What is a legal name change?

A legal name change is a process by which an individual ‘legally alters their name’, which is what the term simplifies. In most jurisdictions, this involves filing a petition with the court, providing evidence of the reason for the change and/or a background check to ensure that the change is not being done for fraudulent purposes. 

Once the court has reviewed and approved the name change petition, the person filing it will receive a court order that officially recognizes the new name. 

After this process has been fulfilled, the individual will then need to obtain new legal documents which include their driving license, passport and birth certificate to reflect the change. 

Why would you want to ‘legally’ change your name?

There are many reasons why people might choose to change their name later on in life, and the most common ones include:

  • Marriage or Divorce
  • Personal preferences
  • Professional reasons
  • Cultural or Religious reasons
  • Gender transition 
  • Mistaken identity 
  • Adoption or Naturalization

Some people simply decide (later on in life) that they don’t like their given name and choose to change it to a name they feel better suits them. In a lot of cultures, many women choose to take their husband’s last name (or first) after getting married. Some men (although rare) also choose to adopt their wife’s surnames. People may also want to change their name back to their maiden name after a divorce, as a symbol of starting a new chapter in their life. 

In certain cases, people may choose to change their name to align with their professional identity or to make it easier to pronounce their name or remember it. 

Some people also change their name as a result of a conversion to a different religion, or to connect to a cultural identity. Additionally, people who are transgender or non-binary may also choose to change their names to better align with their identity. Some individuals who are undergoing a gender transition may also choose a new name to align with their gender identity. A person who has been adopted may also choose to take the surname of their adoptive parents, as well as an immigrant who becomes a citizen of a new country may choose to legally change their name to reflect their new citizenship as well. 

Although rare, in some cases, people change their name due to confusion with another person who has the same (or a similar) name. 

Whatever your reason might be, the decision for a legal name change is a personal one, and is driven by a variety of reasons (including practical, cultural and emotional considerations). 

This post will explain the significance, requirements, and benefits of legal name change in Ontario.

Let’s Start …

How to apply for a legal name change in Ontario?

There are three essential steps you need to follow in order to apply for a legal name change in Ontario 

  1. Gathering required documents
  2. Completing and submitting the application form
  3. Obtaining your legal name change certificate

To start off with your legal name change application in Ontario , you will first need to provide proof of your identity (such as a passport or a driving license, Ontario photo-card) and proof of Canadian citizenship or your permanent residency status. Make sure that the papers you submit are originals or certified copies. Photocopies or scanned copies are not permitted.

If you have been married or divorced, you may also need to provide a marriage certificate or a divorce decree to show its authenticity. 

A Commissioner of Oaths administers oaths and affirmations. When you submit specific documents for your name change application, such as a statutory declaration or affidavit, a Commissioner is required to witness your signature and lend their stamp or seal to validate the document.

After your identity has been authenticated, you will need to fill out an appropriate legal name change application form, which is usually obtained from the government website of Ontario.

Fill out the application form as precisely and legibly as possible. Include your current legal name, the proposed new name, and why you want to change your name.

There is a fee associated with your legal name change application in Ontario, The actual cost amount might vary and is subject to change, thus it is essential to consult with an authorized authority, such as a notary public.

The processing time for a legal name change in Ontario varies depending on a variety of factors, including the volume of applications handled, the accuracy and completeness of the given documents, and any other criteria particular to your case. In most circumstances, the application for a name change in Ontario takes several months to process.

Once your name change application is approved, you will receive a legal name change certificate which will serve as official proof of your new name. 

You must update your identity papers to modify your new name after getting your legal name change certificate. This includes renewing your driver’s license, passport, health card, and any other forms of official identity.

If you have any queries about the name change procedure, consider speaking with a legal practitioner or a notary public who can provide professional guidance and guide you through the process.

What are the advantages of notarizing your legal name change document?

Having a legal name change document notarized in Canada provides you with several advantages, including:

  • Verification of authenticity
  • Increased security through notarization
  • Acceptance by institutions
  • Evidence of legal name change

The notarization process helps to verify the authenticity of the signature on your legal name change document, ensuring that the document (and signature) is genuine. 

By having the document notarized, there is added security in verifying the identity of the person making a name change. Some agencies and organizations may require a notarized document in order to update their records for a legal name change (as it validates the document as an original). It can further be used as evidence in legal proceedings when obtaining government-issued identification documents. 

Notarized papers in Ontario are more likely to be recognized and accepted outside of the province and worldwide. Numerous countries have agreements that accept notarized documents as legally legitimate and enforceable, making them simpler to utilize in different legal and economic activities.


A name change would sometimes even have unintended consequences in the past, such as making it more difficult to find criminal or credit history. For this reason, most people opt to change their name only for social or professional purposes, but not legally. 

You can embrace a new identity and take charge of your own narrative if you pay close attention to the appropriate paperwork and follow the proper processes. To find out more, visit our website or connect with us for a consultation.

As a leading notary public in Mississauga and Brampton, The Notary Guy consists of a team of professionals dedicated to providing quick, affordable, and reliable notary services. Our experienced notaries will handle your documentation with the utmost care and efficiency, ensuring that your process is seamless and secure. Start your notarization process with us today.

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