Changing my legal documents
It is straightforward to change the sex marker and name on your birth certificate, passport, health documents and driver’s licence in New Zealand. You can apply for some of these changes online. In other cases, you’ll need to fill out the forms in person with an authorised witness, like a Justice of the Peace or lawyer. This is called a “statutory declaration”. The witness will certify your application and verify any supporting documents.
In New Zealand, different organisations and public services use words differently when talking about gender and sex on identifying documents. Throughout this section, we use the word “sex marker” to refer to the identifying initial or words for gender or sex on official documents.
The Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 2021 came into effect on 15 June 2023. This Act makes the process of changing the sex marker on your New Zealand birth certificate much more straightforward.
How do I change the sex marker on my birth certificate?
To change the sex marker on your New Zealand birth certificate, you will need to complete and submit a ‘change of sex’ statutory declaration. You need to sign the statutory declaration in front of an authorised witness, like a Justice of the Peace or lawyer.
You don’t need to provide any medical evidence, and there is no limit on the number of times you can update the sex marker on your birth certificate.
The options are:
A capital i (“I”) was previously used to mean “indeterminate” as a sex marker for intersex people. This wasn’t used much in practice and won’t be an option under the new process.
If you are 18 or over, you can sign the statutory declaration on your own.
If you’re 16 or 17 and have been in a legally recognised relationship, like a marriage or ‘de facto’ relationship, you can apply on your own (see: “De facto relationships” for more information).
If you are 16 or 17 and haven’t been in a legally recognised relationship, you need a letter of support from a legal guardian or a third party. The third party needs to be over 18, and they can be either:
- someone that knows you well, and who you’ve known for at least 12 months, like a kaumātua, extended family member, or friend, or
- a registered professional, like a teacher, doctor, or social worker.
If you’re under 16, the application needs to be made by your legal guardian, and include a letter of support from a third party.
It costs $55 to update the sex marker on your birth certificate, and $33 or $35 on top of that to order a new birth certificate, depending on the design you choose.
How do I change the name on my birth certificate?
To legally change your name, complete and submit a “change of name” statutory declaration with Births, Deaths and Marriages. You need to sign this statutory declaration in front of an authorised witness, like a Justice of the Peace or lawyer.
You will also need to provide:
- a certified copy of one photo ID document, such your passport or driver’s licence (to certify the copy, the authorised witness will compare the copy to the original ID, and stamp or endorse it to confirm it is a true copy), and
- two other official documents with your name on them (e.g., a bank statement, student ID or electoral roll record). These documents don’t have to be certified.
If you don’t have photo ID, you should get in touch with Births, Deaths and Marriages – you will still be able to apply to change your name, you will just need to follow some additional steps. You can call them on 0800 22 52 52 or email email@example.com.
When you submit your name change form, you have the option to request a new birth certificate. Even if you don’t select this option, you can request a new birth certificate later.
If you’re 18 or older, you can apply on your own.
If you’re 16 or 17 and have been in a legally recognised relationship, like a marriage or ‘de facto’ relationship, you can apply on your own. Otherwise, your legal guardians will have to sign the documents when you apply.
If you’re under 16, your legal guardians will have to apply on your behalf.
It costs $170 to change the name on your birth certificate, and $33 or $35 on top of that to order a new birth certificate, depending on the design you choose.
Note: It’s a good idea to update the name and sex on your birth certificate first, and then use this as proof of your name and sex to update other documents, like your passport and driver’s license.