I am under 18. Can I change my name?
Usually only if your parents or guardians agree, or if you’re divorced or married.
If you are over 12 years of age and your parents want to change you name then your parents must get your agreement. If you are agreed then your parents need to apply to the Department of Births Deaths and Marriages on your behalf. If your parents are separated and not in agreement then you need more specific legal advice, as a Court order may be the only alternative. Both your parents need to apply unless only one is named on your birth certificate, one has died or the Court approves an application from one parent to change your name because it is in your best interests.
The same applies to a guardian. If you are under the care of 2 guardians then both need to apply unless the Court approves your change of name because it is in your best interests.
Can anyone change their name?
You can call yourself anything that you want within reason. You can legally use any name that you want except that you can’t use a name to try and commit an offence, like fraud. For regulated purposes you can’t simply use the name that you adopt. Such things as driver’s licences, bank accounts and voting require proof of identity.
You can apply legally to change your name if you are 18 years old and usually live in Queensland. The rules about changing your name are quite straightforward.
- You can’t change your name to commit a crime,
- You can only change your name once a year,
- Your new name must not be offensive or not in the public interest,
- You can’t change your name if you’re in jail, without government permission,
- You need to give a reason for the change of name, such as I wanted to be called “X” like my grandmother.
The Department of Births Death and Marriages will require evidence of your identity and evidence that the name change is not for an improper purpose. If your birth is registered interstate then you need to apply to change your name where your birth is registered. There may be additional requirements at the Queensland end to record the change of name.
If you were born overseas and your birth certificate or other evidence of identity is not in English then you will need to have those documents translated by an accredited translator. A friend’s translation is not sufficient. Evidence of residency in Queensland will also need to be provided for the past 1 year. It can be a letter from an employer, doctor or other suitable person.
What is a fraud? You cannot be charged with fraud by simply changing your name. Fraud involves an intention.
The Queensland Criminal Code in Section 408C defines “fraud” as where a person dishonestly:-
- Applies to his/her/another person’s use, property belonging to another person or property belonging to the person with a third person or subject to a trust or condition,
- Obtains property from another person,
- Induces any person to deliver property to another person,
- Gains benefit or advantage to any person,
- Causes detriment to any person,
- Induces another person to do any act which the person is lawfully entitled to refrain from doing,
- Induces another person to refrain from doing an act that the person is lawfully entitled to do, or
- Makes off without making payment where payment on the spot is required for property lawfully obtained, (such as service station drive-offs).
The key element of the offence of fraud is that the person must have acted dishonestly.
This is a general overview only. For more detailed information please contact our office.