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My name is Incorrect - What should I Do? 

Posts: 1

Posted On: 10/16/2014
Posts: 1
It's really hard describing my predicament in the title, so hopefully I can do a better job here.

I legally became a citizen when I was 7 years old, which was 20 years ago (I moved to Canada when I was around 2/3). All this time, I have been using a specific name as my legal identification - for the sake of anonymity, let's say that name is John Doe.

Now on almost all my identification, the name John Doe is prominent - this includes:

Health Card
SIN Card
Banking Info

And many other things. When I get letters from the Ontario government, It is titled to "John Doe".

Now recently, about 2 years ago, I decided to get a drivers license, and in the process I had to provide a higher level of identification that I am used to - I either had to use my passport or my citizenship card.

At the time, my passport was expired (it has since been renewed) so I decided to use my citizenship card.

Now when it came to my name on the card, the service assistant told me that she had to use the name on the back of my citizenship card, which is not a name I have ever gone by, or to be honest, have ever noticed (I hadn't looked at this card ever really, I just took it with me when I moved out of my home).

Rather than not get my license, I decided to go with it and now my license has a name that is not a name I go by.

For the sake of easier juxtaposition, lets say this name is Johan Douglas - similar to the name I know and go by, but significantly different still.

Now over the last few years, I've had occasional issue because of this, because I often use my license (without thinking about it) as identification, and after enough headache I decided to get my license fixed.

Unfortunately it looks like I can't do that - I can't for example use my passport to change the name on the license, and further I was informed by the service canada associate that legally, my name is Johan Douglas.

This is extremely confusing, because everything (except the back of my Citizenship Card and now my Drivers License) has John Doe.

I do my taxes using John Doe.

I think what I need to do is legally change my name, but this is a confusing situation because I am not even really sure what the best way to resolve this is.

Do I just do a standard name change, and update my citizenship card and then my license?

Do I update my citizenship card at all?

On my Citizenship Card on the front it says John Doe, but the back says Johan Douglas - are these two different names somehow related in a way that is relevant for me to know about?

I have talked to my mother about it, but she's honestly not sure what it all means either, so before I go and get my name changed from a name I didn't even know I had to the name I know, I want to make sure I do the right thing, and hopefully someone can help me better understand my situation.

As an added note, when I went to get my passport renewed, and they asked for my name, I pulled out a bunch of my identification cards and explained the situation - the man behind the counter seemed understanding, and said something that implied he'd seen this same issue before and that I could use John Doe if I liked (which I opted to use) - is it weird that there is less of a hassle when it comes to my passport name then when it comes to my drivers license?

Also, are there any legal issues I should be concerned about regarding these different names?

I'd appreciate any help!
Posts: 3252

Posted On: 10/24/2014
Posts: 3252

Thank you for sharing your situation and question with us.

We can appreciate that you would be concerned and frustrated with this situation and these mixed messages.

According to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website in the the Application for a citizenship certificate under Section 3 — Proof of citizenship (CIT 0001) - Name Change section, the steps are,

Name change

The name on your citizenship certificate will be the same as the one shown on your previous citizenship certificate, if you had one, or your birth certificate or your foreign passport unless:

-you have legally changed it, or
-you are requesting a different name for your citizenship certificate, and you can provide supporting documents.

Consult the scenarios below to determine the documents that are to be included with your application.

If you have legally changed your name

-Then you must provide a copy of a provincial legal change of name document, or
a provincial adoption order indicating your new name, or
-if residing outside Canada, a legal change of name document issued by the responsible government authority in your country of residence.

If you are requesting a name change that is not significant (for example a slight change in spelling)

Then you must provide a copy of one of the following that reads exactly the same as the name you are requesting:

-a provincial health card, or
-a provincial driver’s licence, or
-an official school record issued by the provincial department responsible for education, or
-if residing outside Canada, birth certificate or foreign passport or foreign national identity card.

If you are requesting a name change that is significant (more than a slight change in spelling)

-Then you must provide a copy of the documents noted above and linking documents showing the use of both old and new names, or the basis for the change.

Examples of linking documents include:

-marriage certificate
-foreign change of name document
-divorce judgment
-adoption order or
-foreign passport showing both names.

You may want to contact the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Call Centre directly for some additional information and clarification specific to your situation. They may have some suggestions on what you may need to do.

In terms of legal issues, you may want to contact the nearest Community Legal Clinic for some assistance. There are some Community Legal Clinics that provide services in the areas of administrative law including commissioning/notarizing applications for birth certificates, name changes.

I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have further questions and if there is any follow up to your question/situation.

Settlement.Org Content and Information/Referral Specialist, CIRS