Our names carry significance on a personal level, representing our identity, individuality, and even family heritage. Names also have legal implications, such as in contracts and when making your transactions with financial institutions.
Over the course of one’s life, some people might want to get their name changed, for religious reasons (conversion of faith to Islam or Christianity), for auspicious reasons, to reflect personal preferences or trends, or simply to correct a misspelling at birth.
Given the serious legal implications, changing of one’s name in Singapore requires the following of due process. Here’s how you can go about doing so, and how much you should set aside for this.
#1 Obtain A Deed Poll
The first step to legally change your name is to obtain a deed poll from a lawyer. A deed poll is a legal document that is drafted by a lawyer and signed by you, in the presence of your lawyer.
Getting a deed poll is relatively easy and straightforward process, as it can be done within a day. All that is required is to bring along your original Identity Card or passport, get a lawyer to draft the deed poll with all the required details, and then to sign the deed poll personally in the office and affixing it with the red seal for submission to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
You can choose to add, delete or modify any characters, such as punctuations, in your current name. Some may want to change the order or to correct any misspelling in their names. However, there are certain restrictions applied when changing a name. For instance, ICA reserves the right to reject names that may deemed offensive vulgar or misleading, such as in the case of honorary titles such as “Sir” or “Prince”. In addition, you should avoid changing your name to hide from bankruptcy or a crime.
Minors below the age of 21 who wish to change their name should get one of their parents to sign the deed poll on their behalf. If a divorced mother wants to change the surname of her minor child, the birth father is required to give consent. This is applicable even if the mother has the right of sole custody of the child.
In addition, there are also exceptions on the requirement for deed poll when changing names, such as changing of names due to religious reasons or marriage. In this case, a religious or marriage certificate is sufficient.
Remember to always keep the original copies of the deed poll or certificates in a safe place, as it may be requested for the purpose of verification.
Cost: $100 to $200, depending on the law firm.
#2 Register For A New Identity Card And Passport
After obtaining your deed poll, you will have to register with the ICA for a new Identity Card. This can be done via the ICA website, which requires a digital image of the deed poll. Hence, it is important to keep the original copy of the deed poll in a safe place and good condition.
The application takes three working days, and a fee of $60 is payable upon application.
In addition, it is also essential to have your passport updated with your new name, as this will eliminate any inconvenience that may occur when travelling overseas.
The application for a new passport takes around one to two weeks, and it may take longer during peak periods. The cost of applying for a new passport costs $70.
Cost: $130 for new Identity Card and passport
#3 Legal Paperwork After Name Change
After the formalities are done, it is important to formally inform all the relevant organisations of your name change. This includes your employer, schools and academic institutions, banks and insurance companies.
In addition, the name change may not be transmitted to some government agencies. Therefore, it is also important to notify these agencies of your name change, and to furnish the original deed poll when requested.
In some cases where you have entered a contract with a third party, depending on the contract, you might be required to engage a lawyer to go draw up a novation agreement to ensure the validity of the existing contract after the name change. If you own a property, you may also wish to update the name appearing in the title document of your property.
Cost: $300/hour, subject to complexity of the case and depending on seniority of the lawyer
As you can see, while changing the name on your Identity Card and passport is a fairly easy and straightforward process, informing relevant organisations of your name change would likely be more of a hassle for many people. The total cost incurred may go up to more than $500, depending on the complexity of paperwork required.
Once you have done with the entire process, you can celebrate your new milestone and proudly introducing yourself using your legally-recognised name to your family and friends.
This article was first written on 21 August 2020 and has been updated with the latest information.
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