a Guide to Changing your Name after Marriage in British Columbia

August 30

This past week I finally completed the process of changing my name after marriage! And let me tell you, no one warned me how long, drawn out, repetitive and tedious it would be! Did I mention frustrating?!

I’ll save you from the gorey details, but lets just say it took nearly 12 months, countless hours and dozens of repeated applications! My experience may not be that of all future wives, but if I can save even one of you from the trouble, I think I’ve served you well!

So without further ado, I present to you a master guide to changing your name after marriage in British Columbia.


 1. Marriage Certificate

Throughout the entire process you’ll be required to show official proof of your marriage, ie: your marriage certificate. If you plan to mail in your applications or apply online, you’ll need  reigstered copies from the government. To do this, order multiples upon applying for your initial.

If you’re like me and you prefer human contact, where you can ask any and all necessary questions at once, ie: you’ll be applying through most of this process in person, then your one certified copy is enough.

This process should take roughly 2-4 weeks, depending on the time of year you apply.


2. Medical Services Plan – MSP CareCard

As of 2013, you need to have your Health Care updated prior to applying for a new drivers license. Simply have yourself added to your Husbands plan or him to yours.

In addition, for the sake of both your medical records and your medical services plan, it’s essential that you update your care card to match your other ID. To do so, you must apply for a replacement.

Note: As of July 2014  | The New BC Services Card now includes Driver Licence and MSP (Care card) as one card. In order to have this, MSP needs to be notified first before going to the Motor Vehicle branch and MSP takes about 30 days to process.


3. Drivers License

As your drivers license is typically your primary piece of ID, I suggest updating it first or as soon as you recieve your marriage certificate. It’ll be used throughout the entire process of changing to your married name, along with your official marriage certificate for proof of authentication.




4.   Social Insurance Number – SIN Card

While it’s a card many of us rarely think about, it’s our legal obligation to keep our sin card up to date for medical purposes.  From the time of a successful application to receiving your new card, it should take roughly 2 weeks for completion.

 NOTE: As of March 2014, they no longer issue a physical SIN card. Instead, they will issue a letter. 


5. Passport

Changing your passport to your married name can be one of the more challenging steps in this process, simply because the route you take depends on multiple factors. You will more than likely need to apply for a passport as if it were your first time, using the General Adult Passport Application.

Keep in mind there are multiple circumstances that can sway whether or not you must apply in person at a government agent office or the official lower mainland passport offices. Amongst the greatest concerns, is whether or not you plan to travel in the next 30 days. If so, head directly to the official offices located downtown vancouver and surrey.


NOTE: As of Oct. 20, 2014, the name that appears in the passport will be the same name that is on the proof of Canadian citizenship, however, there are some exceptions. 


6. Revenue Canada

It’s important that you inform CRA of your change of name for taxation purposes, as well as for your medical records, as the health care division of British Columbia is billed and managed by Revenue Canada. Luckily it’s a simple phone call that lasts less than 5 minutes!

You will need the following information:

1. Your Assessment Notice to prove your identity. (They will ask specific line items from that Assessment Notice).
2. To tell them you are changing your marital status from Single to Married and you will need your spouse’s SIN number to do so.
3. After you change your name/marital status with CRA, your spouse is also required to call and update his/her marital status and will need your SIN number as well.


7. Bank Accounts, Credit Cards + Payroll

Unfortunately, there’s no easy 1,2,3 plan for changing over your bank accounts, credit cards and payroll to reflect your new married name. Thankfully, none of them are time sensetive or vital to completing this process of changing to your new married name officially. Besides your credit cards, which you will likely use to as your second piece of ID regularly, the above  can be changed over time.

KME advice: As bills come due, pay day approaches and you finally have a need to run inside the bank, take the time to update your records then.


8. The fun stuff

I’d bet my last penny that most newlyweds will get to changing over the fun stuff before getting to the official ones. I’m talking email signatures, online accounts such as your blog bio and social media platforms, like your facebook and twitter accounts. So as time permits and your excitement motivates, be sure to change over your cyber presence to reflect your new married name.


So there you have it, lovelies: A no non-sense, complete guide to changing to your married name in British Columbia, Canada. Have questions or know of a great service that can help lessen the stress of this process, email me. I’d love to know about it!


ps: I’ve presented the above in the proprer order of priority, to minimize wait time, repeated visits to the government office and delays between seperate document applications!

**Please note this guide was written in 2011 and updates spuratically. As guidelines and government procedures change throughout the years, be aware the above may have changed.


pps: For those of you busy bodies, who would prefer to have the fuss and logistics of changing your name handled for you, there’s a nifty “Easy Name Change” kit available Here. We’re excited and proud to start offering these kits, complementary to all KME clients.






About Kailey-Michelle

Grace clinger. Marriage lover. Moment savourer. Passionate Creator. Seeking to inspire this generation as a Professional Wedding Planner, Speaker, Writer and Business Coach, to focus on what matters most in life and leave a legacy of love and service.
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52 Responses

  1. Shira says:

    Thank you so much for this! I swear I just should open a name-changing business for newlyweds!

  2. Kendall says:

    This is such great info! I’ve completed the fun stuff, now on to the important stuff. Thanks for the list :)

  3. Niva says:

    Hi Kailey-Michelle,

    just to clarify are you positive that we do not need to order extra copies of marriage certificate if we are applying in person? and do u know by chance if the former is not true, do we need a certified copy of marriage license or the marriage license? because according to the government those are 2 different things… thanks if you can help

    • As far as my personal experience and research has served me, you only need one copy when applying in person, as they do not keep it. They simply need to check it. Having said that, there are always exceptions to the rule. So should you be unsure I would encourage you to phone and ask for confirmation.

      When you apply for your marriage certificate the FIRST time, the certificate you receive in return is an official marriage certificate document. This is what you need.
      However, should you have lost that, you need to re-order a “certified copy” of it, in place of the original. This is how they differ. One is the original and the other is an official replacement approved through the government. Both are accepted when applying as they are both certified and issued by the government.

  4. Courtney says:

    Ah, finally. Seriously is there a reason they make this so hard, I swear if we had to do it prior to the wedding we’d all throw in the hat. Thank you for laying it all out, you would think there would be a doc like this on the Gov’t website…well off I go. :)

  5. Tammi says:

    Thanks for the help :)

  6. Margot says:

    This post is a life-saver, thank you! I have been putting this whole thing off for months simply because I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around it!

  7. Michelle says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you
    This makes everything so much easier!
    Great Blog

  8. Courtney says:

    Thank you so much! This will be so so helpful!!

  9. Hamish M says:

    Thanks you so much Kailey! My dear wife asked me to do some research in this regard and your blog post was the first thing I found. Just what I needed!

    Thanks again, and I hope you had a great easter weekend.

  10. Cristi says:

    Thank you so much! I still haven’t changed to my married name..and it’s been nearly a year! I am changing it for our one year anniversary to surprise my husband. This website helped me so much!


  11. Suzanne says:

    Thank you. Thats all I really need to say. I had no idea where to start or what to do when, and your page gave me hope, hehe… It was all and more than I needed, so thank you!

  12. Naomi B says:

    Thank you so much for posting this!

  13. Caroline says:

    I’m so glad I found this! I was trying to google the information, but it’s so nice to have it all in one spot. I’m getting married on Saturday and you just made me weeks after the wedding much more relaxed!

  14. selina says:

    This is such great advice, thank you! The passport application states that you can’t use the “simple passport renewal application” if your name has changed, you have to use the long general adult one. Thanx again!

  15. Sandeep says:

    Thank you so much :) This is soo helpful. You are awesome

  16. Keeley says:

    Thank you so so much, it is amazing to have all this info in one place!!!

  17. Kari says:

    Thanks for this, really great info….as I am just starting the planning process for our wedding, this was an eye opener for me.

    For those who are employees, speak to your supervisor or HR person to be sure that Group Insurance packages are updated as well as Pensions or Group RRSP plans as well. Registered investments (RRSPs, TFSAs, RRIFs for example) have beneficiary designations and these to should be reveiwed and updated due to marriage if necessary.

    You may want to add that any personal insurance policies ~ life, disability &/or critical illness should also be updated. This is realatively easy, contact the agent who helps with this or the insurance company directly. You will need a name due due to marriage form from the insurer and a (as of the date of writing this) a photocopy of the marriage cert. This takes care of ownership and insured…..a redesignation of beneficiary should also be done ~ again the agent should assist prompt for this.

    any investments should also be reviewed and changes made as well….agent can (and should) do this as well.

    As marriage is a big step in life, one not to be taken on a whim, the couple’s financial plan should be adjusted/amended for this event. As such these changes should be a fairly simple an easy process for both spouses


  18. Candice Osen says:

    This is fantastic! Thank you so very much, really appreciate your consolidated list and easy to understand steps. This is a life saver and I’m actually going to do it now vs procrastinating. Wish I knew of your business and website while planning my wedding I would of hired you in a heart beat. Wishing you all the luck in the world with your business. You are a true natural!

  19. Stephanie says:

    Thank you so much, I finally changed my last name after 5 years of being married lol. I bookmarked this and came back to it a few times, this was great advice. I waited so long because our marriage certificate is from Costa Rica and looks weird so I was worried I might have more trouble. Might want to add that people from other countries need to have theirs translated and notarized. Ours was stamped by the Canadian embassy but I don’t know if that’s entirely necessary. Anyway, thanks for the info! Helped soo much!

  20. Tanushree says:

    Thank you, so very much. I was looking into how to change my name, and this site is amazing.

    Many thanks.

  21. Tamara says:

    Thank you so much, this was extremely helpful! I was married 8 months ago, and I am just getting around to looking into it now…I have been avoiding it because I have heard how long the process is! But this made it so much more manageable, so thank you! :)

  22. Elmee says:

    I stumbled upon this page a couple of months ago and so glad I did. It’s been a great reference in addition to other married girlfriends! I have to renew my passport so it’s a good time to change my name on everything else! Thanks so much for this post!

  23. Sara says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for this article- I have been married for almost 3 years, have one baby and another one on the way with my husband, but the whole process of changing my last name has been so daunting, not knowing where to start, which things need to be changed first so that other ones can be changed etc etc. But with Baby #2 due in a couple months, I really want the same last name as the whole family. This article with links has made the process so much more appealing.


  24. Jo says:

    Thanks to this site, I had my name officially changed less than 2 months after getting married. And really, it only took 2 full days of applying in person, the rest was waiting for my marriage certificate. Great blog, great post, I am definitely sharing with every newlywed I know.

  25. Phaedria says:

    WOW!! you are a godsend! I just got married a few weeks ago and have been tackling this since I got back from the USA. I have a unique situation I was just about to embark on changing my surname and I got mad at the PASSPORT people. Thank you for posting this, you have been a great help in keeping many new brides from losing their minds!

  26. Sandy says:

    Thank you for posting this info! It seems that with the new BC Services Card, it now includes Driver Licence and MSP as one card. In order to have this as one card, the MSP needs to be notified first before gong to the Motor Vehicle branch and MSP takes about 30 days to process. I went to the Motor Vehicle branch first and because my licence expired the day before I needed to renew it right away. So because I did not do the MSP first I will have two cards instead of one. I have the option to pay for a replacement fee if I want to have it as one card.

  27. Christy says:

    Thank you so much, very helpful! :)

  28. Kristina says:

    Wow. Glad I stumbled on this. My friend and I both just got married and were looking for all the details. Thank you!

  29. Sarah says:

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together! Question: what is your take on applying for a “legal name change” with the vital statistics agency? I noticed it wasn’t on your list. It says on their website:

    “After marriage, you can choose to continue using your own surname, or you can start using your spouse’s surname. Changing to your spouse’s surname does not constitute or require a legal change of name under the Name Act”


    I guess I’m confused by the wording of it all. It says if I change my name it will “change my birth record” but I always want my record to show I was born with my maiden name. It also says if I do apply they require my original marriage certificate and that it won’t be returned…what the heck? They KEEP my original marriage certificate?!

    Can you shed any light on this?

    Grateful Newlywed, Mrs.Robinson “..Jesus loves you more then you will know, whoa whoa whoa”

    • Hi Sarah, This process is not the one you want to follow in changing to your married name, as it is dealing with those wanting to legally changing their first name or perhaps their last name back after a divorce. Simply follow the guide and all important documentation will be changed.

      • Nick says:

        I am also confused by this. I would assume that there is some BC government document to change first before jumping into MSP. Our marriage certificate just has our maiden names on it.
        Also, you said you did this in person. Where would you go for MSP and CRA (your link for MSP just goes to CRA).
        Thanks for your help!

        • All steps are listed in order so after receiving your marriage license, indeed MSP is the next step (Take note of the July 2014 update). You simply call in using the contacts provided in the link. When I mentioned doing steps in person, I was referring to other steps, such as passport and drivers license.

  30. Chelsea says:

    Wow. I found this blog last year and saved it till I got married (Aug 16, 2014).
    SO HELPFUL! omgosh. Thank you so much for putting this up. It’s so complicated to do. Specially since I am tweaking my first name too (Chelsy to Chelsea. Mom spelt it wrong from the start lol…)

    • That is so cool, Chelsea! Thank you for sharing with me. I’m so glad you’ve found this resource helpful. Thank you for passing it along to your other bride-to-be friends. Wishing you many blessings for a lifetime of joy in marriage!

  31. Megan says:

    Great info! Thanks for this great guide!

  32. Erin says:

    I get married in 3 weeks (eeep! so excited!) and this was so helpful in letting me know where to start when we get back! I love how straight forward you’ve made the list; you’ve helped make the next few months so much easier!
    Thanks again!

  33. Leanne says:

    Thank you, this is great!
    One more thing you may want to add: changing your car insurance. Once you have your driver’s license done, you need to take that and your marriage certificate to an insurance office to have your insurance updated. Otherwise, when you’re driving, your license and insurance won’t match.

  34. […] | a Guide to Changing your Name after Marriage in … – This past week I finally completed the process of changing my name after marriage! And let me tell you, no one warned me how long, drawn out, repetitive and tedious … […]

  35. Jesicca says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! Very helpful indeed.

  36. Kaila Ortiz says:

    Thank you so so much for this!! I looked everywhere and it was so confusing!! you are a lifesaver!

  37. […] you’re going to do the whole name change thing, here’s how I did.  This website was the only source I used for all the up-to-date info about changing your name […]

  38. LJ says:

    Hi Kailey,

    Just want to send you huge love and thanks for pulling all this information together! Your site is infinitely more helpful than any of the government resources out there and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it! Yesterday I got my NEXUS in my new name in the mail and that was the last piece of the name-change puzzle. Thanks again!

  39. Lauren says:

    Hello, just beginning this process! Quick question – the BC government says we must submit a name change application form and get fingerprints/criminal record check done. I don’t see this in your posting – did you do this, and if so, did you do it before the MSP? Thank you so much! (See: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/vital-statistics/legal-changes-of-name/legal-change-of-name-application)

    • Lauren says:

      Just read through 2014’s comments and this question had already been asked, so my apologies for a repeat question. – wow – I wonder how many people submit the legal name change application form and get the criminal record check done (with associated payments) to find out it was unnecessary!! Thank you for being more helpful than our government 😉

  40. Kerri says:

    Thanks Kailey – this was an awesome step-by-step process to change my last name by marriage. I just wanted to add that I didn’t need to notify MSP that their response was that I update my information through work (the benefits and payroll clerk provided the forms for the name change and submitted the forms). I went to update my Drivers License the next day and they were ok issuing a new DL when I told them the MSP was in the process of being updated. MSP will require the picture taken during the DL update process. So all in all the update for MSP and DL should be done simultaneously.