His name is my name tooo
February 19, 2008 1:30 AM   Subscribe

I want to legally add a hyphen in with my [many] names, how complicated is this in Canada?

Legally, I'm John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, so that becomes John [middle names] Schmidt for most things in my life.

I want to start using Jingleheimer-Schmidt as my last name [to make it Dad's-Mum's] but I am having difficulty determining whether I will have to legally change my name.

My other option is to gradually switch over and use the hyphen when applying for my coming passport and license renewals.

[On the plus side, I'm moving to the UK permanently so I can start afresh with health cards, bank accounts, and the like]

Does anyone have any ideas?
posted by rhinny to Law & Government (5 answers total)
As a practical concern, hyphens can be a pain in the neck. Not all banks, airlines, etc support hyphens properly. (I don't know if this is an issue in the UK too, or even in Canada for that matter).

So you could end up being Jingleheimer-Schmidt sometimes, JingleheimerSchmidt others, and of course also Jingleheimer Schmidt. This can make for exciting times with credit reports... among other things.

Certainly you can also make the choice to go by Jingleheimer-Schmidt in your personal and professional life, but just use Schmidt for governmental things.
posted by nat at 1:42 AM on February 19, 2008

As a counterpoint to nat, I'm in Canada and I have NEVER had any trouble/confusion over my children's hyphenated names through any government or civilian organisations. Perhaps they are more common here and so people know how to deal with non-wasp names professionally? I wouldn't think you would need a an official name change just for a hyphen, when you renew your drivers licence etc add the hyphen. Since the entire name in on your birth certificate you aren't adding anything odd, and using the second to last name as your family name is pretty common in several cultures (Spanish/Pakistani are two ethic groups that spring to mind.)
posted by saucysault at 3:44 AM on February 19, 2008

double-barrelled surnames (as they are called over here) are actually pretty common in the UK. i can't forsee any problems with using a hyphenated last name once over here... or at least no more so than in North America.
posted by wayward vagabond at 4:35 AM on February 19, 2008

As a data point, I've known many people in the southern US (a bastion of cultural sensitivity) to have pains in the neck with hyphenated names and immigration. Don't know specifically about Canada --> UK, but I will say that consistency has been the key to keeping things straightened out.

"I'm sorry, my name is Jingleheimer-Schmidt could you please change the record to reflect that."

Too bad the Fortran 77 programmers couldn't imagine wasting the memory on a name longer than 14 characters.
posted by GPF at 7:00 AM on February 19, 2008

I was born in BC a few years before they allowed hyphenated last names, so my birth certificate doesn't have a hyphen in it even though my parent's tried to give me one. However, I've always written my last name with a hyphen. I have been able to change my name to include a hyphen with most organizations (banks, schools, on my health card, etc.), but I haven't been able to get that hyphen inserted on my passport or driver's license despite having asked. I've never had any trouble asking to have two last names listed though: for example, my driver's license reads "Jingleheimer Schmidt, John Jacob". YMMV on that front if your birth certificate breaks down differently. Personally, I don't care enough to do anything about it because I can't see any reason to care much about a hyphen on my passport.
posted by ssg at 12:33 PM on February 19, 2008

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