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Draft Evidence of Identity Standard (html version)


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Appendix C

Change of name, adoption and gender reassignment documents/records referenced in this Standard
    Change of name

    In order for changes of name for adults or children to be officially recognised, they need to register them with Births, Deaths and Marriages of the Department of Internal Affairs (Identity Services). This requires completion of a Statutory Declaration (an officially signed and witnessed statement).

    If the new name is accepted, it is then registered by Births, Deaths and Marriages. Any New Zealand Birth Certificate issued after the new name has been registered will show both the name registered at birth and all changes of name for that person. Changes of name by Deed Poll ceased in September 1995.

    NOTE – In some countries it is common to advertise a change of name in a prominent nationwide newspaper, and this may be accepted in lieu of an official certificate.

    Process for individuals aged over 18

    Individuals aged over 18 and born in New Zealand must supply either their:
    • New Zealand Birth Certificate, or
    • New Zealand Passport (issued in the birth name).

    Individuals born outside New Zealand must supply either their:
    • Birth certificate, or
    • Some other evidence that satisfies the Registrar-General of their date and place of birth, and their name at birth.

    Only original documents are accepted, and any translated documents must be accompanied by the original document. If an individual is married or enters into a civil union, a change of name can be noted on the marriage or civil union registration. This is only possible if the marriage or civil union took place in New Zealand.

    Process for changing the name of a child
    In most circumstances, a change of name for a child must be made by the guardians of the child. This usually means both parents, even if they are not married or living together. Even if only one parent has custody, both parents must still sign the form. If any other guardians have been appointed, they must also make the Statutory Declaration.

    If a guardian is not able to sign, the reason why one guardian may need to act alone must be described in the Statutory Declaration. This may be for reasons such as:

    • he/she is missing (provide details)
    • he/she is dead
    • he/she is not known
    • he/she is unable to act because of a serious physical or psychological illness.

    There are some circumstances other than those described above in which the Family Court may allow one guardian to act alone to change the child's name. Applicants will need papers issued by the Court to support the change of name.

    If no guardians are available, a change of name form may be completed by the Chief Executive of the Department of Children, Youth and Family Services.

    Guardians will fill out different forms depending on the age of child, whether they are born in New Zealand or outside New Zealand and relationship status. For details on this refer to:

    Proof of change/usage of name
    Other evidence that may be used to confirm use of a partner’s surname include:
    • New Zealand Marriage Certificate (issued by Department of Internal Affairs –Identity Services)
    • New Zealand Civil Union Certificate (issued by Department of Internal Affairs –Identity Services)
    • Dissolution of a marriage (divorce) papers (issued by the Ministry of Justice)
    • Marriage declared void (annulment) papers (issued by the Ministry of Justice).

    Applicants must provide to the Ministry of Justice either a birth certificate, passport or driver licence in conjunction with proof of marriage and proof of address, to file for a divorce or annulment.

    Adoption records
    When a person is adopted, the original birth record is closed and a new birth record created. The adoptive parents become the legal parents of the adopted person, and the new name given by the adoptive parents becomes the person’s new legal name.

    In some cases, if a child has been adopted overseas, the adoption may be registered in New Zealand, in a similar fashion to New Zealand adoptions, if the adoption meets certain criteria.

    The Adult Adoption Information Act 1985 allows for adopted individuals to find out about their birth parents, and their pre-adoptive identity. A birth certificate issued from that original record must show that it relates to the person’s pre-adoptive identity, because that is not that person’s current legal identity. That certificate cannot be used for official purposes.

    Gender reassignment
    Any person aged 18 (or guardians of a child under 18) may apply to a Family Court for a declaration that a birth certificate issued for that person should show a different gender from that which currently appears on their birth registration (or should show a certain gender where that person was born of indeterminate gender), where the Court is satisfied that the person has undergone the necessary treatment for that person to maintain that new identity.

    On receipt of such an Order, the Department of Internal Affairs (Identity Services) creates a new post-sex-change registration for the person. The earlier record of the person’s birth entry is, in effect, cancelled. The effect of the re-registration is that a new identity is created so that, to all intents and purposes, the person has always been a person of their nominated sex. Any birth certificate issued for the person will show the new sex, and any new names that have been included since the new registration was made, as if those names were the person’s names since birth. Section 64(4) of the Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registration (BDMR) Act 1995 does provide that such a birth certificate may, by virtue of the serial number it bears, be capable of indicating that sexual assignment/reassignment information has been included on it. However, in practice, this has not been the case.

    Access to information relating to a person’s identity prior to the registration of sexual assignment or reassignment is restricted. Only the Registrar-General may grant access to such information, and only where satisfied that the person seeking the information is the person to whom the information relates; or that the information is required in connection with the administration of an estate or trust, or by a marriage celebrant or Registrar for the purposes of investigating whether or not the parties to a proposed marriage are a man and a woman (section 77(6) of BDRM Act refers); or where 120 years has passed since the birth of the person to whom the information relates. Otherwise access can only be granted on the order of a Family Court, a District Court or the High Court for limited purposes (section 77(8) of BDRM Act refers).

    Apart from those provisions, there is provision for the Registrar-General to notify any government agency that has an interest in ensuring that people do not have more than one identity of details relating to people who have registered gender assignment or reassignment.

      Working group representation
      The following agencies/organisations were represented on the EOI Standard Working Group:
      Department of Internal Affairs
      Ministry of Justice
      Department of Labour
      Inland Revenue Department
      Land Transport New Zealand
      Ministry of Education
      Ministry of Health
      Ministry of Social Development
      New Zealand Police
      Office of the Privacy Commissioner (observer status)
      State Services Commission

      The State Services Commission and the Department of Internal Affairs gratefully acknowledge the contribution of time and expertise from all those involved in developing this Standard.

      This document is subject to Crown copyright. This material may be used, copied and redistributed free of charge in any format or media, provided that the source and copyright status is acknowledged (i.e. this material was produced by the Department of Internal Affairs © Crown copyright 2006).

      Referenced documents

      Joint Australian/New Zealand Standards
      AS/NZS 4360:2004 Risk Management (Australian/New Zealand Standard).

      SAA/SNZ HB 436:2004 Risk Management Guidelines (Australian/New Zealand handbook).

      SNZ HB 104:2004 Style Guide for Standards New Zealand Technical Publications (New Zealand handbook).

      New Zealand Legislation
      Adult Adoption Information Act 1985
      Arms Act 1983
      Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995
      Citizenship Act 1977
      Civil Unions Act 2005
      Electoral Act 1993
      Electronic Transactions Act 2002
      Human Rights Act 1993
      Immigration Act 1987
      Land Transport Act 1998
      Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule 1999
      Ombudsmen Act 1992
      Passports Act 1992
      Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988
      Privacy Act 1993
      Sale of Liquor Act 1987
      Social Security Act 1964
      Tax Administration Act 1994

      Other Documents
      Department of Internal Affairs. October 2004. Evidence of Identity Framework. Available from:

      Executive Office of Management and Budget, Washington D.C. 16 December 2003. Memorandum to the Heads of All Departments and Agencies. Available from

      Privacy Commissioner. Privacy Impact Assessment Handbook. Available from

      State Services Commission. April 2004. Authentication for e-government: Best Practice Framework for Authentication. Available from

      State Services Commission. Guide to Authentication Standards for Online Services.
      (In preparation.)

      Related Websites

      Latest revisions
      This Standard is to be reviewed from time to time by the working group so that it keeps up to date with changes in technology and business requirements in the sector.

      Users should ensure they access the latest revisions of the NZ e-GIF authentication standards including amendments (if any). These can be found at Users should also access the latest revisions of the documents included in the list of referenced documents already set out in this standard.

      Review of Standard
      Suggestions for improvement of this Standard will be welcomed. They should be sent to the Department of Internal Affairs (the EOI Standard Custodian) at

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      Last updated: 06/12/2005