Name changes in Ontario are governed by the Change of Name Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. 7. As a newly-married spouse, there are two different options if you wish to change your last name: (1) You can simply “assume” your spouse’s last name, or a hyphenated combination of the two, which does not involve changing the name on your birth certificate; or (2) You can apply for a legal name change, which involves changing your birth certificate as well as all of your other identification. People usually opt to simply “assume” their spouse’s last name, since this is the fastest, easiest and most economical option.
Option 1: “Assume” your spouse’s last name
This is the easiest option. You can “assume” your spouse’s last name, or a hyphenated combination of you and your spouse’s last names. This option is available for either or both spouses. This is technically not a “legal” name change so your birth certificate will remain in the last name you were born with. However, you can begin using your married name on all other identification and with all government and non-government institutions.
This is the most popular method of changing your last name, because it is easy, fast, and free. It is also convenient in that if there is ever a separation or divorce, it will be much easier for you to revert to your previous last name, since there was never a legal name change.
In order to assume your spouse’s last name, all you need to do is obtain your original marriage certificate and bring it into a Service Canada and Service Ontario office, along with all other identification. You can order a new social insurance card and passport through Service Canada (which are federally-issued documents), and you can order a new driver’s license and health card through a Service Ontario office (which are provincially-issued documents).
You will also have to provide a copy of your marriage certificate to your banking institutions, and any other institution that you work with, so that they can begin using your new last name on all your cards and documentation.
If you were married in a jurisdiction outside of Ontario, be sure to order a certified copy of your Marriage Certificate from the jurisdiction in which you were married if you do not have the original. If the Marriage Certificate is in a foreign language, you will likely be asked to provide a certified translation.
Option 2: Legally Change Your Name
You could instead choose to legally change your last name. To do this, you will need to complete an Election to Change Surname form and submit it to Service Canada. There is a nominal fee charged for requesting a legal name change.
The application form is not available online. To obtain a copy of the application form, you need to call Service Canada at 1-800-461-2156 and they will mail an application form to you.
Once the application has been processed (Service Canada quotes a turn-around time of 6-8 weeks), Service Canada will send you a Certificate of Name Change. You will then need to provide a copy of this document to all the necessary institutions in order to request identification in your new name, as discussed above (i.e. driver’s license, health card, bank cards, etc.)
What name should you use when booking your honeymoon?
You need to be mindful of what name you use when booking your honeymoon. If you are travelling soon after your wedding, you should be sure to book your travel in your maiden name since you probably will not have time to complete your name change before leaving. If you intend to travel in the months following your wedding, you should consider whether you will have time to obtain a new passport in your married name before you leave for your trip. If not, you are probably best to schedule your travel in your maiden name, and proceed with changing your last name upon your return.
It is also a good idea to carry with you a copy of your marriage certificate while travelling, if you have only recently changed your last name and have not finished obtaining all of your new identification. That way, if you happen to find yourself with identification issued in the wrong name, you can produce documentation to explain the difference.