Nigerians, like other Africans, attach a lot of meaning and importance to names. It is no news that most Nigerian names have deep meanings ascribed to them. However, there are a lot of reasons that might require a Nigerian to seek a change of name. The limiting factor for most people who want to have a change of name is usually, how the change would affect their official records such as – school documents, international passport, birth certificate, bank records, and the numerous other government and private issued identification cards.
There are a lot of reasons that would prompt a Nigerian to seek a change of name, and some of the major ones include:
- Marriage/divorce: most newly married women are trying to change their name to that of their new husband, while those who have separated might decide to go back to their maiden name before marriage.
- Religion: Nigerians who experience a change of religion might go for a new name to reflect their new beliefs.
- Trend: some people want to have a trendier name than the one given to them at birth by their parents.
- Adoption: a man who adopts a child will most likely want the child to bear his name.
- Choice: the last and summarizing reason is choice. Because at the end of it, an adult has the right to seek a change of name at any time without providing any reason for that.
As it is already known, the international passport is a travel document that is issued by the Nigerian Immigration Service and the service also regulates its renewal and any change of data in the passport. The required document for change of name according to the service includes:
- Application letter to the Comptroller General of the immigration service.
- An affidavit from a magistrate or high court of a change of name deposed by the applicant.
- Copy of newspaper publication of change of name (the paper should be at least 21 days old).
- Evidence of maiden names.
- Statutory proof of a change of name (for Nigerians based abroad in place of b and c above).
- Passport booklet and copy of the data page of the passport.
- Acknowledgement slip and evidence of the change of name fee payment of about N33, 000.
- Proof of reason of change – marriage dissolution is required for a divorce case, marriage certificate for newlywed, for widows, a death certificate can be obtained from the National Population Commission.
Procedures for Change of Name on International Passport in Nigeria
The change of name on international passport in Nigeria can either be done physically at the nearest immigration office or online through their website.
If applying in person, you are expected to:
- The first step is to approach any Nigerian immigration office of your choice across the country.
- Then you are expected to apply in writing to the Comptroller General of the Nigerian immigration service for a name change.
- Attach to your application a reason for your name change.
- Also, attach the affidavit of change of name from a competent court.
- Back your claim with an identification card already in use bearing your new name.
- Make a payment online of a non-refundable fee of N33, 000 for the processing of your application.
Your application might take a few days or weeks, depending on the usual government bureaucratic process. You are to recheck at the immigration office you applied for the Comptroller General of immigration approval.
- After approval, you must submit the current original passport and apply for a reissuance of a new passport.
- Attach two recent passport size photographs.
- Then pay online for the standard 64-page Nigerian e-passport of N24, 500 or N17, 000 for a 32-page booklet inclusive of bank charges, passport booklet fee and address verification fee.
- Applicants are required to go for data capturing which include – image acquisition, thumbprint and electronic signature. Mentally prepare yourself to spend the full day at the immigration office. The data capturing can, however, be bypassed if the current passport is less than six months old.
- You will be issued with a temporary slip, but it will still carry your old name.
- Finally, wait for the issuance of your brand new passport. This wait is between 5 to 17 working days.
- You will be expected to validate your new passport through a scanner at the immigration office and confirm your identity by fingerprinting at pick up.
The Nigerian immigration service has continued to automate its operations. Some aspects of the change of name can now be carried online. For the numerous Nigerians who are based outside the country and those within the country, the online application might help to ease some of the stress associated with coming back home or travelling a long distance to visit an immigration centre.
If applying online, you are expected to:
- Complete the passport application on the Nigerian immigration service portal.
- Select the processing country you are applying from
- Choose the reason or type of change, which is a change of name on the dropdown of the website.
- Input your current passport number and officially start your application.
- Submit application letter with other requirements addressed to the Comptroller General of the Nigerian immigration service headquarters in Abuja for further processing.
- Nigerians outside the country can submit the application at any embassy, consulate or high commission in the country they are resident.
- After approval, you can then proceed to make payment online through the remita platform.
It is essential to note the following as you go about the process of changing your name on the Nigerian international passport:
- Issuance of passport by the immigration service depends on the availability of booklets and other printing materials. So it might be better to enquire at the local passport office for materials before applying under them.
- After payment, you can always track your application status online here.
- The Nigerian international passport is usually valid for five years.