Did you recently get married and live in Ontario? Congratulations! For many couples, the next step after marriage is changing their last name. But how do you actually change your last name in Ontario after you’re married?
Good question! Below we’ll walk you through your last name options, all the paperwork and everything you need to know to start using your brand new married name.
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Do you have to change your name after marriage?
First things first: Do you have to change your last name after you get married? Of course not! Many happily married couples choose not to change their names for whatever reason. You can keep your given name and your spouse can keep theirs.
You can also do a social name change, where you use a different name in social settings, but don’t actually change anything in a legal or documented way. Some couples choose to do this because it’s easier (no paperwork!) or so they can use different names in different settings (e.g. publishing academic papers under your given, legal name but using your social, married name at parties).
Since a social last name change isn’t official, you don’t have to do any paperwork or pay any fees. You can simply change your name on Facebook and ask people to start calling you Mx. New Last Name. But you’ll want to be sure to use your legal name for any official business, such as booking flights or renewing a driver’s licence.
Lastly, we want to remind you that it’s not just women in hetero marriages who can change their names by taking their husband’s last name. Partners of all genders in all kinds of relationships can change their last names! Check out some great options for your last name in this blog post.
Two types of name changes: assumed name VS legal name change
In Ontario, there are two options for changing your name after marriage. You can assume your spouse’s last name (or they can assume yours) or you can complete the legal name change process.
Assumed name change
Assuming your partner’s last name simply means you would take their last name as your own (or combine the two). While this is an official name change, and you’ll receive new identification with your new name, it is not considered a legal name change. Your birth certificate will remain the same and you can return to your given legal name whenever you want.
Unlike in British Columbia, you can choose to use both last names in Ontario and it would still be considered an assumed name change. We reached out to Service Ontario and they confirmed, “You may assume your spouse’s/partner’s complete last name(s) (surname) or a combination of your complete last name(s) and your spouse’s/partner’s complete last name(s) (dual surname) using a hyphen or space between the two complete last names.”
Legal name change
A legal name change is a more complicated process that will change your legal name on your birth certificate and birth registration. If you are simply taking or combining last names with your spouse, you don’t need to complete a legal name change (though you have the option to).
However, any other change you wish to make – to your first, middle or last name – that isn’t simply taking your spouse’s last name or combining both of your last names (as shown above), would require a legal name change. For example, if you wish to move your given surname to your middle name or choose a brand new last name.
With a legal name change, you’ll go through a more complicated process to legally change your adult name. This process involves a lengthy application form, criminal record check, providing proof of residing in Ontario for the previous 12 months, sending in your birth certificate and a fee ($137 at the time of writing).
If you ever wish to change back to your previous name or change your name again, you will need to go through this same process. (Unlike with an assumed name change, where you can go back to using your birth name whenever you want.)
At the end of the legal name change process, you’ll receive a Change of Name Certificate. You will also receive a new Ontario birth certificate with your new name and your name on your birth registration will be changed. If you were born in a different province, you will need to apply to Vital Statistics for a new birth certificate.
For more information on a legal name change, click here.
Should I do an assumed name change or legal name change?
The easiest way to answer this question is with an example. Let’s say Taylor Smith and Cory Lee are getting married and decide to change their last names. If they choose one of the following last names, it would qualify as an assumed name change:
- Taylor & Cory Lee
- Taylor & Cory Smith
- Taylor & Cory Smith-Lee (or Lee-Smith)
- Taylor & Cory Smith Lee (or Lee Smith)
All of the above are versions of assumed names (assuming your partner’s name) meaning Taylor and Cory can follow the simpler and cheaper assumed name change process. Neither Taylor nor Cory’s birth certificate or registration will change and they can go back to using their given name whenever they want.
However, if Taylor and Cory wanted to do anything else with their names other than the options above, they would need to complete a legal name change. Examples of legal name changes could be:
- Moving “Lee” or “Smith” to Taylor or Cory’s middle name, instead of last name
- Finding a new last name altogether, such as Taylor & Cory Wright
- Combining their last names without a space or by dropping some letters, such as Taylor & Cory Smithlee or Taylor & Cory Smile
- Any other changes Taylor & Cory want to make to their first, middle or last names!
Any of these changes would require a legal name change – a more complicated process – and would change Taylor and Cory’s birth certificate and registration.
Can I legally change my name even if I’m just assuming my partner’s last name?
If you are taking, hyphenating or combining last names with your partner – which would qualify as a simpler assumed name change – you still have the option to make that your legal name with a legal name change. However, this is not necessary and doesn’t seem to have any benefits (though you may have your own reasons!).
With a legal name change, you’ll have to go through a longer, more complicated and more expensive process. You will have the name on your birth certificate and birth registration changed. And you will not be able to simply return to your given name without going through this whole process again.
How to change your last name in Ontario after marriage
Do this first! Order your Marriage Certificate
In order to change your last name in Ontario after you’re married, you first have to order your Marriage Certificate. Unlike in some other provinces, marriage certificates in Ontario are not free and they are not automatically sent to you after your wedding. You must pay and apply for them.
Learn more about Ontario marriage certificates and licences in this blog post!
Once your wedding officiant performs your ceremony and signs your paperwork with you, they send it off to Service Ontario. You can then apply to Service Ontario for your Marriage Certificate 6-8 weeks after your wedding date, once your marriage is officially registered.
From there, it’s 15 business days plus delivery time by Canada Post (regular service) or 5 business days including delivery by courier (premium service) until you receive your marriage certificate. So it could take 12 weeks from your wedding date until you receive your Marriage Certificate!
How to apply for your Ontario Marriage Certificate:
- 6-8 weeks after your wedding, apply for your Marriage Certificate online.
- Pay the $15 (regular service) or $45 (premium service) fee online.
- Wait 5-15 business days, plus mail time (if applicable), to receive your Marriage Certificate.
Important things to note:
- Any paperwork your officiant gives you on your wedding day, such as a record of solemnization, is not the same thing as your Marriage Certificate. Your official Marriage Certificate must be applied and paid for through Service Ontario.
- You will need to know the following information to apply for your Marriage Certificate: first and last names or single names of both parties to the marriage, dates of birth of both parties to the marriage, date of marriage, and name of city, reserve or town where the marriage took place in.
- You can also apply for your certificate in person or by mail if you don’t want to apply online. If applying online, you’ll have the ability to check on the status of your application via the website.
- You can order a Marriage Certificate or a Certified Copy of Marriage Registration. For most name change processes, a Marriage Certificate is sufficient.
- If you require your Marriage Certificate ASAP, you can apply in-person for an emergency service ($45, processed within 5 business days, courier delivery). You must provide proof of urgency to utilize the emergency service.
For more information on applying for your Ontario Marriage Certificate, visit this link.
Ontario health card & driver’s licence
Once you have your Marriage Certificate (and Name Change Certificate, if you completed a legal name change), you can begin changing your name on all of your documents. Start with your Ontario government-issued ID, such as:
- health card
- driver’s licence
- Ontario Photo Card
- enhanced driver’s licence
How to change your last name on your Ontario ID:
Go to a Service Ontario location in person with:
- your Marriage Certificate (and Name Change Certificate, if applicable)
- your current photo health card (if you do not have a photo health card, you must bring 3 original documents to prove you are a Canadian citizen and Ontario resident)
- your driver’s licence, enhanced driver’s licence or Ontario Photo Card
It is free to change your last name on your Ontario health card, driver’s licence and other government ID. After applying at Service Ontario in person, you’ll receive your updated documents in the mail in 6-8 weeks.
Bank and credit cards
Most Canadian banks will require you to visit a branch office in person with your Marriage Certificate and/or Change of Name Certificate in order to change your last name on your account and bank cards. You may also be required to fill out a form or provide identification, such as your ON health card or driver’s licence with your new name.
If you have a bank-issued credit card, you should also be able to change your name on your credit card at the branch when updating your banking information. If your credit card is not bank-issued, reach out to your issuer for instructions.
Keep in mind that all banks and credit card companies operate differently, so get in touch with yours for the exact procedure.
Social Insurance Number (SIN) card
According to the Government of Canada, “If you are legally changing your name: By law, you must update your SIN record when you change your name.” However, there seems to be some debate over whether an assumed last name is treated the same as a legal change of name. Many couples report not updating their SIN cards to their assumed names and having no problem filing taxes, getting paid, etc.
However, we’ve heard that things may get complicated when you go to collect your CPP (Canada Pension Plan) if your current last name doesn’t match the one on your SIN card. So you may want to update your SIN now to avoid any problems in the future.
To update your SIN, you’ll need to fill out an application and provide supporting documents. The application can be filled out online, by mail or in person. If you apply by mail or in person, you’ll need to submit original copies of your documents, so it might be safer and easier to apply online.
If applying online you’ll need to provide:
- a digital copy of an original valid primary identity document (you must provide both sides of the document if there is identity information on each side), like your birth certificate or certificate of Canadian citizenship
- a digital copy of an original valid secondary document, like a passport or driver’s licence
- a digital copy of a proof of address
- a digital copy of an original valid supporting document (only applicable if the name on your primary identity document is different from the name on your secondary document or than the name on your online SIN application form), like your Marriage Certificate or Change of Name Certificate
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
You’ll need to update the CRA not just with your new name but also with your change of marital status. You have until the end of the following month after your status changed to notify the CRA (e.g. if you got married in July, you must update the CRA by the end of August).
While your change of marital status can be updated online, your change of name must be done by phone, mail or fax.
Change of marital status
- Visit this website
- Sign into your CRA account and go to your Personal Profile
- Under Personal Information > Marital Status, click Update
- Enter your new marital status, effective date, and your partner’s SIN
- Click Submit
Change of name
- Visit this website
- By phone: Call 1-800-959-8281 (see link above for hours of operation)
Be ready with your:
- Social Insurance Number
- Full name and date of birth
- Your complete address
- Your personal account open or an assessed return, notice of assessment, reassessment, or other tax document
- Marriage Certificate or Change of Name Certificate
- By mail/fax: Send your letter to your tax centre (locations found here)
Your letter must include:
- original or certified true copy of one of the following documents:
- a name change certificate from a provincial/territorial vital statistics department
- a court order issued under an act on change of name
- your old and new names
- your social insurance number
- your signature
- original or certified true copy of one of the following documents:
Note: You can only change your name by phone if this is your first time changing your first or last name. If you have previously changed your name, you’ll need to apply by mail or fax.
Updating your passport with your new information can be tricky to time, so make sure you have knowledge of any upcoming travel plans before starting this process.
If you are travelling internationally, the name on your passport MUST match the name on your travel bookings (plane tickets, bus tickets, etc.). This can make honeymoon planning difficult as you may not have time to apply and receive your passport with your new name before you leave – especially considering you’ll have to wait for your marriage certificate and new Ontario ID first!
Many couples choose to travel on their honeymoon under their given names (using their current passport and booking everything under their given last name) as they don’t want to risk not receiving their new passport in time.
If you’re going on your honeymoon shortly after your wedding and don’t think you’ll have time to change your name and order a new passport (or don’t want to deal with the hassle!), book everything under the name in your current passport. You can still ask people to call you by your married name and use it for restaurant reservations but any official bookings, like flights, need to be done with your legal name.
When you’re ready to apply, here’s how you’ll get a Canadian passport in your new name:
- Visit this website (for change of name information) and this website (for application information)
- Fill out the application form using your new name
- Provide the following documents:
- Your current passport (if it’s still valid)
- Supporting ID with your new name (e.g. updated ON health card or driver’s licence)
- Proof of citizenship
- Marriage Certificate or Change of Name Certificate (original or copy)
- 2 identical passport photos (that follow the passport photo requirements)
- Find a guarantor and 2 references
- Submit your application by mail or in person
- Pay the fees ($120-160, plus any fees for expediting your application)
- Receive your passport (by mail or pick up in person) in 10-20 business days plus mailing time. Click here for current processing times and to check the status of your application.
Other places to update your last name
Depending on where you work, you may need to provide formal proof of your new name. This can usually be done by providing your Marriage Certificate or Change of Name Certificate or any of your new identification (e.g. new driver’s licence). Your work may need this information to update your payment and tax paperwork.
You’ll want to make sure that your name on your pay stubs/T4 matches the name the CRA has come tax filing time, so be sure to contact HR. You may also want to have your new name used in your work email address or other places around the office, such as the company directory.
Phone, internet & utilities:
Log into your online accounts for your phone, internet and utility companies where most will allow you to update your personal information. Some companies may require you to phone or provide proof of name change.
Now comes the fun part: Changing your last name on social media! There are no applications, fees, long lines or paperwork required. Simply log into your favourite social media apps and have fun updating and using your new name!
Overwhelmed with the paperwork and instructions for changing your last name in Ontario after marriage? Let Easy Name Change save you lots of time and effort for just $35!
Before you change your last name, don’t forget to book your wedding officiant for your ceremony! Get in touch to book your officiant today!