B.C. woman in months-long fight with ICBC over correct spelling of her last name

Mandy Kuelz looks over the ICBC documents she's collected during her months-long battle to get her name spelled correctly on her driver's licence in her Maple Ridge home on Dec. 12, 2019. Nadia Stewart/Global News

A Maple Ridge, B.C. woman has spent the last four months going back and forth with ICBC over the correct spelling over her last name.

Mandy Kuelz’s husband is of German descent. In his native tongue, their last name is spelled “Külz,” with the umlaut over the letter “U.” When translated to English, the punctuation is removed and the letter “E” is added after the vowel.

But when the family moved from Ontario to B.C., Kuelz’s new licence read “Kulz” — keeping the German spelling, but without the punctuation.

Kuelz got a letter from the German consulate in an attempt to correct the error with ICBC, but even that didn’t work.

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“They said that they couldn’t use it,” she said.

“I have two children with ‘Kuelz’ here in B.C. with me and my husband, and I have ‘Kulz.’”

The problem is that changes the meaning of the name. All of her other identification, including documents from Elections Canada, reflects the correct spelling of her name.

“It seems like an easy fix to me,” Kuelz said.

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“To have all of my ID from a Canadian province including my passport — everything — shift over to a new province, and suddenly have someone tell me I have to legally change my name because they don’t want to spell it the way it’s supposed to be?”

In an email, ICBC says they understand some might find the rules around permitted names on B.C. driver’s licences frustrating, but they say the rules are in place to help protect people from identity fraud.

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They also say the case is being reviewed.

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Yet Kuelz continues to go back and forth with the company. She’s hopeful someone will understand this is about more than just a name.

“They’re changing my identity and they’re dividing my family,” she said.

“Children have a different name than the parents all of a sudden. It just doesn’t align.”

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