Names not only give us an identity, but they also reflect deep personal, cultural, and familial ties.

While most names are given to children by parents at birth, some are created due to the individual’s choice to change their name. And with errors in some documentation, the need to change names might arise to help clarify name order. It can even correct alphabetical inconsistencies in the letters that make up some names. 

Even with religious indoctrination, adopting names that reflect our religious values requires some legality in validating identities and representation. 

For example, if you are a Christian and get baptised as Mary, you might want to adopt it as a legal name. If you are a new Muslim convert, you might want to adopt a name that fits your religious identity. And if you practise traditional or other spiritual practises, you might want to reflect these beliefs in your legal name. 

But how do you go about changing your name? What’s the process like? In this article, you’ll learn about all the requirements.

These are all popular reasons people change their names

  • Marriage
  • Child adoption
  • Professional/career demands
  • Change in nationality
  • Change in religion
  • Gender transition
  • Individual choice 

Also Read: Why Nigerian Women Should Keep Their Family Names 

What makes you eligible for a name change?

If you need to change your name, it can’t be done on a whim. There are certain requirements:


Only 18-year-olds can change their name under the law, as that is considered the age of adulthood. Children and teenagers under 18 need a parent or trusted guardian to change their names.


Only Nigerian citizens can change their names in the country. Foreigners in Nigeria must first gain Nigerian citizenship before being eligible for a name change.

A compelling reason

One must have a legal and compelling reason for changing their name. If you apply for a name change because you committed a crime, your application will be rejected.

Also, name choices that are profane or tribalistic in nature are turned down as well.

Financial stability 

If you owe any financial institution money, bury this idea of a name change. Anyone who wishes to change their name would have to be clear in all financial institutions, not bankrupt, and not have any financial liabilities against them.

The process of changing your name

Now that you know the requirements, here are the procedures:

Swear an affidavit

The first step is to swear an Affidavit of Change of Name, often called a “Deed Pool”. This can be done by walking to a nearby High Court and going to the Registry department to complete the task.

Your affidavit should be written in your own words and state that you have changed your name. The affidavit should include the reason for your name change, as it will be used to document your old name.

Publicise your new name

After the affidavit is signed, it is a must that everyone (i.e., the public) know that you now bear a new name. This is done by publishing your new name in any legacy newspaper like The Nation, Guardian, or Punch. You should double-check that your important documents match your new name.

Get your name listed on The Gazette

After publication, one should apply to the Civil Registry’s Paperwork Department of Publication, requesting that your new name be printed in Nigeria’s official gazette. A fee of ₦‎5000 or more is usually charged for this. Print a copy of the page indicating your altered name once it appears in the Gazette.

Apply for new official documents that bear your new name 

When your new name has been published in the Official Nigerian Gazette, you must apply for new official documents that reflect your new name. A copy of the Official Gazette showing the name should be attached to your application.

What documents do I need?

  • A signed court affidavit confirming the name change. It should not be older than one year.
  • A newspaper clipping that reflects your announcement of your name change. This should also be less than a year from the date of the advertisement.
  • You must submit the declaration/advertisement you typed (in the form above).
  • Two passport-sized pictures of your most recent appearance.
  • A demand draft for the publishing fees, as well as extra copies if needed.
  • A letter of attestation from a credible source.
  • An official announcement of the adjustment.
  • A statutory declaration (Affidavit) is a document that shows your new name on official records. You can complete the process by waiting for the new name to be published in the Nigerian Gazette.
  • A copy of the Official Gazette, which includes your name. This is attached to the new document application paperwork.
  • The chief registrar should be addressed in your application letter.
  • Personal information such as your date and place of birth, marital status, and address.

Where can I change my name?

You can simply visit the registry department of any High Court near you. To make the process faster, you can go to the National Civil Registration Office. It is located at Sokode Crescent and Michael Okpara Street in Zone 5, Wuse, Abuja. Applications for a name change usually range from 5-21 days.

How much does it cost?

The only expense of the process is the newspaper publication, which costs an estimated N5,000. There are no additional fees for the publication.

In Nigeria, changing names is not a one-day process, and there is no specified time period for completing all the required steps. You will need to be patient and determined. Also, before making this decision, carefully consider the other changes you will need to make, such as your international passport, national identification, financial or banking names, and certifications. 

Good luck!


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