required to establish a chain of name change documents linking the current name/s to the Australian birth or citizenship name/s and/or,
- is applying for a gratis replacement document due to name change.
Gratis passport: family name change due to marriage/registered relationship
People about to marry or enter a registered relationship are issued with a full validity passport in their current name. Within one year of the marriage/registered relationship the passport may be replaced gratis in the family name of either person recorded on the marriage or registered relationship certificate, valid to the expiry date of the original document provided appropriate documentation is submitted.
See also ‘ Gratis Passports ’.
Divorce decree/revocation of registered relationship or death certificate of spouse or adult partner of a registered relationship
A divorce decree/revocation of a registered relationship or the death certificate of their spouse or adult partner of a registered relationship is acceptable evidence to revert to a name previously recorded by RBDM or DIAC.
After divorce or the death of their spouse an applicant may choose to:
- Retain their married family name and renew their passport in the normal manner. Normal fees apply;
- Revert to their birth family name by submitting their original birth certificate, original divorce decree/death certificate/revocation of registered relationship certificate and any other documents required to prove the link between these names. Gratis issue may apply;
- Revert to the family name they used immediately before their marriage/registered relationship provided the family name was registered with RBDM by submitting the original divorce decree/death certificate/revocation of registered relationship certificate and original marriage certificate. Gratis issue may apply;
- Adopt a combination of their married family name (or name adopted after a registered relationship) and their family name before marriage or entering a registered relationship by submitting a RBDM change of name certificate. Gratis issue may apply; or
- Adopt another name in which case they must submit a RBDM change of name certificate (or local equivalent from a foreign government authority responsible for name change if they were born overseas and normally reside overseas and are lodging their application overseas). Normal fees apply.
Gratis passport: family name change due to divorce or death of spouse or revocation of registered relationship
Only one gratis passport may be issued to an applicant for a family name change (Australian Passports Determination 2005, 8.2(b) applies). Any application must be received within one year of a name change event.
Gratis issue is only available for the first normal passport issued after the event and the expiry date of the new passport will be the same as that on the document being replaced.
- Note: Emergency and limited validity passports are not ‘normal’ passports for the purposes of this provision.
See also ‘ Gratis Passports ’.
Court order directing child’s change of name
Where an Australian court order directs a name change for a child, it is preferable for the name to be registered in the first instance with RBDM (in the State where the minor was born in Australia), and a revised birth certificate or change of name certificate issued.
Where a foreign court order seeks a name change of a minor born in Australia the applicant should be advised to have the new name registered in Australia with RBDM (unless the foreign court order is registered in Australia – in which case it is legally binding i.e. it carries the same force of law as an Australian court order).
Applicants submitting a court order directing a new name for a child should be encouraged to have the court order registered with RBDM.
Foreign court orders which change the name of a minor NOT born in Australia may be accepted provided both parents give consent to the issue of a passport on the PC8 application form.
Overseas marriage/divorce/death of spouse
Although the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages (RBDM) will not register an overseas marriage, divorce or death of a spouse, subject to meeting state or territory minimum residency requirements, a client may however register with RBDM authorities a change of name resulting from an overseas marriage, divorce or death of a spouse.
A clear link must be established between the applicant’s Australian citizenship name and the name to appear in their Australian passport. The most recent change of name should (where possible) be supported by documentation issued by a foreign government authority that would be responsible for the issue of such documentation in Australia i.e. a RBDM or court.
Any previous name changes should be supported by documentation where it is necessary to establish a link between the base name and the name to appear in the passport but this does not necessarily have to be from a foreign government equivalent of an Australian RBDM or court.
Requirements to be met
Documents that are the overseas equivalent to an Australian marriage certificate, change of name certificate, death certificate or Decree Nisi (divorce papers) issued by an appropriate foreign government authority may be used as evidence of a change of name to support the name to appear in an Australian passport if:
- the applicant was born overseas; and
- the applicant normally resides overseas; and
- cannot obtain a change of name certificate from an Australian RBDM; and
- the application is lodged overseas.
In addition to the overseas document/s supplied to evidence a change of name, the adult applicant should provide:
- an English translation of foreign language document/s (see ‘ Foreign language documents - translations ’), and
- Proof of Identity documents (PIDS) showing their normal place of residence (see ‘ Personal Identity Documents (PIDS) ’), and
- PIDS showing the name they want to appear in the passport, and
- English translation (by post is acceptable) of foreign language PIDS where appropriate.
DOI/COI/CTD or Emergency passport
A person who wishes to change their name on a Document of Identity (DOI), Certificate of Identity (COI) or Convention Travel Document (CTD), and has permanent resident status, should provide the appropriate certificate from the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages (RBDM).
As a general rule, applicants who do not possess permanent resident status cannot have a DOI/COI/CTD issued in a name other than the name shown on their visa unless the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has confirmed the new name has been endorsed into its database.
A change of name cannot be included in an Emergency Passport or Document of Identity issued at post even where the applicant has provided all necessary documentation to support a change of name. The new name may only be processed by a Production Centre and included in any full validity passport issue.
Foreign issued documents
In the case of foreign issued documents that support an applicant’s name change the applicant must submit:
- original foreign documentation issued by the relevant government authority that clearly establishes the identity of the applicant and the link between the two names; and
- an English translation of the document/s from a DIAC recognised translating and interpreting service where necessary, see ‘ Foreign language documents - translations ’.
All documents are to be scanned with the application form.