At UBC, students are primarily known to staff and professors by their preferred or chosen name. Students should indicate a preferred or chosen 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. Read more about names and their impact at UBC.
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 or chosen name
Inappropriate use of a preferred or chosen 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 or chosen name, the more likely you will experience the consistent use of your preferred or chosen first name by professors, TAs, Enrolment Services Advisors, Academic Advisors, etc.
- Log in to the Student Services Centre (SSC).
- Select “Contact Summary” from Personal Info.
- Select the “Name” tab, where you will see examples of how your name will be used for UBC records.
- Update your “Preferred Name”.
You should do this even if you have provided your preferred or chosen name when applying to UBC.
Use of a preferred or chosen first name
Places where UBC uses a student’s preferred name
- Class lists
- UBCcard (if requested)
- Student Information System
- Student Information Services Centre (so staff can see your preferred or chosen name)
- Faculty Service Centre (so faculty can see your preferred or chosen 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 names when legally required.
Documents that require a legal name at UBC
- 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 or chosen name can be displayed in lieu of the legal name on your UBCcard.
- If needed, update your preferred name on the Student Services Centre (SSC). Please wait 48 hours for the change to appear on the system.
- Contact the UBC Access Desk in the UBC bookstore and request a card renewal with your preferred or chosen name.
There is no charge to get a new UBCcard with your preferred or chosen name on the card. For more information go to UBC Access Desk.
Possible impact of using a preferred or chosen name
While UBC allows students to indicate their preferred or chosen 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 or chosen 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 or chosen 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 or chosen name while the transcripts use a legal name.