Our forename(s) and surname are a critical component of our identity and our day-to-day interactions with one another. For a multitude of reasons we may reach a decision to effect an alteration to either our forename(s) or our surname.
Such alterations are effected upon the submission of an application to the Department of Home Affairs, the enabling legislation to achieve this being the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992 (Act No. 51 of 1992,) read together with the Identification Act, 1997 (Act No. 68 of 1997), which provides for the rectification, amplification and amendment of the personal information of individuals recorded in the South African National Population Register.
An alteration of a forename(s) will be dealt with in terms of Section 24 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992 (Act No. 51 of 1992).
Similarly, an alteration of a surname will be dealt with in terms of Section 26 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992 (Act No. 51 of 1992).
In relation to the said Section 26 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992 (Act No. 51 of 1992), there are certain specific instances which are exempted from the formal application to alter a surname, in brief these instances relate to:
(a) a married woman whom after the conclusion of the marriage assumes the surname of her husband, or after assuming such surname elects to resume a surname which she bore at any time prior to the conclusion of the marriage;
(b) a widowed woman, a divorced woman or a married woman whom elects to resume a surname which she bore at any time; and
(c) a widowed woman, a married woman or a divorced woman, whom elects to add to the surname she assumed following the conclusion of a marriage, any such surname which she bore at any prior time, this is generally referred to as a double-barrelled surname.
Although the above-mentioned instances are exempted from the submission of a formal application to the Department of Home Affairs, for practical reasons e.g. being issued with an Identity Card which bears the correct surname, it would be sensible to notify the Department of Home Affairs of any of the afore-mentioned changes.
How do the alterations of a forename(s) or surname generally affect our interactions with the Deeds Office in relation to already registered deeds or documents bearing the previous forename(s) or surname?
Section 93 of the Deeds Registries Act, 1937 (Act No. 47 of 1937), provides the framework for the recording of an alteration of a forename(s) or surname applicable to already registered deed(s) or documents. It is important to note however that Section 93 of the Deeds Registries Act, as afore-mentioned, is not applicable to every occurrence of an alteration as may be the instance in relation to items (a), (b) and (c) referenced above.
Let us consider the following simplified practical example in terms of which Section 93 of the Deeds Registries Act, as afore-mentioned, would be applicable e.g. At the commencement of January 2020, Leon Nevar purchased a property in Cape Town, and having complied with all the required formalities, transfer of the property was duly registered into the name of Leon Nevar at end of February 2020.
Further to an unprecedented set of circumstances which arose in the course 2020, and following lots of introspection, Leon Nevar had reached the decision to change his forename and surname, and proceeded to submit a formal application to the Department of Home Affairs the result of which was that he successfully altered his forename and surname to Noel Raven.
Noel Raven has reached a further decision to sell his property in Cape Town and relocate to Pretoria. In order to successfully facilitate the registration of the transfer of the property at the Cape Town Deeds Office, it will be necessary for Noel Raven to record the alteration of his forename and surname by way of a Section 93 Application, which is to be lodged with the Deeds Office simultaneously with the documents required to give effect to record the registration of the transfer of the ownership of the property to the new owner.
In order to avoid delays with the registration of the transfer of the ownership of the property, it is very important to appoint a well-skilled Conveyancer whom will be in a position to assist with the drafting of a Section 93 Application. Notably, an application of this nature can be applicable to natural persons i.e. an individual(s) and/or juristic entities e.g. a trust, a company, a close corporation, etc. and one would once again be best placed to discuss these instances and permutations with a well-skilled Conveyancer.
The contents of the Section 93 Application must appropriately reference the enabling legislation giving rise to the alteration of a forename(s) and/or surname, supported by the attachment thereto of the correct official gazetted approval of such changes, and which must be further accompanied by all affected deeds or documents.
The written consent of any person, entity or institution which has an interest in such affected deeds or documents, will be required by the Deeds Office in the course of their examination process.
Failure to do so, may result in unwelcomed delays in ultimately effecting the recording of the registration of the transfer of the property.