Names

Requirements

Names in Australian travel document

The names appearing in an Australian travel document should be exactly as appears on the person’s cardinal document.

For the purposes of passport applications the applicant’s cardinal document is the person’s:

The person’s name appearing on these documents is also known as the person’s base name.

Where a person wishes to include in their travel document a name other than a name on their cardinal document, then this must be supported by acceptable evidence of a change of name, see ‘ Evidence of name change ’.

In rare circumstances where a name on a cardinal document includes a foreign character, a transliteration can be requested. This must be approved by emailing passports_policy@dfat.gov.au - the Passport Policy Section.

When a person holds multiple Australian travel documents and they change their name, all travel documents must be changed to reflect the name change.

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 policy@dfat.gov.au.

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:

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:

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?

ACT

Office of the Registrar of Titles, or Office of Regulatory Services

Yes

NSW

Land Titles Office, now Department of Lands

Yes

Qld

Queensland Supreme Court

Yes

NT

Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages

Yes

WA

Office of Titles and Deeds, Registrar of Deeds and Transfers

Yes

SA

General Register Office

No

Vic

Registrar General’s Office

Yes

Tas

Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages

Yes

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:

For example, if Mary Smith marries Barry Brown, their names could be:

For example, if Lisa Smith registers her relationship with Tammy Jones, their names could be:

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:

It is important to note that:

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.

Married overseas

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 ’.

De-facto relationship

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:

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:

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.

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:

In addition to the overseas document/s supplied to evidence a change of name, the adult applicant should provide:

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:

All documents are to be scanned with the application form.

Frequent name changes

Several name changes since birth or last passport

Where a person has had a series of name changes since the last passport was issued, or since birth, only the most recent name (i.e. the name to appear in the travel document) is to be included on the application form. This name needs to have been registered with RBDM or supported by a DIAC issued citizenship certificate or comply with the requirements set down under this policy for certain applicants (e.g. persons born overseas). However:

Name links and PIDS

Proving links between name changes

Applicants who have several name changes (e.g. people changing name due to marriage/s) are only required to present name change documents that directly link their base name on their cardinal document to the name/s to appear in their passport. For example:

Names appearing on documents presented that are not required to demonstrate a link between the passport and base name should nevertheless be recorded in PICS as an ‘other name/s’.

Documents not listed as acceptable evidence of name change can be used to provide the link between the base name and previous names (e.g. a marriage certificate issued by a marriage celebrant or religious leader) but such documents cannot be used to support the latest name change, i.e. the name to appear in the travel document.

Checking PIDS when there is a name change

Where a name change is involved, an applicant’s personal identity documentation (‘ Personal Identity Documents (PIDS) ’) (i.e. bank accounts, drivers licence etc) do not necessarily have to match the name on the cardinal document / name requested in the travel document and passport staff have no authority to ask applicants to change the name on any PIDS documentation presented.

This recognises that some people may be known in the community by a different name to their birth name or do not want to use a middle name on the PIDS or have simply not had the opportunity to change all their PIDS documents (i.e. a person just married).

Name acceptability

Indigenous Australians

Where an Indigenous Australian applies for a passport and lacks normal RBDM documentation or wishes to obtain a passport in other than their registered birth name, the applicant should be asked to register the birth or their change of name with RBDM. Where this proves problematical, a name-trail statement (B11 General Declaration) should be sought explaining the history of the applicant’s names. This must be supported by a letter from community elders or from a reputable body within the cultural area, such as a church or appropriate Government organisation.

Anglicised names

No anglicised names are permitted to be included in a travel document unless they appear on the cardinal document (e.g. birth or citizenship certificate) or the applicant has a change of name certificate issued from RBDM. Examples include, but are not limited to, Antonio to Tony, Roberto to Robert, Giuseppe to Joseph, Mei to May.

Use of a single name

A single name is acceptable only where supported by a cardinal document. A passport may be issued with the single name in the family name field. On the application form three check digits ‘XXX’ should be written in the space for given names only. These check digits will not appear in the passport.

A change of name to a single name can be made only if the same original documentary evidence required for non-single names is produced.

Character limitations for name fields

The design of Australian passports complies with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards and has a maximum limit of 31 characters and spaces for each of the family and first name fields.

Where an applicant has a family or first name that is longer than 31 characters and spaces, then the applicant will have recorded in the passport as many family and first names as possible within the respective fields and in the same order as recorded on the cardinal document. All other names must be represented in the name field by their initials (without any full stops).

Where this approach is necessary because of the applicant’s length of name, an observation is to be included in the passport stating the full name of the bearer.

Characters and signs permitted on the bio-data page

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has published specifications of what characters and signs should appear in the VIZ (visual zone) and MRZ (machine readable zone) on the bio-data page of a travel document.

The specifications are spelt out in ICAO Doc 9303 on Machine Readable Travel Documents (Part 1 Volume 1, pages IV-48 to IV-52). Refer to Annex 17.

Foreign national characters: bio-data page

While most foreign national characters can be represented by a character in the Latin alphabet e.g. è by e, there are several national characters that require an extra letter to represent them such as the German umlaut which requires an ‘e’ to be added to the letter e.g. ä by ae.

Unacceptable or uncommon names

An Authorised Officer has discretion not to accept a name for inclusion in a passport which, on reasonable grounds, may be considered offensive or unacceptable.

This is the case whether or not the name was acquired by registration with a Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages or by other means.

Guidelines for accepting or refusing names

The Australian Passports Determination 2005, Section 9.1 (10) and (11), specifies where a name may be considered to be unacceptable. The proposed name must not include:

Uncommon names accepted by other institutions

Sometimes the applicant is able to demonstrate to the Passport Office that an unacceptable but assumed name has been used widely in the community and accepted by other organisations – e.g. the Australian Tax Office.

Where this occurs, Authorised Officers are still required to assess the circumstances against the information above.

Right of review: unacceptable names

Applicants should be advised in writing where their name is not accepted for inclusion in a travel document and provided the reason for rejection and their right to request review of the decision under the Australian Passports Act 2005, Section 48.

Titles, decorations and awards

Titles, decorations and awards may be included in a passport as either an endorsement or in the name field in the passport.

Proof of the grant of the title or decoration or award must be provided.

Anyone on whom such a title has been conferred should write the appropriate title on the application form.

Titles

Titles granted by the Crown or the Australian Government, such as peerages and knighthoods, may be included in the name field in the passport.

Members of the House of Lords and their spouses would complete the form as follows:

Knights and their spouses would write their names as follows:

Suffixes like John Smith 2nd or Jnr

Suffixes used as part of an applicant's hereditary status, e.g. John Smith 2nd or Peter Brown Junior (Jr, Jnr) which appear on a cardinal document may appear in an Australian travel document. Where ‘Second’ or ‘2nd’ is on a birth or citizenship certificate the acceptable form to appear in a passport is the roman numeral capital – II, just as III would denote ‘third’ or ‘3rd’ - following the applicant's family name. Hence:

Where the terms ‘Junior’ or ‘Jnr’ appear on a birth or citizenship certificate the following should be noted:

Decorations and awards

Decorations and awards conferred by the Crown (e.g. Member of the British Empire) or the Australian Government (e.g. Order of Australia Medal) may be entered in the passport in the form of an endorsement.

The full description of the decoration or award must be noted (e.g. the bearer holds the award of Member of the British Empire, not MBE).

Non Australian titles, decorations and awards

Titles, decorations and awards not granted by the Crown or the Australian Government will not normally be entered in the passport.

Courtesy, professional or honorific titles

No provision is made by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), for passports to include courtesy titles such as Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, Dr etc. Therefore there is no provision in Australian passport application forms for such titles to be included.

Professional or other honorific titles must not be included in either the name field on the bio-data page of a travel document or placed as an endorsement label on the observation page.