How to legally change your name

There are many reasons why you might want to change your name. You can change it through marriage or civil partnership, you can change it following a divorce via deed poll, or you can change it simply because you want to be known by another name.

If you are over 16, you can change your name; you can just start using your new one, but you might find it difficult to change it on your passport, driving licence or bank without legal evidence.

You may have to contact all the necessary bodies directly, as there isn’t a central form that can be used to alert all agencies that you’ve changed your name. Here are some of the key places and documents that you will need to update if you change your name:

  • Your Passport
  • Your Driving License
  • Bank accounts
  • Your credit cards
  • National Health Service (NHS)
  • HMRC
  • Your mortgage documents
  • In your will

I want to change my name following my marriage. How do I do it?

When you get married you receive a marriage certificate. This document allows you to change your name, for instance to take on the surname of your spouse or to double barrel or mesh both surnames.

If you want to change your name on your passport then you will need to fill in this form online, or get a paper copy from the post office and send it off with your marriage certificate.

The same process applies to changing your name on your driving licence – you can get the necessary forms here.

If you want to change your name on your bank account, your building society or any other financial institution than you will need to show them your marriage certificate – most should be able to do it fairly quickly.

I want to change my name following a civil partnership. How do I do it?

This works in exactly the same way as changing your name following marriage and uses the same forms.

I want to change my name on my passport before my honeymoon.

That isn’t a problem. You simply get a form called Passports for newlyweds and civil partners from the Post Office or online and submit it with your passport. You may legally travel on your previous name, however if you would like to travel under your new name immediately after your wedding, you may need to apply up to 3 months in advance by filling in this form.

I am now divorced and I want to change my name back to my maiden name.

You won’t be able to change your name after your divorce until you have received your decree absolute and you will also need your marriage certificate. If you want to change it immediately you can do so by deed poll (see below).

What is a deed poll?

A deed poll is simply legal document that states an intention. Its most common use is for changing a name. The term deed means a legal undertaking, and the term poll means document.

When you change your name by deed poll you must make several declarations. You must declare;

  • That you will cease to use your previous name
  • That you will always use your new name,
  • That you wish for other people to address you by just your new name.

You then need to sign the document twice, once with your old name and then with your new name.  The document also needs to be witnessed by two independent witnesses. If in doubt, you could use a specialist Deed Poll solicitor to help.

Can I use any name that I want?

Within limits you can chose any name you like, but there are certain restrictions. Your new name must be pronounceable in at least one language, is must include a first name and a surname and it mustn’t be one of the names excluded by the Home Office.

Do I need a solicitor?

If you are changing your name by deed poll, although you can do it yourself, you might find the services of a solicitor useful.

If you want to change your name yourself, simply produce the documents we have highlighted, by downloading the relevant forms. You might wish to have the deed poll witnessed in front of a solicitor for a small fee which gives you additional security. Contact your local QualitySolicitors branch here for more information. 

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