Changing your name through Marriage
While it has been traditional in Australia for brides to change their surname to that of their husband it is not compulsory. Either party may change their name to that of the other party, or combine the two surnames, with or without hyphenation..

If your decide not to change your name

  • You will not need to present any documentation to keep using the name you used before marriage
  • you may be required to present a certified copy of a marriage certificate issued by an Australian Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry to change your conjugal status in government and other records from never validly married, divorced or widowed to married.
If one of you wishes to change your surname to that of the other party
  • You will need to obtain an official certified marriage certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths amd Marriages
  • Many institutions/organisations will accept  a photocopy, certified by a JP or other official, of  the official marriage certificate obtained from an Australian Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry,  as proof. 
  • The certificate presented to you on your wedding day (referred to by Centrelink and other agencies as the Celebrant or Church-issued certificate) will generally not be accepted by many institutions/organisations as it provides no proof that the marriage has been registered.
Using a combination or hyphenated surname upon marrying
If either of you wants to adopt a combination of your surnames, advice provided by different government entities is conflicting. According to the Passport Office, however, no legal name change is required so perhaps the best option is to change passports first in order to obtain photo ID in your new name.

Marrying outside Australia

You should also be aware that if you choose to marry outside Australia your marriage will not be registered in Australia (although it will be recognised here if it also meets Australia requirements) and there is no provision to do so. Most  institutions will  require an official change of name.  However, Queensland Transport will accept, as proof of change of name upon marriage, an official overseas Marriage Certificate 
if presented with either a category A document already in the married name or two category B documents in the married name. The overseas Marriage Certificate must show an official crest and be appropriately registered.

Choosing an entirely new name
Did you know that you can decide to mark the new chapter in your lives by choosing an entirely new surname for both of you. I've had one couple who both changed their surnames to the name of the street on which they met. If you decide to choose a new name then you will have to do a legal name change with Births, Deaths, and Marriages in the state in which you were born - for which a fee is charged. If you were born outside of Australia then you have to have lived here for a certain period of time (in Queensland it is 12 months) before you can apply.

Applying for an official marriage certificate
Applying for a copy of your official marriage certificate recently got a whole lot harder as the Proof of Identity documentation required is at a higher level than the documentation required to get married. However, in Queensland) if you give your application to your celebrant to attach to the marriage papers, and the celebrant endorses the application, you do not have to send copies of ID documentation  I am happy to include your application for your marriage certificate together with your cheque, money order, or credit card authorisation 

Please be aware that payment of a priority fee only guarantees priority treatment of already registered marriages, and there can be a delay of a number of weeks between submission of the marriage papers by the celebrant and actual registration of the marriage.

The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
Phone: 1300 366 430 or +61 7 3035 1000 (international enquiries)
Physical Address:
Level 32, 180 Ann Street, Brisbane QLD 4000
(Office hours: 8.30am-4.30pm Monday-Friday)
Postal address:
PO Box 15188
City East QLD 4002