How do I legally change my name on a birth certificate in Ontario?

What documents do I need?

To legally change your name in Ontario, you must have lived in the province for at least the past 12 months, and be 16 years of age or older (a separate application is required to change a child’s name; see below). You will also need the following:

  1. A completed application to change an adult’s name
  2. A guarantor
  3. A commissioner for taking affidavits to witness and sign the statutory declaration form (this form is included in the application package)
  4. $137.00 processing fee

If you were born in Canada

If you were born in Canada, you will also need to submit:

  • All original birth certificates or certified copies of birth registration (these are also called “long form birth certificates”)
  • Photocopies of all previous name change certificates (if you have changed your name in the past)
  • All court certified copies of court orders relating to custody, access, or naming of the person whose name is being changed (if applicable)

If you do not have a birth certificate, you will need to apply for a birth certificate first, and submit the certificate with your change of name application.

If you were born outside of Canada and are a Canadian citizen

If you were born outside of Canada and are a Canadian citizen, you will also need to submit:

  1. A photocopy of original birth certificate or photocopy of certified copy of birth registration from country of birth and;
  2. A photocopy of Canadian Citizenship Card/Certificate (both sides) or photocopy of Canadian Record of Immigrant Landing or photocopy of Permanent Resident Card (both sides) and;
  3. A photocopy of the passport used to enter Canada (if still held by the applicant)
  4. Photocopies of all change of name certificates or change of name documents if you have had your name legally changed before (within Canada or outside Canada)
  5. All court certified copies of court orders that relate to custody, access or naming of the person whose name is being changed

If you were born outside of Canada and are a landed immigrant or permanent resident

If you were born outside of Canada and are a landed immigrant or permanent resident, you will also need to submit:

  1. A photocopy of your Canadian record of immigrant landing or permanent resident card
  2. A photocopy of your original birth certificate or certified copy of birth registration from your country of birth
  3. Photocopies of all previous change of name certificates (if applicable)
  4. All court certified copies of court orders relate to custody, access or naming of the person whose name is being changed (if applicable)

NOTE: If you were born outside of Canada and cannot obtain a photocopy of your birth certificate from the country you were born in, you will also need to write and sign a letter explaining why you are unable to provide it, and what you have done to try to obtain it.

If any of your supporting documents are not written in English or French

If any of your supporting documents were not originally written in English or French, you must send a certified translation of the document. This includes:

  1. a complete photocopy of the document requiring translation;
  2. a complete photocopy of the translation of the original document; and
  3. an original written declaration from one of the following:
    1. A professional translator, who indicates their professional status as a translator (this declaration is not required to be sworn); OR
    2. A person who is not a professional translator (this declaration must be sworn in front of a commissioner for taking affidavits).

The translator’s original written declaration must state:

  1. The translator understands English or French and the language of the original document; and
  2. The translator is of the opinion that the translation is complete and correct.

If the translator’s declaration is written on the translation of the original document, the translation must be submitted in its original form. A photocopy will not be accepted.

The Ontario Gazette and exemption from name change publication

Generally, notice of a name change is published in The Ontario Gazette, which is a Government of Ontario official publication that is searchable on the Internet. However, there are exceptions specified in the Change of Name Act. If you identify as a transgender person, meaning someone whose gender identity is different from what is typically associated to the sex you were assigned at birth, you can request exemption from being published in The Ontario Gazette using the Request for Non-Publication in the Ontario Gazette form.

Once you have all your forms and documents together

When you have all of the documents that you need, you will need to take your application to a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits. In Part 6 of the name change application form there is a page that you will need to sign in front of the Commissioner, and then they will need to sign the form. You can do this at most Service Ontario or Service Canada locations, however there is an administrative fee.

If you live in Toronto, you can have your application sworn without cost through the generosity of Downtown Notary. If you do not live in Toronto, you can also contact your closest Gowling WLG office, who also offer sworn affidavits to the trans community across Canada for free.

After this, you can submit the form by mail or in person.

Submitting by mail

Mail your completed form, payment and required documents to:

ServiceOntario
Office of the Registrar General
P.O. Box 3000
189 Red River Rd,
Thunder Bay, ON
P7B 5W0

If you are submitting your application by mail, you may want to consider sending your application and money using Registered Mail. Registered Mail allows you to track your letter while it is in the mail system so that you always know where it is. Because you are submitting documents that are important to proving your identity in Canada, you may feel more comfortable knowing where they are at all times before they reach the Ontario government. As part of Registered Mail, when the government receives it, someone at the office will need to sign indicating they have received the letter, and you will be able to see this information on the internet or by calling a phone number that the post office will give you.

Submitting in person

Bring your completed form, payment and required documents to your closest Service Ontario centre.

After you submit your forms

After you submit your forms, you will receive: [1]

  1. A Change of Name Certificate, showing your previous name and the approved new name. This certificate can be used to support application to change your name in other settings, like on your health card or your driver’s license.
  2. A new Birth Certificate. As you will have submitted your previous birth certificate in this process, the Government of Ontario will destroy your previous birth certificate and issue you one in the new name. The birth certificate automatically issued does not contain parental information. If you wish to apply for a birth certificate with parental information or a certified copy of the birth registration, you can do so by submitting a Request for Birth Certificate application and the associated payment.

How long does it take?

If your application is complete, accurate and you were born in Ontario, the government will mail you a certificate of name change and your new birth certificate in 6-8 weeks. It may take longer if you have requested to change your name to a single name, or to a name you have as part of your Indigenous or other traditional culture.

Once you get your certificate of name change, you can update your other government-issued identification (e.g. driver’s licence, health card, Ontario Photo Card).


References

[1] ServiceOntario, “Change name”. Last updated 25 September 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2018.

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