Preferred name change

UBC recognizes that many members of its community use names other than their legal name. A preferred or chosen name is a name that you commonly use that is different from your legal first name.

While we use the phrase “preferred name”, for many people, this is not just a preference: it is the only name they use and it is essential to their identity. It is especially important for transgender and non-binary students whose university experience and wellbeing are negatively impacted when their preferred or chosen name is not used.

Inappropriate use of a preferred name such as attempts to avoid a legal obligation via misrepresentation, or the use of inappropriate language, will result in the denial and/or reversal of the request and can be disciplined through either Academic or Non-Academic Misconduct.

Use of a preferred first name

UBC uses a student’s preferred name in the following places:

  • Class lists
  • UBCcard
  • Canvas
  • UBC Student Housing systems

Your preferred name will appear instead of your legal name in university-related systems and documents (e.g. Canvas), except where the use of the legal name is required by university business or legal need.

Documents that require a legal name at UBC include

  • Official Letters
  • Transcripts
  • Diplomas

All information about UBC students, including their names, is personal information and is protected under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

How to update your preferred name

The earlier you update your preferred name, the most likely you will experience the consistent use of your preferred first name by Professors, TAs, Academic Advisors, etc.

  1. Log in to the Student Services Centre (SSC).
  2. Navigate to Personal Info > Contact Summary > Name

You should do this even if you provided your preferred name when applying to UBC.

To update your UBCcard

Your preferred name can be displayed in lieu of the legal first name on UBCcards.

  1. If needed, update your preferred name. Wait 48 hours for the change to appear on the system.
  2. Visit the UBC Access Desk in the UBC Bookstore and request a card renewal with your preferred name.

There is no charge to get a new UBCcard with your preferred name on the card. For more information go to the Student Services front desk (UNC building, second floor).

Implications of changing your preferred name

While UBC allows students to indicate their preferred name without changing their legal names, it’s important to be aware of the implications of this change:

  • Future employers, licensing bodies, or other educational institutions may require proof that your transcripts and diplomas are your legitimate academic records. This can also be the case if you are applying for additional education or graduate programs elsewhere.
  • Official documents are often used to verify your identity and rely on consistency in name. Generally, employers and institutions that require the above documents will see your legal name, not your preferred name, which may cause confusion about the authenticity of your identity. We recommend that you change your name legally.

You can apply to change your legal name through the Government of British Columbia. Read about the options to change the name on your diploma on the changing the name on your diploma page.