“I now declare you to be married and you may take your partner’s name.”
Not really what I say but yes – taking your partner’s name is a choice you have once you’re married. It isn’t required by law.
You can change your surname to your partner’s or vice versa, or you can double barrel your surnames in any order, or you can choose to leave your surname as it is.
What you can’t do is create a new surname for you and your partner – that needs to be done officially. Check how to do this through the Births Deaths Marriages office in your state or territory.
Is it easy to change your name? Yes and no. Sometimes it’s straightforward – show your birth certificate, your passport (or other ID that has a photo) and the ‘must have’ – a copy of your marriage certificate. This isn’t the commemorative marriage certificate your celebrant presents you with on your wedding day.
If you were married in Western Australia, you need to order your marriage certificate from Births Deaths Marriages in WA before you can start changing names. A copy currently costs $50 and the form can be downloaded from https://bdm.justice.wa.gov.au/ You can also go to the BDM office and apply in person.
Fact. It can take hours to ring around and find out what you need to do to change your name. Don't want a doozy of a headache? Spend a few minutes now to save time later! Each organisation may have a different process for changing your name. Some will want you to fill in a name change letter or form, while others will ask you to scan your official marriage certificate and email it, and some may even let you change names over the phone. Check their website or call and find out.
Who needs to know about my name change? Everyone’s list will look different – passport, driver’s licence, ATO, Medicare, insurance policies, gas/water/electricity/bank/phone accounts, superannuation, your will, memberships etc.
Where do I start? It’s probably best to update your driver’s licence or passport first because they have a government issued photo ID. This will then become the proof you need of your new name and make it a little easier when you approach other organisations. Try to get all your ID changed over as soon as possible – otherwise you could end up with ID and accounts in different names.
Want the easy option? You can buy online name change kits and checklists that profess to making the process easier – just search for ‘name change kit’.