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How to Change Your or Your Child's Name

People change their names for a variety of reasons - most commonly, women change their surname to that of their partner after marriage. 

However it is not uncommon for men to take their wife’s last name instead, or for a couple to combine their names to form a double-barrelled surname.

If you are thinking of changing your name you can do so for any reason – even if you simply dislike it – as long as your intention is not to deceive or defraud someone.

How to change your name

There is no formal process for changing your name legally – you simply start using the name you wish to adopt. However, you will need to obtain new versions of important documents such as your passport or driving licence, and for this you may need a legal declaration of your change of name, also known as a deed poll.

You may obtain a deed poll from a solicitor, from a specialist agency or from another outlet.

Also note that you will not be able to change the details on your birth certificate, except in limited circumstances, such as when a mistake was made in registering your birth.

Notifying organisations of your new name

When you change your name you will need to inform the organisations that hold your records. It is most urgent to notify the Passport Office, DVLA, HM Revenue & Customs, and the financial institutions you have dealings with, but you should also inform your:

  • Employer
  • School/college/university
  • Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Utility companies
  • Mobile telephone provider
  • Anyone else who needs to know your name.

Several of the bodies you notify will need to see your deed poll as proof of your change of name. Nevertheless, certain organisations will accept a photocopy.

If you are changing your name after getting married or becoming civil partners, then your marriage or civil partnership certificate should serve as sufficient proof of your name change.

If you have ended a marriage or civil partnership and would like to go back to using your original name, the divorce certificate or dissolution certificate should provide enough evidence of the change in most cases, although some organisations will require a deed poll.

Changing your child’s name

The name of a child under the age of 16 can be changed if all the people with parental responsibility for the child give their consent. A mother automatically acquires parental responsibility for their child, but the rules are more complicated for fathers.

A father usually has parental responsibility if he is married to the child’s mother or if he is listed on the birth certificate. Even if a father did not register the birth with the mother or was not married to her it is still possible to acquire parental responsibility. This can be done either by obtaining a parental responsibility agreement with the mother, or by getting an order from a court.

Consent from the child is not required for the name change to go ahead. Children over the age of 16 will need to apply for a deed poll for themselves, and will not need permission from their parents.