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Change of name
In Quebec, changing your name refers to the process by which someone can change their first name, middle name(s) and/or last name on their birth certificate, and subsequently change all their other documents to reflect said change.
This page explains the process and the requirements for changing your name.
If you already previously changed your name and/or gender marker in another jurisdiction and wish for this change to be reflected in your Quebec documents or birth certificate, this page does not apply. Please check the International Gender Marker Changes page (TBA) for more information. The information there, with the necessary adjustments, will apply for a name change as well. The same applies if you want to change your gender marker as well. The “Change of Sex Designation” page explains that process, which is usually easier.
If you are not sure what to do, you may pass by the Trans ID Clinic to ask any questions you may have! Since a name change application is fairly hard to fill out, and since I’m not a lawyer, what I can do is limited. However, you may also email me your questions at celeste (at/à) juritrans.ca.
Requirements for a name change
You may change your name in Quebec if you’ve lived here for at least one year.
Additionally, unlike other Canadian provinces and territories, Quebec’s government requires a “serious reason” for changing your name. Reasons accepted include, among others, having used your name for five years or more, serious prejudice or psychological suffering caused by the name assigned to you at birth, as well as gender identity. You’ll also have to provide evidence to prove these reasons. This is the main reason why changing your name is way more difficult in Quebec than elsewhere: I know people who have even moved to another province in order to change their name.
In practice, name change requests are filed using the forms provided by the Directeur de l’état civil (Director of Civil Status), which meet the government’s requirements. You may find these in the Regulation respecting change of name and of other particulars of civil status.
If the person requesting the name change is born outside of Quebec, the process will take longer. In this case, an original birth certificate, in French, bilingual, or accompanied by a certified translation in Quebec, must be provided. In the event that such a certificate cannot be produced, the process of changing your name will become considerably more difficult and will involve either an international name change, moving to another province, or going through the legal system. For more information, consult the page Inserting a Birth Certificate into the Quebec Registrar of Civil Status.
Other requirements depend notably on the age of the person obtaining the name change.
A preliminary analysis, and a subsequent application
The Directeur de l’état civil (DEC) requires that two applications be filed in order to obtain a name change: a preliminary analysis, followed by the actual (complete) name change application.
The preliminary analysis is, in a way, a “mini-application” that’ll allow you to state the reasons for your name change. It has no effect on your name, but will make the Directeur de l’état civil open a file for you. If the DEC finds that your request looks good, it will then mail you forms for the actual name change application. It does not even require proof of address or attached identification documents – although it’s best to include them nonetheless to be safe!
The name change request is much more onerous. It must be sworn before a commissioner for oaths or other legal professional. You must mail your evidence with this application the reasons for the name change must be written. Proof of address and a copy of the applicant’s identification will be required. If you’re below 18, you’ll equally have to inform your parents, who have a right to accept or veto your name change.
Access the forms
ID documents and proof of address
The person requesting the change must provide documents proving who they are, where they current live, and the fact that they’ve lived in Quebec for at least a year.
A photocopy of a piece of ID delivered by a provincial, state or country-level government, such as a Quebec health insurance card, drivers’ license delivered in Quebec or elsewhere, non-drivers’ ID with photo delivered outside Quebec, a Canadian or foreign passport, a permanent resident card 0r any other document coming from IRCC, or an Indigenous status card will do the job as proof od identity. A RAMQ card delivered for a minor, containing “valid without signature” and/or “valid without photo” works too.
A witness to a gender marker change (required for applicants age 18+) will also have to provide a photocopy of a piece of ID.
As for proofs of address, one would have to be up to a month old, and the other has to date from at least a year ago. Usually, the government allows a certain margin of maneuver, and will accept a document up to 45 days old for a “new” proof.
Accepted proofs of address include a drivers’ license (if not used as ID), a bank statement or credit card statement, a paystub or other any analogous document, an Internet, cellphone or power bill, a home or automobile insurance certificate, an official receipt for medication, and any mail sent by the Quebec or Canadian governments. As a last resort, an apartment lease also works. If you have moved recently, do note that only the “new” proof requires your current address; your “old” proof can indicate any address located in the province.
Evidence for name changes can be difficult to obtain, but is necessary to provide nonetheless. You’ll need to mail them off to the Directeur de l’état civil with your (final) name change application (not the preliminary analysis); you’ll also need to provide them on request. Here’s some examples of what to provide:
For someone having used the name they are requesting for the last five (5) years:
- At least ten (10) documents of any kind — letters, emails, contracts, bills, any kind of communication — showing the continuous use of the name you are requesting for a period of at least five consecutive years.
- It’s best to have two documents per year, but the more, the better.
For psychological reasons or serious prejudice:
- A letter from a health or social services professional (e.g. a psychologist) attesting to the importance of your name change: this is the gold standard!
- One or multiple explanatory letters explaining why your (current legal) name is causing you prejudice or suffering, containing examples of this. You’ll need to sign said letter, and preferably, do so in front of a commissioner for oaths. You can also explain in said letter how your new name will resolve your problems.
- One or multiple letters from third parties (e.g. friends, family members) attesting to the importance of a name change for you.
- Any other document which can prove said reasons.
Unfortunately, even if you’re changing your names for gender identity reasons, the structured approach used for a gender marker change doesn’t apply. The same evidence as a name change for “psychological reasons or serious prejudice” applies, with the necessary adaptations.
Name changes must be published on the Directeur de l’état civil‘s website most of the time. A waiver can be obtained, but only when serious reasons justify it, or when your name change is for gender identity reasons. Most (non-trans) folks do not get a waiver since the barrier to obtain it is very high.
Two publications are done when a name change is requested. The first one lasts 15 days, and contains notably someone’s previous name, new name, and their home address; it is published after the (complete) name change application is submitted. The second one, which stays in the public record forever, is published if and after your name change is approved; that one features your previous name, new name, and the date of coming into effect of the name change.
Note that the automatic waiver granted for people changing their name for gender identity reasons only applies if you’re changing your first and/or middle names. It is not granted when you’re changing your last name (either alone or alongside a first name change).
Here’s a few examples of serious reasons that the DEC has accepted for publication waivers:
- Having violent parents who would attack you if they knew that you changed your name;
- Having a violent ex-spouse, ex-partner, or stalker, who would attack you if they knew your address.
Any interested third party may submit their comments to the Directeur de l’état civil during the publication period, and in the fifteen calendar days following that.
Most of the time, this won’t be relevant to you. However, it is always possible for the Directeur de l’état civil and/or said third party to write to you, telling you that someone submitted their observations. In this case, you have to reply to them and the DEC, explaining why their observations should be ignored (following section 15 of the Regulation).
Getting a waiver of publication can, in a way, protect you from the possibility of an observation being filed against you.
For the right to opposition a parent has towards their minor child, see the section on “requirements specific to trans youth”.
Requirements specific to trans youth
Trans youth will be subjected to specific requirements. If the person wanting a name change is under 14 years old, the parent(s) or legal guardian will have to fill out the application themselves. If they are between 14 and 17 years old, they will still have to either obtain their parents’ signatures on their application or notify their parents by registered mail or bailiff. Parents have the right to object to their child’s name change.
If a parent files an objection to their child’s name change, the Directeur de l’état civil automatically rejects the name change application. Said child will then need to file an application at the Quebec Superior Court, explaining to the court why their parent’s objection should be ignored. This is clearly a major issue, but unfortunately, the law is as it is right now; this requirement is currently being challenged in court.
For more information, consult the page “Change of name – trans youth” (to come).
Other documents to attach
Depending on your civil status and whether you have kids or no, you may need to attach additional documents.
This table, with the necessary adaptations for a change of name alone, explains what you’ll need:
Second and subsequent name changes
The requirements for a second name change are the same as those for a first. However, the person requesting a name change will also have to attach a photocopy of any decision, judgment, or certificate regarding a name change granted to them. An abandoned application does not equate to a negative decision: you do not need to inform the DEC of any other attempt at getting a name change or gender marker change to your application.
Technically, there is no limit to the number of times a name change can be made; however, the costly nature of providing the necessary evidence, as well as the Directeur de l’état civil‘s discretion when it comes to evaluating the “seriousness” of a request, creates a de facto barrier to repeatedly changing your name over and over again.