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Strict rules govern name changes for Queenslanders

More than 6000 Queenslanders changed their name last year through the State Department of Justice’s Registry of Birth, Deaths and Marriages.

Registration manager Grahame Schofield, speaking at the beginning of Law Week (May 16-21) said those who changed their name did so for a variety of reasons.

“About 6500 people a year change their name,” he said.

“A common reason is that women who have been married overseas have to change their name to their husband’s in order to change their name on their passport.”

For women who marry in Queensland, a marriage certificate is sufficient to apply for a passport in their husband’s name.

Mr Schofield said anyone could change their name, provided it was not for criminal purposes, however rules applied.

“You can’t use a trade name and call your child Coca Cola, for example,” he said.

Mr Schofield, who has worked at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages since 1969, said adults could only register a change of name once in 12 months.

“For children, you can register one change of given name between ages one and 18, and a change of surname once every 12 months,” he said.

Mr Schofield said parents could change their child’s name once in the first 12 months of life if they felt they had made a mistake.”

But if parents could not agree on their child’s name, they could go to court and have a magistrate decide.

He said parents could give their child any surname they liked.

“The child doesn’t have to have either the mother’s or the father’s surname,” he said. “If you are Smith and the other parent is Brown, you can call your child Green.”

Mr Schofield said it was never too late to register a birth – although the law stipulated registration in the first 60 days or an extra fee was applied.

“People not born in a hospital can contact the registry for assistance in registering their birth even if it was a long time ago,” Mr Schofield said.

“We can register a birth up until old age provided there is some proof of the birth taking place. We are currently trying to register a 100-year-old woman’s birth.”

Queensland Law Week will culminate in an Open Day at Brisbane Magistrates Court on Saturday, May 21, featuring tours, free talks by legal experts, mock trials and mediations.

Contact your local courthouse for more details or visit

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Last reviewed
19 May 2011
Last updated
5 November 2015
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