How to change your child’s surname

By Drum Digital
19 June 2014

Have you ever considered changing your child’s surname and wondered how to go about it? We explain when it can be done and how to change your child’s surname on his or her birth certificate.

Have you ever considered changing your child’s surname and wondered how to go about it? We explain when it can be done and how to change your child’s surname on his or her birth certificate.

Under what circumstance can your child’s surname be changed?

A child’s surname can be formally changed on their birth certificate and in the births register if the child is a minor (under the age of 18) and if the child is known by a surname other than the one on their birth certificate in any of the following cases:

  • The child was born out of wedlock and is registered under the biological father’s name, but is known by or wants to be known by their mother’s surname.
  • The child was born out of wedlock and is known by the mother’s surname or that of the mother’s husband (stepfather) and not the surname on his birth certificate. Or if the child was born in wedlock and is known by the mother’s surname or that of the mother’s new husband (stepfather) after the death of the child’s biological father or after the child’s parents divorced.
  • The child is known by their guardian’s surname, for instance if both their parents are dead.
  • A child born out of wedlock who’s registered under the mother’s surname can change their surname to that of their biological father if the biological father recognises the child as his own.

Who can apply to change a child’s surname?

A parent or guardian must apply if the child is younger than 18. There is however an exception to this rule: if the child is born out of wedlock and is registered under the mother’s surname and wants to change their surname to that of their biological father the child must apply even if they’re still under age of 18.

Where must I apply to have my child’s surname changed?

If you want to change your child’s surname you have to apply in person at your nearest department of home affairs office where staff can assist you with the process.

What documents do you need?

  • Your child’s birth certificate.
  • A copy of the ID, birth certificate or passport of the person who’s name the child is adopting.
  • An affidavit giving reasons for the change of surname.
  • Written consent from the stepfather or guardian that the child may assume his or her name if assuming the stepfather or guardian’s surname.
  • An affidavit from the father acknowledging the child is his when the surname that is assumed is that of the biological father and the child is born out of wedlock.
  • The applicant’s contact details (residential address, email and telephone number).
  • Visit the Department of Home Affairs and complete the application form DI -193 or BI-196.
  • Take along R70 for the application fee.

How long does it take?

The process takes between four and six weeks to be finalised. And remember, if you change your child’s surname their previous surname won’t be deleted from their birth certificate. Both the original and new surnames will appear on the amended birth certificate.

-Janine Nel

Sources: egskeiding.org.za, lac.org.na, dha.gov.na, babycenter.com

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