How to Change Your Name in Singapore (Deed Poll Needed)
What is a Deed Poll?
A deed poll is a legal document used to change your name in Singapore. Drafted by a lawyer, a deed poll declares that you renounce your current name and take a new name from the date of execution of the deed poll. You will execute the deed poll in the lawyer’s presence.
Common reasons for name changes in Singapore include religious reasons, adding English names, for luck and feng shui purposes, or simply because people tire of their names.
The Singapore authorities, such as the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), generally will not recognise a change in your name without a deed poll. A deed poll usually costs around S$100 in Singapore.
“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.
What in Your Name Can You Change?
You can change your name in a number of ways, including:
- Adding, deleting, or otherwise modifying the Chinese or Tamil characters in your name;
- Adding, deleting, or otherwise modifying the punctuation in your name (e.g. Ong Li-Lin);
- Adding, deleting, or otherwise modifying your English/Western/Christian name (you can have an English name, such as John, without being Christian);
- Adding, deleting, or otherwise modifying your hanyu pinyin name (e.g. Chen Xiao Hua);
- Changing the order of the words in your name (e.g. Albert Ong Li Ming instead of Ong Li Ming Albert);
- Correcting wrongly-spelled names;
- Inserting married names; and
- Inserting Baptism or religious names.
The ICA may reject certain names – in particular, names which are offensive or vulgar may not withstand the scrutiny of the ICA.
Changing the Names of Persons Under 21
Persons under 21 years old can also change their name with a deed poll. Generally, the consent and signature of both the person’s parents will be needed, except when one parent is deceased or uncontactable despite reasonable efforts.
If the child is also being cared for by a guardian, the guardian should also be consulted on the name change and give his or her consent for it.
What if the parents are divorced?
Changing the child’s first name
In cases of a divorce, the first 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 that one of the parents is uncontactable.
Changing the child’s surname
As for changing the child’s surname, consent from their biological father must first be obtained. If the biological father cannot be reached, an enquiry should be first made with the ICA before execution of the deed poll.
The parent seeking to change their child’s name should do their best to obtain consent from the other parent. This is to avoid complications such as ICA’s refusal to accept the deed poll, or disputes between the parents.
For exceptional cases, such as single mothers and adoptive parents, please contact a lawyer for specific legal advice.
What if one parent or guardian objects to the change in the child’s name?
If the child’s name has already been changed using a deed poll, the objecting parent or guardian may apply to court to have the deed poll set aside. The court will decide whether to allow the deed poll (and the name change) based on what will be in the child’s best interests.
You may wish to consult a lawyer on how to have a deed poll set aside.
How Many Times Can You Change Your Name in Singapore?
How to Change Your Name While Overseas
If you are unable to return to Singapore to change your name, a deed poll may be executed with a foreign lawyer.
Changes to your name in your NRIC can be done online via ICA’s iC Online website.
Can Foreigners Change Their Names in Singapore?
It may be possible for a Singapore lawyer to effect a name change on behalf of a foreigner (including a Permanent Resident) with a deed poll executed in Singapore, but whether your home country will recognise the name change depends on that country’s laws and regulations.
It is advisable to check with the respective embassy or consulate office in Singapore to determine as to whether your name change made by a Singapore deed poll will be recognised in your home country. You may instead need to execute a deed poll in your home country to change your name in the documents issued to you from that country.
How to Execute a Deed Poll in Singapore
To change your name, you will have to get a lawyer to draft the deed poll, then go down to the lawyer’s office so that he or she can witness your signing of the deed poll.
Such signing is referred to as the “executing” of the deed poll. It cannot be done remotely as the lawyer has to verify your identity.
If you are over 21, you need to bring either your NRIC, passport, NS Green IC or Singapore Blue Identity Card when you go to the lawyer’s office.
If your child below 21 is changing his or her name, you will have to bring your IC or passport, and your child’s original Birth Certificate as evidence of your relationship with the child. If your child’s birth certificate is not in English, you should bring both the original birth certificate and the certified true copy of an English-translated version.
It is important to keep the original copy of the deed poll in a safe place as the authorities may require you to present your deed poll, or a certified true copy of the deed poll for administrative purposes.
How to Use the Deed Poll to Change Your Name in Singapore
Changing the name in your NRIC
After executing your deed poll, you may change the name in your NRIC by submitting a “Change IC Particulars (Self)” application at ICA’s iC Online website. (If you executed a deed poll on your child’s behalf, you should submit a “Change IC Particulars (On behalf of others)” application instead.)
As part of your application, you will need to submit a digital image of your deed poll. The application fee is S$60.
Your application will be processed within 3 working days. After successful processing, ICA will mail you a collection notice within another 3 working days. You will then need to collect your new NRIC in person at the ICA building, bringing along the original deed poll and other documents stated in the collection notice.
An identity card (IC) holder is required to apply for a replacement IC within 28 days of changing his/her name.
Changing the name in your passport
To get a new passport reflecting your new name, you will have to apply to the ICA for a new passport. Learn how to do so on the ICA website.
Changing the name in your birth certificate and marriage certificate
Generally, a deed poll cannot be used to alter the name on your birth certificate or marriage certificates.
An exception would be if you were changing the name of your child who is less than a year old. In this case, the child’s birth certificate can be changed, and also without the need for a deed poll.
Changing the name in other documents
After executing your deed poll, you should also inform all other relevant organisations of your name change, such as your company or your child’s school.
You may also need to update your name in your existing academic certifications (e.g. O/A-level certificates, polytechnic diplomas and university degree certificates) and other important documents.
When is a Deed Poll Unnecessary for NRIC Updates in Singapore? (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 for 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.
A deed poll will have to be drafted by a lawyer, who will also witness your execution of the deed poll. Our Find a Lawyer service can help you find a suitable deed poll lawyer to assist you in this process.
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