Changing your name

Changing your surname after marriage is NOT compulsory in Australia.

History and tradition tell us that the woman in the relationship is the one who changed her surname as she was joining her husband's family... and if you go back further she would have been part of a business deal between the two fathers and subsequently became the property of her husband and his family.

THANK GOODNESS that times have well and truly changed!

Today, ALL marrying parties of all, any and no gender can choose to marry and choose if they would like to change their surname.

Some people change their surname for family life, so that all family members have the same.

Some people keep their birth surname (maiden name) for business purposes - especially those who have built a business in their name before marriage - they can still use their chosen married surname for family use.

What are your choices for surnames?

Let's use the two hypothetical parties of Taylor Smith & Sam Brown for these examples:

  1. Taylor Smith and Sam Brown - keep your own names and don't change anything
  2. Taylor & Sam Smith - Sam changes their name to Taylor's surname
  3. Taylor & Sam Brown - Taylor changes their name to Sam's surname
  4. Taylor & Sam Smith-Brown - joining names and hyphenating (in either order)
  5. Taylor & Sam Brown Smith - joining names without hyphenating (in either order)


Taylor and Sam could also choose something completely different, like Harper (after their favourite author?) but for this they would need to do an official Change of Name which comes with a fee.  In this application you can also change your first and middle names as well if you choose.

It is also important to know that you don't need to DO anything in order to assume your new married name - you can just start using it in your every day.  However, if you plan to travel or want this new name on ID or bank accounts, etc... then you will need to officially change it.


  • A lot of people ask if they are meant to sign their married name on the marriage certificates on their wedding day.  No - you must sign your name - the same name and signature that you used on the Notice of Intended Marriage.  You are still you (with your own name) until you physically change it AFTER your marriage has been registered.
  • Some people believe that your surname changes automatically when you get married - not the case.  It may have been the case 100 years ago, but not anymore.
  • Some people think that by applying for an official marriage certificate from the BDM is actually a change of name application - again, not the case.


There are two ways to change your name:

  1. Complete a "Change of Name" application with BDM - this includes a fee or
  2. Change your name after marriage [and at the end of your marriage] - for free (see info below regarding your passport)

If you have chosen to change your surname after marriage, here's what you do:

  1. You must have an Australian issued Official (BDM stamped) Marriage Certificate - this is NOT the one that your Celebrant gave you on your wedding day.  You must apply for a copy of the official certificate from the BDM in the state that your marriage occurred and was registered in.

    If you were legally married overseas
    - you will need to apply for an official Change of Name as a marriage certificate from another country is not accepted by government agencies such as the Passport office or the Department of Transport.

  2. Once you have your official Marriage Certificiate, you use that as the proof that you were married in Australia and you take it to all the governement departments, banks & companies, etc... where you want to change your name.

    TIP: if you are booking an overseas holiday after your wedding, remember to put your tickets in the name that your current passport is in and don't change your name officially  until after the holiday.  If the name on your flight tickets doesn't match the name on your passport - you aren't flying anywhere.


Passport info:

The Australian Passport Office has useful information on one simple way to legalise change of name after marriage provided the new name is to be one or the other of the parties to the marriage or a combination of the same. This also depends upon whether you are married in Australia or overseas. The webpage commences:

"If you wish to change your name on your passport when you marry, you must provide a marriage certificate issued by an Australian state or territory Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (RBDM).

You may be entitled to a replacement passport free of charge when applying for a name change, provided you have more than two years validity remaining on your passport (a priority processing fee may still apply if you require your passport urgently).

The replacement passport will be issued with the same expiry date as the passport being replaced.


Here is where you can apply for marriage & change of name certificates in your state (or the state that your marriage occurred):


Marriage Certifcate application -

Change of name application -


Marriage Certifcate application - https://w

Change of name application -


Marriage Certifcate application -

Change of name application -


Marriage Certifcate application -

Change of name application -


Marriage Certifcate application -

Change of name application -


Marriage Certifcate application -

Change of name application -


Marriage Certifcate application -

Change of name application -


Marriage Certifcate application -

Change of name application -

Last modified on Tuesday, 12 December 2023 18:41

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