Ridiculous Tosspots Association

Dear RTA,

I am very frustrated. Aggravated, put out and disappointed too but mostly frustrated. To be fair, its not all your fault. Its partly due to a youthful affectation (or what would now seem to be an indiscretion) on my part, a little bit due to the ACT Motor Vehicle Registry Department who may have committed a boo boo in the first place and mostly due to what I consider to be the security paranoid world we live in now or the bureaucracy that comes with government agencies talking to each other.

Basically, when I first got my driver’s licence, I filled out my name as what I was commonly called. Not my “proper” name as was given to me by my parents, not the full name as was registered on my birth certificate but the name I was commonly known by. I didn’t see a problem with this. Apparently the Motor Vehicle Registry Department in the ACT didn’t see a problem with this either because they let me do it. And when I moved interstate and applied to you for a new license, you just made sure I had a NSW address and left the name as it was, obviously assuming that I had been appropriately ID’d in the first place before a legal form of identification was issued.

Anyway, today I tried to renew my license in my married name. A task which I thought was going to be relatively straight forward. Sounds easy, right? I had in my possession a marriage certificate issued by the NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages office (do not even get me started on the fact that I had to pay for this additional certificate because the marriage certificate that was issued to me when I actually got married is seemingly not worth the paper its written on!) and I selected “renew licence” from the automated ticket / menu machine out the front. When I got to the counter however, I was told I’d have to be put back in the queue because I couldn’t renew with a name change at that particular window. I had indeed “picked the right ticket” and it “wasn’t my fault” but I still had to go away and wait again because the guy who had called my number couldn’t help me.

So I wasn’t overly impressed when I got to the guy who told me that he was able to change my name with the right documentation but that I didn’t actually have all the right documentation. All he was able to do for me was to reissue the license in the original name. The one that apparently refers to a different legal entity than the one on my marriage certificate. He was very affable and polite but also firm in the fact that the NSW RTA had no record of me ever having a middle name so as far as they were concerned, they couldn’t accept the certificate on its own as it didn’t match my license and the registration number would reject in their system. Or they could try to push it through but then the world would come crashing down and my license could be suspended or flagged as suspicious and my life would forever be ruined or something like that. Basically, it wasn’t going to happen.

The very nice man told me I had to go back to Births, Deaths and Marriages, pay a stupid amount of money and get a Change Of Name Certificate. I questioned this several times as I really didn’t understand what I was supposed to be changing my name to. Sure, if I wanted to change my name to a diminutive of my first name and no middle name then that would be fine but I don’t. I do quite like my full first name and have no wish to legally get rid of the second. So what would such a certificate accomplish? Wouldn’t it end up being an official document to say I am changing my name from (hypothetically) “X Y Z” to, wait for it, “X Y Z”? Which is exactly the same name as I started out with making it therefore somewhat redundant? Isn’t that what a birth certificate is for? How am I supposed to get a government department to issue me a certificate to say that I was what was listed on my driver’s license? No one but the RTA actually thinks that this is my “real” name anway! Births, Deaths and Marriages don’t. Medicare doesn’t. The Australian passport office doesn’t. Neither does the British consulate for that matter…apparently though, I simply had to have a change of name certificate.

So I took my new license in my maiden name and went back to work where I called the NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages department who confirmed that they couldn’t do anything because I wasn’t born here. Surprise, surprise. Then I called the ACT Births, Deaths and Marriages department who confirmed that a change of name certificate would indeed result in a reissued birth certificate with a new name so if I didn’t want to change my name then they couldn’t help me either. Duh! Then I called the RTA and explained that I was turned away and told to get a change of name certificate but I had confirmed that no one could give this to me because I wasn’t actually changing my name. Which I had tried to tell the guy at the RTA counter. It was eventually clarified that if the RTA records were the only ones that were “wrong”, I could bring in my original birth certificate and a form of photo ID that supported my birth certificate and they would add my middle name so that they could accept my marriage certificate.

Now I get to go back to the RTA, wait in the queue again and tell my saga to another person in the hope that I can actually get a licence issued in my correct legal name. I never realised that it would be such a pain in the @r$e to get ID in anything other than my full, legal name. Sheesh! So I just thought you might like to let your staff know that people don’t need a change of name certificate if they’re not actually, you know, changing their name!

Yours sincerely,

A NSW driver.

**UPDATE 19/10/12 – So I went to the RTA this morning with my driver’s license, my marriage certificate, my birth certificate, my expired Australian passport, my valid British passport (you never know when someone is going to reject your ID because its out of date which I have never understood because I don’t cease being or become someone else on arbitrary dates as listed on legal ID) and waited in line. When I got to the counter, I told my story (again) and the lady said that simply having my birth certificate (which I bloody well had with me yesterday!) was fine. So she amended my first names and then went to validate my married surname with my marriage certificate – which didn’t work. I was now officially Not Happy Jan on the inside. The RTA lady now has to send a copy of this certificate back to Births, Deaths and Marriages to verify that it is in fact legitimate which means I get to return to the RTA a third time before I hopefully get the right license. Grrr…

***UPDATE 19/10/12 (later in the day) – So after being told that I didn’t need to wait in the queue again when the lady called my mobile to say that the marriage certificate had been verified, I found when I got back to the RTA that she had already left for the day. So I had to take another ticket and wait in line and tell my story to someone else so that they could find the appropriate paperwork that I had left there earlier in the day before they could issue me with the correct license. About bl00dy time!

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