Gender and gender identity
Changing gender markers and names
Your birth certificate: Changing your sex
Changing the sex on your birth certificate to become easier
In December 2021, Parliament passed The Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill. This law change will make things easier in the future to change the sex on your New Zealand birth certificate. Instead of going through the Family Court and showing evidence of medical treatment, you can change the sex on your birth certificate by applying with a statutory declaration.
This section will outline the current process for changing the sex on your birth certificate, however a new, simpler process should start in 2023.
How do I change my sex on my birth certificate?
You can go to the Family Court to change your sex on your birth certificate if you meet all of these criteria:
- You’re a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
- You’re 18 or older (there’s a different process if you’re under 18)
- You intend to continue to live in your nominated gender (the gender you want the new birth certificate to state)
- You have met the court’s standard for “irreversible medical changes” to “conform” to your nominated gender.
What medical treatment do I have to go through to change my birth certificate?
You don’t need to undergo all available medical procedures in order to be successful changing your gender in the Family Court.
You do need to show some type of medical proof, such as a letter from a doctor or endocrinologist using the term “irreversible”, or documentation of your surgery . The Family Court will consider your individual situation.
In the past, people who’ve had no surgeries but have been on hormones for a very long time have been successful when applying to change their birth certificate, as have transgender men who don’t intend to have any kind of ‘bottom’ surgery (genital reconstruction surgery).
The courts can apply the law to new and different situations over time, so you could still apply successfully even if no-one in your exact circumstances has been successful before.
How do I apply to change my birth certificate?
You’ll need to:
- fill in two Family Court forms – Forms G5 and G7
- provide your own written statement, called an “affidavit”, and
- provide a medical affidavit from a doctor.
It can also be helpful to provide supporting letters from your family, landlord or employer and other references.
When you fill in these forms and write your affidavit, make sure you cover and prove every part of the legal standard. It can be a good idea to have this checked by a lawyer or someone else with experience in the area.
If you use a lawyer, you’ll have to pay for their services. However, you can get free support and advice from Community Law.
You should then drop off two copies of your forms, affidavits and supporting documents to the nearest Family Court. You might also have to appear in court personally, but not usually.
People applying to change their sex are considered “vulnerable” by the Family Court, and this means that your application isn’t publicly recorded and will only be seen by those involved directly with the Family Court process.
How much will it cost to change my birth certificate?
Applying through the Family Court is free. However, you may need to pay for medical experts to write and support your application. Discuss this with your health care provider – for example your GP, endocrinologist or psychiatrist.
There is a small fee for getting a copy of your birth certificate from the Department of Internal Affairs.
What’s the legal effect of changing my sex on my birth certificate?
Your birth certificate is a form of legal identification so you can use it to prove who you are. Getting your sex changed on your birth certificate automatically overrides your previous birth certificates, so your new birth certificate will make it appear that you were born in your nominated sex and had your current name from birth.
If you change your sex on your birth certificate other official records (like your driver’s licence) won’t be automatically updated, so you’ll need to do this yourself.
If you ever go to prison, and prison staff have access to your birth certificate, you must be placed – at least at first – in a prison that matches the sex on your birth certificate.
Your passport and driver’s licence: Changing your gender
How do I change my passport or driver’s licence to reflect my gender identity?
You can change your gender on your passport and in the drivers’ licence database without going through any medical treatment or going through the courts. All it takes is to make a formal legal statement called a “statutory declaration”, which you can make in front of any lawyer, Justice of the Peace (JP) or court registrar.
You can get these statutory declaration forms from the government agencies that deal with these areas, including online:
Your health documents: Changing your gender and name
Can I change my gender and name on my health documents?
The Ministry of Health says you can change your preferred name and gender markers in the National Health Index (NHI). The NHI is an index that hosts your identity information such as your name, date of birth and gender. This information is used so healthcare providers can identify you and be sure they are talking to the correct person. It’s also used so healthcare providers can share information and maintain the right medical records.
Your details on the NHI can be changed. The Ministry of Health website says that the best way to go this is to ask your regular healthcare professional. They will either be able to directly update your details on the NHI or they can contact the Ministry of Health to make the changes for them.