Many people going through separation or divorce think about changing their name, for example some women decide to revert back to their maiden name.
This page is a comprehensive guide to the legal process involved and deals with the options available if you wish to execute such a change in England or Wales. In Scotland you can find information at the General Register Office for Scotland.
The legal position in England and Wales is that you can call yourself by any name you choose, so long as your intention is not to defraud or deceive another person. The new name must be pronouncable and not be offensive or rude and shouldn't contain numbers or symbols unless it is a hyphen. The name mustn't imply a title such as doctor, lord or lady. There is no set, official legal procedure to follow, you can change your first, middle or surname, choose a completely different name, alter the spelling or rearrange your existing name. Make sure you update your contact details with all the companies that you have a relationship with.
You do not need a deed poll to change your maiden name when you get married if you are taking your husbands name. However you will need a deed poll or other evidence if you wish to double barrel your names and apply for a passport in a different name. You can apply for a passport in your future married name up to three months in advance using this form, so you have this option if you wish to go on honeymoon in your new, married name. A man taking his wife's name may also need a deed poll as financial institutions will not always accept a marriage certificate as proof in these circumstances.
A marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate is sufficient proof that you have changed your name and should be accepted by most agencies and organisations. You will need to send a copy along with the completed forms.
Upon divorce, many women decide to revert to their maiden name. This can be accomplished:
- by Deed Poll, or
- by using their decree absolute and marriage certificate.
It is sometimes possible for a divorced woman to revert to her maiden name without the need for a Deed Poll if her decree absolute certificate and marriage certificate (which shows her maiden name) are accepted as documentary evidence of her change of name. Upon presentation of these certificates most government departments and many companies and organisations will change their records to show the woman's maiden name. However, many companies and organisations will not accept a decree absolute, in particular the financial institutions such as banks and building societies.
Changing Name by Deed Poll
Officially changing your name by Deed poll is increasingly common. In fact over 50,000 people in the UK changed their name by deed poll in 2011, a ten-fold increase on a decade ago. You don't have to be a celebrity to change your name by deed poll. People up and down the country are choosing a different name for daily use. Not everybody is trying to be outrageous and different, there are 300 more John Smiths than a year ago. Other name changers include a total of 200 people who now have the middle name danger. Use the link below for a completely free Deed Poll template that I used myself to change my name by deed poll. Alternatively you can use the form on the Ministry of Justice website.
Evidence to prove that you have changed your name, for instance if you need to apply for a passport or change your driving license details, can be by way of deed poll. Free deed polls are available on this page and on the internet, you do not need to pay and their is no legal requirement to register your name change although this can be done by enrolling the deed with the Supreme Court of Judicature in London. Such deeds are advertised in the government newspaper, The London Gazette.
It is also possible to change a child's name in the same way as an adults name can be changed. A parent or person with parental responsibility can change a child's name. If two people have parental responsibility for a child then both party's must agree before the name can be changed. A person under sixteen years of age cannot change their name without parental consent. They can however object to their name being changed which a court will uphold if they believe the child has sufficient understanding of the situation.
Four Options for changing your name
There are four options available if you need to prove that you have changed your name:
- a letter from a responsible person such as a GP
- a public announcement
- a statutory declaration
- a deed poll
All of these are dealt with in more detail below. There are also limited circumstance in which a birth certificate can be amended. For more information on changing a record of birth see Changing a Child's Details on a Birth Recordon the Direct.gov.uk website. Minor details can be amended at your local register office. If you change your gender and it is approved, you can have a new short birth certificate issued showing your new gender.
Who to inform about your change of name
- DVLA (driver license)
- IPS (passport office)
- Banks and building societies
- Credit and store cards
- Utility companies (gas, water electric)
- Mobile and home phone
- Internet service provider
- Your employer
- HMRC (tax office)
- School, college, university
- Local Authority (council tax)
- TV licensing
- Pensions and investments
- Premium Bonds
- Insurance (car, life, home)
- Trade and professional bodies
- Clubs and societies
- The Police (if you have a criminal conviction)
- Finance companies
- Mail order companies
If you have the document drawn up by a solicitor you should ensure that you get a breakdown of the costs in advance. You can get a completely free Deed Poll Template which you can use to change your name without going to a solicitor. Simply add your details to the form and have it witnessed by a friend or colleague. There is also a Deed Poll templateon the Justice Departments form finder section.
Deed Polls can also be registered at the Central Office of the Supreme Court, which you can do yourself. They will charge you a small fee which includes an advert in the London Gazette. Registering the deed is not really necessary unless you want it to be made a matter of public record. Further information about registering the Deed Poll with theRoyal Courts of Justice can be found on the Justice Department website.
Contact Details for the Supreme Court Central Office:
Central Office of the Supreme Court
Royal Courts of Justice
Tel: 020 7947 6000
Changing your name by deed poll
A "deed poll on change of name" is a document that can be drawn up by yourself using one of the templates on this page. The document must be signed and dated by yourself and two witnesses and must contain the following three declarations.
- I am abandoning my previous name
- I will use my new name at all times
- I require all others to address me by my new name at all times
Here is the contact information for all of the important people to inform about your change of name and further information if you are looking for forms and guidance notes about changing a name. It's very important to inform HMRC, DVLA and your local electoral registration office. If you are searching for somebody else who may have changed their name there are links to national archives here.
You can inform HMRC by e-mail about your change of name or change of address.
- Driving License
Complete form D1 and send it to the DVLA. The address is:DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BN. You can also make your application in person at a DVLA office or use the Checking Service at the Post Office.
- UK Passport
To change your name on a UK passport you will need to renew the passport. The IPS will accept a deed poll as proof of change of name. Any time in ecxess of nine months remaining on your old passport will be lost
- National Archives
Name changes recorded with the Supreme Court of Judicature can be searched as far back as the 16th Century. Most name changes were in fact never recorded especially as in times gone by people would not have wanted to draw attention to their particular circumstances for changing their name.
- Ministry of Justice
All of the forms and guidance notes for changing your name are available on the Ministry of Justice website. Here you will also find the forms to make a statutory declaration and enrolling a name change with the Royal Courts of Justice.
- The Enrollment of Deeds (Change of Name) Regulations 1994
Full regulations can be found on the legislation.gov.uk website.
- Voter registration form
You must change your name on the electoral register otherwise you may have credit applications turned down when you apply in your new name.
- Land Registry
If you own a property you will need to inform the Land Registry that you have changed your name. This is free of charge and you can do it yourself, there is no need to instruct a solicitor.
- General Register Office
Order a copy of your birth certificate or marriage certificate.
Free Deed Poll Service
This website provides a very handy online tool that you can use to produce a free deedpoll document online in just a couple of minutes - visit Free UK Deed Poll.
Chargeable Deed Poll Services
There are two fairly high profile websites that offer a deedpoll service for a fee of around £20 or £30. We wouldn't particularly recommend them because:
1) they both pass themselves off as being an official/government website - they are not
2) as there are free options available then there is really no need to pay for the service.
But for completeness, here are the two websites: