Exceptions to change of name requirements

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Clients residing in Canada may change their given name(s) to a name of their choice on departmentally issued documents if the circumstances follow the exceptions provided in the instructions on the exception to the naming policy.

These procedures enable transgender clients who meet or have met the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) requirements for a change of sex designation but do not meet the IRCC requirements to change their given name(s) in the “specified circumstances” in the policy.

Exception for permanent residents

In order to grant a change of name to a permanent resident, including a permanent resident who is a protected person living in Canada, IRCC will rely on a statutory declaration from the client.

The statutory declaration must state that the individual is unable to meet the IRCC standard requirements to change their name for the following reasons:

  • they are unable to obtain a change of name under provincial or territorial legislation where they reside because only Canadian citizens are eligible for a change of name
  • one of the following two criteria must also be met:
    • they are unable to obtain the required amended documents from their country of origin for reasons beyond their control (for example but not limited to, war or natural disaster) or of undue hardship (for example, foreign residency or financial requirements to obtain a name change are too onerous to be met by them)
    • the individual is unable to meet IRCC’s standard requirements to change their name because they are stateless

Processing examples

The following are examples that meet the requirements for a client to have their given name changed.

Example 1: permanent resident

A client was born under the identity of John Doe with the sex designation “male” on their birth certificate. The client became a permanent resident of Canada and has been living as a woman with the assumed given name Jane, to the extent possible, in day-to-day life.

Although she is able to meet the IRCC requirements to change the sex designation on her permanent resident card (PR card), she is unable to meet the IRCC standard requirements to obtain a change of name for the reasons mentioned in the exception.

The client has provided a statutory declaration stating all of the following:

  • although her official documents list her identity as a male with the name John Doe, she is a transgender person living full-time as a woman, using the given name Jane, to the extent possible
  • although her official documents list her identity as a male with the name John Doe, she is a transgender person who is unable to obtain a legal change of name in the province where she resides because eligibility for such changes is limited to Canadian citizens
  • she wishes to have her documents reflect her true identity with her female given name(s)
  • in order to change her name in her country of origin and on her foreign national travel document, she must reside there for a period of one year, which would disrupt her employment (causing undue hardship) and put her at risk of personal injury

The client has also provided documentary evidence of the residency requirement in her country of nationality.

Example 2: permanent resident who is also a protected person

A client was born under the identity of Jane Doe with the sex designation “female” on their birth certificate. The client came to Canada, made a successful refugee claim and became a permanent resident. The client has been living as a man in Canada and using the assumed given name John, to the extent possible, in day-to-day life.

Although John is able to meet the IRCC requirements to change the sex designation on his PR card from “female” to “male”, he is unable to meet the IRCC standard requirements to obtain a change of name because of the following two reasons:

  • the law in his province or territory of residence permits only Canadian citizens to apply for a change of name
  • he is unable to have the identity information changed on his foreign national passport owing to fear of persecution

The client has provided a statutory declaration stating all of the following:

  • his official documents list his identity as a female with the given name Jane, and he is a transgender person living full-time as a man, using the given name John, to the extent possible
  • he is unable to obtain a legal change of name in the province where he resides because eligibility for such changes is limited to Canadian citizens
  • he is unable to obtain a name change in his country of origin and on his foreign national passport because he is a Convention refugee and has a well-founded fear of persecution in his country of nationality because he is a transgender person

For clients who have already received a change of name or gender identifier and who wish to obtain a verification of status, for a $30 fee, to link their previous and new names or gender identifiers, officers should refer to Verification of status as an identity-linking document for more information.

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