Thinking of changing your child's surname? Here's how

Both parents must sign the said form in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths.
Both parents must sign the said form in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths.

Whether your children were born before you married and now still carry their mother's maiden surname or you've remarried and now want your children to have your new surname, the reasons for changing a child's last name are numerous. 

This reader wrote in asking us for advice:

I am the biological father of two children who live with me. Both their mothers passed on in 2009 and 2015.
The girls are asking me to change their surnames, which are currently their mothers surnames, to mine.
I am more than willing to change their surnames to mine, but please advise how I should go about this?

For reasons like this one, and many more, if it's become necessary for your child's surname to be changed, a visit to the Department of Home Affairs is in order. 

From who is legally allowed to change a child's surname to what documentation you'll need, here's everything you need to know about the process. 

Changing a child's particulars after a marriage

If you used your maiden surname on your child's birth certificate before marrying their father, you may update your child's ID Book or Birth Certificate (or both depending on their age) with your husband's surname.

What you'll need: 

  • A BI-59 Form
  • Your marriage certificate

Both parents must sign the form with a Commissioner of Oaths present.

Complete and submit the BI-59 form along with a certified copy of your marriage certificate to any Home Affairs domestic office.

Changing a child's particulars to reflect the biological father's surname 

What you'll need: 

  • A BI-1682 form

The BI-1682 form must be completed by both parents and submitted to any domestic Home Affairs office.

Changing a child's particulars following a death 

If one or both parents pass on, a legal guardian may change a child's surname to theirs. 

A child who is 18 and older may also make the application to change their surname themselves, if they so wish. 

What you'll need: 

  • A  BI-193 form

The  BI-193 form must be completed by either the guardian or the child (if over 18) and submitted to any domestic Home Affairs office.

Who can apply to change a child's surname?

  • A parent or legal guardian for children younger than 18
  • If older than 18, a teen may legally change their surname but must have the written permission of either the biological parent or guardian whose surname the teen wishes to adopt

Where do you go? 

To make all these amendments you will need to visit your nearest Department of Home Affairs office where staff can assist you with the process.

Required documentation 

  • The birth certificate of the concerned child/children
  • 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 to be assumed is that of the biological father 
  • The applicant's contact details (residential address, email and telephone number)

The process could take up to 6 weeks. 

For more details visit the Department of Home Affairs

Chat back:

Share your story with Parent24. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

WhatsApp: Send messages and voicenotes to 066 010 0325

Email: Share your story with us via email at chatback @

Sign up for Parent24's newsletters.

Read more:

#MaintenanceMatters: Everything you need to know about child maintenance

Unmarried parent? Know your rights

Alicia Keys wants to be the cool stepmom, but should she?

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24