Changing of surname after marriage in South Africa

The law states that you cannot use any other surname than the one shown in the National Population Register maintained by the Department of Home Affairs. But what if you recently got married and you’re considering changing your surname? Applying for these changes to your personal documents directly with home affairs can take months, and in most cases, you won’t have the luxury of time when it comes to obtaining your official documents.

Before you can even get to the requirements to change last name, there are certain basic things you ought to understand. You need to know that the process of name change is governed by the Births and Deaths Registration Act of South Africa. It is responsible for South African births deaths and marriages. The National Population Register has all citizens personal details. To change your surname one must first be 16 years. Some of the common reasons for needing a change include:

  • To revert to your legal maiden name after a divorce.
  • To get a double-barreled surname.
  • To use your biological or step-parent’s surname.
  • To add, remove or change your forenames for a justifiable reason.

To change a name for whatever reason, you must visit the nearest home affairs office and complete the following forms:

  • BI-196 for change of surname of majors.
  • BI-85 for application for alteration of forename.
  • BI-9 for application for alteration of identity document. Note that you can access all these forms at any regional or district office of the Department of Home Affairs.
  • The completed forms, together with two photographs (for a new identity document) and an identity document with your current name(s) and surname, should be submitted.
  • You should have sufficient reasons for changing your surname in writing.

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