Change of Name
The Change of Name Act outlines how to change an existing name and how marriage, common-law relationships, divorce or separation affects an existing name. The Vital Statistics Act sets out how names must be shown on birth registrations.
In general, anyone 18 years of age or over who has lived in Manitoba for at least three months may apply to the director of Vital Statistics to change their name.
Once the prescribed fee has been paid and an application accepted, the Vital Statistics Agency will issue a change of name certificate, amend birth and marriage records to reflect the new name and publish notice of the change in the Manitoba Gazette. The Vital Statistics Agency will forward this information to another province if the person was born or married there, but the person will be responsible for any costs to change birth or marriage records in that province. The person changing their name must make arrangements to change their name on other documents and records—such as a driver’s licence and credit cards.
Changes to The Change of Name Act in 2014 require an adult who applies for a change of name to have their fingerprints taken at an authorized fingerprinting agency before the legal change of name process is complete. The fingerprints are given to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to enable them to link a person‘s current and proposed name if that person has a criminal history. This change was enacted to increase protection for vulnerable persons by ensuring people with criminal records do not use a name change to avoid criminal record checks that identify their records.
How do I register or change the name of my child?
A child’s birth must be registered with both a given name and a surname. It can be made up of any of the letters of the alphabet, from a to z, and may include accents from the English or French languages and hyphens and apostrophes. Recent amendments to The Vital Statistics Act now include and recognize Indigenous and other cultural characters, also known as typographical symbols.
If the parents are not married, information about the father can only be included on the birth registration if the parents complete a joint written request and submit it to the Vital Statistics Agency.
For further information, contact Vital Statistics Branch:
Toll Free: 1-866-949-9296
Do I need to change my name when I marry?
The law in Manitoba does not require a person to change their last name when they get married or enter into a common-law relationship. Both spouses have the right to use:
- their own last name
- their spouse’s or common-law partner‘s last name
- a combination of both last names, hyphenated or not, in any order they choose
- their spouse’s or common-law partner‘s last name, with their own last name as a given or middle name
For example, when Robin Mendez and Jules Auclair marry or commence a common-law relationship, one or both of them can continue to be known by their surnames before marriage or choose to be known by:
- Mendez Auclair or Auclair Mendez
- Mendez-Auclair or Auclair-Mendez
- Mendez or Auclair
A married person does not have to apply to the Vital Statistics Agency for a change of name in any of the above circumstances. The person simply has to use the chosen last name (e.g., Nancy Smith Jones or Brian Jones-Smith). If a new name is used, a letter with a copy of the marriage certificate or the Certificate of Election of Surname should be sent to record holders (such as Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation and credit card companies) so documents and records (such as a driver’s licence and credit cards) can be changed to the new name.
Common-law partners can assume their partners’ surname or combine it with their own, in the same way that people can when they marry. A formal name change application is not required, but common-law partners wishing to do this must file a declaration with the Vital Statistics Agency. To qualify as common-law partners under The Change of Name Act, a couple must either have registered their relationship with the Vital Statistics Agency or be cohabiting in a conjugal relationship of some permanence.
How can I change my name after I separate?
People who changed their last name at the time they married must file a change of name application and obtain a legal change of name if they want to change their name during the marriage or following separation, but prior to a divorce taking effect. This is so, even if the person wants to resume the use of their last name before marriage or birth surname.
How can I change my name after a divorce? Or after my partner dies?
A divorced or widowed person may resume using the surname they used before marriage, or at birth, without a formal name change through Vital Statistics. On the termination of a common-law relationship or the death of their common-law partner, a person may also resume using the surname they used before the relationship, so long as the person files a declaration with the Vital Statistics Agency.