The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide only general information on legal issues within the province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation. The purpose is to make you aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.
This topic discusses the procedure for changing your name in Alberta.
If you are 18 years or older and live in Alberta, you may apply to have your first name, your last name, or both, legally changed under Part 3 of the Vital Statistics Act. If you are under 18 years of age but are married, an adult interdependent partner or the parent or guardian of a child you may also make an application under this part to change your name. If you were born outside of Canada, you can apply to change your name as shown on the documents under which you were admitted into Canada. You may also apply to change the spelling of your name.
To legally change your name, you will need to apply through a registry agent, either in person or in writing. To find the registry nearest to you, either go to the Alberta Registries website, at http://www.servicealberta.ca, or call 780-427-7013, or look in the Yellow pages, under Licensing Services. The registry will provide you with the forms you require, an information sheet, an outline of the costs involved, and some of the regulations and restrictions specified in the Act. You will need a copy of your birth certificate if born in Canada, or, if not born in Canada, a copy of the documents lawfully admitting you to Canada. The government fee for a legal name change is $120. In addition, you will be required to submit your fingerprints to a registry agent when you apply for a legal name change. You can obtain these fingerprints from a law enforcement agency at an additional cost. The registry agent can also assist you in the completion of the necessary forms and may charge a fee. The final approval, processing and production of the legal change of name certificate is then completed by the Vital Statistics Office.
A name change will be refused where the proposed name might cause confusion, embarrass another person or be used in a manner that could defraud or mislead the public. Once approved, the Registrar will register the change of name and issue a certificate of change of name, and then the Registrar publishes a notice of the registration of the name change in The Alberta Gazette. The court may dispense with publication of the name in certain circumstances. After the registration of a name change, the Registrar amends the records of birth and a subsisting marriage to conform with the name change. Name changes from other jurisdictions can also be used in some cases to amend the record of birth or a subsisting marriage in Alberta. There is no fee for the latter changes.
Once the name changes has been accomplished under the Act, the person’s new name may be substituted in any record, certificate, contract, etc., whether public or private, on production of the certificate of name change and satisfactory proof of identity.
If the name change in Alberta has been obtained by fraud, duress or misrepresentation, the registrar may annul the change and require the return of the certificate of name change.
Married, separated or divorced people, who change their name through common usage when they got married, can go back to their original name at any time. This type of name change is done through common usage and is not a legal name change. You are not required to legally change your name back because you never legally changed it in the first place.
Under the Vital Statsitics Act, a person may apply to legally change the first name or last name of that person’s spouse or adult interdependent partner, with the consent of the spouse of adult interdependent partner. Proof of marital status is required. You may also adopt or use your Adult Interdependent Partner’s last name (or a hyphenated version of both your surnames) as your own but, as with married persons, this is not a legal name change. For a legal change, a person may apply to change the first name or last name of that person’s spouse or adult interdependent partner, with the consent of the spouse of adult interdependent partner.
If you have children born into an Adult Interdependent Partner Relationship, those children will be registered with the mother’s last name at birth. However, if the natural father acknowledges that he is the father of the children, the child can be registered in either parent’s last name or both combined.
If you wish the children of the marriage to also take your name prior to marriage under the Act, your former spouse and any children over the age of 12 years must give consent to the name change. If your former spouse refuses to give consent to the changing of your children’s name, you may apply to the Court of Queen’s Bench for an Order dispensing with your former spouse’s consent. This usually occurs in cases where the former spouse makes no contribution to the care or support of the child and seems to take little or no interest.
If a parent wishes to change the child’s surname to the surname of the parent’s new spouse or Adult Interdependent Partner who is also a parent of the child, the parent would need that persons consent, and the consent of the other biological parent. If the parent wanted to change the child’s surname to the surname of the child’s biological father, the parent may do so if the alleged father has been declared by the court to be the father or has acknowledged paternity. If the child is 12 years old or older, the child must consent to having his or her surname changed.
Where there is a court order that appoints guardians in addition to the parents, the consent of those guardians is also required for an application for a change of name. Where there is a court order that appoints guardians in lieu of the parents, the consent of those guardians is required and the parents’ consent is not required.