Whether it’s for religious purposes, or simply because you have found a more meaningful alternative, you are allowed to change your given name in Singapore. However to get this process started, what documents will you need? How much will the process cost? How long will it take? Can foreigners change their names in Singapore too? These are some of the commonly asked questions that we will address in this article.
The Deed Poll
To officially change your name in Singapore, you will first need a legal document drafted by a lawyer called a deed poll. You have to be present at the lawyer’s office during this process so that the lawyer can verify your identity and witness your signing, also known as the “executing” of the deed poll. This document will then serve as your declaration that you will be renouncing your current name and taking on a new one.
The simple reason why a deed poll is necessary is because Singapore authorities only recognise any name changes executed with a deed poll.
If you are above the age of 21, you will need to bring either your NRIC (pink/blue), or 11B if you’re serving your National Service, or passport. If you are doing this for your child below the age of 21, then you’ll need to bring your NRIC or passport, together with your child’s original Birth Certificate with evidence of your relationship with the child. If the original Birth Certificate is not in English, you will also need to include a certified true copy, which includes a notarised English-translated version. The deed poll process usually costs around S$100.
If you are looking to change your child’s name, the consent and signatures of both parents are required. However, if you are in the midst of a divorce, or facing resistance from your ex-partner, then it’s best to consult a lawyer to guide you through this process.
Changing Your Name in Official Documents
Once you’ve executed the deed poll, you will then have to update your particulars with the authorities, starting with your NRIC.
NRIC: Log on to ICA’s website and under e-Services, you can submit a “Change IC Particulars (Self)” application with a digital copy of your deed poll. This application should be processed within 3 working days and ICA will mail you a collection notice within a week. You will then need to collect your new NRIC in person at the ICA building. Please bring along your original deed poll with the documents stated in the collection notice. You will need to complete this process within 28 days of changing your name and the application fee is S$60.
Passport: To apply for a name change in your passport, you have to apply for a new passport. Simply follow all the instructions listed here on ICA’s website.
A deed poll cannot be used to change the name on your birth or marriage certificates however, an exception applies if you are changing the name of your child who is less than 12 months old. You may change the child’s name without needing a deed poll.
You will also need to manually update all the other relevant organisations that you have been registered to with your new name. This includes your current company, banks, memberships and other accounts. You may also have to update your name on your existing credentials including your academic and professional certificates.
What Exactly Can You Change About Your Name?
Some of the more common name changes in Singapore include:
- Changing the order of the words, eg. Michael Tan Meng Seng to Tan Meng Seng Michael;
- Changing the spelling of the name, eg. Micheal to Michael;
- Inserting married names, eg. Rebecca Lee to Rebecca Lee-Tan;
- Inserting Baptism or religious names, eg. Michael Tan Meng Seng to Michael Angelo Tan Meng Seng;
- Inserting, deleting or modifying an English or Western name even if you are not Christian, eg. Tan Meng Seng to Michael Tan Meng Seng;
- Inserting, deleting or modifying any punctuation in your name, eg. Michael Tan Meng Seng to Michael Tan Meng-Seng;
- Inserting, deleting or modifying your hanyu pinyin name;
- Inserting, deleting or modifying the Chinese or Tamil characters in your name
Please remember that you cannot change your race, religion or other particulars with a deed poll. You will need to contact ICA directly for more information on how to amend those. Although rejections are uncommon, the ICA may reject certain names, especially those that are offensive or vulgar. Names that resemble famous politicians, or containing honorary titles such as ‘Datuk’ or even ‘Sir’ might also be rejected. There is also no limit to how many times you can change your name.
Can Foreigners in Singapore Change Names Too?
Technically foreigners, including Permanent Residents, can engage a Singaporean lawyer to execute a deed poll in Singapore. However, the name change also depends if the person’s home country recognises it depending on their respective laws and regulations.
If you are a foreigner residing in Singapore planning to change your name, it’s best that you first check with your respective embassy or consulate office in Singapore to determine if the deed poll executed in Singapore will be recognised in your country. Otherwise, it would be advisable to do it back home.
What About Singaporeans Living Overseas?
If you are unable to return to Singapore during this period, then a deed poll may be executed with a foreign lawyer and you may then update your new name online at ICA’s website. You will then need to contact the Singapore embassy’s consular section in the country of your stay to change your name in your passport.
Is a Deed Poll Mandatory?
Do take note that a deed poll is not necessary if you plan to include your married name to your original name on your NRIC as long as you submit your marriage certification. For name changes based on religious purposes, ICA will require a Baptism or religious certificate to process your application.
If you are currently planning to change your name or your child’s, you should consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through this process.
Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.
Additional Resource: https://singaporelegaladvice.com/law-articles/how-do-i-legally-change-my-name/