This entry is part 12 of 20 in the series Marriage Legalities
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Names on the Notice of Intended Marriage

By Published On: December 11, 2021Categories: Marriage Legalities
This entry is part 12 of 20 in the series Marriage Legalities

Names are a pretty important part of a person’s identity; some would say the most important part! Our name is:

  • what we are known by
  • what is on our documents
  • what people and organisations use to refer to us.

Of course there are likely multiple people in the world who share our name, so there are other important pieces of information used to distinguish us, such as date and place of birth. However that doesn’t invalidate the importance of our names to our identity.

It is important that our names are the same on all our official documents. Differences in spelling, order, or inclusion of names can lead to confusion and difficulty when dealing with literally any organisation.

It is therefore crucial that when we are recording your names on the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) and other marriage documents, we get them right 🙂 So what are the things we need to look out for when recording your names on the NOIM?

Name items on the NOIM

The items on the NOIM that ask for a marrying party’s names are item 2, Family name, and item 3, Given name(s). It is important to note that these are split, as they are on other Australian identity documents.

Splitting your names correctly

Sometimes documents presented by a marrying party from another country have the person’s full name all in one line. As celebrants we need to ensure the names are appropriately split to fit into the two items on the NOIM. This may require us to ask you questions about which is your family name and which is your given name.

Recording your names in Western order

We will also ask you to confirm that you are recording your given name in Western order of first name, middle name(s). In some Asian countries names are presented in different orders on documents, such as:

  • family name/first name/middle name, or
  • family name/middle name/first name.

Recording your name in non-Western order may lead to confusion when dealing with other Australian organisations, so let’s get it right 🙂

Recording your names as they are recorded on your identity documents

Apart from using Western order of first name/middle name(s)/family name, we must record your names the same way as they are recorded on your presented identity documents.

Given and family names in the given names field

If both your given and family names are listed in the given names field on your passport, that’s how we must record them on the NOIM. This Family name field will be left blank. This happens often with Indian passports. I have had parties change their names legally to formally split their name into given name and family name. After completing that name change, we can then record the names in the separate fields on the NOIM. Until then, it is crucial they are listed as per your identity documents.

Spelling errors

If there are spelling errors in any of your names on the identity documents you show me, that’s how we must record your names on the NOIM. You are absolutely welcome to have your name legally corrected/changed to fix the spelling. Once this has been completed, we can use the correct spelling on the NOIM. Until then, we have to use the names as listed on your identity documents.

Using a different name from that recorded on your documents

If you use a different name in everyday life to the name recorded on your identity documents, we must use the recorded name. Again, you are welcome to legally change your name to the one you use in everyday life. But your documents need to match, otherwise you may face all sorts of issues when trying to obtain other documents in the future.

Recording all your names

If you have four names on your identity documents, we have to record all four names on the NOIM and other marriage documents. You can’t elect to just some of your names on the NOIM, unless you get a legal name change to drop your unwanted names.

People with only one name

Some people, particularly women from some Asian countries, only have one name. This gets recorded in the Given name(s) field of the NOIM. The Family name field is left blank.

What if I have changed my name?

There are several methods people use to change their name. The method used tells us whether to use the changed name on the NOIM.

Change by deed poll / through Births, Deaths and Marriages

Until the 1990s in Australia, people who wanted to change their names from those given to them at birth changed them by deed poll. In the late 1990s, Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) around the country took responsibility for managing name changes. Both of these types of name change are legal, removing the person’s access to their previous name. Therefore we must record the new/updated name on the NOIM. Depending on the circumstances, this changed name will be listed on:

  • the deed poll document
  • an amended birth certificate, or
  • a change of name certificate.

Change by marriage

When you change your name by marriage in Australia, you generally do not go through a legal change of name process via BDM. You just go to all the organisations that have you name on file and say hey, I want you to call by this new name. You give them your Australian marriage certificate as evidence that you’re allowed to use that new name.

That means you maintain access to your former name; both names are legally yours to use. Some people change their name for personal purposes and maintain their former name for professional purposes. That’s perfectly legitimate.

Using your former name on the marriage documents

When it comes to your new marriage, if you have not reverted back to your former name after your previous marriage ended, you have the option of using either name. Many people don’t want to enter their new marriage using their old married name, and that’s totally understandable. As long as you can show me a chain of evidence to show the changes in your name, you can use whichever name you prefer.

For example, if your birth name was Susan Smith, and you married Andrew Jones, you may have changed your name to Susan Jones. You may still be using Susan Jones in everyday life. Susan Jones may still be the name on your current identity documents. If you want to use the name Susan Smith on the documents for your new marriage, you need to show me the following documents:

  • your birth certificate in the name Susan Smith
  • your marriage certificate to show that Susan Smith married Andrew Jones
  • your divorce certificate to show that Susan Jones divorced Andrew Jones
  • your current photo identification in the name Susan Jones to show me that all of these documents belong to the person sitting in front of me.

Then you’re good to go!

Waiting for a name change

If you want to change your name before you get married, you are still able to lodge the NOIM with your celebrant in your current name while you’re awaiting the name change to be granted. As soon as the name change documentation comes through, we can update the NOIM to your new name and use it on the other marriage documents.

Names on the other marriage documents

The names on all marriage documents must be exactly the same. This means the names must match on the:

  • Notice of Intended Marriage
  • Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage
  • Official Certificates of Marriage
  • Form 15 Certificate of Marriage.

A marrying party can’t choose to have only some of their names listed on their Form 15 Certificate of Marriage, which is the one they keep. All names must be recorded on all marriage documents.

Which name do I sign the NOIM in?

You sign the NOIM in your usual signature, whatever that is. I will ask you to use this same signature to sign the other marriage documents, including your marriage certificates. You do not sign your marriage certificates in your married name.

Fascinating cultural differences in names

As a side note, I am always interested in the cultural differences in structure, order, and usage of names. If you were born anywhere other than Australia, I’m probably going to ask you some questions about your name. I find the differences fascinating and I’m always keen to learn more!

Hopefully this post has explained why we need to get your names right on the NOIM and other marriage documents. I’m always happy to answer any questions you may have!

More information

Click here for a full overview of the legal requirements of marriage in Australia.

Click on this link to find all the posts in my series about marriage legalities.

If you’re a celebrant wanting help with marriage legalities, come and join us at the Celebrant Institute!

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awesome wedding readingsA Reading for a Wedding wedding reading
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Series Navigation<< Providing inaccurate information on the marriage documentsDescription of parties and gender on the NOIM >>