How to Change Your Name After Marriage

Some details regarding changing your name after marriage

Getting married is exciting for so many reasons - one of them is that you can have a brand new surname if you want to!

It was traditional for a bride to take her husbands surname but nowadays it is perfectly okay for either party to change their last name to their spouse's surname.
If one partner or both partners wants to change their names to a new double barrelled (hyphenated) name, combining their family names, they can do this without an official name change.
See near the end of this page for details of an official name change which would be required if the new name you want is a totally new name, it used to be called changing your name by deed poll.

State government website references regarding changing your name to a combination of family names joined by a hyphen, see:
New South Wales - You can combine your name and your partner’s name with a hyphen
Victoria - Both partners can hyphenate their family names.
Note that the Queensland Govt is lagging and doesn't specifically outline this case on their website but it is allowable.

Here are the steps to changing your surname to your wedded partner's name:

  1. Get married first and go on a wonderful honeymoon.
    You really can’t do much about changing your name officially until you get home but you can call yourself your new surname and say it as much as you want and introduce yourself to everyone by your proposed new name to see how it feels.
  2. Obtain a copy of your official marriage certificate as issued by the Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) office from the state in which your marriage took place.
    For example, if you live in NSW but got married on the Gold Coast, your marriage will be registered at the QLD Births, Deaths and Marriage office and this is who you will receive your marriage certificate from.
    Click on the link to apply for an official copy of your marriage certificate from the QLD BDM office .
  3. Make a list of all the places where your name needs to be changed and unfortunately you will find there are a lot of places!
    Some starters include your banks and other financial institutions, your workplace, the ATO wants to know and so do other Australian Govt. departments including Medicare and any pension related departments, your lawyer if you've lodged a will, passport (see below), electoral roll, superannuantion accounts, electricity and other utilities, online accounts, social media (Facebook etc.)
  4. Now you have to contact the people on the list to find out their requirements for you to register your change of name with them.
    Yes unfortuntately this is a massive hassle!
    There are however some excellent websites that can help you to make this list and even facilitate changing your names online with just a scan of your official marriage certificate (and some money must pass their hand). .
  5. While you are able to change your name online in many cases, sometimes you will have to physically present yourself, with your official marriage certificate in hand, and speak to a human, in order for the name change to be made official.

There are at least two government departments where you have to be there in person to change your name.

  1. Passport
  2. Driver's licence
  3. Medicare (not anymore)

To change your name in your Australian passport see:
passports.gov.au/have-you-changed-your-name

To change your name on your QLD driver's licence:
qld.gov.au/transport/licensing/update/details

To change your name on your Australian Medicare card:
humanservices.gov.au/.../how-update-your-personal-details

Changing your name by Deed poll

If you intend to create a new name that is not a joining of your family names (with a hypen) then this is not a name change by marriage but is an official name change which is commonly known as a name change by deed poll.

This name change process is entirely different and an official marriage certificate is not needed to change your name by deed poll.

To find out how to apply to change your name by deed poll you need to contact the BDM office in the state where you were born (e.g. if you were born in Murwillumbah, but live on the Gold Coast, you would have to contact the NSW BDM office) as this if the BDM office where your birth certificate is held.

Here are some links to BDM offices located throughout Australia where you can find out more about changing your name be it by marriage or by Deed Poll: https://www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/family-and-community/births-deaths-and-marriages-registries

If you are seriously thinking about changing your names by an "official name change" (deed poll) and not a "name change due to marriage" then see this great article on the ABC website which might discourage you at little but at least it will straighten out some of the name change issues that are worth considering.
Here is another link to an American website article which goes into more depth regarding hyphenating your name after marriage, warning that some information on that page may not be relevant in Australia.
After all this I am still not certain about whether two people can have different hyphenated family names?
e.g. If Chris Smith married Les Jones, can they choose to be Chris Smith-Jones and Les Jones-Smith? I am not sure but probably not.
Good Luck!