Changing your name is not something that should be done without careful consideration of the consequences. This page provides a basic guide, but some points of law are complex. If you believe your circumstances are complicated, you should seek legal advice.
The most common use of a deed poll is to change a name, but a deed poll is actually a legal document that binds a person to a particular course of action. A deed poll to change a name is more formally known as a 'Change of Name Deed'. It commits you to the following actions:
- to renounce and abandon the use of your former name or names
- to use your new name or names at all times
- to require people to address you only by your new name or names
A deed poll will enable you to formally change your name on documents and records such as your:
- driving licence
- bank account
You will need to contact everyone who holds details about you because part of the deed poll declaration is that you will be using your new name at all times.
You can't change your birth and marriage certificates with your deed poll. If the purpose of your deed poll is to alter a particular document, you should check first with the issuer of the document that a change will be allowed.
You don't need a deed poll if you are:
- a married woman changing her surname to her husband's using a marriage certificate
- a person in a civil partnership changing their surname to their partner's using a civil partnership certificate
- a divorced woman reverting to her maiden surname using her decree absolute
- a widowed woman reverting to her maiden surname using her late husband's death certificate and her marriage certificate
Although the possibilities for a new name are almost limitless, there are some basic conditions that it will have to meet. These are mostly in place to make sure you don't have problems when changing documents such as your passport.
Anyone over the age of 16 can change their name by deed poll. Anyone under 16 needs written consent to change their name from the people who have parental responsibility for them. These people must also apply for the name change on behalf of the child.
Everyone who has parental responsibility for the child needs to be present to sign the deed poll and give their written agreement.
The only exception to this is a court order allowing a change of name without the consent of everyone who has parental responsibility. To do this you will need to make an application to a court for a ‘specific issue order' under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989.
If you are not a British Citizen, firstly ask your embassy if a deed poll is accepted in your country.
For more information, visit GOV.UK - Change your name by deed poll.