Having frequent changes to your nicknames may be common when you were a kid, but changing name is a totally different story when doing so in the eyes of the law.
Name – is a symbol of who you are and what you identify with. Names today holds a lot more significance; making anywhere from a bold statement to set you miles apart from a crowd of millions.
With names such as Pebble and Armani, there is an overall increase of unique names in Singapore. Be it to make a change in one’s fate or simply to create an interesting conversation starter. A name change in Singapore can be life-changing. A name is not just a name – it can very well be a game-changer.
In fact, the ICA (Immigration and Checkpoints Authority) received over 6,000 name change applications a year from 2012–2014, with the numbers, only set to grow as we head into the new decade.
If you too are thinking about getting a quick and easy name change in Singapore – here’s all you need to know about getting it done, starting with some of the reasons why people do it in the first place:
Common Reasons for a Name Change in Singapore
There are a plethora of reasons why people wish to get their name changed, and here are just some of the most common:
- Religious reasons (e.g. Muslim or Christian conversion)
- Professional reasons (e.g. addition of an English name for easy recall)
- Feng Shui reasons (e.g. changing your Chinese characters in the name)
- Personal reasons (eg. Removal of ex-husband’s family name after a divorce, correcting a misspelling in the birth certificate or removal of Hanyu pinyin name)
A popular occasion that people decide to change their name is when applying for a replacement IC – especially upon reaching the age of 30. In any case, the reason may be as simple as disliking your name, which then leads us to the next step:
Getting a Deed Poll is the Best Way
By far the quickest and most affordable way to change your name legally is via a deed poll.
Similarly used in various legal systems worldwide – a deed poll is essentially a legal document that is drafted by a lawyer and executed (meaning, signed) by you, in the presence of the said lawyer.
When carried out under an experienced lawyer – getting a deed poll is a relatively fuss-free and straightforward process that can be done within a day.
A Simple Process of a Name Change in Singapore
Of course, the first step to getting your name changed is to first think about what you want your new name to be. While this is the most exciting part of the process – be sure to put some serious thought to your new name as you will be required to use it once it is approved.
You can choose to add, delete or modify any characters, include punctuations (e.g. hyphens) in your current name, change the order of your name, or even correct any misspelt names.
Do note that the ICA has the right to reject names that may be deemed offensive or vulgar, or appear “misleading” in the case that it contains honorary titles such as “Sir”, or “Prince”. You should also refrain from changing your name in order to commit a crime, or hide from debt or bankruptcy.
After deciding on your new name, simply engage a lawyer to draft the deed poll with all the required details – all you have to do is to sign your deed poll in-office, and affix the red seal for submission to ICA. For adults aged 21 and above, do remember to bring along your original IC or passport on the day itself. For minors below the age of 21, you will need to get one of your parents to sign the deed poll on your behalf.
There are plenty of law firms in Singapore which offer such services, and a deed poll will generally cost you anywhere from $100 to $150.
Certain Restrictions When You Do a Name Change in Singapore
Important to note is that for religious or marriage purposes, there is no requirement to get a deed poll for a name change in Singapore as your Baptism or Marriage Certificate would suffice.
If you are under the age of 21, you would need the consent of both parents. If only one parent is signing the Deed Poll, he or she has to obtain the consent of the other parent of the name change. The parent who signed the Deed Poll will have to do the requisite declaration of having obtained the consent of the other parent at the ICA when getting the new replacement Identity Card. If the other parent is not contactable or has passed away, the parent who signed the Deed Poll will have to produce a signed declaration or produce the death certificate of the deceased parent at the ICA.
If a divorced mother wants to change the surname of her minor child, the birth father’s consent to the change of surname is required. Even if the divorced mother has the right of sole custody, care and control of the child, the consent of the birth father to the change in a surname, is still required.
The law deems your name to be an important symbol of your identity and association with your parents, which is why both parties need to consent to the name change. Otherwise, you may have to wait until after you are 21 to change your name.
Permanent Residents (PRs) of Singapore may also get their names in their Singapore identity cards changed with a deed poll. However, changing your name in a foreign passport and the acceptance of your new name in your home country will be in accordance with your home country’s law and regulations. The best way is to contact your country’s embassy/consulate office in Singapore for advice and information.
What to Do After a Name Change in Singapore
After you have gotten your deed poll, you will have to then register for a new Singapore Identity Card at the ICA within the next 28 days. You can do so by applying online on the ICA website, which requires a digital image of your deed poll – so make sure you keep your original deed poll in a safe place and in a good condition.
We highly recommend registering for a new Singapore passport at ICA at the same time, so you won’t have to worry about encountering issues that can crop up when first travelling with your new name.
In order to tie everything up nicely – be sure to formally inform all the relevant organizations of your name change, such as your employer company, schools and academic institutions, banks and insurance companies etc.
Do bear in mind, however, that you will not be able to change your original name that has already been printed on your birth certificate and marriage certificate.
Remember to always keep the original of your deed poll in a safe place as you never know when you may need to show it for verification purposes.
Once the paperwork gets all sorted out, you can start informing all your friends and family members to flaunt your new name!
Ng Pui Khim is a senior lawyer with over 20 years of private practice experience focusing on divorces (family and matrimonial law), real estate (conveyancing practice), wills and succession law.
All rights reserved. Any information of a legal nature in this website is given in good faith and has been derived from resources believed to be reliable and accurate. The author of the information contained herein this website does not give any warranty or accept any responsibility arising in any way, including by reason of negligence for any errors or omissions herein. Readers should seek independent legal advice