Your marital name in Ontario - how to change your name





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Legal Canada - Legal Ontario - Your marital name in Ontario

March 25, 2004

Your marital name in Ontario
By Fred Brzezinski

So, you’ve just gotten married in Ontario and you’re wondering how this affects your name. Well, the answer is it doesn’t have to affect it at all, but it can if you want it to!

Assuming you live in Ontario (this doesn’t work for U.S. citizens or others who have gotten married in Ontario, but don’t live here), you have two choices if one or both of you wish to alter your surnames (last names) to reflect your same-sex marriage:

  1. You can simply assume your spouse’s surname, or use a double surname including both your surnames (in either order, with or without a hyphen), or
  2. You can legally change your name under the "Change of Name Act". If you do so within 90 days of your marriage, there is no fee. (The “no fee” provision applies only if you plan to take your spouse’s name or combine your names. If you want a brand new name, first or last, a fee is payable.) There is a form to be completed and evidence to be submitted. There is also a residency requirement of one year. For additional information, see:

To assume your spouse’s surname (or to combine your Place Equal Marriage News on your web site.  It's fast, free and easy!  SELECT to copy code.names), start by visiting your local Driver & Vehicle Issuing Office. Take your current driver's licence and proof of marriage (Marriage Certificate if you’ve received one, otherwise, your "Record of Solemnization") and ask to have your name changed. There should be no charge. Once you receive your licence in your new name, you can change your other forms of identification, such as your OHIP card. The federal government will also change your name on such items as your Social Insurance Number card and passport, just by sending in your proof of marriage and a copy of your licence.

The nice thing about the assumption method of changing your name is that it’s a name change sanctioned by custom and common law, not one created by statute. This means that you can continue to use your birth name for some purposes and your married name for others, and you can change your name back to your original name on your driver’s licence, etc. at any time.

Of course, it only makes sense to assume your spouse’s name if you plan to be known by that name most, if not all, of the time, but it is nice to know that gay and lesbian couples have that flexibility. If you change your name using the "Change of Name Act", your previous name is gone, and to reclaim it you would need to apply to change your name all over again.

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