The legal process of changing your name
A change of name by deed poll is a legally recognised process of changing or amending an aspect of your name, and can be distinguished between a ‘unenrolled’ and ‘enrolled’ deed poll.
If you’re aged 16 or over, it’s your decision whether you wish to legally change your name and you are able to create an ‘unenrolled’ deed poll. If you wish to enrol your deed poll with the Royal Courts of Justice, you must be aged 18 years or over, or alternatively all persons with parent responsibility for a minor must agree to the change of name.
In order to enrol a change of name deed, the following prescribed forms must be completed together with a fee of £36:-
- LOC020 – Change of Name Deed for an Adult Form (DEED POLL)
- LOC021 – Statutory Declaration for an adult
- LOC025 – Notice for the London Gazette for an adult
- LOC022 – Change of Name Deed for a Minor (DEED POLL)
- LOC023 – Suggested form of Affidavit of Best Interest
- LOC024 – Statutory Declaration for a Minor
- LOC026 – Notice for the London Gazette for a Minor
Alternatively a statutory declaration can be prepared and used as evidence of a change of name. The statutory declaration will need to be sworn in the present of an independent solicitor/commissioner for oaths.
What’s the difference?
Whether a change of name need or statutory declaration has been enrolled with the Royal Courts of Justice, does not effect its legal validity nor make the document more official.
In the case of Re PC (Change of Surname)  2 FLR730, Lord Justice Holman held that —“Enrolment of a deed poll is not a prerequisite to a change of surname and merely evidences a change in a particularly formal way.”
Enrolling a deed poll means that a copy of the deed poll will be kept in the Enrolment Books of the Supreme Court of Judicature, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Deed Polls that have been enrolled at the Royal Courts of Justice are kept there for 5 years, after which they’re taken to the National Archives at Kew in Surrey.
It also means that your name (both old name and new name) and home address will be put on the public record, by their being advertised in the London Gazette.
Therefore the one main advantage of enrolling a deed poll is that a copy of the original deed poll will be kept safely by a government body.
HM Passport Office will accept the following documents as evidence for a change of name:-
- marriage certificate
- civil partnership certificate
- Gender Recognition certificate
- enrolled deed poll
- change of name deed
- unenrolled deed poll
- adoption order/certificate
- act of Parliament
- certificate of naturalisation or registration
- statutory declaration/affidavit
- birth certificate (upon re-registration)
- certificate from the court of the Lord Lyon of Scotland
Changing a child’s birth certificate
If a change is made to child’s name by statutory declaration, or deed poll, this will not change the name on the child’s birth certificate, as the birth certificate is a historic record.
There are limited circumstances where a change or amendment can be made to a child’s birth certificate. The law allows for a change to a child's forename to be added to the birth register, provided the new forename was given either in baptism (Form 13) or by regular use within the first 12 months (Form 14) of the birth being registered. Forename changes may only be made once in the birth register.
It is sometime possible to change the child’s surname of their birth certificate in the following circumstances:-
- If the parents were not married at the birth registration, and the father did not attend the registration process, it is possible to amend the birth certificate. It can be altered to show the father's details and the child's surname can also be altered. Both parents must agree to such a change. If the father’s details were added to the birth certificate, and his surname was taken by the child, the child’s birth certificate cannot be changed.
- If the parents of the child married after the birth registration the birth should be re-registered to show the child as a child of the parent's marriage. The child's surname can be altered at the same time, to that of the father
Changing the gender on the Birth Certificate
The name and gender on your birth certificate can only be changed once your full legal status has been confirmed by the Gender Recognition Panel.
In order to apply for this you must prove that:
- You suffer from, or have suffered from gender dysphoria
- You have been living in your acquired gender for the last two years
- You intend on remaining in your new gender permanently
Providing your application for a Gender Recognition Certificate is successful, your amended birth certificate will be issued to show your new gender and name.
For further information on changing a name or any aspect of family law please contact Kathryn Ainsworth or Victoria Grant.