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Changing your name

How to change your name

If you wish to be known by a different name you can change your name at any time, provided you do not intend to deceive or defraud another person. There is no legal procedure to follow in order to change a name. You simply start using the new name. You can change your forename or surname, add names or rearrange your existing names.

Although there is no legal way to change a name, you may want evidence that you have changed your name (see under heading Evidence of change of name). However, you cannot change details on your birth certificate, except in limited circumstances.

For more information about changing your name on a birth certificate, go to the UK Deed Poll Service website at www.ukdps.co.uk.

Once you have decided to change your name, you can use the new name for all purposes, for example, publishing marriage bans, legal proceedings and obtaining, or changing details on a driving licence or passport.

Changing a child’s name

A child’s name can be changed at any time, provided it is not to deceive or defraud another person. There is no legal procedure which must be followed in order to change a child’s name, providing all the people who need to give their consent have done so. The parent simply starts using the new name. A child’s forename or surname can be changed, names can be added or rearranged.

Although there is no legal way to change a child’s name, you may need evidence that a child’s name has been changed (see under heading Evidence of change of name). However, the details on a child’s birth certificate cannot be changed, except in limited circumstances.

For more information about changing a child's details on a birth certificate, go to the UK Deed Poll Service at www.ukdps.co.uk.

If you are a child or young person under 16 your consent does not have to be given for your name to be changed. However, if you object to your name being changed you can apply for a court order to prevent the change, provided the court is satisfied that you have sufficient understanding of what is involved.

As a child or young person under 16 you cannot change your surname without your parent’s consent.

Once a child’s name has been changed it can be used for all purposes, such as starting school and registering with a GP. However, evidence may be required (see under heading Evidence of change of name).

Who can change a child’s name

Where only one parent or person has parental responsibility for a child, that person can lawfully change the child’s name. Where two or more people have parental responsibility for the child, one of them can lawfully change the child’s name if all the others agree. Such agreements do not need to be in writing.

If there is a child arrangements order in force, a child’s name cannot be changed without the written agreement of anyone else who has parental responsibility or the permission of the court.

For more information on child arrangements orders, see Ending a marriage, Ending a relationship when you're living together or Ending a civil partnership.

This means that where the parents are or have been married, neither can change the child’s name without the consent of the other parent. If the parents have not been married, the mother can change the child’s name without the father’s consent unless he has acquired parental responsibility through agreement or by a court order.

For more information about parental responsibility, see Children at the end of your relationship in Ending a relationship when you're living together or Children at the end of a civil partnership in Ending a civil partnership.

Getting married or registering a civil partnership

If you change your name when you get married or when you register a civil partnership, a copy of the marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate will usually be enough evidence that you have changed your name.

Getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership

If you get divorced or dissolve your civil partnership, you may wish to go back to using the name you had before. A copy of the divorce certificate or dissolution certificate will usually be enough evidence that you have changed your name. If you want to go back to the name you were born with, you might need to provide a birth certificate.

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Evidence of change of name

You do not need legal proof that you have changed your name, provided that you can be identified by your new chosen name. However, there are some circumstances, for example, applying for a passport, when additional evidence of the change of name is required. The evidence required varies depending on the purpose for which it is needed and can include:-

  • a letter from a responsible person
  • a public announcement
  • a statutory declaration
  • a deed poll.

Letter

A letter from a responsible person, such as a GP, solicitor, minister, priest or MP, will often be enough evidence that you have changed your name. The letter should state that the person has known you in both names and that the change of name is to be used for all purposes. A letter will not be enough evidence if you are applying for a UK passport.

Public announcement

You may want to record your name change by placing an advertisement in a local or national newspaper. This should state that you have stopped using your previous name and have assumed a new one. A copy of the advertisement can then be used as evidence that you have changed your name.

Statutory declaration

For most purposes, a statutory declaration is generally accepted as evidence of your change of name.

A statutory declaration is a statement, recording your intention to abandon your old name and adopt a new one.

You can prepare a statutory declaration yourself, or use a solicitor to help you.

If you want to do one yourself, you can use a sample statutory declaration to help you prepare it. To use a sample statutory declaration, follow the link below.

Sample statutory declaration

You must sign your statutory declaration using your new name. It also has to be witnessed, either by a solicitor other than the one who helped you prepare the declaration, or by a Justice of the Peace (JP). JPs are lay magistrates who work in local magistrates courts. If the declaration is for a child, the child's parents will also need to sign it. A solicitor or JP may ask to see the child's birth certificate.

Some magistrates’ courts are reluctant to witness statutory declarations for a change of name because they believe that you should use a deed poll instead. You should explain that you want the statutory declaration purely as evidence of the fact that you're using a different name and that you don't want to use the more formal deed poll.

Solicitors normally charge for preparing and witnessing statutory declarations. You should find out the likely costs in advance.

You'll also have to pay a small fee to the court if a JP witnesses your declaration.

Deed poll

A deed poll is a formal statement to prove that your name has been changed. For most people it will not be necessary to prepare a deed poll as evidence that they have changed their name. However, there may be cases when a deed poll is required, for example, when applying for a passport.

As a child or young person under 18 you can only have your change of name recorded by deed poll by a person who has parental responsibility for you. However, if you are over 16, this can only be done with your consent.

For more information about parental responsibility, see Children at the end of your relationship in Ending a relationship when you're living together or Children at the end of a civil partnership in Ending a civil partnership.

You can prepare your own deed poll on a special form, which you can get from a law stationers. If you prepare your own deed poll, you should make sure that it is signed in the presence of an independent witness, who must also add their name, address and occupation. You'll need two witnesses if you want to have your deed poll enrolled. The deed poll should state that it is 'signed as a deed and delivered'.

There are online services available to help you prepare a deed poll. These may be cheaper than using a solicitor, but you should check carefully the likely cost before making use of a service like this.

Otherwise, you can have a deed poll prepared by a solicitor. This is advisable if you want to officially register the deed poll, which is known as enrolling a deed poll. Solicitors' fees for preparing deed polls vary and can be expensive, particularly if the deed poll is enrolled. You should get information about the likely costs in advance.

Enrolling a deed poll

You can get a deed poll enrolled in the Central Office of the Supreme Court. You don’t have to do this - you can just keep the deed poll to produce as evidence of a change of name if you need to. However, enrolling a deed poll means you can keep it safe, make copies available and have a public record of the change of name.

The change is also advertised in the London Gazette. There is a small fee for enrolling a deed poll. The contact details for the Central Office of the Supreme Court are:

Central Office of the Supreme Court
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand
London
WC2A 2LL
Tel: 020 7947 6000

For more information on how to enroll a deed poll, go to the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.gov.uk.

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