How to change your name in Nigeria
First things first, you should know that every Nigerian has the right to legally change their name. However, as with all rights there are certain exceptions. Before we go into the process of changing your name in Nigeria, we will discuss the exceptions.
When can’t you legally change your name?
Firstly, in order to change your name, you must be an adult. A child cannot legally change their name, unless the parent or guardian of the child does it. The legal age for an adult in Nigeria is 18 years old.
Apart from the fact that you must be a legal adult in order to change your name, there are other instances you cannot change your name in order to escape a debt, a financial liability or to escape some sort of criminal liability. Conversely, you cannot change your name in order to commit a crime or with the intention to mislead, such a change of name will be invalid.
Finally, there are certain classes of names that you would not be allowed to use, for example names that would intimidate, offend or be considered obscene or tribalist/racist.
Why do people change their name?
The biggest reason people decide to change their name is for marital reasons, either when a woman marries and decides to take her husband’s name (or vice versa). In addition, when a couple gets divorced people could decide to change their name in order to revert to the name before marriage.
Process for changing your name in Nigeria
The process to legally change your name in Nigeria is a straightforward 2-step process. The first step is to swear an affidavit in court stating your intention to change your name. An affidavit is a technical term for a sworn statement in writing made especially under oath or on affirmation before an authorized magistrate or officer of the court.
Once the above is done, the next step is to publish notice of change of name in a national Newspaper, this is to give the general public notice that you have officially changed your name. However, that is not where it ends; the next thing is to be sure that you inform the relevant individuals about your change of name.
Due to modern day issues like financial fraud, terrorism threats etc. before you can prove your identity with the Government (e.g. getting an international passport or a drivers licence) and your banks etc, you will be required show legal court documents to prove your identity. The legal documents you will need to provide are the change of name affidavits and/or marriage certificate (if applicable).
Who should you notify of your new name?
Once you change your name in Nigeria, be sure to change your name on all of your personal documents, inform your employers so they can update their employee records (and any tax records). If you are still a student then consider informing your school – some people avoid informing their school or educational institution because of the fear that it complicates matters if you were admitted with one name, and then graduated with another name. Please note that there is no legal obligation to inform your school, if you decide not to because it is less complicated, then do not worry. Also, you should inform all your creditors and debtors about your change of name, and then finally all relevant government agencies.
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We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. This answer is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.