I just passed my dissertation defense. This means there is nothing left but paperwork to get my doctorate. Among the various congratulations I've received a couple have termed me: Dr. My assumption was that I'm not really a doctor until I go through the graduation ceremony, but now I'm wondering. Is there a convention as to when exactly I can call myself Doctor?
Writing as an Administrator:
It is appropriate to use the title when you are a graduate, ie, when the degree is conferred either in notice by letter or by ceremony (which ever comes first). Prior to that your status is that of a graduand. If you've been using the work-title PhD Candidate you might consider changing to PhD Graduand to indicate this status: that you're awaiting conferral but you've met the substantive criteria for fulfillment of your degree. Additional source: Swinburn on Postnominals.
Congratulations by the way!
First, Congratulations! Second, in about two weeks you'll forget about the whole issue with when to call yourself a doctor, simply because it will have been overcome by the events of your actual graduation. That is to say: at this point, it doesn't really matter, and no one is going to care one way or another; the gray area between when you pass your defense, and when you are officially conferred the degree is a short, finite time.
The bigger question may be, When should you call yourself a doctor (even after graduation)? Or, What is the proper way to address yourself. I recommend being tactful when considering introducing yourself as "Doctor X," because that can come across as pretentious, and you don't want that as a first impression.
On a lighter note, a professor I know stopped selecting the "Dr." salutation for airline flights after a flight attendant asked her to help with a medical emergency. Her reply to the request was, "unless the medical emergency can benefit from intricate knowledge of computer architecture, I'm not the doctor you're looking for!"
In British universities, the relevant point is when the result of the viva (thesis defence) is published. This usually takes the form of the result being pinned on a board in a corridor somewhere in the adiministration building - I like to think of the corridor being subterranean with the sound of constant dripping water, the only visitor ever to enter being the person who pins the results up. This is normally about a week or so after the viva, if you pass without corrections, or a similar period after the examiners have said that you have corrected the thesis to their satisfaction. Then you can call yourself doctor and have all your bank cards changed! The graduation could be 6 months after you pass, and when you get your certificate the date of the award will be the publication date rather than the date of the graduation ceremony.
Quoting Yogi Berra, "it ain't over till it's over". Just because someone feels the degree has been earned, does not mean it will be conferred. After a successful dissertation defense, the graduand likely has some additional obligations to the institution.
Should you state that you are 'married' just because your wedding is near? Same thing for degrees. You do not have it until you have it.
I defended my final dissertation defense two weeks ago, and my chair congratulated me and called me Dr. Woo! I always thought it was until when the title is conferred in a doctoral commencement, they can call you Dr. But on the contrary, you are called Dr. the moment you pass your dissertation defense.
In most German universities, you're not a doctor before you've published the dissertation, typically a book. Another year to make it exciting. But at least you can call yourself Dr. des. (doctor designatus) in the meantime.
This depends on the country. Luckily there is a long Wikipedia page dedicated to the use of the Doctor title.
In the United States, the title Doctor is commonly used professionally by those who have earned a doctorate-level degree.
So in theory you're not a doctor till you get some paper attesting you earned your doctorate-level degree.
This varies by institution. I haven't heard that attending the actual graduation ceremony is obligatory anywhere, but I haven't checked around. Where I got my degree, the University of Minnesota, the rule was that the degree takes effect on the last day of the month in which all the paperwork gets completed by the candidate and the institution, and there was no obligation to attend the ceremony. But a few years earlier, it was done quarterly rather than monthly.
As to when you can call yourself "Doctor", I would think it depends on the context and purpose. At a party you can tell someone you just finished your Ph.D. In more formal contexts, you can say you finished your Ph.D., to be effective April 31st.