If a woman gets married and takes her husband’s last name, that’s free in B.C.
If she wants to keep her family name with either a hyphenated or combined surname as her legal identity, that requires a name change application, with a $137 fee to process the paperwork.
Langley MLA Mary Polak marked the occasion of International Women’s Day with a private member’s bill in the B.C. legislature to remove that obstacle.
“While this does affect men, the impact is disproportionately felt by women, who must either struggle through difficulties with their identity documents or face the expense of a formal name change,” Polak told the legislature Wednesday. “This amendment will mean that those who choose a hyphenated or combined surname will be treated in the same manner as those who adopt the surname of their spouse.”
A spokesperson for the B.C. health ministry said the province made changes last fall to allow people to update their surnames on a driver’s licence, B.C. Services Card or B.C. ID card without a legal name change and with no additional fee.
“If a person wishes to change their name to a combined surname on citizenship or immigration documents, which is not in the jurisdiction of the province of B.C., they would still have to apply for a legal name change,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Name Amendment Act 2019 received unanimous consent from all MLAs on first reading, but the usual fate of opposition bills is that they go no farther than that. If the governing party wants to make a change, it typically introduces its own legislation.