Monday, March 9, 2009

What's in a name? Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

Always a Bridesmaid, Never A Bridezilla has an interesting post about changing one's name here. There are numerous name-change services out there. For just a "small fee", they will make sure you have the right forms, or even change your name for you.

After reading WeddingBee, I discovered how hard changing, or not changing, one's name is in the US. I will have to find the post (and I don't have the energy to do so right now), but one Bee had to pay TO KEEP HER MAIDEN NAME. What?! That's crazy.

I looked into it in Ontario, my province. In Ontario, you have several options. One is expensive, the others are not. I will use Jane Smith marrying John Jones as an example.

If you want to change your name, you can go with option # 1 or # 2:

1) You can change your name. That means your birth certificate is changed. So Jane Smith would change her name to Jane Jones, and she would get a new birth certificate that says "Jane Jones". She would have to pay to change her name on the birth certificate. Then Jane takes her marriage certificate and birth certificate to the other agencies. She goes to an Ontario Healthcare Office to change her health card (free). She can also change her driver's license by going into an MTO office. Jane can also change her SIN (social insurance number) by taking her SIN card and marriage certificate into a Service Canada Centre. Take that same marriage certificate and your other i.d. into the bank to make a name change there. Done!

2) You can assume your spouse's last name. Jane's birth certificate still says "Jane Smith", but she will be known as Jane Jones. Jane uses her marriage certificate or certified statement of marriage as proof she has, in fact, married John Jones. She changes her health card (free) by going into an Ontario Healthcare Office, then goes into an MTO office to change her driver's license. Jane can change her SIN by going into a Service Canada Centre. Finally, head to the bank to make a name change there. Done!

You want to hyphenate your name? Go with option #3.

3) You can hyphenate your names. Jane's birth certificate still says "Jane Smith", but she will be known as Jane Smith-Jones or Jane Smith Jones. Jane uses her marriage certificate or certified statement of marriage as proof she has, in fact, married John Jones. She changes her health card by going into an Ontario Healthcare Office. She can also change her driver's license by going into an MTO office. Jane can also change her SIN going to a Service Canada Centre. Then head to the bank with your i.d.! Done.

You want to create a new name, based on your & your spouse's name? Go with option #4.

4) You can merge your names. Jane's birth certificate still says "Jane Smith", but she will be known as Jane Smithones or Jane Smones, or whatever she wants. Jane uses her marriage certificate or certified statement of marriage as proof she has, in fact, married John Jones. She changes her health card by going into a Ontario Healthcare Office; then changes her driver's license by going into an MTO office; she changes her SIN at a Service Canada Centre; then goes to the bank to make a name change there.

Yep, numbers 2, 3 and 4 are quite similar. Identical, I'd say. Whatever you change your name to (if you change your name) is fine, as long as you consistently use your new name. And whether you're female or male, the rules are the same. So if John Jones agrees to hyphenate his name to John Smith Jones, or change it to John Smithones, it's the same process.

There is a cost for changing your driver's license, I think. Or you can leave it until it's next renewal, and then change it then. Just claim you forgot to do it earlier when your marriage certificate shows you were married a couple years ago! :)

Most women in Ontario follow numbers 2, 3 or 4. Rarely would a woman follow #1. I don't think men often hyphenate or modify their names. There are so many reasons not to "change" your name (option #1). First, it costs money. Second, it changes your birth certificate, which is kinda stupid. Third, it's a lot (a LOT) more work than the options. Finally, if (God forbid) something happens and you get divorced, it's very difficult to change your name back (if you so desire). But I think the first two reasons are the best arguments for "assuming" a name instead of "changing" your name in Ontario.

Thanks to the Professional Bridesmaid for inspiring me to write this post!

P.S. You don't have to pay to keep your name in Ontario.

14 comments:

AmyJean said...

I think i may make my last name, my middle name :)
RelentlessBride

Krista said...

I wouldn't because I like my middle name!

Nicole said...

Thanks Krista. I love coming here for the Ontario/Canadian perspective. Yay!

Bella said...

Hey Krista! I actually changed my last name on my own here in the US - without paying a service and it was pretty dang easy!

I didn't even need my new social security card to get my drivers license changed, they just needed my Marriage Certificate!

The worst part (and it's not all too bad)...waiting in the dirty SS Office for an hour...but it was local so I didn't have to drive far! :-)

Cyd said...

Interesting the difference between changing and assuming one's name...to the best of my knowledge here it's just assuming of a name, by this definition. I don't know as though the option to change your birth certificate exists, at least not for purposes of marriage.

Blablover5 said...

I'm pretty sure in the US there is no way to go back and change your name on your birth certificate. Interesting that you can in Canada

The Professional Bridesmaid said...

Thanks for the shout out! Great post.

Nicole said...

hey Krista, I didn't do much touristy - it's a quick trip - but I had a nice walk towards downtown alongside the parliament buildings

Krista said...

For those finding it odd you can change your birth certificate: it's because it's a total name change. Same process for someone who is legally changing her name from Susann to Susan. Or whatever to whatever. In Ontario (and I believe the rest of Canada) if you change your name, for whatever reason, the process is the same, and it does change your birth certificate.

Changing your name from John to Julie is even possible, and much easier than in the US. (A good thing for those who are trans-identified or undergoing a gender change.)

Hell, you can even change it from Krista to "Goddess Of Beauty" if you go through a justice for approval.

Carly said...

The idea of changing my birth certificate would scare me a little bit. Now that I am an adult, I seem to be strongly attached to my birth name because that is what my parents named me and the name I've answered to my whole life. I am still on the fence about it. I think I may hyphenate for awhile and see how that goes. I figure I can toy around with it until we have kids. :)

Carly said...

I hear you re: your comment on my blog. I was referring to myself specifically (with the birth certificate name change). But I can definitely see many situations where one might need or want to change their names. I agree that it is a good option to have should anyone need to use it.

I like how Japan does it. If the wife doesn't have brothers or anyone to carry on her family name, the husband takes HER surname. I read that this can also be done for business purposes (if the wife's family business will eventually be taken over by her new husband, he takes her family name, too). These are options that are rarely considered in American society.

Flora said...

Interesting... SO if you changed your name on your birth certificate to your married name would there still be a record of your single name? I guess there must be..

Carly^, I wish I lived in Japan, that would have been my preferred choice as my brother passed away.Alas it wasn't to be so I've just kept my own name. Seems to be radical with the in laws!

Brandy said...

I'm in the #4 category..or will be..but only if he does it too.
My arguement is that were creating a new family together and we should have our own name. Plus our merged names is really cool and makes us sound like we own castles in England and play Polo for fun!
Something Weddings

melissa said...

I am currently trying to work all of this out and when I saw your post about changing the birth certificate I had a little freak out. But it sounds like from the comments that this is unique to Canada. There are SO many places to change your name.

On another note we were considering combining our names - but that would be Kreeples but that wouldn't really be appealing.