Waiving Change of Name Fees
Why did the Minister of Health and Social Services approve a process to waive the fees for NWT changes of name and issuance of NWT birth certificates?
This process is in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #17 to remove administrative fees so that survivors and their families can reclaim names affected by the residential school system.
The Minister also recognizes that other historical errors affected names recorded on NWT birth certificates over the years, so expanded the process to give all Indigenous residents the opportunity to correct the name on their birth certificate.
In the past, individuals who helped new parents complete birth registrations in the NWT may have been unfamiliar with Indigenous names so they were spelled incorrectly. Because children had to be registered with the same name as their parents, this spelling mistake may have continued for generations.
Starting in 1969, Project Surname was an initiative designed to let Inuit choose a last name to replace the disc numbers issued by the Federal government in the 1940’s that appeared on their birth registration. Although every effort was made to use standardized spellings, not all individuals were happy with their name after Project Surname.
Unfortunately, not yet. Work is continuing to develop a transliteration guide for converting standardized Indigenous characters into letters that all computer systems, affected employees, interjurisdictional partners, contracted vendors, and Indigenous northerners will be able to understand.
It is anticipated that the fee to change names to include Indigenous fonts will be waived in the future once technology enables us to do so.
Indigenous NWT residents who are residential school survivors and their family members who want to reclaim a name or who wish to correct an historical error on the name on their NWT birth certificate are eligible to apply.
Indigenous NWT residents who have applied for a change of name in the NWT, and who were also born in the NWT, may apply for a waiver of the NWT birth certificate fee.
Indigenous individuals who were born in the NWT but no longer reside in the NWT and who have changed their name in the province where they now live may also apply for a waiver of the NWT birth certificate fee.
Those eligible to apply can do so by completing an Application to Waive Fees form. If you are an NWT resident, send the form along with your Change of Name Application to:
Registrar General of Vital Statistics
Department of Health and Social Services
Government of NWT
107 MacKenzie Road/IDC Building, 2nd Floor
Inuvik, NT X0E 0T0
No. An application to waive fees may only be submitted with an NWT change of name application once. However, you can also request that the fee for your new birth certificate be waived at the same time if you were born in the NWT.
I am a residential school survivor and was born in the NWT but do not live there anymore. Can I apply to reclaim my name and request a waiver of the fee in the NWT?
No. You must be an NWT resident to be eligible to apply for a change of name. The Registrar General of Vital Statistics cannot waive fees for changes of name that are made outside of the NWT.
You can apply for a change of name in the province or territory where you now live but not all provinces waive fees at this time.
Once that change of name has been processed by the other jurisdiction, you can apply in the NWT for a waiver of the fee to issue a new birth certificate showing your corrected name.
What other provinces/territories have responded to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendation to waive administrative fees?
Currently Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec have developed a process to waive fees.
Can the Registrar General waive the fee for issuing my birth certificate if I was born outside of the NWT?
No. The Registrar General has no authority or control over processes in other provinces/territories.
Can the Registrar General waive the fee for changing my name if I live outside of the NWT, even if I was born there?
No. The Registrar General has no control over processes in other provinces/territories.
You can apply for the NWT birth certificate fee to be waived once the change of name process has been completed by the other province/territory.
Can I get the fees reimbursed if I have to pay another jurisdiction for the change of name fee or the fee for the new birth certificate?
The Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action were made some time ago. Why has this process taken so long to be announced?
TRC Call to Action #17 recommended that fees be waived for a period of five years. Initially, before the process could be announced, changes had to be made to regulations under the Vital Statistics Act and an application form to request the waiver had to be developed. The fee waiver came into effect for the recommended 5 year period in October 2018. As the expiry of this waiver period approached, the decision was made to make the waiver an ongoing provision.