What's in a name?

When changing your name, there isn’t a strict legal process to do so; you can just simply start using your new name. A legal issue arises, however, if you wish to use your new name on documents such as a passport or driving licence. Organisations such as the DVLA, for example, require evidence of your new name before your driving licence can be updated.

One of the easiest ways to do so is by obtaining a change of name deed – more commonly known as a deed poll. This is a legal document that proves you have changed your name. It allows you to change any part of your name, including adding or removing names and hyphens, or changing spellings. There are three ways in which you can make an adult deed poll:

  1. Use the official forms, which can be downloaded from the www.gov.uk website. This is at a cost of £36.00 and your deed poll will be put on the public record.
  2. Make your own deed poll. If you do not want your deed poll registering, you can make your own by using standard wording, then signing the document and getting someone to witness you signing it.
  3. Use a specialist agency or a solicitor.

You must be over 18 to obtain a deed poll, however different rules apply when changing a child’s name.

One of the most common queries in this area relates to what happens when getting married or entering into a civil partnership. For example, is a deed poll needed to take my partner’s surname?

Although your marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate does not indicate that you will have a new surname at the end of the ceremony, if you do wish to take your partner’s surname, in most cases a deed poll is not needed. Organisations usually only require evidence of your marriage or civil partnership, for instance a copy of your marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate, and will then update your documents free of charge.

If, however, you wish to return to your maiden name after a divorce or dissolution, for example, some organisations require a deed poll in order to change your documents. It is worth checking with the particular organisation beforehand, as some only require you to provide either your marriage certificate and Decree Absolute, or your civil partnership certificate and Final Order.

For more information on any of the issues above, please call our Family Law team on 0114 201 4900 for a free, initial consultation.

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