Last Updated: Sunday 10th September, 2023
Whether you wish to correct an error in the birth registration or want to change your child's name for other reasons, it's essential to understand the steps involved. In this guide, we will outline the methods and the process for changing your child's name in Trinidad and Tobago.
1. Name change by Deed Poll
A Deed Poll is a legal document that proves a change of name. In the case of a minor child (that is, below 18 years of age), the Deed Poll must be done by the child's parents (the person/s having legal custody of the child). It will contain the following declarations:
You can change any part, add or remove names and hyphens, or change spelling. His or her new name must contain both a forename and a surname and be pronounceable. The Deed Poll is prepared by an Attorney at Law.
You would need the child's original birth certificate and the identification of the parent/s of the child (e.g. National ID, Driver's Permit or Passport).
Once prepared, you will review the document and once satisfied with it, the parent/s of the child (the person/s having legal custody of the child), will sign it. Two witnesses, who aren't related to you or the child must also sign the Deed Poll and give their name, occupations and addresses. Then the Deed Poll will be stamped at Stamp Duties and then registered in the Deeds' Registry in the Registrar General's Department at the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs.
The child's birth certificate will remain valid but everywhere you present the certificate you will have to present a certified copy of the Deed Poll.
2. Name change by Court Order
In Trinidad and Tobago, a child's name can also be changed through an application made to the High Court. Section 5 of the Family Law (Guardianship of Minors, Domicile and Maintenance) Act Chap 46:08 states:
5. (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), the father or mother of a minor or a stranger may apply to the High Court to change a given name or the surname of that minor.
(2) Where an application is made under subsection (1)-
(a) by the mother or father, the consent of the other parent must first be obtained; or
(b) by the stranger, the consent of both parents must first be obtained.
(3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), the Court may, on an application made under subsection (1), dispense with the consent of the father or of the mother in the case where the mother or father is dead or cannot be found or, in any other case, as it sees fit.
The court application is prepared and filed by an Attorney-at-Law. All interested parties will be served, the matter will be heard and the judge would make a determination on whether the change of name will occur and will grant an order for such change if minded to do so.
3. Name change by Registrar General (within 12 months of the registration of the child's birth)
Under section 22 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act Chap 44:01, a child's name can be altered within 12 months of the registration of the child's birth. According to the section, when the birth of any child has been registered and the name by which is it registered is changed, the parent or guardian of the child or other person procuring the name to be changed, may, WITHIN TWELVE MONTHS after the registration of the birth, deliver to the Registrar or Superintendent Registrar, a certificate in either of the prescribed forms shown below (depending on which is applicable):
The Registrar or Superintendent Registrar, upon the receipt of that certificate, and on payment of the appointed fee, must, without any erasure of the original entry, enter in the register book the name mentioned in the certificate as having been given to the child, and, having stated upon the certificate the fact of the entry having been made, shall then send the certificate to the Registrar General of Trinidad and Tobago, together with a certified copy of the entry of the birth with the changed name added.
In summary, each of these methods presents specific requirements and procedures for changing your child's name in Trinidad and Tobago. If the need for a name change arises, you should consider consulting with an attorney who will provide expert guidance, prepare the necessary legal documents, and ensure that the entire process is conducted in compliance with the jurisdiction's legal framework.
Law For All is managed by AURORA CHAMBERS; a law practice in Trinidad and Tobago.
Important Notice: This post does not constitute or provide legal advice. Always consult with a suitably qualified attorney on any legal problem or issue.
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