As part of transition, many trans people change their name – either legally or socially, but not everyone does. The important thing is that your name is comfortable to you. Many trans people do change their name because their given name doesn’t feel comfortable, doesn’t fit their gender identity, or they might have negative associations with their given name. The important thing about names, as well as transitioning, is to remember that it’s about YOUR comfort. The transition process is about validating your own identity and determining what feels best for you.
On that note, please keep in mind: choose any name you want. You can name yourself after a character, after someone important from your cultural background, a “gender variant” of your given name, or just any name from the baby name book! You may choose to check the internet for names common to the time period when you were born, or browse through your high school yearbooks for possible names. You may want to ask family or friends to help you pick a name, and you may want to try out different names to see how well they fit. Above all, your name should reflect who you are.
Information on changing your name in Alberta can be found on the Service Alberta website. The website does not specify this but people under the age of 18 can change their name if they have their parent’s/legal guardian’s consent. The basic procedure is as follows:
- Go to a registry office and request a name change application. You will be provided with a package containing forms and detailed instructions. There are two registry offices in Lethbridge. To search for a registry office, click here.
- Get your fingerprints done. Currently, this costs approximately $75. Fingerprinting services are listed in Appendix B. You must request electronic fingerprints. These are then sent to the Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Service for cross-checking against criminal records. A confirmation letter or form will then be sent to you (see application package for details).
- You will need an affidavit (i.e., a sworn, written declaration) sworn before a Notary Public or a Commissioner of Oaths for the Province of Alberta. The required affidavit is included in the package from the registry office. You can ask at the registry office for a Commissioner of Oaths when you pick up the application package. There will be a charge for the services of a Commissioner of Oaths or a Notary Public.
- Complete the application and return it to the registry office with the electronic fingerprint letter/form, birth certificate, marriage certificate (if married), and one piece of government-issued photo ID. Note that you must surrender your birth certificate and marriage certificate (if applicable), when you submit your application.
- Pay the application fee (currently $120), plus the registry agent’s fee.
- Your application will then go in for processing. It will take several weeks for your name change certificate to arrive in the mail. In some cases, you will have to go pick it up from the registry. They will call you when it comes in.
- When you have your name change certificate, you can begin changing your name on your identification.
Note: It is very important to carefully read and follow all instructions in the application package or your application will be rejected and returned.
Name changes are a matter of public record and are normally published in the Alberta Gazette. If you do not want your name change to be published, you may request an exemption (see the application package for details). You must make this request prior to submitting your application and include the applicable documentation when you submit your application to the registry office.
The above procedure for name change applies for all residents of Alberta, regardless of your place of birth. Note that you will be required to surrender your birth certificate, and your marriage certificate, if you are married. If you were born in Alberta, a new birth certificate and marriage certificate will be issued at no charge. If you were not born in Alberta, you will need to contact the vital statistics office for the province or country in which you were born, to determine the process for issuance of a birth certificate and marriage certificate with your new name.
Name Change Check List:
After you receive your name change certificate, you can use it to have your name changed on your identification documents and with different institutions with which you are affiliated. This is not an exhaustive list but is meant as a starting point to help you with this process. There may be other institutions you are affiliated with that you will need to notify.
- Birth certificate
- Alberta Health Care
- Social Insurance
- Canada Revenue Agency
- Driver’s licence and other licences
- Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
- Family doctor, therapists or other medical or paramedical professionals
- Diplomas, certificates etc. (contact the issuing institution to request a reprint with your new name.)
If you were born in Alberta, you can change the gender marker on your birth certificate at the same time as you change your name to M, F, or X. In addition to the information listed above, you will need to provide:
- An affidavit stating your name, date of birth, requested change to the gender indicated on the birth certificate, and a statement confirming that you identify with and are maintaining the gender identity that corresponds with the requested change to gender. This affidavit must be verified by a commissioner for oaths or a notary public. You can find commissioners for oaths and notaries public in the yellow pages of the telephone book or online through Yellow Pages. All practicing lawyers are notaries public. Commissioners for oaths can be found in law offices and many real estate offices. Police officers, MLAs and municipal councillors are also commissioners for oaths. For additional information on commissioners for oaths click here.
- A letter from an accredited physician or psychologist in Alberta, stating that in the professional opinion of the medical professional, the person whose record of birth is to be amended, identifies with and is maintaining the gender identity that is requested to be changed. No reference to surgery is required in this letter.
Detailed legal requirements for changing the gender marker are contained in an amendment to the Vital Statistics Information Regulation (AR 3/2012) and may be found online here. These requirements should be carefully reviewed to ensure that your affidavit and letter provide all the required information, prior to submitting your application.
If you were not born in Alberta, you will need to contact the vital statistics office in the jurisdiction where you were born, to determine their requirements for changing the gender marker on your birth and marriage certificates. Requirements vary by province. Some provinces have a similar process as Alberta, where proof of gender affirming surgery (GAS) is not required, while others continue to require proof of surgery prior to changing the gender marker on birth certificates. This means that depending on your province of birth, you may be able to obtain a new birth certificate with both your name and gender amended, but in other cases, you will only be able to obtain a birth certificate with your name amended, and birth gender will not be changed. Requirements are changing frequently, so be sure to check with the vital statistics office for your province of birth for current procedures.
If you were born outside of Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) now has procedures to allow the sex designation on IRCC–issued documents to be amended. You must provide the following documents to support your request:
- A letter stating that the applicant’s gender identity corresponds with the requested change in sex designation and that they are living full time in the gender corresponding to the sex designation requested to appear on the IRCC document, along with a reason why a provincial or territorial document was not issued; and
- A letter from an authorized physician or psychologist following the template provided by IRCC stating that they:
- are a practising member in good standing with the appropriate regulatory body,
- have treated or evaluated the applicant, and
- confirm that the applicant’s gender identity does not correspond with the sex designation on their IRCC document.
Further information can be found on the IRCC website.
Driver’s Licence/Government Issue Photo ID
If you have a birth certificate (or other government issue ID) with name and gender amended (e.g., you were born in Alberta and have been reissued a birth certificate with your new name and revised gender, or you have had your permanent resident card amended), you may apply at a registry office to have your driver’s licence amended accordingly. You will need to provide:
- a copy of your birth certificate; and
- an affidavit with your name, date of birth, amendment(s) requested, and a statement confirming that you identify with and are maintaining the gender identity that corresponds with the requested amendment.
If you have a birth certificate with your name amended but the gender was not amended (e.g., you have not had surgery and were born in a province that requires proof of surgery before the gender marker can be changed on your birth certificate).
For a driver’s licence or Alberta Government issue Photo ID
- For a change of name, provide a copy of your birth certificate.
- To change the gender designation, you will need to submit:
- an affidavit with your name, date of birth, amendment(s) requested, and a statement confirming that you identify with and are maintaining the gender identity that corresponds with the requested amendment;
- a letter from your doctor or psychologist who is an accredited member of any College of Physicians and Surgeons, or College of Psychologists in Canada, stating that you are under their care and, that in their professional opinion, the person whose operating licence is to be amended identifies with and intends to maintain the gender identity that corresponds with the requested amendment to the sex on the operator’s licence.
For detailed information requirements, see section 20 and sections 20.1 through 20.4, of the Operator Licensing and Vehicle Control Regulation.
Alberta Health Card
For an amended Alberta Health card, download form AHC2211 Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan Notice of Change/UPDATE from the Alberta Health website.
Take the completed form to a registry office when you apply to change your licence or government–issued photo ID, or mail the completed form to Alberta Health with supporting documentation, as indicated on the form.
Social Insurance Card
Visit a Service Canada office with documentation of name and/or gender change, to update your social insurance card.
In order to change the name or gender marker on your passport, you must complete a new application for a passport, and provide it along with your new birth certificate or citizenship certificate showing the gender you identify as, and your current passport, at a Passport Canada office.
If you do not have a currently valid passport, you may apply for a passport using the regular application procedure, provided you have a birth certificate or Canadian citizenship certificate showing your amended name and gender.
If you have not been able to change the gender on your birth certificate but have a birth certificate with your amended name, you can still obtain a passport, however, the passport will be valid only for a two year period (this assumes that surgery is scheduled or likely to occur during this period). A five year or ten year passport will only be issued once you have a birth certificate or citizenship certificate showing the appropriate gender marker. In addition to the standard application form, an additional form for a “Canadian passport indicating a name and gender other than those on your birth certificate” must be submitted. This form is only available in person at a Passport Canada office.
Information on changing identity documents is also found on the TESA website.