Naming procedures: Managing existing records: Change of name request

General

The officer processing the request may only change a client’s name based on documentary evidence, as outlined below. Additional documents may be requested to support the evidence presented.

A new client record should not be created in the system of record; however, a new name record under the existing client record must be created and marked as the primary name. Do not delete the previous name record. It must be recorded as the former name, AKA (alias) or other name in CIC’s system of record.

Supporting documents for requests for change of name

Supporting documents are issued based on a primary document that is normally issued by the provincial or territorial body responsible for vital statistics, or by CIC. A supporting document may show a person’s use of a name, which is not always the same as the name shown on the primary document. Therefore, supporting documents alone shall not be used as evidence of a change of name.

See: List of Supporting Documents issued by Provinces and Territories of Canada.

Types of name changes

There are two types of name changes:

  • Corrections to clerical/administrative errors; and
  • Client-requested name change for reasons other than clerical/administrative error.

Historical records, such as an immigration record of landing, IMM 1000 or Confirmation of Permanent Residence document will not be amended unless a clerical or administrative error was made by CIC. In such instances, please follow the instructions in Change of name due to clerical/administrative error.

Change of name due to clerical/administrative error

If a CIC officer discovers a clerical/administrative error made by CIC

As per subsection 6(2) of the Privacy Act, if a CIC officer discovers a clerical/administrative error made by CIC, they must make a change to match the name printed on the primary document without a request from the client. In the event that the error is detected after document issuance, the client’s record will be amended indicating the correct spelling that will be printed on a replacement document. The original document number will be cancelled and the replacement document will be sent to the client (free of charge). A note will be recorded in CIC’s system of record and the client will be notified of the action, in line with the Privacy Act. The correct name will be recorded as the primary name and the erroneous name will be marked as entered in error, in CIC’s system of record.

If a client submits an official request to Amend Immigration Record of Landing (IMM 1000) or Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM  5292 or IMM 5688), and it is determined that CIC made a clerical/administrative error

If a client submits an official request to Amend Immigration Record of Landing (IMM 1000) or Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292 or IMM 5688), and it is determined that CIC made a clerical/administrative error, the name record will be amended indicating the correct spelling that will be printed on the replacement document. A note will be recorded in CIC’s system of record. The correct name will be recorded as the primary name and the erroneous name will be marked as entered in error, in CIC’s system of record.

Change of name for reasons other than clerical/administrative error

Change of name inside Canada

Permanent residents, temporary residents and Canadian citizens

CIC relies on a legal or administrative decision made by the appropriate provincial and territorial authority as evidence of a change of name.  Therefore, the following linking documents issued by a Canadian province or territory will be accepted for a change of name on a client’s permanent resident card, temporary resident document (visitor’s permit, work permit, or study permit) or Certificate of Canadian citizenship:

  1. legal change of name document (see Amended birth certificate below);
  2. court order specifying name change;
  3. adoption order (see Amended birth certificate below);
  4. marriage certificate, in accordance with Canadian provincial/territorial legislation (Some provinces/territories permit individuals to change their family name upon marriage, without applying for and receiving a legal change of name. Please refer to the appropriate provincial/territorial law for guidance.);
  5. divorce decree (In the case of divorced persons, some provinces/territories require individuals to apply for and receive approval to return to the surname they had prior to the marriage. Please refer to the appropriate provincial/territorial law for guidance.);
  6. registration or declaration of union issued by civil authorities;
  7. revocation of declaration or annulment of union issued by civil authorities, and/or;
  8. Registration of common-law relationship in any province that permits a change of name for common law relationships under their provincial/territorial law. (Common-law partners in some provinces/territories provinces (for example Alberta and Manitoba) can assume their partners' surname or combine it with their own, in the same way that people can when they marry. A formal name change application is not required, but common-law partners wishing to do this must file a declaration with the Vital Statistics Agency. Please refer to the appropriate provincial/territorial law for guidance.)

Note: Documents d) to h) permit the person to change their surname only.

Amended birth certificate

Note that an amended birth certificate can be submitted as a supporting document in addition to the legal change of name document. An amended birth certificate alone does not show the link between the old name and the new name, thus cannot qualify as a linking document. In the event that the old and the new name are noted on the amended birth certificate, it can be used as a standalone linking document.

In some instances, adoption orders only show the link between the parent and the child and do not specify the new name of the child. Some provinces issue an amended birth certificate displaying the new name of the adopted child; therefore, the amended birth certificate will be used to establish child’s name in CIC records.

Supporting and additional documents

In addition to the linking documents, the client must still provide any provincial documents requested as part of the application instruction guide to establish the person’s identity, not only the name. On occasion, additional documentation may be requested.

Assumed names

CIC will no longer issue documents with assumed names that appear on provincial documents without an authoritative document issued by the province or territory, such as the ones mentioned above. For example, if a province/territory has issued a health card, student card or driver’s licence to a minor with their step-father’s family name and there has been no adoption or legal change of name, CIC will not issue a document to that person in the assumed name. The assumed name must be recorded as an alias in CIC’s system.

Note: A woman residing in Quebec may not use her husband’s last name in Quebec if she was married after April 2, 1981. Please note that only Canadian citizens may apply for a legal change when residing in Quebec. In light of this, PRs residing in Quebec are unable to comply with the requirements to change their name set out in the Naming Procedures.

Change of name outside Canada

In some instances, permanent residents, foreign nationals or Canadian citizens might go through a process of name change abroad. In situations like that, please follow procedures below based on person’s status in Canada:

Canadian citizens

Canadians obtain a legal name change outside of Canada, residing in Canada

In instances where Canadian citizens have changed their name abroad and are residing in Canada, CIC will rely on a document that links the previous name to the new name, such as a foreign marriage certificate (with official translation) or a legal change of name document issued by a province or territory of Canada, and a document issued by a province or territory of Canada that displays the new name, such as:

  1. a driver’s license;
  2. a health card;
  3. an age of majority card;
  4. a senior citizen’s identification card; or
  5. a social service card

Canadians obtain a legal name change outside of Canada, residing outside of Canada

In instances where Canadian citizens have changed their name abroad and are residing abroad, CIC will rely on a document that links the previous name to the new name, such as a foreign marriage certificate (with official translation) or other foreign legal change of name document, and an authoritative national or state/province (or equivalent) issued photo identification document issued in the country or state/province in which the client resides that displays the new name, such as:

  1. a foreign passport or other travel documents, if the client is a dual citizen;
  2. a state/provincial (or equivalent) ID card

Canadian citizenship proof applicants obtain a legal name change outside of Canada, residing outside of Canada

In instances where Canadian citizenship proof applicants have changed their name abroad and are residing abroad, CIC will rely on a document that links the name assigned at birth to the new name, such as a foreign marriage certificate (with official translation) or other foreign legal change of name document, and an authoritative national or state/province (or equivalent) issued photo identification document issued in the country or state/province in which the client resides that displays the new name, such as:

  1. a foreign passport or other travel documents, if the client is a dual citizen;
  2. a state/provincial (or equivalent) ID card

Permanent Residents and Foreign Nationals

CIC will not recognize changes of name by permanent residents or foreign nationals that occur abroad, unless the client's foreign passport or other national authoritative documentation is amended to reflect that name. The client must provide a linking document used as evidence of a change of name that will be copied or scanned and kept in the client’s file, to create an audit trail.

Please refer to How to read travel documents (MRZ, MRC, VIZ) on how to use the Machine Readable Zone (MRZ), the Machine Readable Chip (MRC), and the Visual Inspection Zone (VIZ) of a passport or travel document to determine the name that will be recorded in CIC systems of record

Permanent Resident and Foreign National obtain a legal name change outside of Canada, residing in Canada

In the instance where permanent resident or foreign national changed their name abroad, yet resides in Canada after obtaining legal name change abroad, CIC will require:

  1. client's foreign passport or other national authoritative documentation amended to reflect the new name,
  2. linking document issued outside of Canada that links the previous name to the new name (with official translation), and
  3. provincial documentation in the new name to establish identity, as part of the application instruction guide to establish the person’s identity, not only the name.

This is not intended to change any of the other requirements or information CIC collects for the application. 

Note: Names where spousal relationship is indicated section applies to changes of name due to marriage.

Permanent Resident and Foreign National obtain a legal name change outside of Canada, residing outside of Canada

In instances where Permanent Resident and Foreign National change their name abroad and continues to reside outside of Canada after obtaining legal name change abroad, CIC will require:

  1. client's foreign passport or other national authoritative documentation amended to reflect the new name,
  2. linking document issued outside of Canada that links the previous name to the new name such as a foreign marriage certificate (with official translation) or other foreign legal change of name document, and
  3. an authoritative state/province (or equivalent)-issued photo identification document issued by the country in which the client resides that displays the new name, as:
    • a foreign passport or other travel documents, if the client is a dual citizen (with official translation);
    • a state/province (or equivalent) ID card (with official translation).

Note: Names where spousal relationship is indicated section applies to changes of name due to marriage.

Recording of information regarding change of name request in CIC systems

In all cases, a note must be recorded to the client’s name record in CIC’s system of record, and the client must be notified of the decision to amend, grant, or deny the change.

If request for change of name is approved

If a change of name is approved, the new name as indicated on the legal change of name document will be recorded as the primary name in CIC’s system of record and will be the name that appears on any new document(s) issued by CIC. Once a new name is recorded as the primary name, ensure that the previous primary name is indicated as the former name in GCMS.

If request for change of name is denied

If a change of name request is denied, the name requested by the applicant must be recorded as name type “AKA” (alias) or “other” in GCMS.

Date Modified: