If you have read through my blog, you’d have notice that I have a fascination for a total complete makeover from my face, body and down right to my name.
Changing one’s name in Singapore might raise some eyebrows so prior to making that step, do conjure a good and reasonable reason to back yourself up as nosey pokers from supervisors, potential hirers, colleagues, family members, relatives and friends are gonna probe relentlessly. For me, part reason of changing my name is simply because I was given a legal Christian name that is so not easy on the tongue of the major Asian population in Singapore. In fact, spin it a little and it sounds rather vulgar in the Hokkien language.
My parents being the act-atas (Malay term for “High class”) family of their generation wanted to stand out with atas lifestyle and poshy rare Christian names for their children to boot. BIG mistake. I stuck with their chosen name for a whole good 3 decades of my life. Not helping either is that I have a fairly rare family surname not typical of your usual Lees, Lims, Ongs, Ngs and whats not. I removed that off-sounding Christian name and changed my surname to my husband’s more common surname as a part of my name change process.
Another reason for a name change, in my personal opinion, if one decides to work in a certain niche industry, moving from agencies to agencies in his course of career, it would do good to have a unique surname and surname if one is an achiever. But if one is notorious for being a less-than-average worker, the last thing they want is a unique name and surname that stands out like a sore thumb. Singapore is a small country after all. You will be safe with common names and surnames such as Eric Lee, James Tan or Irene Chan than a Bernadetta Seetoh.
So here, lemme share the step-by-step details on how you should go about a legal name exchange if you ever thought to do so.
Let me stress before hand that a name change only changes your name. It cannot change your NRIC number.
Name change can take effect in bank statements and other official documents EXCEPT the following (yeah, you’re stuck with ’em for life):
1) Birth certificate
2) Marriage certificate
3) GCE O’Levels certificate (I might be wrong in this aspect as to date I am not able to contact the relevant authority to effect the name change on my certificate)
4) High school testimonials
Start To A New Life
1) Source for a legal firm and make an appointment to see a lawyer to have your name changed.
(I found Hoh Law Corporation to be the most affordable at about S$100+-. Its been about a year so I kinda forgot the actual amount I paid but yeah, Hoh was the cheapest than the rest, some of whom charges as much as S$200)
2) Go down for the appointed date and do a swear-in in front of the lawyer who presides over your change of name.
3) You will be given the original Deed Poll and additional copies of it.
Note: NEVER in your life should you lose your original deed poll. It is the only document that certifies your original identity in times of crisis.
4) Scan colour copies of your original Deed Polls as you may have to use the soft copies for email attachments to authorities to effect your name change. Most times organisations like banks would prefer that you drop them an official email in writing for such changes.
As an added measure, I save my soft copy in my emails and Drpobox account should I ever lose my hard copy original, copies and thumbdrive in the event of Armageddon.
5) With your original Deed Poll, rush down to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) and have your new name effect on your NRIC as the very first step (preferably within the same day). Your identification is extremely crucial and other official name change cannot be in effect if your NRIC holds your old name.
And while you are at there, might as well also do a change to your passport instead of leaving it to the eleventh hour just prior to boarding the plane for your holiday destination.
Your new NRIC will not be immediate but a receipt is given in place in the interim period should you require any official identification.
You will also need to make many back up copies of your Deed Poll which you can hand to the relevant authorities to effect the name change. NEVER, EVER use your original Deed Poll unless the authority requires the need to see it personally. Just make sure they return it back to ya.
6) Update your company’s HR department of your new name change and UPON collection of your new NRIC. Curious tongues will start wagging from here and that’s when you need to use your believable back-up excuse to stop the wags.
A few excuses you could use are:
- I live with a horrible, off-sounding, often mistaken name for a good whole of my life.
- (for the married ladies) I got married and decide to use my husband’s surname since I hate my maiden one.
- I am on the run from the law.
7) Update your college/ institution of your new name change. Request for a name change in academic transcripts. This will make the path smoother for ya for future job applications and will in the mean time burn a big fat hole in your pocket. I spent half of my GSS Package monies just to get this done. And while we’re on the topic of job applications, it is better to be honest to your potential employers by revealing that you have a name change and providing them with a copy of your Deed Poll should they ask to see it.
8) Inform your banks, financial institutions (investment agencies/ insurances), Inland Revenue Authority of SIngapore (IRAS), telcos or any relevant authority that sends you regular bills/updates or any agencies that concerns finances.
9) In the year that I filed for a name change was also the year of the General Elections 2011. The Elections Office sent me my poll card with my old name on it. As common sense would have it, I brought my new NRIC, a copy and the original Deed Poll (just to show authenticity nia) with me on voting day and showed it to the Senior Polling Officer in charge. Again I have to stress that you should only hand over the photocopy Deed Poll and keep the original for yourself.
I was given a form to fill in to effect the name change on my polling card. The process was witnessed by the Sr Polling Officer and signed off by yours truly. This is a precedence step for future GE which I will be known by my new name.
10) If you have emails, online auction accounts, any other online accounts, you might like to have them changed as well. You could use this final step to inform your friends of your new name change but trust me, it will be a little much of getting used to by friends who now have to call you a different name on the same face.
The above information is based on the author’s personal experience in changing her name legally in Singapore. For further read, please refer to: http://www.deedpoll.sg/ for more information.