Changing your name

For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, please contact us here. 

Changing your name is a big decision. You can change your name informally by asking people around to call you what you like at any time. You can also change your name formally, although in some cases this can be a bit more difficult while you are under 18 if your parents don’t agree.   

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Which laws apply to changing your name?

You can change your name in the Northern Territory if: 

  • you were born in NT; or
  • you were born outside Australia but are an Australian citizen or permanent resident and have lived in the NT for the past 12 months.

If you weren’t born in NT and you haven’t lived there for the past 12 months, then you need to apply to change your name in the state or territory you were born in or have lived in for a certain amount of time. You can click the icon on the top right-hand side of the screen to show laws from other states and territories. 

Changing your name when you are under 18

If you are married or have been married before, then you can formally change your name yourself, without your parents’ permission. Otherwise, here are the options for changing your name while you are under 18. 

1. Changing your name with both parents’ permission 

If you’re under 18 and you want to change your name formally, you will generally need the permission of both of your parents/guardians.

Your parents/guardians will have to apply to the Births, Deaths & Marriages office to change your name. They will also need to show some documents that prove who you are. The application form provides a checklist of documents that you will need to include to complete this application. 

2. Changing your name with one parent’s permission 

An application to change your name can be made by one parent or guardian if: 

  • only one parent is named on your birth certificate; or 
  • one of your parents or guardians has died; or  
  • one of your parents or guardians applies to the Supreme Court to get an order to change your name and the court decides this is in your best interests.

3. Changing your name without your parents’ permission 

There might be situations where you want to change your name, but you don’t feel safe to ask your parents, or your parents don’t agree.  

In these situations, there might be other options for you to change your name that involve you going to court. If going to court is something that you would like advice about, you can contact us here.

Changing your name when you are over 18

If you are over 18, then you can apply to the Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages, to change your name. You don’t need your parents’ permission to do this. 

When you apply to change your name, you will have to prove your identity. The online form has a checklist of documents that you will need to do this.

Informally changing your name

If you want to use a different name, you can change your name informally by asking people like family, friends and your school to call you a different name. Changing your name informally is a free and easy way to change your name, and it gives you time to decide if you want to stay with your new name or change it back to your original name. 

But if you do change your name informally like this, this change won’t appear on your legal documents such as a driver’s licence, a passport, a Medicare card or Centrelink because there’s no official record to show that you’ve changed your name. 

Can my parents change my name if I don’t want to change it?

We sometimes get asked by young people if their parents can change their name without their permission, for example if one parent wants you to use their name after a family divorce.   

The law says that if you are over 14 years old and you can understand the consequences of changing your name, then your parents can’t change your name without your permission (unless there’s a court order).

Need more help?

For free and confidential advice about this topic, please contact us here. 

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