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How to Register a Birth and Change Your Name Legally

This section deals with the process of registering the birth of a new baby.

It is at this stage that the child’s name is established, and we show you how that name might later be changed, whether this is by the person’s parents when they are a child or by the person themselves in their adult life.

Registering a birth

In England and Wales all births must be registered within 42 days. Upon registration, a birth certificate will be issued, which records the child’s name. It is important to follow the correct steps when registering a birth and ensure that you have all the necessary information. Our section on registering a birth explains who is permitted to register a birth and describes the correct procedure for making sure your baby’s birth is correctly recorded. We also give you guidance on what information you will need to provide.

Changing your name

The most common and traditional circumstances in which people change their name is when a woman adopts her husband’s surname after marriage. It is not uncommon, however, for men to take their wife’s name, or even for the couple to combine their names.

There are a whole host of other reasons why people have the desire to change their name, for example, a woman may wish to change back to her maiden name following separation from her spouse, or people of foreign descent may decide to anglicise their name to make it easier to pronounce. Other reasons may be because people find their birth name embarrassing or because they want to change their name to something more rare or fun.

The law does not place any obstacles in the way of those who want to change their name for any reason, and our section on changing your name shows how you can do this, either with your marriage certificate or with what is known as a deed poll.