Jake asks:

I’ve had a couple ask about what happens with their names after they are married. I’m not sure if I’m meant to know or if it’s some what part of my role but what is the legal action for changing the couples names after the ceremony?

While this is absolutely not our job, and some celebrants say it’s beyond the boundaries of our role, I think it’s helpful to provide some information about name changes after marriage to my couples. Who else are they going to ask?

My Ceremony Builder Booklet contains the following information, and I also have it as a blog post on my website:

Changing Your Name after the Wedding

Once you are married, one or both of you may wish to change your surname. To make this process a little easier for you I have provided information about what is required by some organisations in order to change your name. There are also many resources available online to help you with changing your name, including some name-change kits you can purchase.

Please note you don’t actually need to change your name on any documentation if you don’t want to. Many newly married people use their married name in social circles but keep their birth name on official documentation or for professional purposes. Also be aware that this is not a formal name change process through Births, Deaths and Marriages; you will not be issued with a new birth certificate as you would if you were formally changing one of your names given at birth for a reason other than marriage. When you change your name by marriage, basically you tell every organisation that has your name recorded that you want them to call you by a different name, and you produce your BDM issued Official Marriage Certificate as proof you are allowed to use that different name.

It’s also worth remembering that both or either party can change their name after marriage. There are several options available to both parties. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says:

“The applicant (either bride or groom) may choose one of the following surname name options from the surnames appearing on their registered marriage certificate:

  • Retain their existing surname
  • Adopt their spouse’s surname
  • Add their spouse’s surname to their own surname, with or without hyphens, before or after their existing surname.

For example, if Lisa Smith marries Tom Jones her name after marriage could be:

  • Lisa Smith
  • Lisa Jones
  • Lisa Smith Jones
  • Lisa Jones Smith
  • Lisa Smith-Jones
  • Lisa Jones-Smith.”

Step 1

The first step is to apply for a BDM Issued Official Marriage Certificate. Please note the decorative certificate I give you after your wedding ceremony is NOT sufficient evidence for most organisations to change your name. You can go right ahead and change your name on Facebook and some other places on the day of your wedding, but most legal entities won’t change your name without this documentation.

For most weddings I conduct in Victoria, I order your marriage certificate for you; it will arrive in the mail a few weeks after your wedding. Alternatively, the easiest way to apply for a BDM Issued Official Marriage Certificate in Victoria is to apply online to Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria (www.bdm.vic.gov.au). If you are married outside Victoria, you will need to apply to the appropriate Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the State or Territory in which you were married.

Please note that outside peak wedding season it takes approximately 4 weeks for your marriage to be registered after the ceremony (up to 8 weeks during wedding season, November-March), and it can take a further 2 weeks to produce the marriage certificate.

If you have any other questions about applying for a marriage certificate please give me call and I should be able to help you.

Step 2

Once you receive your BDM Issued Official Marriage Certificate you will then be able to change your name on your Driver’s Licence and Passport. The requirements to change these documents are:

Driver’s Licence

You must visit a VicRoads office and show them:

  • Official Marriage Certificate issued by Births, Deaths and Marriages
  • Your Driver’s Licence (current or expired less than two years ago).


You will need to complete a Passport Renewal Application (online at www.passports.gov.au) and submit it at your nearest Passport Office, usually a local Post Office.  You will also need to show them:

  • Official Marriage Certificate issued by Births, Deaths and Marriages
  • Your current passport.

NOTE: You can still travel on a valid passport in your previous name. In this case, it is recommended that you also obtain your tickets in your previous name – buy your honeymoon tickets in your birth name!

Step 3

Now that you have your BDM Issued Official Marriage Certificate and have changed your Driver’s Licence and/or Passport, you should be able to change your name with all other organisations.  The main places people need to change their details are listed on the following page, however this list is not exhaustive and there may be other organisations you need to notify.


Organisation / Service Name Changed
Alumni – university, high school
Ambulance membership
Australian Business Register if you’re the director of a company
Australian Electoral Commission
Australian Organ Donor Register
Australian Tax Office
Bank/s – accounts, credit cards, ATM cards, loans, cheque books, term deposit accounts
Births, Deaths and Marriages
CityLink account
Council – rates and animal registration
Driver’s licence and car registration
Frequent Flyer and other loyalty clubs
Home phone account
Insurance – car, house, contents, health, life, insurance protection
Internet account
Investments and shares
Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
Memberships – library, sports clubs, gym
Mobile phone account
Online – Facebook, ebay, LinkedIn
Pay TV account
RACV breakdown cover
Real estate agency if you’re renting
Regular service providers – hairdresser, mechanic, vet, accountant, lawyer, doctor, dentist
Utilities – electricity, water, gas
White Pages listing
Your children’s school
Your employer
Your will