At UBC, students are primarily known to staff and professors by their preferred or chosen name. Students should indicate a preferred name only if they want staff and faculty to refer to them by a name that is different from their legal name.
What is a preferred or chosen name?
A preferred or chosen name is a name that you commonly use that is different from your legal name – it is what you want to be called, not what other people prefer to call you.
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.
If the option is available to you, having a name legally changed is the best way to avoid confusion and ensure that someone is consistently addressed using the name that best reflects how they want to be known on campus and beyond. You can apply to change your legal name through the government of British Columbia.
Update your preferred name
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.
The earlier you update your preferred name, the more likely you will experience the consistent use of your preferred first name by professors, TAs, Enrolment Services Advisors, Academic Advisors, etc.
You should do this even if you provided your preferred name when applying to UBC.
Use of a preferred first name
UBC uses a student’s preferred name in the following places:
- Class lists
- UBCcard (if requested)
- Student Information System
- Student Information Services Centre (so staff see your preferred name)
- Faculty Service Centre (so faculty see your preferred name)
- Student Housing Online Service Centre
- UBC Recreation
- Counselling Services
- Student Health Services (except in places where MSP requires use of your legal name)
Students may still see their legal name in some online systems and communications due to the complexity of UBC’s information systems and the inability of some systems to share information. UBC is working to create a more unified experience that would only display legal given name when legally required.
Documents that require a legal name at UBC include:
- Official letters (including but not limited to: admission, enrolment, and award letters, student loans)
- Tax forms
- Diplomas and graduation book
- Residence contracts
Update your UBCcard
Your preferred name can be displayed in lieu of the legal name on your UBCcard.
- If needed, update your preferred name. Please wait 48 hours for the change to appear on the system
- 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 UBC Access Desk.
Possible impact of using a preferred name
While UBC allows students to indicate their preferred name without changing their legal name, it’s important to think about the possible impact of this practice:
- Official documents are often used to verify one’s identity when applying for work, or additional education. Some employers, licensing bodies, or other educational institutions may question the use of a preferred name in daily or informal correspondence. This discrepancy happens when institutions rely on legal names to be used consistently.
- If someone is using a preferred name consistently, this may cause some confusion in situations where official documents have to be provided. For example, employers might be confused about a UBC student portfolio that uses a preferred name while the transcripts use a legal name.