What can you do if you want to change the name you were given at birth? In Quebec, you can change your name without going to court in some situations. But you must follow specific rules before the Directeur de l’état civil (registrar of civil status) will allow it.
A person’s name is the family name and first name(s) appearing on the act of birth.
Reasons accepted for a name change
If you simply want to add your mother’s or your father’s family name to your name, you can do this by filling out a form from the Directeur de l’état civil (registrar of civil status). You must also attach some documents to the form.
In all other cases, you need a serious reason to change your first name or family name. Here are some examples:
- The name you’ve been using for several years in everyday life is not the same as the one on your act of birth.
- Your name is of foreign origin or too difficult to pronounce or write.
- Your name can be ridiculed.
- Your name is associated with something negative or hurts your reputation by identifying you with another person.
- Using your own family name instead of your husband’s goes against your religious beliefs or prevents you from being recognized as his wife in another country.
You can ask to change your first name on your application to change your sex designation. Read our article on changing your sex designation to learn more.
Application to change your name
To apply to the Directeur de l’état civil to change your name, you must meet all these conditions:
- You’re a Canadian citizen.
- You’ve been living in Quebec for at least a year.
- You’re at least 14 years old. (Parents can ask for a child under the age of 14.)
The first step is to complete and send the form Application for a Preliminary Analysis for a Change of Name to the Directeur. The Directeur checks that you meet the required conditions.
Then the Directeur sends you a form called Application for a Change of Name. You must explain on that form why you want to change your name. You must attach specific documents and pay an application fee.
The Directeur makes a final decision on whether to accept your application. If it accepts your application, the Directeur usually publishes a notice on its website. You then receive an official certificate confirming your name change.
Changing your name can take several months.
Challenging a decision about a name change
If you’re not happy with the Directeur’s decision, you have 30 days from the time you receive the decision to ask the Superior Court to review it. The court does a new study of your file, and you can submit new evidence (proof).
Changing the name of a child
You can apply to change the name of your child who’s under 14.
You must ask the court to make the change if it’s for one of these reasons:
- The child is adopted.
- The child was abandoned by one of the parents.
- One of the child’s parents lost parental rights.
The application to change the child’s name must be presented in court if one of the child’s parents or the child’s guardian (tutor) is against it, or if the child is against it and is 14 or older.
To learn more about changing your name, consult a legal professional.
Effects of a name change
If the application for a name change is approved, the Directeur de l’état civil will change your act of birth and act of marriage or civil union.
The Directeur automatically contacts some organizations, such as those below, so they can make the changes in their files:
- Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (health insurance board)
- Retraite Québec (pension board) for the Quebec Pension Plan and child support
If you agreed to it on your application form, the Directeur will tell other ministries and organizations about the change. It can also send you certificates confirming your name change.
You’re responsible for making the changes to other identity documents, such as your health insurance card, driver’s licence and passport.
If your child has the same family name as you and you change it, then your child’s family name is also changed.
Important: Any documents you signed using your old name are still valid. For example, if you signed a contract under the name Paul Dubé-Lessard, you still have responsibilities under the contract, even if your name is now Paul Dubé.
But you or the person you made the contract with can ask to change the contract so it has your new name.
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.