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A birth certificate is the official record of a child’s name. In Queensland, all births must be registered in the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and once registered you will be issued with a birth certificate.

Usually, parents can agree on the name recorded on the birth certificate, but if you can’t agree, or you want to change your child’s name at a later stage, there are legal options available.

Many Indigenous Australians don’t have a birth certificate. The National Aboriginal Birth Certificate program offers a free birth certificate service for eligible applications.


Disputes about naming your child

You can’t register a birth without the other parent’s signature unless they’re dead, their location is unknown or the father’s identity is unknown. If you can’t agree on the name to be registered, then either parent can apply to the Magistrates Court for a decision. If neither parent applies to Court, then the Births, Deaths and Marriages registrar can choose a name to go on the birth certificate.


Changing my child’s name

To officially change a child’s name on their birth certificate, both parents must apply to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. In Queensland, this can be done if the child’s birth (or adoption) was registered here, or if your child was born outside of Australia, but now lives in Queensland. If their birth is registered in another Australian state, you’ll need to contact that state’s registry.

If your child is 12 years or older, they must agree to the name change, unless approved by the Court. The following limits apply for changing your child’s name:

  • First names—once in the first 12 months after birth and then once before the child reaches 18.
  • Surnames—once every 12 months.

If you’re the only parent shown on the birth certificate, or if the other parent is dead, you can change the name in the registry on your own.

It’s not illegal to start using another name for your child without officially registering the name change unless a Court has ordered the child be known by a specific name.


Disputes about name changes

A child’s name is one of the important issues parents are expected to agree about. If one parent starts to use a new name for the child without the other’s agreement, they can apply to the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court of Australia for a decision about what name can be used.

If the dispute is about registering a name change, then either parent can apply to the Magistrates Court for an Order for what name should go on the register.

Get legal advice if you have a dispute about your child’s name.


National Aboriginal Birth Certificate program

About 300,000 Australian’s don’t have their birth registered, and about 500,000 don’t have a birth certificate. Without this document you may experience difficulty in accessing services such as opening bank accounts, joining sporting clubs, enrolling in school, applying for a job, getting a driver licence or voting.

The Pathfinders Aboriginal Birth Certificate Program helps Aboriginal Australians who don’t have birth certificates. A free Birth certificate is available for Aboriginal applicants aged between 0 and 21 who meet the following criteria:

  • they are preparing to attend pre-school.
  • they are preparing to attend primary school.
  • they are preparing to attend secondary school.
  • they are transitioning from school to the workforce.
  • they are transitioning from school into further education.
  • they were born in NSW, Qld, ACT or Vic.

A parent of children or young people applying is also eligible. Find out whether you’re eligible for a free birth certificate.


Disclaimer: The material presented on this website is an information source only. The information on this website is written for people resident in, or affected by the laws of Queensland, Australia only. Links to other sites from this website are provided for the users’ convenience. The LGBTI Legal Service does not endorse these sites and is not responsible for the information on these sites or the use made of this information. If you have a specific legal problem, you should consult a professional legal advisor.

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