Information regarding changing your surname after you get married

Many people believe that when you sign your marriage certificates on your wedding day that you sign your new ‘married name’ – Not True!

You and your partner/spouse/fiancé are two seperate identities with your own names until such a time as you physically change them (if you choose) – AFTER you are married.

The whole changing your name thing can get a bit confusing, but it doesn’t have to be – hopefully this guide will make it a bit easier.

When you lodged your Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) form with your celebrant you will have used one of the following surnames:

  1. your surname from birth
  2. your current married name if you’ve been married before and have kept using that married name
  3. your new legal name if you’ve legally changed your name for whatever reason

This is the name that you will sign on all your marriage documents.

On the actual day of your ceremony, you will receive the ‘pretty’ marriage certificate that you keep as a memento of the day – this is a numbered/registered legal document that can not be replaced or reissued (so take care of it) however you CAN NOT use this certificate as proof that you were married in order to change your name.

Once you are married and your marriage has been registered with the BDM – Births, Deaths and Marriages (your celebrant organises that part) then you must apply with the BDM in the state you were married for an official (BDM stamped) Marriage Certificate.  In WA, the current charge is $50 for this certificate – it’s like applying for a copy of your birth certificate.  Once you have that in your hot little hands, then – and only then, can you start the long and drawn out journey that is changing your surname.

PLEASE NOTE: It is not a legal requirement that anybody change their name after marriage.  It might be something that you choose to do so that your family all have the same name.  Some people continue to use their maiden name for business and married name in other places.  It is also not an automatic thing in an heterosexual marriage that it must be the woman who be the one to change her name.  Either partner can change their name.  It is a personal decision so, do what’s right for you.  

What names can I change to?

If you are Morgan Brown and you marry Taylor Jones then you may change your names to:

  1. Morgan Jones & Taylor Jones
  2. Morgan Brown & Taylor Brown
  3. Morgan Brown-Jones & Taylor Brown-Jones (with or without a hyphen)
  4. Morgan Jones Brown & Taylor Jones Brown (with or without a hyphen)
  5. Keep your own names and don’t change them at all

If you and your partner decide to choose a different surname other than the choices above (or you want to change your first / middle names), then you’ll need to do what’s called a “Legal Change of Name” and that’s different to taking a name due to marriage. When you legally change your name – you surrender your birth certificate and are issued a new birth certificate in your new name.  This also costs money!

If you do decide to take your partner’s name through marriage, here’s what happens:

  1. You apply to BDM in the state that you got married for your Marriage Certificate.  In Western Australia, this can be done by post or in person. The document shows the details of your marriage and also has the Registration Number of your marriage in the top right corner.
  2. You present that document at all the government offices, businesses and companies where you’d like to change your name.

TIP: change your name on your passport or driver’s licence first, so that you can use that photo ID to change it on the other ones more easily.

Name Change Kits:

There are plenty of them out there on the internet to choose from.  Some people may find them worth the money, but they still require you to get your official BDM marriage certificate and are essentially a mail merge to help you write the appropriate letters to send to organisations along with a certified copy of your BDM marriage certificates. Changing your name is a fairly simple thing to do, but it can be tedious and time consuming, but please note that in Australia, every single government department (Tax Office, Medicare, Centrelink etc) will require you to provide the appropriate documents (BDM Marriage Certificate) in person to change your name in their database, as will banks, superannuation, and some utilities.

Things to note:

You can change your passport into your new married name within the first 12 months after your marriage for free, as long as you have more than two years left on it before it’s due to expire (the expiry date will stay the same as your old one) but you still have to put in a new passport application and provide photos. You will also have to surrender your old passport – so keep that in mind if you are planning to go overseas.

Travel Tip: book your honeymoon in your maiden/current name (name before marriage) if you are planning to travel immediately after your wedding or before you officially change your name.  Your passport must match your tickets/travel documents otherwise you’ll end up having to honeymoon in the Departure Lounge!

Useful links with more information:

Passport – Australian Passport Office –

Driver’s licence / Vehicle registrations – Department of Transport WA –

As an added service… I can include your application for your official marriage certificate to the BDM WA along with certified copies of three pieces of ID (I will certify them for you) when I send in your marriage documents to register your marriage.  This way you don’t need to think about it and your official marriage certificate will just appear in the mail about 2-3 weeks after your ceremony.  Let me know BEFORE your ceremony if you’d like me to do this.

  • Attached is a handy list of all the places you might need to change your name.  It’s a long list, and not everything will apply to you and there are some black spaces to add your own personal ones that I didn’t think of.
  • Please feel free to copy this list and use it to your heart’s content!