Ever since I got married (actually starting sometime before) people have been asking me if I am going to change my name. Many of these were more toward the assumption I would than not- “hey, so what’s your new name?”. This was a surprise to me, as I hadn’t considered it much, I had somewhat assumed that it was remaining the same. Silly me.
I should have remembered my earlier opinion of Brisbane- living in the 50s as far as domestic life is concerned. Anyway, as a result of subtle and not so subtle pressures I decided to change my name and become a hyphenate. I thought this was a rather elegant solution, but it was not to be.
For all that people assume that you can simply change your name upon marriage by waving that pretty little certificate around, you can’t. I was already aware of some of the pitfalls, I do work in an industry that is subject to those nasty Anti-Money Laundering rules, and I do understand the need for proper certified documents. But I had not anticipated the lengths to which I was required to go.
We’ll start with the fact that I was married overseas. Turns out that an awful lot of places (including the people who organise driver’s licences) don’t accept overseas marriage certificates- even the official ones. ( Hey NZ, Queensland’s Department of Transport thinks you are dodgy!) Then I went to change my passport, thinking if the Australian Government accepts who I am, Queensland will have to.
Now if I change my passport within 12 months of marriage, it’s free. My boss told me about that as his wife missed the deadline by 3 weeks. Given that passports are around $200, I want the free one. Enter my second mistake- being born overseas.
It turns out that because I only have a citizenship certificate, and not an Australian Birth certificate, I have to officially register my change of name. This is getting a little complex. Not sure I understand precisely why, but what it all boils down to is identity theft and fraud. There was some, and whoever was in charge decided the best way to slow people down when taking a new name was to impose this very painful process.
How does one register a change of name? By supplying an insanely long list of documents, completing a painfully repetitive form and handing over $135. Ouch, and we haven’t even started on the documents. My citizenship certificate, my birth certificate, my passport, my driver’s licence and a bank card or other government issued identification and a letter from my employer certifying I have been living in the state for the past 12 months. They sit on all this documentation for 5 weeks and give me a change of name certificate, which I will then shove in the face of anybody so foolish as to question my name.
If I had known what a major pain this was going to be, I wouldn’t have changed. My problem is, I have changed it already in a few places, and the process of unchanging is equally bad. Generally they will require a decree nisi(which I don’t have because we aren’t divorced, nor are we planning to) or an official change of name certificate (see above for that process).
I do foresee a growing trend to retain names however, if my experience becomes the norm.
And I haven’t even started on my US and UK passports.