Decision not to accept marriage certificate as proof of surname change

Ombudsmen Act 1975
Inland Revenue Department
Peter Boshier
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Inland Revenue (IR) refused to accept marriage certificate as proof of name change—as a result of preliminary inquiries IR reinstated its policy of accepting marriage certificates as proof of name change, and updated the complainant’s name—complaint resolved


A woman (the complainant) wanting to change her name to her married name filled out Inland Revenue’s (IR’s) IR238 form—‘Have you changed your name, address or phone number?’. The form required supporting documents, listed as being a marriage certificate, birth certificate or Name Change certificate. The complainant provided a copy of her marriage certificate.

The complainant received a letter from IR saying her marriage certificate was unable to be accepted for her name change, and that a deed poll or statutory declaration was required.

The complainant then contacted IR’s Complaint Management Service (CMS). CMS confirmed that IR could not accept a marriage certificate as proof of name change, and that a Name Change Certificate (available from Births, Deaths and Marriages at a cost of $33) would be required. It also said it would be updating the IR238 form so customers were not misled.

The applicant complained to the Ombudsman. She noted that she had filled out the appropriate form and provided the required supporting documentation. She also noted that she had been able to change her name with other government agencies and private businesses without requiring the additional documentation sought by IR.

Preliminary inquiries

On receipt of the complaint, the Ombudsman’s investigator made preliminary inquiries with IR. She asked whether IR would reconsider its decision not to accept the complainant’s marriage certificate as proof of her name change. If not, she asked IR to provide any policy or procedure outlining why a marriage certificate was unable to be accepted.

IR agreed to reconsider its decision. After reviewing the matter, it decided to reinstate the policy to accept marriage certificates as supporting documentation to show a person has changed their name. This brought the policy back into alignment with the requirements in the IR238 form. It also advised that it had updated the complainant’s name to her married name.


The investigator’s preliminary inquiries resulted in a full resolution of all the matters of concern to the complainant. Therefore, no further action was necessary.

 This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.

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