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Who Can Apply for a Deed Poll?

You can apply for a Deed Poll if you:

  • are British
  • live in the United Kingdom.

If you are British, you can be living anywhere in the world. If you are a foreign national living in the UK, you should check with your country’s high commission or embassy in London to see if a Deed Poll will be accepted 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 by us.

What is the age requirement?

To change your own name by Deed Poll, you must be at least 18 years of age. If you are under 18 years of age, one of your parents can apply for a Deed Poll on your behalf so long as anyone else with parental responsibility consents to your name change. If you are 16 or 17 years of age and your name is being changed by your parent, you must consent to it in writing. If you are under 16 years of age, your parents can change your name without your consent.

Can I change my children’s names?

You can change your child’s name by Deed Poll providing those with parental responsibility consent to the name change and the child is under the age of 18. If your child is 18 or over, they must execute their own Deed Poll.

Consent requirement

To change your child’s name by Deed Poll, your application must be supported by an original letter of consent, which confirms that those with parental responsibility have consented to the child’s name change. A letter of consent is not just required by ourselves since no school, doctor or similar official record holder (such as the Passport Agency) should allow a child to be known by a new name without clarification that all parties with parental responsibility have given their consent to the name change.
Please note, if your child is 16 or 17 years of age, the child must ALSO consent in writing to their name being changed by Deed Poll. This is because at the age of 16 a person can decide for themselves what name they wish to be known by (although they cannot change their name by Deed Poll until they are 18).

What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is a legal term that means having all the legal rights, duties, powers and responsibilities for a child (a child is a person under the age of 18).
Having parental responsibility for a child means that you are responsible for, and have the right to be consulted about, the child’s health, education and welfare. To change a child’s name, those with parental responsibility must consent to the name change.
For more information on parental responsibility please see the article on “Who has Parental Responsibility” which is linked from the main Change of Name page.

Are there any restrictions on names?

There are several restrictions on what you can change your name to:
You cannot have 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.
Please note, we will not accept an order for a Deed Poll that includes a name that:
we consider vulgar, offensive or unsuitable,
may result in others believing you have a conferred or inherited honour or title, for example, a change of first name to Sir, Lord, Lady, Baron, Baroness, Count, Earl, Countess, Duke or Duchess etc.,
does not include at least one forename and one surname.

Other than the above restrictions, you can change your forenames, surname (or both), 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 for deceptive or fraudulent purposes or for the avoidance of an obligation.

Is a Deed Poll registered anywhere?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no central register of name changes in the United Kingdom. Deed Polls are not registered anywhere unless you choose to have your Deed Poll lodged for safe keeping and entered in the Enrolment Books of the Central Office of the Supreme Court of Deeds, which is situated at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Enrolling a Deed Poll provides a public record of your name change and your details are published in the London Gazette. However, it is not necessary to enroll your Deed Poll and it significantly adds to the time taken and the cost of changing your name. Most people who change their name only wish to inform those who have a reason to know. Consequently, very few Deed Polls are enrolled.
For further information about enrolling a Deed Poll, contact the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL or telephone 020-7947 6000.

Can a birth certificate be changed?

There are a some circumstances that enable you to get the name entry amended or changed on your birth certificate. If you are able to get a new or amended birth certificate issued, a Deed Poll is not required as the new birth certificate is sufficient to get all documents and records changed.

If you were born or adopted in England or Wales:

In England and Wales, with the following three exceptions for children, you cannot get your birth certificate changed if you change your name.
If changing a child’s forename(s) within 12 months of registration:
If you only wish to change the forename(s) of a child for which you have parental responsibility, you can have the child’s birth certificate amended to include the child’s new forename(s) providing the change occurs within 12 months of the original registration. The new full birth certificate will show both the original and the new forename(s) but the short birth certificate will only show the new forename(s).
If changing a child’s surname from the mother’s surname to the father’s surname (parents not married):
If the parents of the child were not married to each other at the time of the birth and the father did not attend with the mother to register the child, it is possible to re-register the birth at any time in the future to include the father’s details and change the surname of the child to that of the father (only if both parents agree, otherwise a court order is required). Upon re-registration, a new birth certificate will be issued.

If changing a child’s surname from the mother’s surname to the father’s surname (parents married since birth):

If the parents have married each other since the birth was registered, the birth can be re-registered to show the father’s details. The birth will then be re-registered and the child and mother’s surname can be changed to that of the father as part of this process. Upon re-registration, a new birth certificate will be issued.
Please note, if the parents were not married to each other at the time of the birth and the child was registered with the father’s surname, it is not possible to change the child’s surname back to the mother’s on the birth certificate. To change the child’s surname back to the mother’s, a Deed Poll should be executed, for which the father’s permission is not required. However, a Deed Poll will not get the child’s birth certificate changed.
For further information e-mail the General Registrar Office for England and Wales, or call them on 0151-471 4806. Alternatively, telephone or visit your local register office.

If you were born or adopted in Scotland:

In Scotland, you can get your birth certificate changed in the following two circumstances:
Children aged one and under:
If a child’s forename(s) (but not surname) is changed within the first year of life, the change may be recorded in the birth register if notification is made within two years of the birth of the child. When an extract or abbreviated certificate of the child’s birth entry is subsequently issued, the new name is substituted for the name originally registered.
Persons aged two and over:
For persons aged two years and over, providing documentary evidence [What is documentary evidence] that the new name has been used for at least two years, the change of forename(s) and/or surname can be recorded in the birth register, but in the subsequent issue of an extract or abbreviated certificate the original forename(s) and surname are shown in addition to the new names. By changing your name by Deed Poll, you will be able to get your documents and records changed your new name for subsequent use as documentary evidence that you have used your new name for the two year period.
For further information e-mail the General Registrar Office for Scotland, or telephone them on 0131-314 4444.

If you were born or adopted in Northern Ireland:

A person’s forename(s) and surname as recorded in the birth register cannot be changed. However, upon providing documentary evidence [What is documentary evidence] that a new name has been used for at least two years, the new forename(s) and/or surname can be recorded. Any certificate of birth will continue to show the forename(s) and surname as originally registered but the new forename(s) and/or surname as recorded will be shown in a separate space in any certificate subsequently issued, together with the date on which the change was recorded.
By changing your name by Deed Poll, you will be able to get your documents and records changed your new name for subsequent use as documentary evidence that you have used your new name for the two year period.
For further information e-mail the General Registrar Office for Northern Ireland, or call them on 028-9025 2021.

Why do people change their name?

Here are the most popular reasons for people changing their name by Deed Poll in the UK:

Upon separation, a woman wishes to be known by her maiden name before her divorce is finalised (see note 1 below).
An unmarried mother whose child was registered with the father’s surname wishes her child to have her surname.
People who simply don’t like their name.
Upon marriage, the bride and groom choose to have a double barrelled or hyphenated name (see note 2 below).
Upon marriage, a bride who adopts her husband’s surname chooses to have her maiden name as a middle name.
Upon marriage, a bride who already has children from a former relationship chooses to have the surname of her children changed to her new married surname (see note 3 below).
People who have been using a different name to their birth name who want to formalise their change of name so that all their records and documents show their new name (usually their passport).
One or both partners in a gay or lesbian relationship wish to share the same surname.
Transsexuals who wish to change their name after a gender change operation.
Entertainers who want to formally use their stage name.

So long as you are not changing your name for fraudulent purposes, it doesn’t matter what the reason is – it’s your right to be known by whatever name you wish (subject to certain restrictions that are explained on our page Are there any restrictions on names?).

Note 1
Upon receipt of a decree absolute certificate, a woman can usually revert to her maiden name. A Deed Poll is often not required as the decree absolute certificate and her marriage certificate (which shows her maiden name) provides the documentary evidence that she has changed her name.

Note 2
Upon marriage, the bride has the option of keeping or maiden name or adopting her husband’s surname. If she only adopts her husband’s surname, a Deed Poll is not required. The marriage certificate provides the documentary evidence that she has changed her name. A groom has no legal right to change his name upon marriage.

Note 3
If the mother was married when her children were born, written permission of the father is required. If the father’s permission is not given, a court order can be obtained.
Further information can be obatined from the Frequently Asked Questions article linked to the main Change of Name page.

Return to change of name

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