I am asking specifically with regard to the USA and Australia, although I am interested in more general answers also.

As per the title, I am wondering if someone immigrates (in this case to the US) and changes their name (an option granted when obtaining citizenship), do they have an obligation to change it in other countries they may be a citizen of?

My thinking is no, as each country has their own courts and records, and as long as all names are declared and there is no malicious intent, no laws are being violated, but I am unsure.

  • Some countries disallow name changes, while others restrict the forms that a name may take, possibly with mutual incompatibility (for example, one country might require using two surnames and the other might forbid it). In some US states, at least, it's not actually necessary to make a formal application to change one's name. All that's necessary is to start using the new name without intent to defraud or mislead. I know someone who did that in New York. So the idea that there is some single "legal name" that may only be changed by formal action is in fact incorrect, at least in New York.
    – phoog
    Oct 27, 2020 at 15:03

2 Answers 2



Both your country of origin and your new home country will only care of your name as in the documents issued by each of them respectively.

Mind though that absence of obligation to synchronize your names does not mean that you can freely use both identities within one country. For example, opening a bank account in the US using your original passport/name when you are already officially using another name there would be a very grey area bordering with identify fraud as it would effectively enable you to operate two different identities to gain any benefits not otherwise available.


Your name is what you call yourself

At least in .

While you can change your name by deed poll (or marriage), you are under no obligation to use your legal name except in circumstances where you need to definitively prove who you are. These include voting, financial institutions and buying real property. Apart from that, call yourself whatever you like.

  • 1
    Also in New York, and probably several other US states.
    – phoog
    Oct 27, 2020 at 15:06

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