Home | Browse Topics | Individual rights & freedoms | Sex, gender and sexual orientation | Changing my legal documents

Individual rights & freedoms

Changing my legal documents

Birth certificate

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:

  • F
  • M
  • non-binary

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 bdm.nz@dia.govt.nz.

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.

Next Section | Passport

Did this answer your question?

Sex, gender and sexual orientation

Where to go for more support

Legal information and support groups

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Access the free “Lag Law: Your Rights Inside Prison and on Release” book.  This book contains practical answers to common questions relating to prisoner rights, including transgender rights in prison. A useful guide for people going to prison, in prison, or getting out of prison and their whānau.

Online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/community-law-manual/prisoners-rights-chapter-1-before-prison-the-criminal-court-process/before-prison-the-criminal-court-process
Email for a hard copy: laglaw@wclc.org.nz
Phone: Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley – 04 499 2928


InsideOUT is a national organisation that provides workshops, resources and support to help make schools, community organisations and workplaces inclusive for rainbow people.

Website:  www.insideout.org.nz
Email:  hello@insideout.org.nz
Phone:  027 331 4507
Instagram:  www.instagram.com/insideoutkoaro
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/insideoutkoaro

Gender Minorities Aotearoa

Gender Minorities Aotearoa is a nationwide organisation providing support and information to transgender people.

Website: www.genderminorities.com
Email: support@genderminorities.com
Phone: 04 385 0611

Naming New Zealand

Naming NZ is an organisation to help transgender, gender-diverse and intersex youth with updating their identity documents to correctly reflect their sex and gender.

Website: www.ry.org.nz/namingnz

Intersex Aotearoa

Intersex Aotearoa are an intersex-led education, lobbying, advocacy and peer support organisation in Aotearoa, welcoming all people with intersex variations in Aotearoa, whānau and friends.

Website: www.intersexaotearoa.org
Email: info@intersexaotearoa.org
Instagram: www.instagram.com/intersexyaotearoa
Facebook: www.facebook.com/intersexaotearoa


Genderbridge is a peer-to-peer transgender community organisation providing support to transgender and gender-diverse people, their whānau and friends throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/genderbridge


OutLine is a confidential, free, all-ages support line that provides rainbow specialist counselling and trans and non-binary peer support. Call for free from 6pm-9pm.

Website: www.outline.org.nz
Phone: 0800 688 5463
Instagram: www.instagram.com/OUTlineAotearoa
Facebook: www.facebook.com/outlineaotearoa

Rainbow Rights in Aotearoa

RainbowYOUTH and YouthLaw have collaborated to provide information about the various legal rights afforded to people living in Aotearoa, and how they relate to queer, intersex and gender diverse people.

Website: www.rainbowrights.nz

Rainbow Youth

RainbowYOUTH provides a number of services for queer and gender-diverse youth and their wider communities all across Aotearoa.

Website: www.ry.org.nz
Instagram: www.instagram.com/rainbowyouth
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rainbowyouth

Q Youth

Q Youth is a charity run by youth for youth in Nelson. Q Youth provides support, training and education to rainbow youth, friends, family and whānau.

Website: www.qyouthnz.com
Email: office.q.youth@gmail.com

Government departments, agencies and courts

Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs processes applications to legally change your name.

Website: www.govt.nz/browse/passports-citizenship-and-identity/changing-your-name/change-your-own-name
Phone: 0800 22 52 52

NZ Transport Agency

The NZTA deals with changes to drivers’ licences, including changing your name or gender on your driver’s licence.

Website: www.nzta.govt.nz/driver-licences/renewing-replacing-and-updating/updating-your-licence
Phone: 0800 822 422

Te Whatu Ora/Health New Zealand

Te Whatu Ora has guidance for health professionals dealing with transgender people and information on gender affirming surgeries.

Website: www.tewhatuora.govt.nz/our-health-system/preventative-healthwellness/providing-health-services-for-transgender-people

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata/Human Rights Commission

See the Human Rights Commission website for information about human rights and discrimination in Aotearoa. It outlines how you can make a complaint to the Commission.

Website: www.tikatangata.org.nz or www.hrc.co.nz
Email: infoline@hrc.co.nz
Phone: 0800 496 877 (0800 4 YOUR RIGHTS)

To make a complaint online, download a complaint form or find out more about the complaints process: www.tikatangata.org.nz/resources-and-support/make-a-complaint 

Other resource of interest: “To be who I am: Report on the Inquiry into Discrimination Experienced by Transgender People”: www.tikatangata.org.nz/our-work/to-be-who-i-am-report-on-the-inquiry-into-discrimination-experienced-by-transgender-people

Nationwide Health & Disability Advocacy Service

The Nationwide Health & Disability Advocacy Service offers free, independent, and confidential advice to support you making a complaint about health and disability services.

Website: www.advocacy.org.nz
Email: advocacy@advocacy.org.nz
Phone: 0800 555 050

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

MBIE has some guidance for employers with transgender employees.

Website: www.employment.govt.nz/starting-employment/hiring/discrimination-when-hiring/transgender-employees

Department of Corrections

The Prisons Operations Manual Policy outlines the procedure for determining where to place transgender and intersex prisoners in prison (see Movements M.03.05).

Website: www.corrections.govt.nz/resources/policy_and_legislation/Prison-Operations-Manual/Movement/M.03-Specified-gender-and-age-movements/M.03.05-Transgender-prisoner

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top