When a couple gets married, a long-standing tradition many women carry forward is the decision to take on their spouse’s surname. Changing a last name like this is an important decision that can have widespread impacts on personal and professional relationships. Additionally, it can require work as there’s paperwork to be completed, utility bills to be updated, and lots of other little administrative tasks that get added to the pre-wedding planning.
Should that marriage end in separation, many women prefer to revert to their maiden name or birth name. Luckily in British Columbia, this process is not as difficult as many people believe. In this week’s blog, we’ll examine the steps involved in changing back to your maiden name in BC.
BC Divorce and Separation Name Change
In British Columbia, assuming your spouse’s surname does not constitute a legal name change under the BC Name Act. As such, assuming your spouse’s surname does not require any legal action, and the requirements set for changing documents like Driver’s Licence, Passport or Services Card are unique to the issuing authority. You will have to ask them for their specific requirements to change your surname.
Similarly, if you assume your spouse’s surname upon marriage, you are also free to revert to your maiden name or birth name at any time. It also does not require any legal action. However, you will need to present your marriage certificate and birth certificate/Canadian citizenship to various issuing authorities (i.e. banks, driver’s licensing office, etc.) to prove the link between the two surnames.
What if I Became a Canadian Citizen in My Married Name?
A Canadian Citizenship certificate will list your legal name at the time you became a Canadian citizen. If you became a citizen with your spouse’s surname, then that is the name Canada knows you as. You will be unable to revert to your former name without following the legal name change process in British Columbia.
How to Apply for a Legal Name Change in BC
In British Columbia, there are two main ways of applying for a legal name change.
You can apply and pay online with a credit card using the BC Province’s online services. This option is open to individuals aged 19 or older, who are changing their own name and not the names of any children.
Alternatively, you can complete an Application for Change of Name (VSA 529) form. This form is ideal for those looking to simultaneously change their children's names. The completed form can be delivered in-person to any Service BC location, or mailed to the following address:
Vital Statistics Agency
ATTN: Confidential Services
PO Box 9657 Stn Prov Govt
Here to Help
Need legal assistance with any aspect of the legal name change process? Contact us and the Vancouver Family Lawyers at Westside Family Law will be happy to assist.