Deed Polls in Singapore: How to Change Your Name

Last updated on November 9, 2018

Featured image for the "Deed Polls in Singapore: How to Change Your Name" article. It features a pair of hands holding up a board with the words "Hello My Name Is".

If you want to change your name in Singapore, you will need a deed poll. This is a legal document drafted by a lawyer and executed by the individual who intends to change his/her name. The authorities, such as the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), will not process a change of your name in your records without a deed poll. It would cost under S$100 for a deed poll.

Some common reasons behind name changes include religious requirements, the addition of English names, luck and feng shui purposes, or simply because people tire of their names.

“Mum and Dad, how could you have named me “Abcde”? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!?!” 😭😭 – Don’t be so hard on your parents if they’ve given you a terrible name. Everyone gets drunk now and then. Or maybe they were listening to Fort Minor and wanted to give people a 100% reason to remember your name. In any case, with a simple legal document – namely, the deed poll – you can set things right and change your name to something more palatable. – Like “Xiao Ming” for instance, who has starred in all primary school Chinese essays since the beginning of time. Or you can even add an English name like Jason, Kenneth, Laura, or Michelle – you name it. Just not something that will give you…well, a bad name. – By the way: there really is a Singaporean dude named Batman bin Suparman. This is not an urban legend.

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How to Execute a Deed Poll

A deed poll will have to be drafted by a lawyer, who will also witness your execution (signing) of the document. Our Find a Lawyer service can help you find a suitable deed poll lawyer to assist you in this process.

After a deed poll has been executed, you may present it to the authorities (e.g. the ICA) to have the change reflected in your NRIC or other documents. An identity card (IC) holder is required to apply for a replacement IC within 28 days of changing his/her name.

You may also wish to contact the various education institutions, banks, and insurers to have them reflect the name change in your academic certifications and other records.

When is a Deed Poll Unnecessary for NRIC Updates? (Marriage and Religious Changes)

A deed poll is not necessary if you wish to add your married name to your original name. A marriage certificate suffices for ICA to effect the changes desired.

ICA may also allow you to add your Christian name appearing in your Baptism Certificate without the need of a deed poll. The same goes for name changes based on other religious procedures. Either a Baptism certificate or a religious certificate should be produced for ICA to process the change.

How to Change Your Name While Overseas

If you are unable to return to Singapore, a deed poll may be executed with a foreign lawyer.

Changes in your NRIC name can be done online via iC Online.

To change your name in your passport, please contact the consular section of the Singapore embassy in the country of your stay.

What Can You Change in Your Name?

You can change your name in a number of ways, including:

  1. Adding, deleting, or otherwise modifying the Chinese or Tamil characters in your name;
  2. Adding, deleting, or otherwise modifying the punctuation in your name (eg. Ong Li-Lin);
  3. Adding, deleting, or otherwise modifying your English/Western/Christian name (you can have an English name, such as John, without being Christian);
  4. Adding, deleting, or otherwise modifying your hanyu pinyin name (eg. Chen Xiao Hua);
  5. Changing the order of the words in your name (eg. Albert Ong Li Ming instead of Ong Li Ming Albert);
  6. Correcting wrongly spelled names;
  7. Inserting married names; and
  8. Inserting Baptism or religious names;

You cannot change your religion, race or other particulars with a deed poll. To do so, you may wish to contact the ICA.

Name Rejections

The ICA may reject certain names – in particular, names which are offensive or vulgar may not withstand the scrutiny of the ICA. Additionally, names that resemble those of famous politicians, or names containing honorary titles like “Sir” or “Datuk” may also be rejected.

The Chinese name in the NRIC may be rejected if it comprises any Chinese character which cannot be found in any Chinese dictionary recognised by the Registrar. (Regulation 4 of the National Registration Regulations)

Changing the Names of Persons Under 21

Persons who are under 21 years old can also change their names with a deed poll. Generally, the consent and signature of both parents is needed, except when one parent is deceased or uncontactable despite reasonable efforts.

What if the parents are divorced?

In cases of a divorce, the name of the child may be changed as long as the consent of both parents are sought with respect to the change. This is because the child’s name is an important symbol of his identity and his parents. However, if one of the parents is uncontactable despite reasonable efforts, the other parent may execute the deed poll with a declaration of that fact.

As for changing the child’s surname, consent from their biological father is first obtained. If a parent cannot be reached, an enquiry should be first made with the ICA before execution of the deed poll.

For exceptional cases, such as single mothers and adoptive parents, please contact a lawyer for specific legal advice.

How Many Times Can You Change Your Name?

There are no restrictions on the number of name changes a person may have.

Can Foreigners Change Their Names in Singapore?

It may be possible for a Singapore lawyer to effect a name change on a foreigner’s behalf with a deed poll executed in Singapore, but this depends on the laws and regulations of your country.

It is advisable to check with the respective Embassy or Consulate Office in Singapore to determine as to whether the foreign authority will accept a name change made by a Singapore deed poll.

Replacement ICs and Passports

An Identity Card (IC) holder is required to apply for a replacement IC within 28 days of changing his/her name. This can be done online using the iC online portal. A fee of S$60 will be charged for this replacement. Similarly, after the IC has been updated, an application can then be made to update the passport.

Change of Name in Birth Certificates and Marriage Certificates

Generally a deed poll cannot be used to alter the name on your birth certificate or marriage certificates.

Change of Name in O/A-Level Certificates, Polytechnic Diplomas, University Degrees etc.

Depending on their internal policy, educational institutions may be willing to issue new documentations certifying your academic credentials if you produce your deed poll before them.