How to Change your Name

What is a Deed Poll?

A Deed Poll is a legal document. It binds the person who signs it to a
particular course of action as detailed on the Deed Poll document such
as a change of name. The modern term for this document is a Deed of
Change of Name.
By executing the Deed Poll (signing, dating and having witnessed) you are
committing yourself to:

  • Abandoning the use of your former name;
  • Using your new name at all times;
  • Requiring all persons to address you by your new name.

A Deed Poll therefore provides documentary evidence that you have
changed your name and that you are legally binding yourself to using
your new name. Although a Deed Poll is an English legal document, it
is recognised by all UK government departments and UK companies and
organisations – subject to the Deed Poll being prepared by a competent
authority such as a Solicitor.

What is the purpose of a Deed Poll?

If you want to get all of your documents and records changed to show a
new name e.g. your medical records, bank account, credit cards, passport,
driving licence etc, you will be asked to produce documentary evidence
of your change of name. A Deed Poll is a formal statement to prove that
you have changed your name and it provides you with the necessary
documentary evidence of the name by which you wish to be known.
With a Deed Poll, you can change your forenames or surname, add names,
remove names or rearrange your existing names. You can change your
name at any time and for any reason provided it is not to deceive or
defraud or to avoid an obligation.
A Deed Poll can be executed by any British citizen aged 18 years
or over living anywhere in the world or by anyone, of any nationality,
living in the United Kingdom (parents can apply on behalf of their
children). It should be noted that a Deed Poll is only recognised by
United Kingdom government departments, companies and organisations.

Who can apply for a Deed Poll?

You can apply for a Deed Poll if you:

  • are British, or
  • live in the United Kingdom.

If you are British, you can be living anywhere in the world.
If you live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you can be
of any nationality.
If you are a foreign national living in the UK, we advise you to check
with your country’s high commission or Embassy in London to see if a
Deed Poll issued in the UK will be accepted as documentary evidence
to get your passport changed to show your new name. Countries that
have a legal system based on the British legal system will usually
accept a Deed Poll issued in the UK. Other countries may ask you to
get your deed poll ‘legalised’.

Can I change my children’s names?

You can easily change your child’s name by Deed Poll providing those
with Parental Responsibility consent to the name change. If your child
is 18 or over, they must execute their own Deed Poll.
If you have sole Parental Responsibility and the father has regular
contact with your child you should still obtain the father’s consent to
the change of name.
If a parent with or without Parental Responsibility refuses consent to
the change of a child’s name then a Court Order permitting the change
should be obtained first.

Are there any restrictions on names?

Although there are no laws in the United Kingdom relating to unsuitable
names, there are restrictions we impose on what you can change your name to.
We will not prepare a Deed Poll for a name that:

  • is impossible to pronounce,
  • includes numbers or symbols,
  • includes punctuation marks – although you can have a hyphen to link
    forenames or surnames (for example, if you want a double barrelled surname)
    and an apostrophe in the case of surnames like O’Brien.
  • we consider vulgar or offensive.
  • may result in others believing you have a conferred honour or rank,
    for example, a change of first name to General, Colonel etc.

Other than the above restrictions, you can change your forenames,
surname (or both), add names, remove names or rearrange your
existing names.

Copyright and trade marks protection of names

There is no copyright or trade mark protection for people’s names.
Therefore, if you want to call yourself Elton John for everyday use, you
can. However, you cannot use your new name if it results in passing-
off or deception. For example, if you changed your name to Elton John
and you published music and/or lyrics in that name, you will probably
find yourself subject to legal action by the artist Elton John.

Who to advise after changing your name

After changing your name by Deed Poll, you must notify everyone that
has your personal records to let them know you have changed your
name. Government departments and agencies such as the Passport
Office, DVLA and Inland Revenue will need to see your original Deed
Poll document (or certified copy) as will your bank, building society
and credit card companies. Most other companies and organisations
will accept a photocopy.
If you have changed the name of your child, you will also be required
to provide the letter of consent, which we return when we send you
your Deed Poll.

You can download our useful information document below.

The information contained in these documents does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for a personal consultation. Call us for an appointment today!