Firstly, why do people change their names?
There are many reasons why people change their names in Nigeria. Most of the time, it could be for marital reasons. For example, a woman who marries and decides to change from her maiden name to that of her husband’s. Other reasons include:
- Divorce: where a person decides to revert to his/her name before marriage
- Correction of name in the bank
- Child adoption
- When the name on the international passport or identity card is not the same as the current name of the individual.
As a Nigerian, you have the right to legally change your name as long as you are above the age of 18, which is the age of maturity in Nigeria.
However, with the right to change your name comes certain exceptions:
You are not allowed to change your name legally if you are doing it in order to escape debt or crime.
You also are not allowed to change your name if you found that the intentions are to mislead the public or commit a crime.
In order to do a change of name in Nigeria, you must be an adult. A child (minor) cannot legally change their name without the consent of his/her parent or guardian. The parent/guardian of the child fills the form for the change of name.
There are certain kinds of names that you would not be allowed to use when you want to have a change of name in Nigeria. Such names include those that are intimidating, considered offensive, tribalistic or obscene.
How to do a Change of name in Nigeria
The process to legally change your name in Nigeria is not difficult. Below are the steps to take in order to legally change your name in Nigeria.
- Swear an affidavit in court
An Affidavit is the name of a document that contains a sworn statement that is made under oath and affirmed before an authorized officer of the court.
- Publish notice of change of name in a national newspaper
Arrange for your new name to be published in at least one recognized national newspaper. This is to notify the general public that you have officially changed your name.
After this, you would then get your name printed in Nigeria’s official gazette. This is done by sending an application to the documentation Department of Publication at the Civil registry. Request them to publish your new name in Nigeria’s official gazette. This should cost you about N5000 or more. You should attach the following documents when forwarding the application for your names to be published:
- The signed affidavit (this must not be less than a year old)
- A cut of the newspaper advertisement for a change of name(this must not be less than a year old)
- The declaration or advertisement to be printed in the official gazette
- Two passport size photographs
- Draft for the fees for publishing
- A letter of attestation from a responsible person
- A public announcement signifying the change of name
In the case of an individual below the age of 18, the name change form has to be filled up by the parents.
- After doing these, ensure you inform relevant individuals and authorities about your change of name. Ensure your new name is reflected in your vital documents.
The final step in the process of a change of name is applying for new government documents to reflect your newly acquired name. You can only do this after the change of name has been reflected in Nigeria’s official gazette. Remember that a copy of the official gazette has to be attached to the application documents for the new documents. Once you have successfully changed your name in Nigeria, make sure you do so on all of your personal documents. If you work in a corporate organization, you should also inform your current employer.
You should inform your employers so they can update their employee records and other essential records such as tax records. You should also inform all government agencies you are involved with such as Water Corporation and the Power Holding Company. If you are a student, you can also consider informing the authorities at school.
- Request for a new national identity card which will reflect your new name
- Apply to the Federal Road Safety Commission for a new driver’s license
- Request for replacements for business cards, debit cards, cheques, and other documents where your name is specified. Your change of name should also be reflected with your registrar of voters and local government
- Get your passport amendment and validation application. Fill the form and send to the nearest passport agency. Attach your recent passport and certified documentation of your new names such as an affidavit or a copy of a certified marriage certificate.
How to reflect your change of name on Nigeria international passport
Another important area where your change of name should reflect is on your international passport. Follow the steps below:
- Apply to any Immigration Service passport office in Nigeria
- Give your application in writing to the Controller General of Nigeria Immigration Service for name changing
- Ensure you add reasons for your name change to the application.
- Add the affidavit of the change of name you had signed earlier
- Attach an identity card currently in use (such as driver’s license)
- Pay non-refundable administrative charges online in order to process your application.
After a few days, the controller General of Nigeria Immigration Service will approve it.
- After the application has been approved, submit your current passport
- Apply for editing of your Nigerian international passport
- Attach 2 recent passport sized photographs
- Go online and pay the standard fee
- Go for image acquisition, thumbprint and electronic signature
- When all these have been done, wait for your new passport with your new name to be assigned to you
These are the various steps and procedures in changing the name in Nigeria.