In many parts of the world, the birth of a child is usually associated with the beginning of new things in the family. It is celebrated in divers ways across different countries depending on cultural, personal as well as religious beliefs. While some have a ceremony/celebration after few days, others do not, however, one thing that is common to all tribes and country is the naming of the child. The baby’s parents may give the child certain names because of several personal or cultural reasons.
One of which could be due to situations surrounding the family about the time of the child’s birth. Some give a particular name in other to encourage the remembrance of a deceased family member or because of his position in the family.
Whatever the case may be, a person still has the legal right to change his first name, as well as his surname if he so wishes. This is however not possible until he or she reaches a legally permissible age. In Nigeria, the least age for an individual to apply for a change of name is 18 years.
Reasons why people change their names
- Personal reasons. A person may go for a change of name if he feels he or she isn’t comfortable with the name given to him by his parents, probably because of its meaning or a memory attached to the name. Other personal reasons could be because of professional or religious reasons.
- Change of nationality. A change of name may follow when an individual with a native name changes his nationality.
- Marriage. A change in surname often accompany marriage, especially on the part of the female. This is the major reason why people change their name in Nigeria. According to certain beliefs, a woman should bear the surname of her husband rather than her parents’ surname. However, in some cases, the woman with the consent of her husband may choose to combine her family surname with her new surname.
- Adoption: the adoption of a child from an orphanage or other governmental organizations is often marked with a change in the individual’s first name and surname.
- Divorce: this is particularly common with the woman. In a situation of divorce, the female counterpart may decide to have another change of surname to her family or maiden name. This occurs in rare cases of divorce in Nigeria.
Requirements for a change of name in Nigeria
To have a change of name in Nigeria, due legal processes must be followed for it to be considered valid. The requirements for a change of name may vary if the individual in question is married. The required information for a change of name in Nigeria is:
- Your name as arranged in your birth certificate, citizenship or immigration documents
- The new name you are applying to change to
- Date and place of birth
- Marital status and details such as name of spouse etc. This is important if the individual is married.
- Places of residence since the last three months
- Address for correspondence or present address
For a change of name to be successful, intending individuals must ensure that the change is effected in every of their documents and biodata such as international passport, bank details, educational records etc.
The basic requirements or documents for the change of name are stated below:
- An application letter addressed to the chief registrar of a high court.
- Deed of change of name. This is a formal statement to prove that an individual’s name has been changed.
- Affidavit of change of name
- Newspaper publication of change of name
- Photocopy of marriage certificate, if any
- Passport photographs
Procedure to change your name
This process takes a period of 5 to 21 working days in Nigeria. It may however vary depending on the state you are applying from.
- Proceed to the registry of a high court within your locality and swear an affidavit of change of name (the affidavit is a statutory document that records your purpose for abandoning your old name for a new name).
- Arrange for an advertisement for your new name to be published in a nationally recognized newspaper (The Punch or the Guardian newspapers are recommended).
- Apply to the Department of Publication, civil registry requesting them to publish the above advert. The following documents should be attached to this letter;
- The signed affidavit (should be less than one year old)
- The newspaper cutting advertising your change of name(should be less than one year old)
- Typed declaration/advertisement you request to be printed in the official gazette
- Two passport-size photographs
- Demand draft for the fees for publishing, and extra copies if required
- A letter from a responsible person
- A written public announcement
- In case of a minor the name change form has to be filled up by the parents.
This procedure is important because new government documents will only be released to the individual after successful publication has been made by the Nigeria gazette.
What to do after a change of name
- Apply for new government documents such as driver’s license, national identity card, voter’s card, Nigerian passport etc that reflect your new name.
- Apply for replacement of debit cards, business cards, cheques and other document that has your previous name.
- Contact previous and current employers, business associates, teachers, institutions and request to change your name in related documents.
- Contact utility organizations such as the PHCN about your name change.
- Ensure that you effect the name change on all your important documents.
The usual fee for a change of name in Nigeria is usually about N5000 Naira and above. This is particularly needed for the newspaper publication.
Some office locations to apply for a change of name
- Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs Block ‘F’ Old Secretariat, Area I, Garki, Abuja P.M.B. 0016, Garki Post Office. Telephone contact: 09-2341602, 2341525, 2341935, 2341936
- National Population Commission of Nigeria, No. 1 Masaka Close Off Olusegun Obasanjo Way, Wuse Zone 7, Abuja, Nigeria. Telephone contact: +234 (0)9 234 3173.
- National Civil Registration, Sokode Crescent, by Michael Okpara Street, Zone 5, Wuse, Abuja. Telephone contact: 09-5230667-9.
- Federal Ministry of Justice New Federal Secretariat Complex, 10th Floor, Federal Secretariat, Wing lB (1001-1099), Block One, Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja. Telephone contact: 09-5235194.
Before applying for a change of name, the individual must be certain about his decision as the new name remains valid till the individual is no more.