Rani Mukerjee is not doing it … and you don’t have to either!

Rani Mukerjee, famous Indian actress, has decided to retain her ‘maiden’ name and not take her husband’s family name now that she is married.

In Australia, whilst it is customary, there is no requirement that once a woman marries, she takes her husband’s family name. She has a choice of whether or not to take the husband’s surname as her own. If she wishes to take her husband’s surname then, if the couple were married in Australia , there is no need for any formal change of name application. Use of the married name can be commenced from the date of marriage.

Presentation of the marriage registration certificate is then sufficient to have the new surname recorded on official documents such as driver’s licence, bank and other accounts, tax office etc.

Where the marriage was not conducted in Australia, it may be necessary to go through the formal change of name / registration process.

A name provides connections to culture and family however there are many circumstances in which a person may wish to change their name.

It is not uncommon for migrants wishing to ‘simplify’ or Anglicise their name once in Australia, for example removing a patronym or reducing a long given name. Any person is legally able to change his or her name as long as it is not for fraudulent purposes and can commence using the new name without any formal steps.

At common law, a person will not be considered to have actually changed his or her name until the person has used and become known by the new name. Because persons may be required to provide proof of their name / change of name, they may record their new name by registering the change of name at the registry of births, deaths and marriages in the Australian state in which they live.  You can find your registry here: http://australia.gov.au/topics/law-and-justice/births-deaths-and-marriages-registries

For migrants who have changed their name overseas, relevant documentation should be provided when applying for an Australian visa for, as we know these days, identity is everything.