British Columbia name change for transgender people

Disclaimer: This is legal talk, not legal advice. Laws vary by state, and some of the information discussed on this page may not be applicable in your case. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information and provide it without warranty. Laws change and this information may contain errors and omissions. It is up to you to confirm any information herein by doing your own research.

In September 2011 a reader sent the following to the information below::

(1) The forms required for name change are now available online: http://www.vs.gov.bc.ca/forms/vsa529.pdf

(2) Barbara Findlay now charges $100 for notarization, which is extremely excessive. I was in a rush and I paid $25 at a local notary, with no problems at all. Having a 'carry letter' can help as well.

(3) Fingerprints are easier through the RCMP, who have more offices set up for this processing. The RCMP no longer processes fingerprints at their HQ, but they will give you a handy list of places that will perform this service. I went to the very centrally located Vancouver Police Dept: 2120 Cambie St All of the fees you list on your website are still the same. You HAVE to fill out the fingerprints request form BEFORE you go to the RCMP. You have to request this form from the BC government, by email. Mine came about three days after the email. HLTH.CNFORMS@gov.bc.ca

In June 2003 a reader sent the following:

Changing your name in BC takes about six to eight weeks, and its chief aspect is all the hidden charges you'll find at every turn. The BC Vital Statistics website, <http://www.vs.gov.bc.ca/name/>, cites a cost of $137, but you can expect to spend more than twice that before you're done.

The good news is that you don't have to speak to anyone about your name change except a single police officer and one notary public. There are no court dates, no classified ads, and no witnesses.

First of all, you'll need to get hold of an Application for Change of Name package. The forms aren't available over the Internet. You can get them almost any other way, however:

By sending e-mail to <LTH.CNFORMS@gems8.gov.bc.ca>;

By sending a fax to (250) 952-2527 (a Victoria number);

By telephoning (250) 952-2681 (a Victoria number) or (604) 660-2937 (a Vancouver one); or

By visiting any office listed on the web pages

http://www.governmentagents.gov.bc.ca/locations/index.htm o

http://www.vs.gov.bc.ca/admin/offices.html.

They're free.

Fill out all the forms in your new package, including the affidavit on page 2 in the presence of a notary public, who for a fee of about $40 will affirm that you signed it all by yourself.

The next step is accumulating *all* copies of your birth certificate in your possession, and of your marriage certificates if you were ever married in BC. These must be submitted along with your application so that the Department can destroy them.

Perversely, if you don't have a copy of your birth certificate (because your wallet was stolen? your parents never relinquished it? you gave it to
a friend for safekeeping?), it costs $27 to get a new one so they'll have something to destroy. Similarly, for each marriage in BC for which you don't submit a certificate, there's another $27 charge to get a new, destroyable one. You don't have to order these new certificates up front; you can simply add the $27 to your cheque or money order.

British Columbia used to require that you take out a classified ad about your name change, in a newspaper of your choice; they do no longer. However, they now require you to get a criminal record check instead, at your own expense. This costs another $25, which can be added to your cheque or money order.

But you can't get a criminal record check without fingerprints, so your next stop is your local police department or RCMP office. RCMP fingerprints are valid anywhere, but you can only use the police department for the town you live in. In Vancouver, the RCMP are located near Queen Elizabeth park, and charge $34.50 for fingerprints. The police are located at Main and Cordova, and charge $50.00.

So choose your favourite law enforcement agency out of the Blue Pages, and pay them directly the required fingerprint fee. You won't get to see these fingerprints; instead, you'll hand over your completed Application for Change of Name, along with a cheque for:

$137 (name change)
+ $25 (criminal record check)
------
$162

The total could run as high as:

$162
+ $27 (if your old birth certificate is missing)
+ $27 (if you were married in BC, and your old marriage certificate was missing)
------
$216

or even higher, if you were married in BC more than once.

Assuming your change of name is acceptable -- you're not allowed to have only one name, like Madonna, or a name that's obscene or "confusing," whatever that means ... "Simone Wzzbfrbywwzzzwbybfywwzwbz Simone Simone Simone," perhaps -- you'll receive a Change of Name certificate in the mail in about six to eight weeks. At this point, regardless of whether you submitted copies of the old ones, you must apply for a new copy of each birth and marriage certificate, under your new name.

These new certificates also cost $27 apiece ... but you can't order them until after the name change is successful. This at least can be done over the Internet, at <http://www.vs.gov.bc.ca/admin/credit.html> -- otherwise, it's back to the office where you first acquired your application package, where they'll be happy to issue new copies on the spot.

About a month after your name change comes through, your fingerprints will arrive back in the mail.

The total cost for a name change in BC comes to at least:

The total cost for a name change in BC comes to at least:

$137.00 (name change)
+ $40.00 (notarized signature)
+ $25.00 (criminal record check)
+ $34.50 (fingerprints)
+ $27.00 (new birth certificate)
---------
$263.50

plus possible fees as high as:

$223.50
+ $27.00 (missing birth certificate)
+ $27.00 (new marriage certificate)
+ $27.00 (missing marriage certificate)
---------
$344.50

or even higher, if you were married in BC more than once or if your local constabulary charges more than mine for fingerprints.

In September 2003, a reader sent this addendum:

Your information on the Name Change process looks very good however I'd like to make a few additional points. I had my name change done in July here in Vancouver British Columbia

Six to eight weeks for delivery is a little steep. I got mine in about 3 so it's pretty quick.

The birth certificate element gets tricky if you were born in a different province. This was the biggest hassle for me and took weeks to compile the info required for this paperwork. I'm still waiting for my new one.

Getting your document notarized. $40 is steep for a Notary public, $25-30 is more reasonable. There is also a GLBT Lawyer in Vancouver (Barbara Findlay www.barbarafindlay.com). I emailed her office and she did it for me for free. She's an excellent legal resource to list if there is such a list. She fights for a lot of gay/lesbian and trans rights in this province/country.

With this certificate in hand I had no problems walking down to the drivers board to get a new license. I went in "girl-mode" (duh) and the woman there had no problems changing my gender label without any additional documentation.

Hope some of this information proves useful.

From a reader in November 2006:

I had my name changed in December 2005. The fee is still $137. Also, the government office can do the notarizing, if you wish, for a fee of $17.

I learned that people on low income can apply to have some of the fees waived. Inquire with Vital Statistics for details. In general it requires a letter from you explaining why a name change is necessary and why you can't afford it, along with a letter from a doctor saying that the name change is medically necessary.

They can waive the $137 name change fee and the $17 notary fee. You still need to pay for the criminal record check since that is done through the city police department or the RCMP.

It took less than 2 weeks to get my name change certificate. They also automatically informed my birth province (Ontario) of my name change and the Ontario government immediately mailed me a form to order a new birth certificate.

Other resources

 

British Columbia province law

Precedent for transsexuals

[no specific case noted]