If you decide to change your name after your marriage, in NZ it’s surprisingly easy. It just takes time—but there’s no panic, you’ve got a lifetime.
4.5 minutes to read
It’s no longer a must-do for women to change their name after marriage, although 70 to 80% do. Some women prefer to retain their surname—maybe they are known professionally with that name, they prefer their last name, or they refuse to conform to the patriarchy. After all, historically, women changed their name to reflect the fact they became their husband’s property upon marriage.
Some women prefer to change their name; to have the same surname for the entire family unit, to ditch a hard-to-spell name, or because they simply want to.
And there’s different options available now. You can hyphenate your last names and include both, make your surname (or his) your middle name, the husband might want to change his name to yours, or you can choose a new last name together. Baker marries a Rutherford? Could be a Bakerford. Or Rutherbake. The possibilities are endless- just ask the Kiwi entrepreneur Mark Rocket, who changed his name to reflect his love of space travel.
There are no rules anymore, and you can do whatever you (and your husband) want. But whatever you decide, there are some things to consider.
The passport needs to match the ticket
Jetting off on your honeymoon after the wedding? Make sure your ticket name matches the one on the passport, otherwise you won’t be getting on your flight. Passports are easy to update in NZ, but it’s not a task you want to do unnecessarily (and wave goodbye to $200+), so you’ll be booking flights in your old name until you renew your passport.
Make copies of your marriage certificate
Every company will want to see this to prove you’re changing your name. Your marriage certificate is how this happens; this is the legal name change document. Make copies, keep them handy.
Decide on a new signature before the wedding
If you’re changing your name, you’ll need a sparkly new signature. Get this sorted before the wedding day, you don’t want to be caught out and have to make one up on the spot when you sign for your hotel room that night.
How do you change your name in NZ?
If you’re changing your name post-marriage, you don’t have to fill out any paperwork or change your name ‘legally’. The marriage certificate is enough to change your name informally (and, it makes changing your name back or using both names for a while much easier).
There’s no big single name change, just a series of small encounters with every business or organisation you deal with.
Electoral roll: Pop online and change your name on the electoral roll. You will need your RealMe logon.
Passport: When you are applying for your new passport, you’ll be asked if you have changed your name. If you got married in NZ, you’ll need to provide details about when and where you were married. If you got married outside NZ, you’ll need to fill out a PDF form and send it in with your overseas marriage certificate.
Bank: Every bank will have a different process, but in general, your marriage certificate will be enough. A quick phone call will let you know the specific details for your bank. Changing with your bank will mean new credit cards too.
Utilities like electricity, cellphone, internet, water: Your marriage certificate and a phone call should be enough. However, if you’re not super patient, and you’re intending to move or change providers, it may not be worth changing.
Driver’s licence: For a mere $40-ish, you can get your name changed on your driver licence, and as a bonus, get a do-over for your photo too. You need to apply in person, and have your current licence, other forms of ID, and your marriage certificate. Pop into any NZTA, do the eye test, get your photo taken, pay the fee, and your new name will be licence- official.
House title deed: You’ll need a lawyer to get this changed, so it’s unlikely to be worth the cost. When you buy a new home, switch it over then. Keep your rates bill the same as your house title too.
IRD: Give them a call and tell them you’re changing your name. They will want to see your marriage licence. You can also do this through secure mail on your IRD logon.
Finally, a word of caution. For a while, your new name will not be automatic. After that first happy excitement when someone calls you ‘Mrs NewName’, you’ll struggle to recognise it when someone calls out your name at the doctor’s office or at a hotel desk. Be prepared to be totally confused when your name is called and you don’t recognise it!