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Family Law Blog

How to Change Your Legal Name in British Columbia

How to Change Your Legal Name in British Columbia

Looking to change your legal name? The good news is, anyone aged 19 and above is legally entitled to change their name in British Columbia.

The most common scenarios that prompt a name change include marriage, divorce, or even just because you feel like it. The name change process is relatively straightforward, with the chosen name likely to be accepted as long as it isn’t offensive, won’t cause embarrassment or confusion, or you aren’t trying to change it for a nefarious purpose such as avoiding personal debt. In this week’s edition of the blog, we’re going to describe the process for name changes through the lens of the most common scenarios.

Marriage Name Changes

Once a couple marries, they can choose to continue using their own surnames, or they can take on their spouse’s surname. Assuming the surname of your spouse does not constitute or require a legal change of name under BC’s Name Act. Upon receiving your government-issued marriage license, you can apply to have important documents like credit cards, bank accounts and utility bills in your new name. Simply provide a copy of the marriage license as proof.

Divorce Name Changes

If, after assuming a spouse’s surname through marriage, you decide to go back to using your own surname, you can do this at any time without a legal change of name. You don’t need to apply for a legal change of name, you can just start using your old name. If any proof is required to have accounts changed back to your old name, a divorce certificate can be used. It’s also possible at this point to take on a name you’ve never used before. To achieve this goal, you would need to go through the regular legal change of name process with the Province of British Columbia.

How to Apply for a Legal Name Change in BC

In British Columbia, the average legal change of name application takes four to six weeks to process. There are two main methods of applying:

Option 1

You can apply and pay online with a credit card. This option is open to those 19 and older who are changing their own name and not the names of any children.

Option 2

Complete an Application for Change of Name (VSA 529) form. Print it out and mail it to the following address:

Vital Statistics Agency
ATTN: Confidential Services
PO Box 9657 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC
V8W 9P3

It can also be handed in in-person at any Service BC location.

Cost

The cost for a legal name change is as follows on November 4th, 2019:

  • Adult without dependent child - $137
  • Adult with dependent child - $137 + $27 per child
  • Child (18 years or younger) $137 for first or only child, $27 per additional

Additional Costs

Depending on your circumstances, there may be additional costs involved in the process. These can include:

  • Fingerprinting
  • Criminal record check
  • Witnessing of your signature on a statutory declaration
  • Certifying documents
  • New identification following the name change

Required Documentation

For a comprehensive list of the documentation required in each scenario, please refer to the Province of British Columbia’s handy guide.

Find Out More

Need legal assistance with any aspect of the legal name change process? Contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.