What’s in a Name?

Our name is the most important manner in which we identify ourselves to others, be they government departments, financial institutions, health care providers, or just casual acquaintances.

There is a lot that rides on our name, and consequently using alternate variations of a name for different purposes can create confusion and delay.

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A legal name is the name that was entered on your birth registration when you were born, and it is usually chosen by your parents  or the parent that completed the birth registration. That name may stay with you for the rest of your life, and you will always be able to prove your identity by producing the original of your birth certificate. If you never change your name, either your given names, or surname, and are always consistent with using your full name, then you should not have much difficulty proving your identity.

If you change your surname as a result of getting married, then your marriage certificate could be produced to show the chain of name changes.

If you use different versions of your name for different purposes, such as only including your middle name or middle initial, then you will create inconsistency.

Legally, you can use what ever name you wish, as long as it is not for fraudulent purposes. So I could call myself Sam Smith if I wished to. The problem would arise when my legal name must be produced, in order to verify my identity. When you use different versions of your name, you are using  "also known as" versions.

We recommend that you use your full legal name at all times. That way there will be no inconsistencies that have to be explained.