HOW DO I CHANGE MY NAME?
Many trans people change their names to better match their gender identity or expression. Some may be satisfied with informally asking others to use their new name. Others will want to legally change their name so that records and identification can be changed.
In BC, legal name changes are handled by the Ministry of Health’s Department of Vital
To be eligible for a legal name change, you must be:
• An adult, defined by Vital Statistics as anyone over the age of 19, or parents under 19 with custody of a child. Anyone else under 19 must get their legal guardian to apply on their behalf.
• A resident of BC for at least three months at the time of applying, or have had a permanent home in BC for at least three months.
You can request any name that you choose. Some transgendered people keep their last name and change their first name only; others change their middle name as well as their first name, or change all aspects of their name.
The Director of Vital Statistics has the right to refuse an application if the new name will cause “confusion or embarrassment”; words that contain slang or obscenities are unlikely to be approved.
You must also have both a first name and a surname– if you apply to change your name to only one word, your application will automatically be refused.
Step 1: Get the paperwork
Get an Application for Change of Name package from any government agent.
Vital Statistics office: http://www.vs.gov.bc.ca/admin/offices.html
This package explains the various steps of the name change application process and contains forms needed for each step.
Step 2: Complete the application
Complete all sections of the Application for Change of Name form and form C-216C, including the Statutory Declaration — which can be witnessed at no extra charge by the staff at Vital Statistics, or you can get it witnessed by a lawyer, notary public, or Commissioner for Taking Affidavits.
You will need to attach:
• An original of your birth certificate, if you were born in Canada. Birth certificates are available from Vital Statistics for $27. If you were born outside Canada, include a photocopy of your immigration documents.
• An original of your certificate of marriage, if you were married in Canada. If you got married elsewhere, include a photocopy of documentation relating to your marriage. Marriage certificates are available from Vital Statistics.
• In some cases, you may be asked to provide proof of your address.
Photocopy this entire package, and keep a copy for your records. It’s important to make a photocopy of it before you take it in to the fingerprint place, as you can’t touch it once your prints are done. You’ll also need to complete the fingerprint envelope.
Applying for a Fee Waiver
If you can’t afford the $137 fee for the Name Change, you can write to the Regional Manager of Vital Statistics, explain why you cannot pay the cost, and request a waiver. If you do this, before going to get fingerprinted, do the first two steps (get the form and complete it), then put together a package that includes:
• A letter from you to Vital Stats asking for the waiver of the fee for legal change of name, briefly explaining your financial circumstances and why you need to legally change your name.
• Confirmation from a third party (e.g., a doctor or a mental health professional) supporting the need for the service as a medical necessity for you. The Transgender Health Program has a template you can use, which can be downloaded from their website: http://www.vch.ca/transhealth/resources/library/tcpdocs/guidelines-advocacy.pdf In the Table of Contents, click on Appendices, and scroll down to Vital Stats: E11: Letter from physician to Vital Statistics requesting fee waiver.
• Documentation relating to your financial situation: in the past, Vital Stats has accepted your last income tax assessment, a statement of being on social assistance, or a copy of your bank statement, but more recently they have required the last year’s income tax statement even for people on social assistance.
• The completed name change application form and, if you need it, the application for a new birth certificate.
Send the whole package to:
Roberta Moyer, Regional Manager
British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency
P0 Box 9657, Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9P3
Vital Stats will send it back to you—- make a photocopy of it before you take it in to the fingerprint place, as you can’t touch it once your prints are done.
Step 3: Get fingerprinted by police or RCMP within 30 days
Yup, that’s right: as of October 2002 anyone wanting to legally change their name is required to be fingerprinted by the police/RCMP. The government rationalizes this by saying it is necessary to ensure that criminal records are updated when someone changes their name.
If you live in Vancouver, you can go to International Fingerprint Services, a private facility that is approved by police for fingerprinting for non-criminal purposes. The cost is $25 less than going to the RCMP/police. Walk-in service is available Monday-Friday, 9AM-5:30 PM, and Saturdays, l0am to 2 pm.
International Fingerprint Services – Vancouver office
#619-470 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC V6C 1V5
You must get your prints taken within 30 days of getting the Statutory Declaration witnessed and signed. If you wait longer than this, you’ll need to do the Statutory Declaration again before you get your prints taken.
When you go to get your fingerprints taken, you’ll need to bring:
• Your complete name change application package: the application form, form C216C, the fingerprint envelope, your Statutory Declaration, your birth certificate / immigration documents / marriage certificate, and the sheet titled Instructions for Police Officials
• A cheque made out to the Minister of Finance for $162 ($137 for the Name Change Application fee, unless you have a waiver for this, plus a $25 fee for the processing of your prints). The municipal police force or RCMP detachment may charge a fee on top of this for doing the prints (you might want to call first to find out how much they’re going to charge you, to make sure you have enough money with you).
• Photo identification: driver’s license, BCID, etc.
Once your fingerprints have been taken, the police/RCMP officer can’t give you the application or any of the documents in it back to you, so make sure everything is complete before you get your prints done.
To make sure everything gets done according to the Vital Statistics requirements, give the police/ RCMP officer who’s taking your prints the sheet entitled Instructions for Police Officials from the name change package. This will avoid having to do it again because the officer didn’t fill out the form properly.
After your prints are taken, the officer put them in a sealed envelope along with the application form and cheque, and will mail this envelope to Victoria for processing. After the name change is registered, the envelope containing the fingerprints will be forwarded (by Vital Statistics) to the RCMP in Ottawa to conduct a criminal record check and, if needed, update your criminal record with your new name.
For more info: Transgender Health Program 604-734-1514 firstname.lastname@example.org