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The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on a wide variety of legal issues in the Province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.
This topic discusses the changing of 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 the Change of Name Act. You can also change the spelling of your name. You may adopt or use any name without a legal change of name so long as you do not use the name with intent to defraud or deceive anyone else. In other words, you cannot use your new name to cheat another person. If you only adopt a new name without a legal change, it may be difficult to change your passport, credit cards, driver’s license, and other documents without a legal change 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. They will give you the forms you require, an information sheet, an outline of the costs involved as well as some of the regulations and restrictions specified in the Act. In addition, you will be required to submit your fingerprints. These can be obtained from a law enforcement agency and these fingerprints must be given to the registry agent at the time of the application. The registry agent can also assist you in the completion of the forms. 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. An appeal of the refusal to change the name may be made in writing to the Minister of Service Alberta. If the name change is approved, a duplicate of the certificate of the name change will be delivered to you, the applicant. You may order a certified copy of the certificate for a fee. The name change takes effect from 12:01 p.m. on the day it was issued. A new birth certificate can then be applied for to use to change your identification documents.
Married, separated or divorced people, who change their names 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 cannot apply to legally change your name back because you never legally changed it in the first place.
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. 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. No surname may have more than two (2) surnames combined or hyphenated. If the parent or parents already have hyphenated names, only one (1) surname can be used.
If you are a married or divorced woman who wishes to go back to using your maiden name, you can simply revert to your maiden name by using your birth certificate as identification for changing the name on your credit cards, bank accounts etc. If you have property in your married name, contact the Land Titles Office on the procedure needed to change the name on the title to your maiden name.
If you wish your children of the marriage to also take your maiden name under the Act, the father of the children 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 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.