Changing names

If you want to use a different name from what is on legal or official records, you do not have to formally change your name. However, you might be committing an offence if you use another name to avoid your legal responsibilities or for dishonest purposes.

If you want to use a different name, it is recommended that you officially register your change of name. This will make it easier to prove your identity and provide evidence of your name change.

Legal Aid WA does not provide help in this area.

You can find information about changing the names of children on our webpage Changing the names of children.

How do I change my name as an adult?

You can apply to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to change your name if:

  • your birth is registered in Western Australia, or
  • you were born overseas, are an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and have ordinarily lived in Western Australia for the last 12 months.

To apply, you need to complete an Application to Register a Change of Name (Adult), pay the correct fee and provide documents to support your application. Unless there are exceptional reasons, such as personal safety, you cannot change your name more than once in any 12-month period.

The fee to change your name may be waived in some circumstances, including if you are changing your name because of severe family violence. This fee waiver is not automatic. Contact the Registry on 1300 305 021 to find out the information you must provide in support of asking for the fee to be waived.

Can I have my new name added to my birth certificate?

If you were born in Western Australia, your original name will remain on your birth certificate and your new name will be added as a notation. If you have changed your name and it isn't noted on your WA birth certificate, you can apply to the Registry for that name to be added to your birth record. No fee is charged for this process.

Once your birth certificate has been updated to show your new name as a notation, you can get a copy by paying an additional fee.

What if I am married, or in a de facto relationship, and want to change my name?

You are not legally required to change your family name (surname) when you get married.

If you were married in Australia and want to change your name, you can:

  • use your husband or wife's family name, or
  • combine family names with your husband or wife,

without needing to register a formal change of name.

If you have separated or divorced from your husband or wife, you can:

  • return to your previous family name
  • use a former married name, or
  • return to a previous legal name that has been formally registered.

You do not need to register a formal change of name in these circumstances either.

Applying to register a change of name - married or de facto

Formally changing your name after marriage or as a de facto partner can make it easier to prove your identity. You can also change the family name of your children at the same time.

Married or de facto couples, and their children under 18 years old, can apply together as a family to register a change of name. Each person wanting to change their name must complete an Application to Register a Change of Name form and provide the necessary supporting evidence or documents.

Only adults who are applying as part of a family are charged the application fee. It is free for children to apply to change their name as part of a family change.

If you are changing your legal name after marriage, you will be given a certificate as evidence of your new name, but it will not be recorded on your marriage certificate.

What if I am an Aboriginal person, former ward, or child migrant who wants to know more about my birth record?

The Department of Communities provides historical family and personal information to Aboriginal people, former state wards, and British and Maltese child migrants. Information is released through freedom of information applications. Information about FOI applications is available from the Department's website or by calling (08) 614 3344.

The WA government publication Signposts: A Guide for Children and Young People in Care in WA from 1920 has information to help people find documents related to their time in residential out-of-home care or supported accommodation.

What if I am an Aboriginal person and want to know more about my family history?

You may be able to access your family history online through the Norman Tindale Collection. It contains genealogical information, recorded in 50 Aboriginal communities across Western Australia between 1935 and 1966. To access these records, you can select the ‘Request more information’ option when browsing the online index, or you can complete a family history application form available through the Aboriginal History Research Service (AHRS). 

The AHRS helps people to locate historical records about themselves and their Aboriginal ancestors.  

The State Library of Western Australia also has resources that may help you explore your family history. 

More information

Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
Department of Communities 
State Library
Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries


Reviewed: 30 August 2022


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.