Sarah Smith, age 17 began exploring different religions when she was 14. For the past two years she has been observing Islam and now self-identifies as a practicing Muslim. Her parents were confused at first but have seen that she is serious about her decision to convert from Christianity to Islam and now support her choice.
Sarah would like to change her name so that it better reflects her religious identity. What are her options?
The Law on Changing Your Name in Ontario
In Ontario, you can apply to formally and legally change your first and/or second name and/or last name. These rights are outlined in legislation called the Change of Name Act.
Applicants who are 16 or 17-years-old may also apply to have their names changed, but they first need the written consent of the person(s) who have lawful custody of them. However, if they are unable to get consent from their parents then they can seek an Order from a judge, allowing them to apply for a name change without their parents' consent. The court will consider the best interests of the young person when making the decision on whether to dispense with the requirement for parental consent.
Sarah should first ask her parents if they will consent. If they refuse, then she can call JFCY to speak to a lawyer about how to seek an Order from a judge.
The fee for a formal name change is $137.
To change your name in Ontario, you must:
- Be 16 years of age or older, and
- Have lived in Ontario for at least one year before submitting a change of name application.
Applications must be accompanied by a police records check.
If your application is refused, you can apply to court to seek an order granting the application.
If your application is granted, you will be issued a change of name certificate with your new legal name(s) and you’ll receive a new birth certificate if you were born in Ontario.
If you were not born in Ontario, you will need to apply to the province or territory in Canada or other country where you were born for a new birth certificate.
For more information or if you want to get started and download the application form right away, visit:
Note: The information on this page was from the webpage above, as well as the Change of Name Act.
To read the legislation, click here.
Post was written by JFCY volunteer and Board Member Arif Hussain, who recently completed an Honours B.A. at UofT. Scenario and review by JFCY.
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