Changing Name or Gender

You can only legally change your name in New Zealand once you are a permanent resident. Before then, it can be possible to get your chosen name listed as your “preferred” name. However, you can usually only put your preferred name on a secondary identification document (ID), such as a student card or a work ID. You usually won’t be able to get a primary ID (such as your Driving License or Refugee Travel Document) with this name.

These problems mean you may not be able to open a Western Union Account, Paypal, or other money transfer services with your correct name or collect a parcel from a courier depot that is addressed to that name. If you use your old name and ID documents, people may not accept it as proof of your identity because you no longer look like that name, gender marker, or photo.

Rainbow Path can give you more advice about these issues, including about getting your gender marker recognised on Immigration NZ documents

The New Zealand Government cannot change your name or gender on official documents issued by your country of origin (such as your original passport or birth certificate). You cannot apply for a New Zealand passport until you are a NZ citizen (and you need to hold a resident class visa for at least 5 years in order to get citizenship).

However, you can get your correct gender listed on a Certificate of Identity or on a Refugee Travel Document issued by Immigration NZ (but not your name until you are a permanent resident). 

Rainbow Path is lobbying for refugees and asylum seekers to be able to get an official document with their correct name and gender marker before they are permanent residents. Read more about our Legal Gender Recognition advocacy campaign at the bottom of our What We Do page.

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