It is only when you are faced with a legal matter that the importance of using your birth name becomes significant. I have met quite a few people who, not liking their first name, will have a nickname or will shorten their name—William becomes Bill, or Matthew becomes Matt or Mat and in the case of my grandmother, Albertina became Olive. My grandmother died in her early twenties soon after giving birth to her third child, my father. But when she died, the person who provided the name Olive for her death certificate, did not know that her birth name was Albertina. So when my father was asked to provide proof of her death many years later, it proved difficult because the name Albertina was not listed on the copy of the death certificate. There was no one alive who could have testified in a legal document indicating that my grandmother was also known as Olive. I just had shake my head.
Here is an even more complicated situation that I would like someone in immigration to assist me with. A non-muslim Trinidadian man marries a muslim woman in a muslim country. The process for marrying a muslim woman is that the non-muslim man has to take a muslim name in order to get married and that is the name that is put on the marriage certificate. The man retains all his original documents and continues to be called by his birth name not realising that the use of the muslim name would cause some confusion later on. The non-muslim man returns to Trinidad after 13 years of living in the muslim country and wants to apply for residency for his wife.
The immigration officer points out to the Trinidadian that the muslim name is on the document and asks if he has any legal documents to show that he and the name on the document is one and the same, which is a fair question. Well, the answer is no because he only used the muslim name to facilitate the marriage. There was never any intention to give up his birth name. There is a card, like a National ID card, with both the man and his wife’s photos on it with the man’s muslim name being used on the card. So, what is the solution? To register for marriage in Trinidad is out of the question, because the Registrar General’s office has indicated that a person can’t get married twice and have it registered in different countries. A deed poll in the muslim name will entail the changing of a passport, National ID card and driver’s permit and giving up the birth name which is not what the man wants to do. Changing one’s name is an important step that should not be taken without careful consideration of the consequences.
A Deed Poll, commits you to the following actions:
• to renounce and abandon the use of your former name(s);
• to use your new name(s) at all times; and
• requires everybody to address you only by your new name(s).
Question to be answered: what would immigration accept in order to satisfy both parties?
My suggestion to anyone wanting to use a different name for whatever reason, is to do the legal paperwork or get the relevant documents that will match the name on one’s birth certificate. This will save a lot of time, frustration and energy later on. Having a copy of documents translated from a foreign language into English saves time and money as well.Another word of advice: If you are going to name a beneficiary on a legal document, please ensure that you use their correct birth name, so that collecting the money upon your death is not going to be difficult.